For dogs who are a little "extra energy" and get over-the-top excited about visitors to your home, or who are nervous about guests, or who are always underfoot when you're trying to cook or carry laundry down the stairs, having a designated place for him or her to go on cue and chill out for a while can be a lifesaver.

Teach your dog to relax in place when given the cue “Go to Your Spot” (or mat, bed, place, couch, etc.). It doesn't matter what you call it, and you can teach your dog the names of multiple spots throughout your house and yard! Use a bed/mat/towel/felt square, whatever your dog wants to be on. Get out your clicker and your dog's mat and follow the steps below to begin teaching your dog to go to his or her place on cue.

  1. Place your dog's spot in between you and use your body language to get your dog to come toward you. When his/her paws touch the spot, Click and Praise & Treat. Toss the treat a ways away so your dog has to move off the mat to get it.
  2. Repeat urging your dog on the spot with your body language or treat lure. Again, Click and Praise & Treat when the paw touches the spot, again tossing the treat away so the dog leaves the mat to get it.
  3. After s/he is reliably getting on the spot, add the cue “Go to Your Spot” as s/he is about to step onto the spot and Click and Praise & Treat, tossing the treat away from the mat.
  4. When your dog is regularly landing spot every time you say your cue, then begin to increase the amount of time before you Click and Praise & Treat:
    1. Vary the amount of time s/he must stay: 2 seconds, 4s, 3s, 7s, 2s, etc. Mix it up so s/he does not anticipate when Click and Praise & Treat is coming, but so s/he always has success.
      1. If you find s/he is moving before you can Click and Praise & Treat, then you are waiting too long. Shorten the time interval.
    2. Next, slowly increase your distance from the spot while your dog is relaxing there, backing up 2 steps, 4 steps, etc.
      1. If you find s/he is moving as you move before you can Click and Praise & Treat, then you are moving too fast or too far. Reduce the number of steps or your speed.
    3. Slowly add distractions that happen while s/he is on his spot. Be sure to Click and Praise & Treat regularly!
      1. If you find s/he is moving off the spot or looking stressed before you can Click and Praise & Treat, then you have added too much distraction too fast. Either give him/her something to do (a puzzle toy or toy to play with) or reduce the amount of distraction until s/he can succeed.