Learning to Goto 'BED'



One of the most useful behaviours you can teach your dog in the house is to goto and stay in their bed /mat or crate with a verbal cue and release.

 

This has no end of uses and you will never be sorry you trained this.  I have a large mattress type dog bed in the corner of the kitchen so if I’m cooking the dogs have their ‘place’ to be rather than under my feet.  You can use the same behaviour to have your meals in peace – have your dog goto and stay on the bed rather than beg at the table.  You can ask them to goto bed when someone rings the doorbell – having a mat near the door so they can see who it is good.  If you have more than one dog you can be training one dog while the others stay on their mat and wait their turn.

 

Sometimes new people ask me why we have the dogs climb onto and sit on the ‘place boards’ in class (the low wooden boxes with astroturf on top) and the other obstacles like the balance pods and black steps.  The answer is to develop the foundation behaviour of following your hand signal to goto a specific place and stay there.  When you start this training it really helps to have something that’s raised as it forms an obvious platform / boundary for the dog but you can also do the same training at home with a dog bed or mat / towel.   

 

Here is a step by step guide to everything you need to know about training your dog to goto a specific ‘place’ and to stay there until you give them permission to break the stay (called a ‘release cue’).  Build your own ‘place board’, find a new OBSTACLE or buy a new mat and have a go!

 

 

1. Introducing your dog to the ‘PLACE’

 

The first step to training your dog is to get him to jump up onto the OBSTACLE. There are many methods to doing this. If your dog is fearful of new things you may need to go very slowly and reward your dog just for looking at the OBSTACLE.  On the other hand you may happen to have a dog that offers the behaviour of jumping onto the OBSTACLE with minimal or no prompting.  Either way, mark and reward any attempts to put paws on the OBSTACLE.  

 

If your dog doesn’t offer jumping onto the OBSTACLE use a food lure.

 

  • With a treat in your hand, place it at the dog’s nose and slowly lure him up onto the OBSTACLE. Be patient and mark and reward any good efforts in the right direction then repeat until your dog is confidently following your food lure onto the OBSTACLE.
  • Once comfortable, try gesturing towards the OBSTACLE without food in your hand. Your dog should jump onto the OBSTACLE. Immediately mark and reward.
  • If your dog chooses to stay on the OBSTACLE continue to mark and reward.
  • Repeat the luring process until your dog is very comfortable jumping onto the OBSTACLE.

 

 

2. Adding a Sit / Down

 

When we ask our dog to get on the OBSTACLE, we will want them to perform a stationary behaviour while they are on it. You can choose to have your dog sit or down.  Follow these steps:

 

  • Cue your dog to jump onto the OBSTACLE.
  • Cue your dog to sit (or down whichever you prefer).  Mark and reward.
  • Gesture for your dog to get off the OBSTACLE.

 

 

3. Adding the “PLACE” verbal cue

 

When your dog is comfortable jumping on and off the OBSTACLE, and you are able to get him to jump onto the OBSTACLE with a simple gesture instead of a lure, you are ready to add a verbal cue.

  • Say your new cue word, for example “PLACE” wait a second without moving then gesture toward the OBSTACLE (the gesture will now become your OLD cue).  When your dog performs the behaviour, mark and reward.
  • Repeat the process, saying the new cue followed by the gesturing old cue. Continue to mark and reward.
  • With repetition, your dog will learn to follow the verbal cue and you will not have to use the hand gesture.

 

TOP TIP: The key here is to wait a second after saying the new verbal cue so that your dog can make the association between the spoken word and what follows.  If you gesture at the same time as using the new cue word your dog will be too busy watching your hand and will likely never learn to follow the verbal cue on its own.  (This is probably the most common dog training mistake I see people make in class).

 

 

 

4. Adding a Release Cue

 

Eventually we will want our dog to stay on the OBSTACLE until we give him permission to get off. To do this, we will add a release cue. Some examples of a release cue are “Release,” “Break,” “Free,” or “All done.”

 

  • Cue your dog to jump on the OBSTACLE. Mark and reward.
  • Say your release cue, and then gesture for your dog to get off the OBSTACLE. You may have to toss a treat/reward on the ground for your dog the first couple of times.
  • With practice, your dog will learn that when he hears the release cue, he has permission to jump off. Once your dog understands this new skill, do not reward your dog after the release cue. We want almost all of our rewards to happen on the OBSTACLE.
  • At this time, we have not built in any duration for staying on the OBSTACLE. If your dog makes a mistake and jumps off the OBSTACLE before you have given your release cue, simply gesture for your dog to get back on the OBSTACLE, pause briefly, and then give your release cue. With the next repetition, you can reward your dog for jumping back onto the OBSTACLE.

