The Place Command [Back to Monthly Pro Staff Articles]
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Imagine you're out hunting in flooded timber and your group shoots a few ducks. Your dog is patiently sitting on his stand waiting for your release. After you celebrate with the group, you send him after the ducks. He eagerly retrieves your green heads and returns to you with the last bird. How do you send him back to his dog stand? The answer, my friends, is PLACE! You don't need to be in a timber hole to use place, it comes in handy at your house, the duck boat, in the marsh, and in training sessions. Chasidy Lavender of Lavender Kennels walks us through the process of teaching a young gun dog PLACE.
There are many ways to train a dog or puppy the place command. I like to start young because it's simple, fun, and the pups take to it quickly. It also teaches them how to learn. You want to teach the puppy that being on the place platform is a good thing. These steps are the same for an older dog, start slow, and build the process one day at a time! These are short, fun sessions, lasting approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
I start with a short, stable, platform made out of 2x4s and a plywood top. By elevating the platform, you exaggerate the fact that your pup has to get up and onto something. Use a leash and guide the pup onto the platform, entice them with a treat! When the pup gets on the platform reward them with the treat and praise them! If they choose to get off the platform, use the leash and another treat to get them back up. Praise and deliver the treat promptly. What they begin to learn is that PLACE is a good spot to be! They are loved and given treats here, what gun dog doesn't love that? As they progress, a stern NO, PLACE, followed by guiding them with the leash and treat will help them put the process together.
Watch their body language, being on the platform needs to be fun! As you continue to progress with the pup, back off the treats, and only use praise. You can also start throwing them bumpers from the platform. Your praise and a retrieve are the best rewards a young gun dog can get!
The place command helps in many different training scenarios. For instance, teaching a dog to be steady. The platform helps to prevent your gun dog from creeping and breaking. It can also teach a dog to handle by going from platform to platform with a hand signal.
The biggest reason I love the place command is for training alone. I set the platform out in the field and sit the dog on it. I then take a hand full of bumpers into the field and throw single marks. I release them on their name and have them deliver to hand. Once they deliver to hand, I command PLACE and they run back to their platform eager for another retrieve.
Have fun with this command, I bet you and your gun dog will love it!