Go To Place
Here’s what teaching “Go to Place” can mean to you, your dog and your entire household. It’s that time of night again; time to make dinner, but tonight as your making dinner Spike your 2 year old retriever is not under your feet or looking for a quick snack. Where’s Spike you may ask? Well he’s calmly lying down in his “place” enjoying one of him many enrichment toys. Time goes by and not only is dinner cooked but the family is sitting down enjoying a meal without Spike resting his head on your lap or giving you those big sad retriever eyes. You know what I mean J
When we start training Go to Place you will use a rug or blanket, this is actually their place at the beginning of their training. I like to use a bathroom rug since it won’t slip, and you’ll need something that will elevate their place. Depending on the size of your dog an upside crate works really well, if too small for your four legged kids an elevated bed like a Kuranda bed also works well. The idea behind the elevation is to get your dog to make a conscious effort to follow your instructions to get up onto their place and a conscious effort once on the crate to disobey you. The goal is that at some point you can use the rug without it being elevated, bring the rug anywhere and have you dog Go to Place. If you practice often one day you won’t even need a rug, you’ll just tell your pet and show them where their place is and they will stay.
Just like any time you plan on training your dog something new you want them to be somewhat calm. Trying to teach a hyper dog something new is only going to frustrate you and your dog. If their in that crazy time take them for a walk, not a stroll but a nice long walk (if their not use to walking maybe work on that before this technique). It also helps if they are somewhat hungry since we’ll be working with food. If your dog’s weight is an issue plan on cutting a portion of their daily meal down so you are not over feeding them during training.
Picking a quiet spot with little distraction will help your training session go smoothly. Begin by placing your dog on a short leash and walk him over to his place. With treat in hand entice your dog onto his place and tell him, "go to place". Once on his place have him lie down or sit, which ever he is more comfortable doing. If he tries to get off, gently use your leash to guide him back to his place using both verbal command and treat reward (treat reward is once he steps up). Once he sits or lies down tell him to stay. If he steps down repeat the process. Your first goal is to get him to sit and/or lay down on the crate, and second is for him to stay on the crate. Remember to praise him as you go along but keep your voice in a quiet tone, if you are loud and excited with praise your dog will do the same and off the grate he goes. Calm, positive reinforcement at all times.
Practice this technique many times throughout the day. Make sure his place is big enough for him to lay down without his legs falling off the crate/bed. Most dogs will learn Go To Place very quickly next let’s work on getting them to stay in their place. At this point I like to introduce an enrichment toy to the training. An enrichment toy is more than something to chew, it is a chew toy but more importantly it’s a toy that makes them think. If your dog is food oriented which most are, consider trying a Kong or a Twist’n Treat. The Twist’n Treat works a little better since they don’t roll as easily as a Kong. Prepare a few of them ahead of time with either peanut butter or cream cheese and freeze them. By freezing them the treat will take a lot longer for them to lick out, I also like to use low fat foods. For toy oriented dogs there are many stuffed Hide’n Seek toys available. Which ever enrichment toy you choose to use your dog should only have access to these toys when their in their place. We want them to want to be in their place. Just like kids, if the toy is around all the time they have no interest in it.
There are many benefits of having a “place". You can put your dog on his place with a toy when you’re having dinner, doing the laundry and even when you’re watching television at night. You can also place it in his crate, take it when you go visiting, it will even work outside and of course it is easy to clean. If your dog has advanced to not needing an object as a place, the possibilities are endless, you can go on a hike, watch the local parade, stop to visit a friend while out for a walk. Often at this time your dog is tired enough he may not even need an enrichment toy, but it’s always a good idea to have one with you, just in case.
Keep in mind no dog is too old or too young for training. If your dog doesn’t learn he hasn’t failed you as the trainer has failed, and I don’t believe in failing. Practice, practice, practice and more practice and you both will become winners!!
www.premier.com - Enrichment toys
www.drsfostersmith.com - Hide’n Seek toys
www.kuranda.com – Elevated beds