Using a remote collar to help teach a Place command

Here is a recent video of some “place” training. This is a 5 month old Labradoodle who was in for a Board and Train program for basic off leash obedience and manners. We’re using a combination of tools including the remote training collar and treats to mark moments of behavior, just like a game of hot and cold.

The meaning of the Place command is that 4 paws should remain on the bed. The dog has a choice of sitting, lying down or standing but the expectation is to remain on the bed (Place) until released. We typically do not teach with the word Stay, rather the expectation of remaining is built into our commands and the dogs learn to wait for further instruction which can either be another command or a release cue that tells the dog he/she is free to do whatever.

This idea of “place” is useful in any number of situations, but for this example we were proofing the idea around the opening of doors and the sound of the doorbell. This is a great behavior to teach in your home if you do not want your dog rushing the door each time visitors arrive. The dog can learn to go to the “place” at the sound of the bell and remain there until you wish to release him/her.

The remote collar is a big advantage for this training because the timing is so precise to mark the exact moment the dog begins to make the mistake of getting off of the mat. You will be able to mark that moment from a distance and the dog learns to alter his/her behavior to make the correct choice of remaining on the mat.

Bear in mind it will take a bit of practice and repetition in your  home, so keep a light line on the dog until the remote collar serves as the invisible leash on it’s own. In due time you will be able to wean off of the remote collar as well and your voice command will be the solo cue that your dog has learned to listen to.

Also remember that using the Just Right level is important to match the level of excitement going on in the environment.

Watch the video and let me know what you think.


Hopefully this helps with your training just in time for all the upcoming holiday visitors.



  • The shock is being delivered from the time the command is given until the dog performs the desired action.

    Stimulation ends when the dog puts all 4 paws on his place. The dog learns to turn off stimulation by going on his mat. He does not receive shocks while on the mat.

    In a low distraction environment like the one shown, I’m assuming the level of stimulation is set very low, so there is no stress at all on the dog.

  • Yes, the reason the dog doesn’t immediately get to his place is because of the shock. The dog is sorta of afraid of place! I am to a radical opponent of shock collar, but I disagree with using a shock collar at this stage of training around such minor distractions. It’s not necessary and you are working at cross purposes. On the one hand, you want the dog to go to place and stay on place and on the other hand you are associating that place with shock!

  • So if you’ve trained over 3000 dogs this way, you must have some clients who can report on their experience. 3000 is a big number. Do you have a link of references? Cue and stimulation stimulus have been around for a long time? You mean as long as e-collars have been available? The issue is, Pavlov rang a bell, presented meat. Ultimately, he rings a bell and the dog salivates. So the cue is associated with reinforcement. You are delivering a cue and then a shock. At least that is what is looks like to me, and that is why your dog is nervously removing himself from “place.” It looks like you are cueing “place” and the delivering a shock, which would be like if everytime I said icecream, I then gave you a shock, you would not want icecream. Instead of presenting a cue and make the dog drool, you are presenting a cue which is making the dog anxious.

    • You can use the links supplied in the About Robin section of this blog or if this makes it easier for you to do some research validating my experience…here are the links:

      Our perceptions are colored through the lens of our experiences, so I don’t question what you perceive when you watch the video. Your experience leads you to see what you see. My experience leads me to other conclusions. I see a dog who is learning something brand new and IMO, doing well at learning it.

      You question why use e-collar at this stage? To me it would make no logical sense to do otherwise. Why would I NOT teach the dog what stimulation is and how I expect him to respond to it?

      To not first teach him how to respond to e-collar but rather just put him in a higher distraction situation and use the e-collar for some enforcement and expect him to then understand what it means would be very poor training and I would of failed the dog and owner as an instructor and teacher.

      First teach, then proof, that is my belief. If we don’t teach e-collar language to the dog it is absolutely not fair to proof with e-collar.

      In regards to my comments about perception….interestingly when I’ve shown videos similar to this but don’t mention or point out the use of a remote collar….no one dislikes the videos or says they see any of this “fall out” etc. It seems only once people are cued to the presence of the tool that they then perceive things differently.

