Go to Your Place
When you are eating, it can be quite annoying to have your shepherd sitting right next to you, watching every forkful move from the plate to your mouth. For this reason, the “Go to your place” command is very useful during meals. This command instructs your dog to lie down on a designated mat or in her crate and stay there. If your shepherd's place is a mat, you'll be able to take this mat anywhere (such as a friend's house or a training class) and have her lie and stay in this spot.
The “Go to your place” command involves a series of actions linked together. To teach a sequence of actions, start with the final action and work your way backwards through the chain. Therefore, if you are using the free-shaping method, you would begin by giving the command “Go to your place” while your shepherd is already in her crate or lying on the mat you'd like to use. Click and reward.
If she's not freely offering this behavior, use a food lure. Start with her standing on the mat and say, “Down.” Click and reward. Repeat. Next, add the motion to the mat. Have her stand next to you on leash (but not under a command). The mat should not be more than one step directly in front of you. Use your food lure to move her forward to the mat. As soon as all four of her feet are on the mat, give the command “Go to your place!” Click and reward. Repeat this several times. Next, give the command when she is moving onto the mat but only has her front two paws on it. As soon as all four paws are on the mat, click and reward. Repeat this several times. Then give the command when she is standing directly in front of the mat. As soon as all four paws are on the mat, click and reward. Repeat this step several times.
Once your shepherd performs these steps successfully, reintroduce the down. This time, begin the exercise with your shepherd standing directly in front of the mat. Say, “Go to your place!” As soon as all four paws are on the mat, say, “Down!” (without a click). When she hits the mat in a down, immediately click and reward. Repeat this over and over.
Now, as you see her anticipating the “Down!” begin fading out this command. That is, allow her to go into the down without waiting for your command. Click and reward. Repeat. At this point, you can start adding distance back into the exercise, working a step at a time.