Brought you to by Charley Perkins and Romi
In the last post we talked about the basics of crate-training and how to use this technique to set up a productive living space for you and your dog. For some, the defined space of a crate is enough to create the boundaries they need in their home. Personally, I like Romi out and nearby while I am working, but I still know that I can’t have her running around and distracting me when I need to concentrate. That’s where place-training comes in.
Place-training is simply teaching your dog to stay in a dedicated spot without being restrained in any way for an indefinite amount of time. The beauty of place training is that it builds right on top of the foundation laid with crate-training and is great for quarantining with a dog. It also creates a “safe zone” for your dog, where they know they can be calm and comfortable. This is good for everyone, and it enables your dog to be more integrated into your life while you are working at home with your dog.
Transition From Crate-Training To Place-Training
But how do you transition your dog from understanding the crate to understanding “place”? The key is to take small steps. . . .
Once your dog can stay happy and calm in the crate for a period of time, start to focus on how your dog exits the crate. When you first open the crate door, your dog will likely try to push out, but don’t let them; firmly but gently, push your dog’s head back in. Keep doing this until your dog stops trying to get out. Then, using a tap on the head, your dog’s name, or a word like “ok”, give your dog permission to leave. This idea of a “release” is important in all future training. Be consistent with this as it’s important that boundaries are upheld in the living space for you and your dog.
Next, start leaving the crate door open when your dog is in there. Use your crate command to get them to enter their crate, but this time don’t close the door. If your dog tries to leave, don’t let them. Push them back into the crate–keeping the door open–and only let them leave with the release command. Reinforce with praise, treats, and a calm voice and tone, reminding your dog that even though the door is open, the crate is where they should be. Practice this, reinforcing with praise and treats, and try leaving the door open for longer and longer periods of time. These drills will reinforce the boundaries of the crate, and the idea that your dog should stay put until you release them.
Working at home with your dog is different for everyone, so it’s important to remember that everyone and every home will need different boundaries. Like I mentioned, a crate may be enough to set up boundaries for some, while others may want to use gates or fences, and others may welcome their dog anywhere in the house. For us, dog beds and throws work great as portable places that Romi can identify anywhere. Portable places make it easier for her to find her safe-zone during travel and are great for quarantining with a dog. Having an established portable place for your dog means they can be with you at your home desk, couch, kitchen table, or wherever you work from while still being in their own space.
Place-Training Steps And Tips
As you set up to train ‘place’, I recommend you start by picking one ‘place’, a single throw blanket or bed. I like place-training using a dog bed because it helps present a clearly defined “place”. A bed is a good target because it feels different, looks different, smells different than the space around it. Begin to train ‘place’ just like you did with the crate. Put your dog on a lead, lead them onto the defined ‘place’, and then praise/treat. Make sure your dog is entirely on/in the boundaries of the target before rewarding them. If your dog tries to leave, give the place command again and use the leash to guide them right back onto the ‘place’. Again, praise/treat (quicker the better). Be calm and clear in your voice and your attitude. Once it is time to have your dog leave the ‘place’, use your release command and lead them off the ‘place’. This step will help reinforce the idea that just like in crate training, your dog is not allowed to leave the ‘place’ until told to do so. This consistency is key to establishing the boundary you want to maintain while working at home with your dog.
Next you will want to “label” the behaviour. Lead your dog onto the place, and say “place” once your dog is fully on target. Praise and treat. Give your release command, and then lead your dog off the place. Repeat, repeat, repeat. With time, you can add some additional skills and difficulty. Try the following:
- Drop the leash, and let your dog place with verbal commands only.
- Lengthen the amount of time you ask your dog to stay on their place.
- Increase the distance your dog has to travel to reach their place after the command is given.
- Add hand gestures or point at the place as a command.
- Adding multiple spaces and practice pointing to indicate which location. (see video above).
Just remember that the more difficulty you add, the easier it is for your dog to fail, and the less your dog fails, the faster it will progress. Baby steps.
As you keep place-training, your dog will come to recognise and enjoy having their own space. Keep practicing and in no time you’ll have a productive living space for you and your dog all set up! Remember to keep the training fun though. It should be a nice break in your day and an exciting chance to really enjoy working at home with your dog.
Oh yeah, as I mentioned in my first post, social distancing can be a bit lonely, so please stay connected by leaving comments here or find me on Instagram (@cperks21).
Click here for previous posts in this series:
1. New Series: Working From Home With Dogs
2. How to Create Productive Work Spaces At Home With A Dog