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So I understand teaching a dog to place on 1 specific place in the house or outside ( a bed, a mat, a rug etc), but how do they know where to place when your away from their "trained" place?
 

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They don't. A dog will start to offer different behaviors because the context has changed. How can you expect a dog who is trained to go to a specific object, go to a place that has no object? I suppose you could take a towel with you everywhere you went and teach the dog to place at a towel. I see the value of teaching the dog to go to a place as a way of helping the dog learn how to learn by self discovery/indirect learning. If you want the dog to stay in a particular place away from home, work on teaching a long down.
 

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If you want a portable "place", you can train with a mat and simply bring that with you. As you train, use the mat in different areas so the dog understands that he's to go to the mat and chill on it until released, no matter where you are.

When I worked with Halo and then Cava, each day we did mat training was in a different room in the house and also in the backyard, so they both learned to generalize to the mat, not where the mat was. This was very useful for training classes, particularly when the instructor was explaining and demonstrating what we were going to work on next because it gave them something to do. I rolled up the mat, cinched it with a strap and carried it under my arm. As soon as I put it on the floor, they'd go to it, lay down, and wait calmly until we were ready to do something together.

You can also simply train a down command as others have suggested above, but there's no reason you can't do both.
 

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You don't even need a mat, really. I trained Jupiter with a towel that could easily be folded or scrunched up and fit in a bag. Rather quickly, he understood that it applied to any flat fabric. I could grab a welcome mat and "place" him on that.

I also have an "up" which usually applies to his elevated bed, but also works for a couch, a bed, or any random bench or elevated thing we come across on our walks. Part of the command is that I point at it, so he knows what particular object he's supposed to jump up on. I bet the mat could be phased out and he could learn to just go to wherever I point, if it were worked on.
 

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I train dogs that place is wherever I point. After I get good response to a Kuranda bed, I move to other things. Couch, foot stool, towel, loveseat, rug, picnic table, whatever. I generalize the behavior asap.
 

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After I get good response to a Kuranda bed
Do you have any suggestions for a good slightly elevated place board for general training? Are they worth it? We started with a 2 X 3 foot scrape of plywood on 4-inch legs. Every couple of days, I take it out to the table saw and cut off an inch or two to make it more of a challenge:) Originally it was the hop-up obstacle on my, 'It is February in Wisconsin and I have a hype puppy indoor challange course."
 

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I have used Kuranda beds for years. They are almost indestructible. They are available in several sizes. You can use PVC for taller legs if you need them. Covers are available and they help quiet them down if they are inside. The lighter colors are UV resistant.
 
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Thanks. Replacing the upsidedown drawer with a proper elevated place will class up the living room :) I like the elevation because pup likes to scootch forward if he thinks he can get away with it.

We will continue using the magically shrinking plywood to see how far we can push it.
 
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