Training a 'STOP' using Place Boards
In pet dog training, the stop behaviour is sometimes called an ‘emergency stop’; when a handler says “stop” that’s a cue for the dog to ‘stop and sit’ wherever they are. In gundog training, traditionally a single “PIP” on the whistle paired with a raised hand is the cue instead.
A stop whistle can be used as an 'emergency stop'. For example, if a dog were running towards their handler but with danger like a road between, as well as stop and redirect during hunting or a send out in gundog work.
As a Dog Trainer, often we see handlers cue a stop and their dog creeps forward before they sit rather than coming to an immediate stop. Have you ever seen a dog waiting for a ball to be thrown, they may run out to where they expect the balls ‘drop zone’ to be? This is the same thing that happens when stop exercise isn’t successful, the dog anticipates the reward ‘drop zone’ to be within the vicinity of their person and creeps forward after the whistle pip to hang out there.
The Place Board is used as a target area to clearly communicate to the dog where to stop. Foundational training with the Place Board builds associations for our dogs between the platform and the place rewards are delivered giving them a reason to drive to the board and stay there rather than creeping forward as the board provides a boundary.
Prerequisite: your dog will have been introduced to place boards already. See here for more information on this here: https://angliandogworks.com/blogs/place-board-training
- Stand with your feet on the short end of the board.
- Lure the dog out behind the board by throwing food behind the dog.
- When the dog finishes eating, recall them.
- As the dog reaches the board in front of the handler, do a single “PIP” on the whistle and raise a hand.
- After 3-5 repetitions of the steps above, let the dog have a break.
- Repeat until the dog is reliably returning to the Place Board and moving into a sit paired with hearing the whistle “PIP”.
Throw out a reward to lure off the board & recall when the dog finishes eating it.
The board is the cue to sit not the whistle, the whistle needs to be timed as the dog sits automatically to condition this response.
Add distance between handler and place board
- Continue, as above but after throwing the food out behind the dog to reset, take just one step back from the board. Breaking the stop exercise into smaller achievable steps in this way makes it less likely for the dog to creep and instead bag a successful repetition.
- “PIP” and raise a hand as the dog reaches the board, to have the dog stop on the
- Mark the moment they sit and reward in position by saying “good” going to the dog to fuss and reward by throwing food out behind them to re-set.
- With each success, you can step further back from the dog so that they are being asked to sit at a greater distance from the handler. As above, when the dog is at a greater distance, say “good” the moment they sit, then go to them to reward.
Do not add steps until the dog is reliably sitting to the “PIP”; if the dog does not sit when the whistle is blown reduce the distance between you and the Place Board in your next practice.
Phasing out the place board
- The handler will stand a few paces away from the board.
- Lure the dog out behind the board by throwing food behind them.
- When the dog finishes eating, recall them.
- As they reach the board a distance from the handler, “PIP” on the whistle and raise a hand. Verbally praise “good”.
- Recall the dog that is now sitting on the place board to you.
- Do a single “PIP” again halfway between the board the dog has left and the handler.
- The dog should stop the instant the cue is given, even though the Place Board is not along their path this time.
- Go to the seated dog to reward and release with a sprinkle of food onto the floor as a jackpot.
About the author:
Hi 👋 I’m Emma, accredited as a professional dog trainer by the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT). I help owners of energetic dogs achieve the dog-owning life they envisioned by providing robust obedience & agility training for dogs in Balsham, near Cambridge.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not include personalised advice and is for information purposes only. If you need individual advice or other enquiries please click here to get in contact or if you're not local to Anglian Dog Works, you can find a trainer in your area by going to the IMDT website: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer
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We would love to see how you get on with your dog’s introduction to place boards. For tips from our trainer and to share success post your pictures and videos in the Anglian Dog Works Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/angliandogworks