  • Also, associating a cue for a desired behavior with punishment? Cue and shock at the same instant? Behavior science says, that’s not how cues work. That doesn’t teach the dog what to do, it only confuses the puppy, associating punishment with the cue and reinforcement with the behavior, and that conflict could cause a puppy to become mentally unhealthy

    • Hi Jenny,

      Apparently you need to brush up on your understanding of e-collar conditioning. Cue and stimulation simultaneous have been around for a long time. It is, IMO, the fairest way to teach the dog about stim and how to have control over it. And it is the fairness in the early teaching and conditioning that creates either a health or unhealthy mental state when using a remote collar as a tool. You might look up some of the old info on the 3 action introduction that TT put out with Jim Dobbs. While my work is a tad different (particularly in my approaches to “helping” the dog understand) the principles are very similar.
      I respect your opinion, but I disagree with it. My 10 plus years practicing this and over 3000 dogs trained this way leads me to believe I am doing no harm. I would guess that my clients and other pro trainers who have worked with me would be screaming out by now if this was creating mentally unstable dogs.
      all the best,

  • I have to compare this with how my dogs behave without the use of the e-collar, and what it looks like to me is that the aversive is becoming associated with the “place.” My dogs/puppies/rescues charge onto their mat and I can hardly pry them off it, they see it as a reinforcing station. Whereas this pup seems to be wanting to end the nervewracking game, get the hell off the station. I don’t ever need to help my dogs get back onto the mat or place. I do think there is a use for shock collars, I am not an extremist, but a puppy who is not charging onto the place, who isn’t already associating that station with a fun job? Delivering a shock on that station isn’t just punishing the puppies mistake, it’s punishing the entire training experience and bonding potential. I agree that a shock collar is useful in proofing advanced behaviors, but “proofing” means testing a learned behavior around high distractions. This behavior doesn’t appear to be learned even in this low level of distractions. I feel shock collars are not appropriate for puppies, because they have so much potential to traumatize and build anxiety in the pup, rather than building confidences and trust in the handler.

  • Nice presentation of how a professional dog trainer uses all four quadrants of learning theory to teach, motivate, and ensure reliability (clear communication) that results in training that is effective and humane.

  • Excellent video!! Just sent it to a friend I am working with! 🙂 Had a thought about Cynthia’s concern (when you’re pushing the button). I’ve always thought it would be great if you can put a visual for the observer. So, for example, maybe a green or red dot in the corner of the screen the flashes when you press the button. Obviously it would need to be done in post production, but I think it would be great!! Then the observer would hear you saying Place and would be seeing the ‘dot’ light up.

    Thanks for posting!!!! 🙂

  • It would help a lot to have some indication for the viewer to know when the button is being pushed. We can see the timing of the treats, and the help from the leash, but not of the e-stim. I can guess when it’s happening but someone who has never used an e-collar will watch the whole thing and never know that you were actually using the collar. The pup knows, but he’s not telling!

    • I know. I agree with you and I struggle with this issue repeatedly. The one thing I’ve found when I use the monitor is it is good for feedback for the viewer or owner, but not so much for the dog. I’ve found too many dogs a slight bit reactive to the sound and that gives a bit of “off” information to the viewer. I’ve always preferred a fairly quiet approach to my training. The added “noise” of a monitor bugs me as well and I think that transmits to the dogs when I work them…but I can tell you my timing with the button is a tap of the button simultaneous with the verbal command. I pair them at exactly the same time and generally there are two or three taps (since I am using the momentary feature of the collar) per command that happen until the dog begins the desired behavior. As long as the dog remains on task moving toward the behavior the taps are no longer, thus marking the Yes moment in learning with the dog, if the behavior deviates from what I am looking for, the taps begin again along with a reminder verbal AND help (either leash or lure) to get the dog back to a no pressure moment asap. This is the hot and cold game I play when they are learning the expectations. And if levels of pressure are what I call “just right” then it should look pretty subtle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.