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Sarah Wilson
Award-winning Pet Expert
Teacher, Trainer & Author


In this pet podcast... Want your dog to go to his bed on a word and stay there? Then you're going to love "Place". In this episode, listen to Sarah get a delightful Italian Greyhound puppy started, then we go to advanced work with Pip (you'll hear some Pip-typical crashing and skidding as she flies to her bed). We wrap up hearing Place ideas from three other professional trainers - all a little different, all fun, all work. Have questions or comments? Send them to or stop by the message boards or see Sarah train on Comcast Video on Demand - Life and Home - Pets. Enjoy!


Announcer: You're listening to

Female: OK, class, take your seats. I said, take your seats. Class, sit! Ssshh. I swear you're all acting like a bunch of animals.

Pet Life Radio presents Teacher’s Pet where you'll learn how to understand and communicate with your pet and train them to be the best pet they can be. It’s time to see the world from your pet’s point of view. So, give a tail-wagging welcome to your Teacher’s Pet host, Sarah Wilson.

Sarah Wilson: Welcome to Teacher’s Pet, this is Sarah Wilson on Today, we're going to talk about place because it is December 1st here in New Hampshire, it is 18° out and we are not going to do anything outside today. Right now, we are in our basement. Ben, our cat, and Pip are in attendance, along with the wood-burning stoves, or I'm a happy trainer.

Place is a command that means “go there, lay there and stay there until I tell you otherwise”. It’s very useful. In the kitchen, when you have guests over, for dogs that are hysterical around the door, there are a lot of good uses for that. It’s not hard to train. There are several ways to train and I'm going to tell you about a couple of them. Everything works if you work it. If you practice with your dog, your dog will learn. So don’t try to necessarily find the perfect way because there may not be a perfect way, or there may be a perfect way for you and your dog but it won't be the same for your neighbor.

All right? So, do something that will makes sense to you and that you're willing to do and then, practice. That’s what we're going to show. You're going to listen to me work with a young Italian greyhound puppy who’s just learning and that will tell you two things – how to work with a happy little toy breed and how hard it is for Sarah to actually train a dog and focus on that and talk to you, guys, at the same time. Then, we're going to work Pip at a little more of an advanced level.

But first, we're going to hear from our sponsors and then, we're going to be right back.


Announcer: Let’s talk pets on

Female: OK, class. Hang up your collars and leashes. Teacher’s Pet is back in session. Now, park yourselves on the floor. I said park, not bark. Ooh. OK, Teacher’s Pet with pet expert and author, Sarah Wilson. Pay attention. There may be a quiz later.

Sarah Wilson: Hi! Welcome back. This is Sarah Wilson for Teacher’s Pet on Pet Life Radio. The way I taught place when I started out, once I just put the dog on lead, I had a treat on my hand, I stood a few feet away from the bed and I said, “Place.” I lowered them there, I lowered them down into the down, I gave them the treat, I rewarded them, I repeat it and that works just fine. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But what I started to do recently is I started to ask myself, “How can I get the dog to really want to go to the bed?” So, this is what I call TV training. You can get your dog, you can get to bed, you can get some treats and you turn on the tube. I want you to put the bed right in front of where you're sitting and I want you to just pay attention. Any time your dog’s paw hits the bed, I want you to drop treat on the bed. I don’t want you to look at the dog when you do this, I don’t want you to say anything. I just want your dog to start thinking, “Boy, when I touched the bed, treats rained from the sky!”

Pretty soon, what you're going to get to have is the dog who is standing on the bed saying, “This is a great place to be!” When this starts to happen, I want you to get up, lower the dog away, call them over to you, praise them, don’t feed them, don’t go back and sit down. The minute they put a paw on the bed, a treat falls from the sky. As soon as they are consistently putting a paw on the bed, then you start waiting until they put two paws or three paws. As soon as they're jumping on to the bed, which probably won't be too long, start taking the treat, lowering them down into the down, don’t say, “Down”, don’t look at them again to be very casual. You don’t have to look away, just don’t make direct eye contact because I don’t want the dog focused on you. You lower them down, the minute they're down, you pop open your hand, there’s the cookie and you repeat.

