How to Train Your Dog to Go to Its Place

A Boston Terrier in its dog bed

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Training your dog to go to its place can be helpful when you need it to settle down or get out from under your feet. You can pick one place in your home or a different place in each room to send your dog when you tell it to go to its place. This command is fairly easy to teach your dog.

Prepare for Training

Your dog should know how to lie down on command before you teach it to go to its place. Spend several training sessions working on "down." Once your dog can reliably lie down on command, you're ready to move on to the place command.

Next, decide where you want your dog to go when you give the place command. A bed or area rug works well. If you want to be able to use the command in any room, use a portable bed or mat that you can easily move from room to room.

You will also need a handful of treats and a clicker if you plan on using clicker training.

Choose a Command

Decide on a command word to use. Using one word tends to work best. "Place" is frequently used, but "bed" or "mat" work fine, too.

Lure Your Dog

Start off by standing close to the bed or mat that will serve as your dog's place. Give the command "place," and then use a treat to lure the dog onto its spot. As soon as all four feet are on the mat, praise your dog or click the clicker and give it a treat. Repeat this several times. Most dogs will go to the bed or mat on command after a few short training sessions.

Add the Down

Once your dog is putting all four feet on the mat or bed when you give the command, begin asking it to lie down. Give the command "place," and as soon as the dog gets to the mat, give the command "down."

It may take a few minutes to comply the first few times, but after a few practice sessions, your dog should lie down automatically when it gets to the mat after you give the "place" command. Once the dog's done this several times, it should only be getting treats and praise when it lies down after you give the "place" command.

Increase the Time

Now that your dog is consistently lying down on its mat after you give the "place" command, you can increase the amount of time it spends there. To do this, slowly add a few seconds before offering the treat after it responds to the command. As you see progress, slowly add more small increments of time.

If your dog makes a mistake and gets up from its place before you give it the treat, give the "place" command again, and go back to the last point where your dog was successful. By slowly adding to the amount of time your dog stays in its place, you will soon be able to give the command and have it stay in its place while you go about whatever you were doing.

Move to Other Rooms

If you want to be able to use the "place" command in other rooms, then wait until your dog has mastered the command in one place. At that point, move the bed or mat into another room, and start the process again. Or if you prefer not to move the bed from room to room, pick a spot in each room that will serve as your dog's spot when you give the "place" command.

Many dogs catch on quickly, and will immediately go to their bed or mat and lie down when you give the command in a new room. Other dogs will need to learn that the same behavior is expected in a new room, almost as if you haven't worked on this at all. If this is the case with your dog, start from the beginning. Give the command, lure the dog to the mat, and teach it to lie down just as you did in the previous room. Again, wait until your dog has mastered the "place" command in the new room before you move on to the next room.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

Most dogs learn this command fairly quickly. With just a few short training sessions, you should have a dog who finds its bed or mat on command.

One of the most common mistakes dog owners make is not being consistent. For instance, dogs love to hang out in the kitchen while someone's cooking. While it can be frustrating, even dangerous, to have a dog under your feet, it's also easy to just ignore it and continue preparing your food.

No matter how busy you are, your priority should be instilling this command in your dog—it won't take as long as you think, either. It will lead to distractions at first, but keep the end goal in mind: your dog obeying the command immediately and going to its place when told to do so. A little extra time today will save you lots of frustration in the future.