A Place For Everyone

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Place Training, Part One

Place training is one of the coolest and most useful things I’ve learned over the past few years. I was unaware of this type of boundary training before I started working at Wildrose Kennels. Mike Stewart, owner and lead trainer at Wildrose, has ingeniously created the Wildrose Way of training, and place training is at the heart of it. It’s simple, really. The dog learns to stay within a defined area for long periods of time. They don’t have to stay in a sit or a down; they can get up and stretch and rearrange, but no matter what, they must stay within the lines.

It’s easiest for a puppy, or dog, new to “place training,” to start with an elevated surface. It’s a more deliberate decision for them to step down off of an elevated surface than it is for them to walk off of a dog bed or a mat. I recommend Kuranda beds; I use these for my dogs and love them. They’re durable and easily washed with a water hose. When ordering you can choose the waterproof fabric option and if your dog is wet, or your pup has an accident, no water leaks through to your floor. The elevated bed is also great for senior dogs that have arthritis or other joint issues because it gets them off the hard floor.

You can easily transfer “place” from an elevated surface to something smaller and more easily moved by first training your dog to stay on place, and then adding the portable mat on top of the elevated surface. Once the dog has learned place on the mat, on the bed, you can eliminate the bed and use the mat on a surface of your choosing. I will cover this in a future post once Dean has progressed to that stage.

To start your puppy on place training, watch the video below. The steps are simple:

  1. Place your dog on the elevated surface of your choice.
  2. When the pup bolts off of place and takes off running (which WILL happen), pick him up and place him back on the bed.
  3. Remain quiet. There’s no need for any verbal correction.
  4. Repeat.

A few pointers:

  • Don’t stress out if it takes a little while. I can almost guarantee it will take longer for older dogs than it does puppies.
  • It’s all about consistency. Try not to let them break from place and self-reward by getting food, water, or a toy. Grab them and put them back, EVERY time!
  • Don’t leave the bed that you’re using for place training down when the dog has free roam of the house. If you do, they will choose to get on the bed, then choose, on their own, to get off. It will condition the act of breaking from place as acceptable sometimes.
  • Start small. Train in short sessions. When they decide to relax on place, reward them by releasing them and letting them have some playtime. By doing this, the dog will realize that when they bolt off of place they get put back on, but when they relax and lie down quietly, they get to get off and play. You should work on building duration over many sessions.
  • TRAIN, DON’T TEST. This is a great training “mantra” that I learned from Mike. Do NOT test your dog. Train your dog. Be in the moment, physically and mentally, while working with your pup on “place”. If you put them there and leave the room they have the opportunity to break from place and go play, undoing your previous progress.

Good luck with place training! I’d love to see how it goes for you. Post videos on my Facebook page and if you have any questions be sure to ask me there!

Check out Wildrose’s Facebook page here.

Sloane and Danner enjoy sharing a place every once in awhile!

Sloane and Danner enjoy sharing a place every once in awhile!

Ruby is using the place training cue to stay safely on the trailer. We were busy unloading four wheelers and I didn't want her to not be able to stretch her legs after our 9 hour drive, so I gave her a very large place, the entire trailer. She understands that she can move about on the trailer but cannot step off of it. Place is endlessly useful!

Ruby is using the place training cue to stay safely on the trailer. We were busy unloading four wheelers and I didn’t want her to not be able to stretch her legs after our 9 hour drive, so I gave her a very large place, the entire trailer. She understands that she can move about on the trailer but cannot step off of it. Place is endlessly useful!

Where in the world did that funny dog come from?? Brooks, a German Shorthaired Pointer, learned place in just a matter of minutes and joined the rest of the pack for the evening!

Where in the world did that funny dog come from?? Brooks, a German Shorthaired Pointer, learned place in just a matter of minutes and joined the rest of the pack for the evening!

Lola and Danner share bunk beds made by Kuranda. It couldn't be more perfect because Danner loves to jump up on his cot and Lola loves to be down under anything when she sleeps!

Lola and Danner share bunk beds made by Kuranda. It couldn’t be more perfect because Danner loves to jump up on his cot and Lola loves to be down under anything when she sleeps!

Britt loves to relax on her place after a long day of playing.

Britt loves to relax on her place after a long day of playing.

A place for everyone, and everyone on their place!

A place for everyone, and everyone on their place!

You can teach an old dog new tricks! Smokey, a 14 year old toy poodle, is learning place and Lola is showing him the ropes!

You can teach an old dog new tricks! Smokey, a 14 year old toy poodle, is learning place and Lola is showing him the ropes!

What do you mean this isn't my place??

What do you mean this isn’t my place??

You can easily tell that Callie enjoys sleeping on her place.

You can easily tell that Callie enjoys sleeping on her place.

5 thoughts on “A Place For Everyone

  1. Finally, something that makes sense about place training! I was doing it partially right, just tried to make it too long an exercise. I just hope when Scarlett gets back home from WR, she will have learned place a little better! If I had just known a little more about the process, I could have done a much better job. I don’t know how my other dogs ever made it. LOL Thanks so much for doing this blog!

    • Scarlett will know place and SO MUCH MORE when she gets home from Wildrose!!! And I’m sure you were doing a great job with place training. It’s hard, sometimes, to go slow when training. You have to break it up into tiny little pieces, though. Keep training sessions short in the beginning and always reward them when they do the correct behavior. In this case, the high value reward for Dean was getting off of place. It’s always a great way to reward the dogs because they can make a quick and close association between settling and getting to leave the bed!!

        • With young puppies, I practice this about two to three times a day. You want to keep everything fun and positive and a great time to work on place training is after a short walk or a play session. The puppy is getting tired already and will settle quicker. If your pup settles and falls asleep, then leave them there! Just remember to stay in the room and keep your attention on the pup because when they wake up you need to be there to release them from place and take them out to potty. I’ll post more videos of Dean’s place training soon! They learn quick, especially puppies!! 😀

    • My puppy, Ellie, is 13 weeks (Deke x Eden) and we haven’t done much place training (sadly) because I just found your blog! She goes back to WR for training in April and I am so concerned because when we try to work on place, she starts going crazy and bites and freaks out. The biting issue alone is a problem in our house because we have kids who want to play with her and she gets over-excited, and things spiral out of control from there.

      So I figure before we go further with place, should I dress the nipping? I’m so lost. I was an economics major, not an animal sciences major! haha

      Any suggestions are much appreciated!!
      Karen

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