So, you start with just the dog’s paw causing the treat to fall and within whatever amount of time – five minutes, five sessions, it doesn’t matter – them lying down on the bed causes the treat to appear. The common problem you're going to have – and you’ll going to hear it in a second with the Italian greyhound puppy – is that pretty soon, they won't get off the bed. All right, that’s the right kind of problem to have and don’t sweat that. That’s easy to fix and a great thing to happen. Don’t worry about that.

So, what were going to do now is I'm going to let you listen in on the little session I did. Here you go.

And today, were going to do some work on place. We’re going to start out working with an adorable little Italian greyhound who is visiting. What I've done is I've set up her bed in my kitchen which is tile and I've gated it off so that the bed is the nicest place to be. For a lot of Italian greyhounds, comfort is number one so you might as well weight(?) things in your favor. Now, she's also sniffing around which makes me think she might need to pee. So, we're going to take a brief pause while you put papers down and give her a chance to go if she needs to. Just a second.

All right, we're back, and she didn’t pee but the papers are down. Oh, good! I've got a chair in the kitchen in the bed and I'm going to have to step on the bed to keep her from pushing it. But anytime she puts her paws on that bed, I'm going to drop something on it. Now, what I'm not going to do is stare at her or say anything at this point. If I stare at her, she’s going to look at me and wonder what we're doing. I just want it to magically happen. Any time her feet happen to touch the bed, a treat falls on to the bed! How fascinating!

Now, she’s…oh, oh, no! She can't get through the gate! Unbelievable! Sorry, she's really skinny. “Here, little bean.” All right, she was trying to get to her trainer whom she loves. All right, she has came back and hopped on to the bed and I dropped it. I'm going to drop food again. I didn’t drop the bed, by the way, I drop the treat. I'm not looking at her, I'm going to wait for her to look away or wonder off for a second. There she is. Food appears back on the bed. She starts to go, “Huh! Tiles, not so interesting.” Oh, you've already done some nice work with her. The dime just dropped and she looked at me and came over and lie down on the bed which is perfect.

So, what I'm going to do is drop food between her feet as she lies there. But again, I'm not going to make contact with her. She has got up and left. I don’t care. All I'm doing right now is conditioning the bed as a nice place to be. This is not a command, I'm just making an association. All right. Now, she’s decided to play with the world’s biggest (++) bone. She's back, and if a paw touches the bed, she gets a treat. She's now in a nice little play bell trying to figure it out. Beautiful! She hopped on the bed and lie down. Very nice. I will continue to reward that a little bit. She’s off, that’s fine, and, she’s back. Nice! Then I'm looking off into the distance. She's trying to make eye contact with me and I am not going to do it. It’s about the bed, not about me. Nice, good. She’s holding it. Very nice.  She’s so bright. What she just did is she sat up and then lie down and pat at her feet going, “Excuse me, I just lie down.” She’s off the bed, she’s looking at me, she’s on the bed. Nice, all right.

So, this association is going just the way I want it to. Beautiful. She came on to the bed and she sat, then she looked at me and she lie down. Beautiful. So now, I'm going to start luring her off with the treat if she's lurable, but frankly, she's not because she goes, “No, I like this bed place. It’s good. It’s comfortable.” Yes, it’s good. Again, she's sat up and lie back down because she understands exactly what is being rewarded at the moment. Good.

So, what we’ll start doing is rewarding her for holding it as opposed for her getting off of it. Now, let's see what happens if I wander. All right. She wanders a little bit, good. Excellent! She goes back, parks it on the bed, she gets a reward. I want her to think she's forcing me to give her cookies for lying on the bed. “Good girl!” Now, she's starts to get praise. Very nice. I'm now about six feet away from the bed and she's lying there like a little champ going, “I know this is the place I should be.” “What good dog! You are so good! Yes, you are!”

Now, my challenge is how do I get the bloody Italian greyhound off the bed. These are the problems we, trainers, like to face. “Hi, little girl! Hi! What a good dog!” She ran over, she's saying, “Hi.” Now, let’s see. Then, she's off to the bed and sitting. “Good girl!” I waited a little out there because she gave me a little half bob of the head which told me she was thinking downing. She’s off again, and walking around, which is absolutely fine. “Place! Good girl!”

So now, what I'm going to do is when she’s returning herself to the location, when her feet touch the bed, I'm going to tell her “Place”. She's sitting there looking at me. All right, she’s off. She’s really cute. “Place! Good! What a good dog! That was so smart. You are just a smart little number.” So, by putting the bed in the kitchen where the floor is hard, I really made it easy for her to choose, “This is a nice place to be.” She’s wondering around, she’s back. “Place! That’s a good puppy! What a good puppy you are! Good!” I started it out sitting next to the bed, holding it with my toes so she didn’t push around. “Place! Good girl!” Once she started doing that well, we’d caught on very quickly because she's already had some good basics on this. I start walking around. “Very good! Good girl!” She’s got her butt on the bed and her front off. I'm just going to being quiet here and let her figure that. “Good girl!”

So, what I did there is she guessed, and as I walked closer, she got up and she lay back down but her butt was on, her front end was off. That’s not what I want. So, I just paused and got quiet and she thought about it for a second, then she got up and lie down on the bed all the way. Now, she’s getting cookies for doing that. Whenever possible, I love to let dogs figure it out, because from here, from this spot of her loving that location and getting rewarded for it, teaching her “Place!” is no big deal. “Good. Really good.”

That’s going to be the end of this part as a beginning dog. What were going to do next is work with Pip. Sorry, the puppy just looked at me and down. It was beautiful. It’s not easy to get an idea to down on tile until you just shoot at me – “Good  girl!” – on her own. In any case, we're going to do Pip as an advanced place, sending her from more of a distance and working her with more distractions. “Good girl! That was excellent!” She walked off, she circled back, she lie down. “That’s perfect! That’s so smart!”

All right, so you see two things. Number one, how quickly the dog can start adding it up and making the leap and going to the bed to cause good things to happen and how hard it is for me to focus on the dog and focus on you, guys, at the same moment.

So, for right now, we're going to hear from our sponsors. Then, we're going to be right back and Pip and I are going to do some more advanced work. So, stay tuned.


Announcer: Let's talk pets on

Female: OK, class, hang up your collars and leashes. Teacher’s Pet is back in session. Now, park yourselves on the floor. I said park, not bark.  Ooh. OK, Teacher’s Pet with pet expert and author, Sarah Wilson. Pay attention, there may be a quiz later.

Sarah Wilson: OK, welcome back to Teacher’s Pet with Sarah Wilson on Pet Life Radio. We're here in the basement with Pip. Now, we're going to work on two different pieces of place that people often have trouble with. The first is to get your dog to run back to place from various parts of the house, and the second is to get your dog to stay there. So, let's begin with getting her to run back. I already have a dog who, if I stand five or six feet away from the place, I can point to the bed…“Come here, Pip. Good girl. Place. Good.” She hops in and she lies down. “Beautiful, what a good job that was! Good girl.” So, I'm going to grab some cookies here and reward her. “Very nice. Good.” She’s pawing at my hands as it arrives because she knows what’s coming and she loves it.

So, we're going to start this from different parts of the room. “OK, good girl! Good. Sit. Wait.” All right, this is the classic place problem. She is looking like a race car driver waiting for the green light. This is the right kind of problem. “Down. Wait.” I'm going to put a piece of kibble on her bed. Now, we're going to use kibble because I don’t want something fabulous to be on the bed. I want something mediocre to be on the bed, and then I want you to give her something fabulous when she's there. That way, you'll be able to fade the kibble pretty quickly and have her raise there anticipating their treat. So, she’s down. We're about ten feet away from the bed. “Pip, place! Good girl! Good. Very nicely done.” She ate the kibble, she stood for a second, and then she looked at me and lie down. Perfect. “Good job! Good. That was really nice. Good job! OK, come on, Pip. Good.”

