German Shepherds are natural herders. In fact, the reason why this breed was first discovered was…
Teaching your German Shepherd the place command is extremely helpful for when you want your dog to stay in one spot for a short amount of time.
This command is easy to teach your dog, but your GSD should already know basic commands (like “down” and “stay”) before attempting the place command. Remember that dog training won’t happen overnight, it takes patience and time
If you want to learn the basic commands first check out this article.
What is “Place”?
“Place” is an advanced version of the “stay” command. You are teaching your dog to stay, but this time on a specific thing.
I personally think it’s easier to teach your dog the “place” command after the “down” and “stay” commands have already been mastered. This way the “place” command will come as an adjustment to an already existing command.
A place is an area, usually, a mat or dog bed, where you can send your dog when you need them to not interfere during a particular activity. This could be for safety reasons, like having the door open and you don’t want your dog running out into the street, or because you have guests over for dinner and don’t want your dog hovering around the table.
It’s important to make this area a safe and comfortable place for your dog, and not use the “place” command as a punishment. You want your German Shepherd to want to go to their place, but if they associate it with a punishment they won’t enjoy being sent there.
Accordingly, while training, use this command randomly at different times and for different reasons, but never when your dog is in trouble. You want to build up a positive association with their “place” so it’s somewhere they gravitate to on their own.
The benefits and importance of the place command
The “place” command is beneficial because it teaches your dog to stay until released. This skill can come in handy for safety reasons as well as just for practical reasons at home or out and about.
For example, you may need to prop your front door open to bring in a large package, and you don’t want your dog to run out in Or if you have a dinner party and have guests over and don’t want your furry friend hounding guests for their food.
If you have a hyperactive dog like a German Shepherd, there are many circumstances that can occur where this command will be both helpful for everyday situations and a lifesaver.
Another benefit is that once your dog has mastered this command, you will feel more comfortable taking your dog more places with you.
Aside from being practical, the place command is also important for safety reasons. What if your dog were to run out of that open door in the earlier example and run into the street into oncoming traffic?
Lastly, by teaching your dog the “place” command, they will learn to cope with stress and anxiety. Over time, the place command will become a place where your dog can relax and calm down.
Practicing this command daily can slow down your dog’s mind and help them settle down. At the end of the day, this will significantly affect how your dog reacts to certain stimuli.
The steps of teaching your dog the place command
Step 1: Pick your “Place”
Pick the place where you would send your dog when you give the place command. If you want to use the command in any room, or even in other places, pick a portable mat, blanket, or a dog bed that you can take with you or move it from one room to another.
Another thing that you should decide is which word you will use for the place command. You can choose words like “place”, “bed”, “go to your spot” etc.
Step 2: Introduce the command
Start by standing close to the mat or bed that will serve as the “place”. Say your command and lure your dog on the bed by using a treat.
As soon as your dog gets on the “place”, give them the treat and praise enthusiastically. Repeat this several times. After a while, stop using the treat as a lure, and use it only as a reward.
Once your dog understands what to do, gradually increase the distance from the bed. Repeat the command a few more times, and then introduce the “down” command.
Once all paws are on the bed, give the “down” command, and reward only when they lie down. This may take some time, but after a few sessions your dog should lie down on its own.
Step 3: Slowly increase the time
After successfully completing the previous steps, you need to increase the time. Gradually add a few seconds before rewarding your dog with a treat.
If your dog gets up before you give the treat, give the “place” command again but have them stay for a shorter amount of time so they can be successful.
Remember, you need to increase the time slowly and by just a couple of seconds. If when increasing the time your dog starts getting up you may be increasing the time by too much.
Step 4: Move to other rooms and/or locations
Once your dog has mastered this command in one place, you can move the “place” item into another room or location. I would start with other rooms in the house before venturing to another location that may have too many distractions for a learning dog.
Your dog should be able to understand what it needs to do, but if not, repeat the first step. Wait for your dog to master the new room then move to yet another room or location.
Step 5: Increase difficulty by adding distractions and removing rewards
Now that your dog responds perfectly to this command, it’s time to add some distractions, such as having another person or some activity going on in the house.
If your dog obeys even with distractions, you should slowly fade your rewards. Give your dog a treat every second or third time it goes to the “place”.
You can also throw a ball as a reward or play a game of tug of war instead of giving your dog a treat if your dog isn’t food motivated.
To sum it all up, teaching your dog the place command is fairly simple, but you have to be patient and consistent.
Remember, keep it fun and build the “place” command over a period of weeks. Slowly increase the time by a few seconds, and soon enough your dog will have mastered this command.
Here is a video that may help as well: