Place Command | The Most Valuable Dog Training Tool

The Place Command

Second, only to a really solid recall, the Place command is one of the most valuable things you can teach your dog.

A place command, in case you aren’t aware, teaches the dog to place his body (all four paws) on (or in) the object you designate. The dog has free choice as to how they wish to position themselves. They can sit, lie down, or stand plus are allowed to change position if they desire. The only hard and fast rule are that they keep four paws remaining in or on that area.

Why is Place Such an Awesome Thing to Teach?

It is awesome because of the versatility. There is so many day to day applications of this dog training skill that make life more enjoyable and easier to manage.

Let me illustrate some examples of the versatility of place training by sharing a few personal photos of my dogs.

One of the common uses for the place command is an opportunity to enjoy a meal without having the dogs underfoot. On a recent camping trip, we laid out a small blanket (an Insect Shield Blanket which keeps the bugs from bothering the dogs!)
The dogs remained there until we gave them permission to get up after we had finished our lunch. It made eating stress-free with no begging or having to manage keeping them out of other mischief.

place command car

When traveling, my dogs understand that “in the car” is the equivalent place command that allows them free range of movement in the vehicle BUT they should not jump out when I open a door or put down the tailgate. Not only do they load up willingly when told, they understanding they need to keep all paws in the car. This keeps them safe because they won’t jump out until they hear the permission cue that allows them freedom to go.

Sometimes we even have a place within a place. An example of this is having a designated area inside the car to keep the dog from roaming freely from seat to seat. My Duck Toller, Diva, decided to settle in for a nap after I told her to place in one of the seats of our RV.

When you are teaching a concept like this it is important to remain aware that you did give your dog a command. If Diva had jumped out of the seat it would be my responsibility to have her get back up there immediately. If we don’t notice our dog’s mistake within a few seconds of them breaking the command, the timing (and thus the meaning) of the lesson will be lost.

place command nap

There are also occasional uses where you might find the Place command to be of significant value.

When visiting the veterinarian, “Place” can be very handy in getting the dog to willingly step onto the scale to get their weight. I wasn’t mindful of getting a photo on our last visit to the vet, but I did grab a good picture on a recent outing after I had asked my dog to hop into a kayak.

She balked at first but once I pointed into the bow and asked her to Place she obediently hopped right in and we were soon off and enjoying some time on the water!

place command kayak

The uses are limitless, but before you begin to generalize the place concept to all these varying uses, remember to start simple with a raised platform that is stable and easy for your dog to learn on.

We use dog cots when we start because they are the perfect teaching tool, plus extremely durable and provide years of service as a comfortable dog bed.

If you’ve found some unique uses for your dog’s place command, I’d love to hear about it! Please share here in the comments section or on my Facebook page

From Germany to Singapore, Golden Retriever finds training solution that works.

Another dog owners experience with remote collar training. The following note is from Susanne who recently relocated to Singapore and began training with Jeffery Ong. Jeffery owns K9 World and is a graduate of my program for Professional Dog Trainers, That’s My Dog! E-cademy.

To begin with, I am Susanne and my dog’s name is Buddy. We have started our remote collar training with Jeffery Ong from K9 World in December 2013.

Our story is quite simple. Buddy is a 2 ½ year old Golden Retriever from Germany. Before we came to Singapore in April 2012, we had dog training in a group of 10 other dogs, and that only for two months in high winter season with snow and ice. In Germany, remote collar and prong collars are not allowed by law. So what they teach you there is training your dog with pulling the leash at the right time. I found it very exhausting, especially if you have a dog who is really stubborn and strong, even as a puppy. Still I went out with him 2-3 hours per day, always meeting other dogs on a huge nature reserve area. Buddy had fun.