This time I'm going to pop her up on the stairs. “Good girl. Go on up. Good girl. Wait.” She’s standing, front feet on the bottom stair. “Back feet up.” Ben is commenting on all of this, too. All right. So, she’s on the stairs. This is going to be interesting, she has to turn a corner. “Pip, place! Good girl! That was awesome!” I think you, guys, could hear the crashing through the food dishes, the sound of paws skidding on to the canvas. Now, she actually did not even bother to take the kibble that I'd left for her, the one piece of kibble that I'd left for her. She just leapt on to the bed, spun around then down. I’d walked back a few times now and given her treats – “Good girl!” – between her paws. Now, why did I praise you there? Because she went from the sphinx position, she popped herself over on to one hip which usually means the dog is staying put. “Very nice, very nice. That was so pretty. That was really good, sweetheart! Good job! Good girl. OK, let’s do that one again. That was fun.”

Then, I send her up the stairs. “Up! Back. Good. Wait there.” All right, so you're sending her up to the landing and she doesn’t want to go to the landing because she can't really see the bed from the landing. But too bad, she's on the landing because that’s life. All right, that piece of kibble is still there from the floor. She is now in the play bell position saying, “Please, send me, please.” This is the kind of thing you want to build so she’ll love going into place. “Pip, place! Beautiful! Good job!” She ran down the stairs, ran over the bed, lie down and looked at me with big, bright eyes. The little pause there was me giving her a couple of treats. These are good treats. She’s getting some free strides, long. “Good girl!” Long does not cost the same tummy upset that liver can for some dogs. But use whatever your dog likes. If they like carrots or apples or kibbles, whatever food thereabout. There’s nothing magic. And the little laugh I gave there and the praise was because she looked at me and popped over on one hip because she’s so bright, and she figured out that also causes really good treats to appear.

So, we seem to have a good send and you got the idea. You're going to start pretty close to the bed, you're going to let your dog see you put a piece of kibble on the bed. If your dog won't contain themselves in the face of that, have someone else told them or just tether them to something nearby, leave them unleashed and tether them so that they can raise to the bed. If they need to go back, you untether them and you tell them, “Place!” and they should rush back to get the kibble, you're following close behind, you use a better treat to either lure them or reward them if they're already down and pretty soon, you got a dog that raises back to the bed on cue, flips around, slams into the down and parks it which is great.

Now, let's take a second to talk about where you can use for place. It doesn’t matter. You could send them to their kennel. If you're using a plastic kennel, you could take it apart and teach them to go to the bottom half first, because if the top is off of it, it makes it a little bit simpler. These days, we use Zip Ties to close plastic kennels because it just makes it so quick, although some of the companies have made really easy open-and-close kennels. I like these little raised beds, I think they're called durabeds. I like the raised ones because it makes very clear when the dog’s stepping off of it. But for years, I just used a blanket or whatever we had. So, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Don’t think you have to wait and go out and buy something new. You don’t. Use what you've got. If you ought to buying a bed, you might want to think about one with the raised edge or one of the soft beds with the bolster around it because any sort of barrier makes it very clear for the dog what’s expected of them.

So here, we have a dog who’s lying in place in a very relax manner, completely at ease. So, the next thing, we're going to work on are the four Ds. The four Ds of any sort of stationary command are duration, distraction, distance and diversity. Duration, how long the dog stays in the position. Distraction, what’s going on around the dog. Distance, how far you are away from the dog, how independent the behavior is. Then, diversity, where you're doing it. Can they do it in a variety of locations or are there really areas specific?

The first things you work on are duration and distraction. All right, those are the two. You stay close to the dog and you work up, link the time the dog stays in the place and can they stay in the place when you drop food, when you drop toys, when the kids are running in and out, when the doorbell rings? These are big challenges. Until you have those set, don’t start leaving them alone in place. We always want to do distance first. It’s the last thing you should do. You can start diversity really early, but any time you add a new D, you drop the other ones down. Meaning, if I move this bed to a different location, then I stay very close and I use short duration, little distraction, not distance to make sure that she understands. If she doesn’t, I help her to understand. I help her to generalize, and then we go on from there. So, any time you go some place new with your dog, expect their responsiveness to drop a little bit because they may be confused. All right. “You're so good. So, you're so pretty. Yes, you are. You are so pretty. What a good dog. Very nice.”