 

 

 

5. Adding the Three Ds

 

We want our dogs to be able to stay on the OBSTACLE for as long as we ask them to no matter how far away the handler walks, and no matter the number of distractions that appear. We will build up the following areas slowly over time: distance, duration, and distractions.

 

Distance – How far the handler can be away from the dog.

Duration – How long the dog will stay on the OBSTACLE.

Distractions – How successful the dog is at remaining on the OBSTACLE in the presence of distractions.

 

 

Reminder: Push-Drop-Stick Rule

 

Remember that as we increase our criteria for what our dogs have to do in order to earn a treat, we need to remember the Push-Drop-Stick rule.  If our dog is successful 5/5 trials, we can move up in our criteria. If our dog is successful 3-4 out of 5 trials, we will stick to the same criteria. If our dog is successful less than 3/5 trials we should drop our criteria down to a lower level to make the exercise easier for the dog to succeed.

 

 

 

Adding Duration

 

We want our dogs to maintain their position on the OBSTACLE for a duration of time. We may want them to rest on their OBSTACLE while we eat dinner, visit with friends, or train another dog. To be able to do this, we need to build the duration our dogs will stay on their OBSTACLE.

 

  • Cue your dog to jump onto the OBSTACLE. Pause briefly, then mark and reward.
  • Add duration in short increments.
  • After a few successful repetitions, mark and reward your dog for staying on the OBSTACLE for 3 seconds.
  • After a few successful repetitions, mark and reward your dog for staying on the OBSTACLE for 5 Seconds.
  • Build duration slowly. Be sure to release and reset your dog occasionally. Take a short play break after approximately 10 repetitions.
  • If at any point your dog makes a mistake, decrease your criteria.  Remember the Push-Drop-Stick rule.

 

 

Adding Distance

 

We want to be able to move freely around our dog while they are on their OBSTACLE. We may want them to rest on their OBSTACLE 10 feet away from us while we cook dinner, or watch television. To be able to do this, we need to be able to move away from our dog.

 

  • Cue your dog to jump onto the OBSTACLE. Mark and reward.
  • Take one step away from the OBSTACLE. Mark and return to your dog to reward.
  • After a few successful repetitions, take two steps away from the OBSTACLE. Mark and return to your dog to reward.
  • Add distance one step at a time by building it in slowly. Be sure to release and reset your dog occasionally.
  • If at any point your dog makes a mistake, decrease your criteria.  Remember the Push-Drop-Stick rule.

 

 

Adding Distractions

 

Eventually we want our dogs to be able to maintain their position on the OBSTACLE no matter what the distraction may be. It is important that the distractions are easy to manage and control in order to “proof” the behaviour. Start with simple distractions, and then build up to higher level distractions. Remember to increase your criteria slowly over time.  Here we will discuss an example using a toy. 

 

  • Cue your dog to jump onto the OBSTACLE. Mark and reward.
  • Show your dog the toy. Mark and reward if your dog stays on the OBSTACLE.
  • After a few successful repetitions, slowly wiggle the toy around. Mark and reward if your dog stays on the OBSTACLE.
  • After a few successful repetitions, squeak the toy. Mark and reward.
  • After a few successful repetitions, gently toss the toy up in the air. Mark and reward.
  • After a few successful repetitions, drop the toy on the ground. Mark and reward.
  • Be sure to release and reset your dog occasionally.
  • Use more distracting toys.
  • Practice with food.
  • Use other distractions available in your environment.
  • If at any point your dog makes a mistake, decrease your criteria.   Remember the Push-Drop-Stick rule.

 

Final Reminders

 

Remember that consistency is the key with dog training. If you are not training or maintaining a behaviour, you will lose it. Keep your training sessions short and fun!  Our dogs are our partners, it is our job to make performing acceptable behaviours reinforcing!

 

Have fun, keep training and see you soon :-) xx

 

Step 1: Click the 'Like' button


Step 2: Have a question or want to know more? Leave your comments below and we'll get back to you!

Note: Please fill out the fields marked with an asterisk.