Coming to Singapore things changed. So did Buddy. We took training lessons where the trainer used the prong collar plus clicker. At the beginning it was quite promising. We continued even with agility, but somehow got stuck after a while. Buddy became negligent towards the prong collar, the clicker and me! My back was getting worse. Recall was also a problem, as it was not really on the agenda of the training. And then, one day I was watching one of my friends dog training sessions with Jeffery. I was surprised and impressed, how fast dogs learn with this tool.

I have read a lot about remote collars and at the beginning I was skeptical. Will it hurt my dog, will I be able to use it properly? But then I saw the progress of my friends dogs and was determined to give it a try.

After almost three months dog training (and that also with some interruptions in between) my opinion on remote collar is very positive. Having tried different other tools and methods in dog training, remote collar is the best tool ever! Why? Because you can give the dog instant feedback of his behavior. You don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to pull the leash harshly. Remote collar requires only two things from you, which are right timing and setting the right level. For that you have to know your dog of course, his good habits and his bad. When tapping the nick button at the right time at the right level, it makes your dog paying attention to you, so that he learns to take the right decision. This is something which would have taken me otherwise at least 1 ½ to 2 years with Buddy, and that only with tons of treats, if at all.


remote collar for dog
Buddy in Group Class


Another advantage of remote collar I feel is, that you can give your dog more freedom. Off leash running in designated areas is no more a problem, as you can get his attention any time, also from far distance. I feel safer with the remote in my hand, and that is what Buddy feels, too. Even certain fears which dogs sometimes have, can be kept into limits. Buddy for example is very reactive towards German Shepherds. God knows why…I think they look scary to him and we have three (!) in our neighborhood. Meeting these dogs has always been difficult, as holding Buddy tight with all his 34 kg is a challenge, believe me. Plus I was always tensed, as I knew what would happen again.

With the help of the remote and keeping my dog busy, at least one of these dogs we can pass now from some distance without barking. Once even close by. That was not like this before. What a success! It’ll take some time for him to learn, but the stress we had before remote collar is gone, because I have a tool now, which is really reliable. And that makes me more confident, if it comes to situations like that.

Of course there is still quite a bid of work ahead of Buddy and me, but I do think that remote collar under the surveillance of a good trainer is an excellent  tool to bring the best out of your dog in a relatively short time. My goal is a well behaved dog in near future and maybe we will be able to pass all three Shepherds one day.

If you would like to reach out to Jeffry he is at For other trainers in our community, look here.

Thank you to Susanne for sharing her story and thoughts on remote collar training.

The words Shock Collar make me cringe

Yes, it is a true, those two words, Shock collar, don’t sit well with me. Not because I’m opposed to electronic collars, but because they further a perception that is inaccurate.

I recently gave a presentation for Scott Mueller and 16 of his students at Canine Workshops in Columbus, OH. Early in the day I directed students to this blog but made an apology for it’s title.


shock collar



The words “Shock collar” bother me too but the title of the blog was born out of necessity.


Until people are better informed on the versatility of electronic training collars it takes continual effort to educate about all the none painful ways they can be utilized. Remote training collars are what you make of them, they are no more shocking than a medical professionals TENs Unit. If you turn it up too high, they are certainly uncomfortable and can cause a significant startle response. Used appropriately the stimulation is at worse a mild aversive and at best a unique sensation that can be associated with any number of meanings.

That is what I set out to demonstrate to my fellow dog trainers during our time together. We talked about my belief that there are only 3 true levels on any of the remote collars on the market: too low (the sensation is undetected or does not gain the dogs attention) too high (the sensation startles or disrupts the dogs ability to learn) and Just Right (the sensation gains attention and enhances the dogs ability to learn).


The words “shock collar” apply when we are “too high”. That is a level we are encouraging people to avoid.


Instead of frustration with a dog’s behavior sending one running to the store to purchase a “shock collar” to punish a dog for doing “bad” we talked about the critical step of understanding HOW to TEACH the dog what attention getting sensation means. Teach the dog how to respond and have control of it. The feedback the dog gains is much like the child’s game of Hot and Cold and it is why the learning is so rapid when a remote collar is properly applied.

