Separation anxiety is a common issue among dogs, and it can cause them a great deal of distress. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you may have noticed that they become anxious or agitated when you leave them alone, or when you are out of their sight. This can lead to destructive behavior, barking, and other disruptive behaviors.
One way to help your dog cope with separation anxiety is to teach them the "place" command. This is a simple but powerful command that can help your dog feel more secure and comfortable when you are not around. In this article, we will explore how the place command can help separation anxiety in dogs and how you can teach your dog this useful behavior.
What is the Place Command?
The place command is a simple behavior that you can teach your dog to help them feel more calm and secure when you are not around. The idea behind the place command is that your dog has a designated "place" where they can go to feel safe and relaxed.
An elevated cot is great to use for "place" because it provides clear boundaries (e.g. easier to tell when they get off the elevated cot), but you can also use a bed or blanket.
To teach your dog the place command, you will need to choose a spot for their "place" and then teach them to go to this spot on command. You can do this by using a combination of positive reinforcement and consistency. When your dog goes to their designated "place" on command, reward them with high-value treats, praise, and other rewards to reinforce the behavior.
How Can the Place Command Help Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
For many anxious dogs, implementing more structure can be incredibly beneficial because it gives them less to think about as they're trying to reach a calmer mindset. Imagine being lost in a new city and feeling anxious because you don't know where to go or what to do. Having a tour guide to follow can relieve that stress and allow you to just enjoy the sights and sounds of the city as the person guides you.
The place command can be a useful tool for helping your dog cope with separation anxiety because it gives them a designated "place" where they can go to feel safe and relaxed. When your dog knows that they have a specific place where they can retreat to when they are feeling anxious or agitated, they may be more likely to feel calm and secure when you are not around.
In addition to providing a sense of security, the place command can also help your dog learn self-control and independence. When your dog knows that they have a designated "place" where they can go to relax and be calm, they may be more likely to seek out that space to decompress, rather than becoming anxious or agitated. The skills of self-control and independence can be beneficial for their overall well-being.
How to Teach Your Dog the Place Command
Teaching your dog the place command is a relatively simple process, but it does require patience and consistency. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to teach your dog the place command:
- Choose a designated "place" for your dog. This could be an elevated cot, a dog bed, or a blanket. When your dog eventually generalizes "place" to a blanket or mat, you can use it to practice settling in public.
- Use treats like Kono's Kitchen Chicken & Chicken Liver treats to lure your dog onto "place." If luring doesn't work, you can use a slip lead to add leash pressure to guide them onto place.
- Practice with luring first until your dog starts to understand what to do. Once they understand, start adding in the verbal cue, "Place."
- When your dog goes to their designated "place," reward them with treats and praise. This will help reinforce the behavior.
- Practice the place command in different locations and situations, or in different pictures. This will help your dog understand that the command applies no matter where they are.
- Gradually increase the duration of time that your dog stays in their designated "place." Start with a few seconds and then slowly increase the criteria to a longer duration.
In conclusion, the place command can be a helpful tool in managing separation anxiety in dogs. By providing a sense of structure and predictability, giving your dog something to focus on, and creating a sense of security, the place command can be a valuable tool in helping your dog feel more calm and relaxed when you're not around.
It's important to remember that the place command is just one aspect of managing separation anxiety, and it may be necessary to use other approaches in combination with the place command to achieve the best results. However, with patience, consistency, and lots of single-ingredient treats, the place command can be a valuable tool in helping your dog overcome separation anxiety and lead a happier, more relaxed life.
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