How do I teach my dog to go to “place”?

dog training, Michigan Dog Training, teach your dog to go to place, behavior shaping, clicker trainingMax and Lucky are attending private dog training lessons at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan with dog behaviorist Michael Burkey. In the video below, they demonstrate how to teach your dog to go to “place” via clicker training and behavior shaping.

Clicker training is using a sound such as the click of a clicker to mark the moment your dog did a desired behavior and to signal that a food reward is forthcoming. Behavior shaping is capturing and rewarding behavior as it occurs such as the dog touching the target stick with his nose versus luring the dog into the desired behavior. Luring tends to be a faster method of dog training but behavior shaping requires the dog to think instead of just follow a hand and thus cements the exercise into his mind more soundly. A dog taught via shaping is also more engaged in the learning exercise and willing to try new behaviors.

Teaching your dog to go to “place” (a pre-designated location) can be helpful when welcoming your guests into your home, having your dog go away from the kitchen table to prevent begging, jump into your vehicle, go to a spot and relax, etc.

Place can be taught via hand luring or in this example by teaching the dog to touch a target stick such as an Alley Pop freestanding target. The target stick is used to get the dog to move away from the handler. Later, the target stick is placed on the mat where you want your dog to go to and the final step is to remove the target stick and simply have the dog go to the mat on the cue of “place”.

The five steps for teaching your dog go to “place” using behavior shaping include:
1. Teach your dog to touch a target stick held in your hand,
2. Teach your dog to touch a free standing target stick,
3. Send your dog to the target stick from a distance,
4. Place the target stick on a mat to start teaching “place”,
5. Remove the target stick from the “place” mat and cue – Place

Shaping a dog behavior

Luring (showing the dog what to do such as follow a food hand around the cone) is quicker and easier to teach but shaping (where the dog believes he caused the reward to come from his action) is more strongly retained once the dog learns the desired behavior.

In this video I’m shaping Kaboom to go around the cone without any verbal command or hand signal. He is rewarded for going to the cone and each approximate intention to go closer and closer to eventually around the cone. Later once he understands the end result, I will name it “around” just as he completes the turn and later just before he goes around so it is then on verbal cue. To tell Kaboom he’s correct in doing a desired behavior, I normally would use a clicker (clicker training) to mark and release the approximations but it was too much to hold the camera, ball and food treats. So I substituted a tongue click for the clicker.