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The Perfect Place
by Pamela O. Kadlec

Where is pup's perfect place? That all depends. Walking to the field, pup's place may be at heel. Pup's place in the house is his dog bed. When company comes over you can send pup to his place. He learns to go to the Place and stay there until released. Think about how much nicer this is rather than having pup jumping up all over the guests or begging for scraps at the dinner table.

His place in the truck (if allowed in the cab) is the passenger seat or back seat. His place in the duck or dove blind may be outside the blind. There he can watch the birds flying and then fall after your great shots. Or, his place may be a seat on the boat. If pup learns which Place is his then he is less likely to be under foot when you are putting out your decoys or calling in the ducks. If you have a platform for pup attached to the boat, that's even better. Pup can easily learn to stay on the platform until sent to retrieve.

Teaching pup his "Place" proves to be a very handy command. Pup learns to go to his place and to stay there until told otherwise. Teach pup to be steady on his Place. That way, when birds are flying and you are hunkered down in the blind, pup can be sitting quietly outside watching the action and wait for your command to fetch. Teaching Place also aids in teaching your spaniel to be steady to the flush.

Teaching Place makes your job easier once you start training blind retrieves. For the baseball drill, put the place platform on the 'pitchers' mound'. Pup learns to handle from the Place and return back for delivery.

The Place platform must be easy for pup to delineate from the surroundings. You can't make the place a spot on the ground, but can make it a piece of rug or a folding wooden platform (see photo). Pup's dog bed is easy for pup to understand, while there can be a fine line between the passenger seat and the driver's seat.

"...praise him with tons of enthusiasm and treat."

All it takes to teach pup his Place is a handful of treats and a little patience. Lure pup to the Place with food. Chicken hot dogs cut into small chunks or Goldfish crackers work great. If pup is food driven, use his kibble before his morning feed. Measure out his usual portion and feed it to him a few pieces at a time until gone. This is a great lesson to teach each morning. It only takes a few minutes to get amazing results.

When pup touches the platform with his foot, say, "Good Place" and give him a treat. Once pup figures out that stepping on the platform equals good stuff, delay the treats until pup is all the way on the platform. Repeat until pup goes to the Place in anticipation of a treat. Then, delay the treats until pup is all the way on the platform and is sitting. Say the word, "Place" only once and then "Good Place" when pup is on the platform. Don't keep repeating the command.

Next phase - once pup is going to the Place on command, start moving away a foot or so at a time. You want pup to go to his place from across the room or yard. Move to different angles from the Place. If you stand in one position every time, pup may only go to his Place when you are in your place. Walk around and send pup from every possible angle. If pup seems confused, move a little closer and use body English to get the pup to understand. When pup goes on the platform, praise him with tons of enthusiasm and treat.

Now you can start pup off at his Place when training. Teach pup to stay on the Place until sent and return to deliver his birds there. Teaching pup remote sits will come in handy when his Place is outside your blind.

When pup is going to his Place and sitting it's time to work on steady. Using food treats for now, command pup to

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