We talked about the use of rewards, proper timing, how body language influences, how to work in drive for more flashy performance.

I had a wonderful time. Thank you to Scott for hosting me and thank you to all who attended. I hope that the overall theme became apparent to everyone who was there. Our perception of the tool is what influences how we utilize it. I hope we choose wisely. Electronic training collars can be used to teach or it can be used as a “shock collar”

Q&A about Remote collar dog training.

Questions & Answers: Remote Collar Dog Training

Recently I had a chat with Ty Brown of Dog Behavior Online about e-collar training.

We discussed some of the basic training concepts as well as some of the commonly held misconceptions such as; can e-collars be used with anxious dogs? Are they ok to use in the case of aggression issues. Are they really humane and how do they feel?

What does it mean to use the Just Right level? I remember what it feels like to touch an electric fence, is that what a remote collar feels like? These are some of the many questions that Ty asked me.

Want to know my thoughts on it all?

Click to hear the:  E-collar interview

Remote collar dog training

Hero listens in…

Happy New Year!

Time to toss the old calendar and get ready to ring in a whole new year. The earth kept rotating and somehow we’ve made it through 2012 despite the predictions of impending doom.

Here at The Truth About Shock Collars we’ve continued on as well and it has been a good year. Let’s peak back at a few of the highlights: Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

Thankful for Dogs

Here in the US we will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. It is a day to remember all that we are grateful for. With that in mind, I did not want to over look extending my gratitude here.

So, for those of you who read this blog and comment regularly, thank you for sticking beside me on this topic. As prickly as it can get from time to time I appreciate your wear-with-all in helping others understand the true nature of what we do and that we’re not “just shocking dogs.”

For those of you who read this blog and disagree with my viewpoint and take the time to comment, thank you for reading and expressing your opinion. I choose to believe that despite our differences our mutual goal is always to act in the best interests of the dogs and clients we strive to help.

Thank you to my staff at That’s My Dog! Without you all doing your jobs so well I would not have the available time and resources that afford me the ability to maintain this site.

To my professional colleagues, thank you for the things you share with me and the inspiration you provide. I have deep gratitude for our friendships.

Thank you to my many clients over the years. Since I chose to embark on the path of discovering all the possibilities this tool can afford…you’ve validated to me time and time again, it was the right thing to do. For your trust in myself and my employees I am eternally grateful.

To the dogs, my personal dogs past and present and the thousands I have worked with over these 20+  years in the animal profession. I owe you most of all.

You’ve taught me to be humble, because just when I thought I knew it all, you show me something new. You may drive me crazy one minute but you always leave me laughing the next. Perhaps most importantly you always remind me to stay present and in the moment. I am thankful for that.

…oh, and I do appreciate when you clean up after yourself when you eat too fast and end up puking it all up. I’m a bit of a pansy about that, so thanks for taking care of it! 🙂



  Is there anything your dog has taught you that you are thankful for?

Bad Girls, Bad Girls, Whatcha Gonna Do?

It is time for my Halloween post.I had so much fun dressing up last year, I knew I’d find a way to pull out another alter ego this season.

With that in mind, I decided we’d discuss if the use of aversives are necessary when training a dog. I know it is a topic that causes much debate amongst trainers. It is kind of like politics with the topic getting heated and people tending to gravitate to one side or the other…

That is the question that I was mulling over on a recent drive to teach an advanced remote collar workshop in Indiana. It is probably more accurate to say I was stewing on that question because I just cannot seem to wrap my head around the entrenched philosophy that some trainers have. That all dog training can be successfully accomplished through 2 quadrants of learning theory. Those being +Reinforcement and -Punishment. What that means to you dog owners is: You give the dog something to reward (reinforce) when he does what you ask and you withhold those rewards if he does not do as you ask. So a cookie if you come to me, no cookie if you don’t. The purists among clicker trainers will tell you; “The cue is an opportunity for reinforcement for the dog. If the dog does not do the behavior then simply withhold the reward.” I’ve also heard it explained that their is a significant difference between a  cue, (which they use) and a command, (which others use – “others” being labeled as “force and intimidation” trainers).

