The K9 Companion class began as an entry level training course for dogs that are 6 months or older. The concepts, however, can be used for all ages of dogs including puppies. The class introduces you to reward-based training techniques that will help you communicate to your dog a basic vocabulary of commands and will strengthen the bond you have with your dog to help make him or her a better house companion. Please review all the weeks because information in latter weeks make be useful immediately. Certainly there are various sequences in which the exercises may be taught and you should do what works best for you and your K9 Companion.

Introduction to the Place Board

We are going to introduce the PLACE BOARD with the extended "sit" or "down" command otherwise known as "stay put until told otherwise". It is a relatively easy concept for your dog to grasp that he’s fine until one or more of his feet leave the board in an attempt to step down from the platform. This is precisely why an elevated board is best for initial lessons on this concept. Also, the board should be of sufficient size so that your dog feels comfortable once he’s positioned on it and he should already know extended "sit" or "down" to a degree.

In training, approach the PLACE BOARD and guide your dog into position on it. Take a moment to use appropriate touch and voice reassurance so that your dog doesn't become intimidated or spooked by the board. We’ll be using it in upcoming training sessions, so you want to start off right. Because we’ve introduced him to the concept of PLACE it should be an easy transaction from the mat to the board. As with the mat, start with small steps and when he puts his foot on it, mark with YES and reward. Gradually up the requirement until he is doing what you want like sitting or lying down on it.

Remember how your dog sometimes balks during weigh-in at the veterinary office when he is required to step on the scale platform? This is a similar situation to him until he becomes comfortable with the routine.

You can use the same steps in conditioning your dog to the PLACE BOARD with "sit" that you have already applied in regular leash training, such as standing at the end the leash and progressing in a circle around your — hopefully — stationary dog. This way, if he tries to get up or reposition himself, you have a means of control to put him back in place with little ado.

Whenever a dog tries to leave his commanded "sit" or "down" and begins to dismount from the elevated PLACE BOARD, you can simply put him back in place.

As soon as sessions are going smoothly from a leash circumference, you can gradually increase the distance between you and your dog until you are out of sight. When a dog has mastered this level of difficulty, distractions can be added, such as toys, food, others calling him or other dogs in the area.

Instructions for making your own place board:

  • Use a 20" x 30" (or custom sizes for different training goals such as square or round) plywood platform in 3/4-, 5/8-, 1/2-, or 19/32-inch thickness.

  • Cover platform with outdoor-rated carpet for traction, and secure the carpet a few inches to the underside, securing with heavy-duty staples, or use carpet adhesive.

  • Bases can be constructed of PVC pipe (lighter and stays white longer without paint) in 1/2" or smaller pipe, with pipe cement to secure your piping together; then use U-clamps — one to a side — to secure PVC pipe base to platform. (You can also construct the base from 2x4s secured to the plywood with wood screws and with three-inch wood screws into the ends of the 2x4 base for added stability. Wood bases are usually painted and sealed with an oil-based deck enamel to protect and keep out moisture.

(Small pallets can also be used by securing a carpeted section of plywood to the top after sealing and painting. Flat place boards include carpeted and sized plywood, carpet runners with rubber backs, rubber mats, or artificial turf.)