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Holiday Pet Training 2022: Place
As the holidays get closer and closer, it’s time to start preparing our pets (and ourselves!) for the season! The hectic days full of parties and visitors can often make life with pets difficult over the holidays, but some training, tips, and treats should help to make the holiday season more enjoyable for you and your pet. In the first part of this series, we’ll cover some training that can help both you and your pet now and throughout the holiday season.
Training is, and always will be, a lifelong process for our pets, so it’s best to start practicing holiday commands and manners as soon as possible. Waiting until the day before your big holiday party to begin training will just leave you and your pet frustrated. Begin practicing this training concept today to get ready in time for the holidays:
Place is one of my go-to commands over the holidays! Want your dog to remain calm and quiet when the doorbell rings? Teach place! Want your cat to stay off the kitchen counters while you’re cooking up that tasty Thanksgiving dinner? Teach place! Worried that your pets will get into something they shouldn’t when your family is opening presents? You guessed it! Teach place! [Want a clear path to training success, accountability, and unlimited access to a professional trainer this holiday season? Join the KCAT Club Wait List today!]
Place provides your pet with a safe spot to retreat to when the holiday commotion gets a little overwhelming or when they just want a nap! A “place” can be anything with a boundary: a crate, a bed, a rug, a platform, etc. I recommend establishing at least one “place” on each level of your home, especially in the room or rooms you spend the most time in.
When you tell your pet place, they should go to the spot you are pointing at, lay down, calm down, and stay there until you release them. If they “break” or get up from their place, replace them calmly and quietly. If they are calmly laying down in their place, reward them! Treats, praise, and petting can all be great rewards for place. When you are first practicing place, find a reward that your pet loves, but doesn’t get too excited about so you aren’t tempting them to break from their command. Once you’ve practiced place even more, you can use rewards that get them extra excited to add an extra challenge.
After your pet has learned what place means, you’ll be ready to “proof” the command by making sure that your pet holds place no matter what is going on around them. Start out with low level distractions (walking away from your pet, sitting on furniture a few feet away from them, setting a toy on the floor) and slowly increase the difficulty each day.
Don’t forget to keep your end goal in mind throughout your practice. Breaking down big goals into small, easy-to-practice steps will help you and your pet progress quickly! Working towards calm when the doorbell rings? Practice stepping in and out of the front door yourself (or getting a friend or family member to do so). Find doorbell sound effects online and play them while your pet is in place. Have your family and friends call or text before they arrive so you can be prepared to practice with your pet. Working towards place during your holiday cooking and baking? Scatter food from your pet’s daily diet on the floor as distractions during your practice. Slowly increase the time your pet holds place when you aren’t watching by setting up a camera or mirror so you can see you pet, but they can’t see you. Step out of sight for one minute, then five minutes, then ten minutes, and so on until your pet can hold place for any length of time! Working towards place during the present opening? Try sitting on the ground while your pet practices place nearby. Toss around balled up tissue paper and wrapping paper as a distraction while your pet continues to hold place.