The lingo applied is meant to paint pictures of “who” is the kinder, gentler trainer. What I take away from the discussion is: with a cue the dog is not required to follow through. As an example, if we are teaching a recall and the dog comes to me when called I reward him. If not, then I ignore his lack of response. The dog gets to choose if he wants to earn “an opportunity for reinforcement or not” No other consequence is applied at least via the belief of those who follow this training theory.

I guess my question to a trainer who was proposing this idea to me would be; if my dog doesn’t have to listen when I tell him/her something than what I am paying you to help me achieve and how long until I can expect some level of reliability in response in my typical daily routine with my dog?

In theory I  do get it. I get it from the stand point of working with animals in containment (marine mammals, zoos etc) which is where the techniques were heavily developed and refined. If there is so little other option (such is the case in a pool full of water and nothing else) It limits any real choice that the animal has in the matter. You get the toy/food through your cooperation OR you get solitary existence (no contact, no mental stimulation, etc) We simply ignore you and you will come around to our way of thinking because that is how you get to eat and gain any attention.

On a side note…Isn’t solitary confinement considered one of the higher levels of penalty in our judicial system?

This is the theory of ALL Positive training. Ignore what you do not want, reward what you do. And it does work. But, what it requires is extensive management of environment. Which again, is relatively easy with animals in captivity. I realize our dogs are “in captivity” so to speak. We own them and can control their access to things..but how tightly are you willing to monitor that? And do you truly want your dog to live a life of highly managed access to…well, to the world around them?

I know that I personally do not micro manage my dog that way. I want to live my interpretation of a “normal” life with my dogs. That means I want to leave them un-crated when I leave the house. I want to un-hook their leashes and let them turn and burn at the park, I want to have friends visit my house without expecting my friends to have to “ignore the dog, don’t look at the dog, don’t touch the dog”…in short I want to spend some time teaching my dog what my expectations are and then. Only then, AFTER a period of teaching….I actually want my dogs to have some responsibility in the matter. I want my dogs to make choices that ultimately allow them to be fully integrated in my life without my continual micro-management of them and the humans and other dogs around them. Giving the dogs an opportunity to make a real choice, IMO, means they are going to be exposed to consequences other than “I will ignore your lack of response.”

So back to my drive… did I get to all this spinning in my brain?

and how does it tie into dog training, aversives and the use of remote collars?

October 5th, 10 am…..I’m heading down Interstate 39 through Illinois, jamming to Foo Fighters when I glance at my odometer and see I’m pushing 90 mph. So I ease up on the accelerator, glance in my rear view hoping not to see those red flashing lights (again) and when the reading drops back to 75 mph I set my cruise control.

I’ve confessed to you before.

I AM a speed junkie. Yes. I am.

I LOVE to go fast. Once I grew beyond 5 foot tall I knew my dreams of being a jockey were over…but by then I’d learned about cars.

Maybe it was early imprinting, I’m 8 years younger than my brother so when he got his DL, I was just a tyke. He often was charged with watching his little sisters so that meant we got taken along on many of his excursions. (I’m sure he was thrilled) But for me…sitting in the passenger seat, flying the back roads of Wisconsin…I was grinning ear to ear. And when he turned 21 and started driving in the local stock car circuit…well that was a pre-teenage girls dream. Hanging with the cool boys!

I’m not ashamed to say I encouraged one of my early dates to bury the needle from the back of his motorcycle. Watching it tick past 120 mph was awesome!!

The down side is this deep urge comes with a price tag. A rather costly one and as years went on and insurance went higher….well, I’ve learned to monitor my behavior.

That is what I was thinking about on my drive down I39.

