Dog Training Guide – 2.6 – ‘Go To’ Command

The “Go To” Commands

The Go To Your Spot command a fantastic behavior to teach your dog.

I find the “Go To Your Bed” command to be one of the most useful and most used of all of the dog obedience commands. It is great for practical and also safety reasons – I find myself calling on this command in many situations everyday including:

  • When visitors arrive at my home. Instead of my dogs getting all excitable and jumping all over guests I use the “Go To Your Bed” command to redirect their behavior.
  • If a dog is barking excessively you can call on this obedience command which acts as an alternate behavior for your dog to perform.
  • When me and my family sit down for a meal I send my dogs to their spot to give us a bit of space.

One thing to always keep in mind when applying the Go To Your Spot command is that you don’t want it to feel like a punishment to your dog. In other words don’t always use it when your dog is in trouble, try to make it a positive, fun place for your dog to retreat to.

Follow the steps below to build the “Go To Your Spot” command slowly. Start out so it’s easy for your dog to understand, then gradually make it harder by adding other variables (duration, distance and distractions).

The Nine-Step Guide:

  • Choose your designated spot (make sure it’s a nice and comfortable place), attach a label to it (“Go To Your Bed” “Go To Your Mat” etc.) and stick with it.
  • Stand with your dog about 1-2 meters from the chosen spot. Say “Go To Your Bed” while pointing towards the spot. At the same time throw one of your dog’s very favorite treats onto the bed. Your dog is sure to rush over to the bed to collect the tasty treat. As soon as he/she collects the treat be sure to praise him enthusiastically.
  • Repeat step 2 many times to reinforce the behavior. This also builds a connection in your dog’s mind between you saying “Go To Your Bed” and pointing with the act of going over to him bed. At this point it’s important to note that the treat is acting as a lure to entice your dog over to the bed – this will eventually change.
  • Now gradually increase the distance between where you and your dog are standing and the bed. Continue to practice “Go To Your Bed”, point, throw the treat and then praise.
  • It’s now time to change the job of the treat from being a lure to being a reward for the desired behavior. It goes like this – say “Go To Your Bed” while pointing towards the bed, but this time do not throw the treat. By now your dog will most probably understand that your verbal command and pointing means that you want him to go to him spot. If he responds to your command by going to him bed you then give the treat (rewarding the behavior) and lavish him with praise. If your dog doesn’t “get it” go back a step by using the treat as a lure again.
  • Continue step 5 over and over again. You can practice at any time throughout the day, it doesn’t have to be a set training time. Also mix up the place where you request your dog to “Go To Your Bed”. Say it close to the bed, then further away and eventually even from a different room (don’t move too fast though).
  • You can now add other elements to this command. One at a time you could add a distraction such as having another person in the room bouncing a ball or put your dog’s food bowl down then request the “Go To Your Bed”.
  • You may choose to add the dog obedience down command to this exercise.
  • After a while you should fade and vary your rewards. You can give the treat every second or third time your dog goes to his bed, or you could throw a ball for him to chase as the reward instead of the tasty treat.

Remember to keep it fun and build the “Go To Your Spot” command piece by piece over a period of a couple of weeks. If you are consistent and show a little patience, you and your dog are sure to achieve results.

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