So, what we going to do first is we're going to use some toys, because those are always hard for Pip. She’s a toy monger. She’s in place. I've got my dog on my right, the toy on my left. I don’t care which one’s which, but I want to make sure my body is in between, so that when I drop the toy on the ground – “Good, what a good job!” – my body is between the dog and the toy. So that if we've done lots of (++) work which Pip and I have, she understands not to blow pass me to get to what she wants, and that helps her to succeed. “Good, that was very good!”

With the distraction, in general, the further away you are, the less distracting it is. So with toys, all starts six to eight feet away or maybe your dog has to be 10 feet away, but you don’t want to start close especially if you've got a tennis ball crazy dog. But she’s been doing really well so I'm right up next to her. She sees the toy, I drop it. “Good girl!” Not only did she not go for it but she didn’t even look away from me. She's like, “I got this.” All right, I'm kicking it past her. The toy just rolled under the bed and – “Good! You're doing so well. You are doing so great. Yes, I know, you're so good!” So, I'm going over to fuss with her a bit. This is one of the things that people forget to do with duration command is that they start it and then they forget to go back and praise the dog for doing it right. They go distance, they like “Place, place! Stay, stay. Good girl. OK, good girl.” She just grab the toy and brought it to me. “Very nice. We're not doing that. Pip, place. Good.” One jump, one stride, one hop, down into the bed, flips around, into the down position. Very nice. All right, she’s back.

Now, we're going to try a ball, a tennis ball. I'm kicking it around, playing a little soccer with it. She’s moving around, seeing she lost the kibble but I'm not going to say anything to her. I'm not going to say anything to her, it’s her – “Good girl! Very nice.” – it’s her job to figure out whether she's going to get off the bed, at which point I would send her back with very little fuss a must, or down. She chose to down so she got praised. But I'm not going to micromanage her here. If she stands up, I don’t say anything. She doesn’t get rewarded, she doesn’t get corrected. When she lies down, she gets praised and gets a treat and that’s a pretty simple for her to figure this out.

All right. I'm playing soccer with the tennis ball and nothing. “Good girl! That was excellent!” So, you start nice and easy. You start with distractions. Now, I'm going to do some duration. I'm not going to (++) do a lot of it because you don’t want to really hang out on the radio all the time because it’s like watching (++). But, get a book, watch TV, talk to a friend, do whatever but stay close enough that if your dog gets up, you can send them back.

Now, there are several ways to get a dog back into place if they get off. Here are a couple of my favorites. If they already know what pointing to place means, feel free to point without comment and then simply praise and reward them when they are there. So, they get no entertainment, no reward, no particular amount of attention for getting up and they get lots of attention and lots of reward for being there pretty easy choice.

The other one, if I've got a dog who is not quite as controlled yet, is I’ll leave a lead on the dog and then, I’ll just guide them back. I’ll walk them back, I’ll guide them on to the place, I’ll guide them in to the down and I’ll leave them. Again, without comment because the leash already said it, you don’t need to do anything else and you don’t need to make it a big deal.

The third is to tell them, “Place.” “Oh, good girl!” Why the laughter? I was sitting here petting her, I gave her the double tap which also is our release command and she got up. When I said, “P-L-A-C-E”, she hopped back on the bed and looked at me because she’s adorable. OK, we're playing with the toy. So, it’s not that she doesn’t want the toy, it’s that she likes “place” better. “Very nice, honey. Good job!” I love a nice happy working dog. That’s my favorite thing in the world. So, she as joyful and relax and having a great time but, I let her throw that little football on the air one more time and Pip leave it. “Place. Good. Nice.” She left it instantly, ran over, hop into spot. Excellent. It’s all I want from her.