I asked myself: What if those red flashing lights were to pull me over frequently and often when I was observing the speed limit and they would reward my cooperation with $50.00 would that increase my desire to drive by the rules?

My immediate response was No Way.

If someone told me going the speed limit was an opportunity for $50.00 reinforcement but my speeding would be ignored I can tell you with absolute certainty I’d be in the left lane flying by you with a big ole’ grin on my face.

If they upped the positive motivation to $10,000.00 per good behavior. I suspect I would take them up on it for a while. At least until I earned enough for this baby.

But then, as Dog is my witness I AM putting the pedal to the metal. There simply would be a tipping point where the reward was not as powerful as my urge to go fast.

You see it is quite simple. Some undesirable behavior is never going to go away by ignoring it. The behavior itself is too reinforcing in and of itself. No amount of reinforcing an alternative behavior is going to stop my speeding. The only thing that has held me in check is having some consequence for my actions.

And those consequences DO NOT make me afraid to drive, nor do they make me dislike law enforcement. They simply have made me aware of monitoring my own behavior. They demonstrated to me real choice between the consequence of losing my license or being able to continue to drive.

This is what I came to on my journey. The idea that ALL positive works for everything, all situations….well, it’s a bunch of malarky. There is absolutely nothing in the natural world that works that way.

Please don’t misinterpret that I am diminishing the need for rewards and reinforcement in training…but the thinking that aversives aren’t needed is truly laughable. Those same people that argue this point will also try to convince you that head halters, front-clip harnesses and body wraps don’t work with aversive principles…somehow those are magically “all positive” too at least in the world of rainbows and unicorns!


I’m off for a drive…can you hear the AC/DC blaring??

dog shock collar


* special thank you’s to Mike Keating set design and photography, Jessica Bowlng & Capri College makeup, Maddie MacFarlane Dog training and Tommy, my heart dog & one of the worlds coolest Malinois. 🙂

How do you use a remote collar for training a dog?

That is a question a lot of people ask, including other Dog Trainers. Using the tool effectively, at a low level to gain and retain a dogs attention is not something everyone intuitively understands, which is why there is such a need for education.

Here at That’s My Dog! one of my responsibilities is to oversee our Professional Trainers remote collar course. The final session for the year started this week and it is always fun to meet new friends from around the globe who are curious to learn more about the varied applications of electronic collars.

Typically our class profile is comprised of both experienced and novice trainers and this group is no different. We are even pleased to have a graduate of Karen Pryor’s clicker training academy joining us. The diversity makes for good conversation and gives us reason to challenge each others thoughts and opinions to expand our skills even further.

shock collar dog training

This week we are working on the basics: how to figure out the Just Right level, how to assist the dog in understanding what the stimulation means and have control over it through various obedience skills such as coming when called, staying in one place or walking nicely on a loose leash. We’re also covering the wide variety of ways to keep both the dogs and their owners motivated and engaged in the dog training process.

On Wednesday there was even a nice outing to the park that helped sum up exactly what the primary goal of remote collar training is: giving dog owners a high level of reliability in real world environments so they can confidently do more with their dogs. We went for a walk, helped the dogs learn good manners in public and then shared lunch together. The dogs had a great time and I think the humans enjoyed it just as much!

While there has always been a wide variety of people attracted to this program, the overall theme seems to be that it draws individuals who have open minds and a willingness to explore new things. In my opinion that is the biggest key to success for a trainer who wishes to help all sorts of people and their dogs. As the years of teaching the TMD E-cademy have gone by, I’m pleased to have played at least a small part in the experience of so many trainers. Many who have gone on to build extraordinary businesses, become articulate writers and educators or some who have started non-profit programs that are filling a void. Collectively they’ve train tens of thousands of dogs and made an impact on the lives of many who needed help to develop a better relationship with their dog.

remote collar dog training

So far it’s been a great week and we’re looking forward to more in the coming days.

Stress in Dog Training

Stress in dog training, is it necessary or not?

