Good Dog: Teaching Your Dog to Settle

By Johanna Teresi

Every good doge needs a special place.
gooddogTraining your dog to go to a certain place on command until released is very helpful. Wouldn’t it be great to have your dog calmly lying down while you answer the door? While you are eating dinner? When your dog still has energy after being exercised?  Many dog trainers refer to this behavior as “place.”

To teach this behavior, you will need the following: a treat bag, a clicker, a designated place for your dog to lie (preferably a bed or a crate), and many dime-sized treats. Follow the steps below to teach your dog to go to his place.

First, stand directly in front of the designated place. Say “place,” and then throw a treat onto the place while you move your arm in an exaggerated fashion, as if you were throwing a ball underhand. Click as soon as your dog goes onto his place. After your dog eats his treat, ask him to “down.” Click and treat (C/T) as soon as your dog downs on his place. C/T a few times while your dog stays down for a few seconds. Say “okay” and walk away to release your dog from the place. Repeat 5-10 times.

Repeat the above step, except when making your exaggerated arm movement do not throw a treat. As soon as your dog goes to his place, C/T. Remember to ask your dog to “down” and keep him down for a few seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.

As your dog consistently goes to his place on command, you will occasionally C/T when your dog goes to his place. For the times you do not treat, use praise instead. Repeat 5-10 times.

Now you are able to teach your dog to go to his place from a distance. First, stand a short distance (about one foot) away from your dog’s place, and repeat the above steps. Gradually increase your distance from your dog’s place until you have reached the designated distance (10-20 feet) that you would like to be from the place while commanding him.

The last step is to teach your dog to stay on his place for a longer time period. Once your dog follows the “place” command, give your dog a chew toy, such as a cow hoof or kong. Before your dog has lost interest in the chew toy, take it away, and say “okay”. Gradually increase the time period to one minute, working up to 10 to 20 minutes.  After your  dog reliably stays on his place, you will no longer have to give your dog a chew toy.

Now your dog will relax with you while you watch a movie a with friends!

Johanna Teresi is a professional dog trainer and owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC. FOURLEGGEDSCHOLARS.COM. Visit: and see the January article “Clicker Training.”

This article was originally published on January 31, 2007.