So, you get the idea here. It’s not hard to teach your dog to run to place. It’s not hard to teach your dog to love your place location. It’s not hard to start building up a really solid place command by working the four Ds carefully and a little bit at a time. So, have fun with this. All right?

Now, I'm going to read you a question that came in, I think, last week on place from my message board in So, just a second and I’ll go get that question. OK, here we go. This is the question from KY and Sonny on our message board. “Teaching place: how do you teach a dog to go to a spot or place? I want to teach Sonny to go to her blanket when company comes or we're eating dinner. She’ll go when I lead her, but I can't seem to cross the bridge to telling her “Place” and have her go away from me if I'm occupied. Is this a trick only brilliant savant dogs can do or am I missing something? How do you reward a dog for going away?”

Well, you know, what I'm doing right now, which is putting a little piece of kibble down and sending them, but let’s hear from three other trainers, all of whom are successful teaching place, So you, guys, can see there's no one right answer and lots of things work if you work it. Here, we have something from Nature Painter. “I teach it by first luring the dog on to his bed and as I say place then getting him on to his bed and to lie down when I say place. Then, I go to saying place in running with the dog to their bed. When they get there, I praise and reward them for getting on the bed. After a few reps like that, I say place and run to the bed, then hold the treat in my fist on the bed until the lie down. Then, I open my hands so they can get it. After you do that for a number of reps, you should be able to start moving to the bed with the dog and then letting the dog ran ahead of you to the bed. From there, you move to gradually increasing the distance the dog goes on its own, starting from nearby and moving farther away, with you moving to it first.”

The second one is from Pup Professor and she says, “Nature Painter’s advice is spot on – and I agree. Here’s something I’ll also do which works well if you only have one dog and not especially a hungry cat. Pick a place or bed you want to be the dog’s primary place, which in your case can be in the kitchen or just outside it. Use this one place until they’ve got it. Then, you can retrain, which won't take long, to other places. In my house, place means find the nearest dog bed and lie down. There are multiple dogs and I find that multiple beds make life easier. Put the delicious treat on the bed when you're dog is not looking and leave it. Do this sporadically throughout the day. It’s OK if the dog sees you, but try to do it when the dog doesn’t see you, too. Your dog will wander by the bed and find the goody. You do not have to be present.

After this has happen a multiple times over the course of a few days, Sonny, will start seeking out this area because good things tend to happen there. Once you notice her nosing around the bed on purpose, start adding the command and then, taking the treat to her while she's on the bed. Eventually, as Nature Painter suggests, only reward when she’s lying down the place.”

So, a totally different approach, a lot more casual, but just as effective. Then, we hear from TKW and she says, “I do what both Nature Painter and Put Professor say, plus I modified the running to the bed by stopping three quarters of the way and just waiting to see if the dog froze himself on the bed. If they do, I continue and reward. Over a few days, staying back farther, ask them to go on their own from farther away. Don’t forget, you’ll want to work on distance. How far away you get from them while they're in place. Time, how long you'll ask them stay in distraction separately. I tend to work on time first then distance for a few seconds then distraction. Then, I’ll add it all together working on whatever holes I find as I go. The reward given between the paws on the bed as opposed to feeding from the hand.”

Now, that’s a really good point. I always drop the food on the bed because I don’t want the dog focused on my hand or getting up to come to me in order to get the reward. I want the reward to be associated with the location, not with me approaching the location.

So these are three slightly different approaches, all of which work. These are three wonderful professional trainers. So, find what works for you, tweak it a little bit in the way that makes sense to you and your dog, then have fun with it. If you do that, I'm betting you're going to have place before the holidays hit us.

If you need me, write me at or come and visit us at Have a wonderful week and I’ll talk to you next week. OK?

This is Sarah Wilson, signing off from Teacher’s Pet on Pet Life Radio, and remember, any dog can be a teacher’s pet.

Female: School’s in session on Pet Life Radio with Teacher’s Pet. Learn how to communicate with your pet, train you pet and see the world from your pet’s point of view. You may even learn a few tricks yourself. Teacher’s Pet, with pet expert and author, Sarah Wilson, only on

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