Stress in dog training was a topic touched on in one of our conversations on this Facebook page about the Banning of Training Tools .

One of the participants there, Mike, had a few words to say so I invited him to share them here on my site.

My personal thought is there is a significant difference between stress and distress, and this is what we must be conscience of in our training. It is my opinion that short term stresses designed to increase our coping abilities are a good thing. I believe that is the case for us and for our dogs.

What are your thoughts on stress in the paradigm of dog training?

Guest post:

Stress is something we all live with on a daily basis. Though is stress always such a bad thing? Ask yourself, when you hear the word stress what do you think of? For most the thought of high blood pressure, or ripping your hair out in frustration quickly comes to mind.

In the same way when one hears the word electricity we are often preconditioned to think of it in a negative context. I know I did when first hearing about remote collars, having been curious enough (or stupid perhaps) to stick a fork in a socket!

So we are left with the questions, can negatives have an upside? Is stress always such a bad thing?

Is stress always bad for mans best friend?

I believe in small doses it is not. It can even be beneficial. Many people work better under stress, and I am one of them. The same applies to dogs. On a daily basis we ask our canine companions to endure various stressful situations. Such as moving, bringing them into loud and busy environments, blasting our favorite songs, and the list goes on. So why is it that if stress happens in the name of training we are so quick to call it cruel? I understand that if taken to extreme it can cause psychological damage, but there is a happy medium. I believe it is important to teach our dogs how to deal with stress and how to respond in stressful situations.

Many positive trainers would have you believe that any compulsion used in training is too stressful, equates to abusive, and is morally reprehensible. There is a prevailing belief that all the answers to our training problems lie with cookies and praise of behaviors that are desired and ignoring behaviors that are unwanted.

This may be an extreme example, but imagine I walk up to a person with a fear of bats (the flying kind), holding a great big bat in a locked room and I am going to throw chocolate chip cookies at them while I do it! Is that really going to make them feel any better or make their stress go away? Of course not, they would need to be desensitized, and conditioned to act calm in such a situation.

The same is true when working with a dog that has anxiety, or aggression issues, avoiding stress is not only impossible, it is also counter productive. We can do our best to minimize it, but some is required to help the animal overcome such behaviors and be able to cope in our world.

Stress subsides when a dog (or anyone for that matter) begins to understand what is being asked of him/her, and what he/she should be doing. This is why I personally believe a leash correction is less stressful to a dog then negative punishment (which in simple terms is the removal of a treat as a punishment). A leash correction is a clear way of communicating to a dog they did something wrong. In the same way that a clicker is an auditory marker for a correct action, a correction is a physical cue to tell the dog they did something wrong, and does not need to hurt to work (in the same way a clicker works, but does not hurt).

Ask yourself, when are you more stressed? In a situation where you have black and white instructions on what to do, or in a situation with limited information when you are unsure of what to do?

The use of punishment techniques in dog training have become a controversial issue in recent years. Long standing training tools such as the prong collar, or remote collar are being labeled as barbaric. Though when rational thought prevails, it is easy to understand abuse does not stem from a tool, but from the one using it.

Take a knife for example. It is dangerous or not? I believe it depends on who is holding it and what the intent is. It could be used as a weapon or to carve the next Venus de Milo

It is the same with any dog training collar. Using a tool judicously to aid a dog’s understanding of what to do or what not to do may add some stress to the learning process, but once the learning has occurred there is no longer stress. There is comprehension and with that comes increased confidence and decreased stress over all.

remote collar training
Mike & friend.


Hey Canada, so you want to ban shock collars?

Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East is supporting this ban shock collars petition and presenting to parliament.

I have a question for you Ms. Davies and the 1400 who signed this petition…can you please explain your decision to Cindy who has MS and has already tried 3 other trainers and just about gave up on her dog before she found a humane and effective solution with a remote dog training collar.

shock collars vancouver, BC canada

Granted, I understand Continue reading “Hey Canada, so you want to ban shock collars?”