By the time I get to this step, my dog should be going on the mat just by me shifting by body weight toward the mat. This means you are on the right track to fading out the physical help and getting a verbal response. It is important to practice sending the dog from either side of your body. The dog should be fluent going to place from your left side or your right side.
Generalize the behaviour by sending your dog from varying distances and places in your space. From my left side , from my right side, dog being in front of me, behind me , or even while I am sitting down. Remember dogs are not very good at generalization, you have to give them lots of training pictures so that they can have a full understanding of the command in varying situations.
Gradually fade away the amount that you shift your body toward the mat after giving the “place” cue. Our objective is for the dog to perform the command without any physical help.
There is a caveat here , if you don’t have a fixed position where you keep your place mats and you move them around a lot . It is possible when you say place without physical help that your dog goes to the most consistently used spot. If this is the case add the physical help after the verbal cue to give the dog direction where to go.
It is a good idea to have multiple place mats that you keep in the same position. One upstairs , one downstairs , maybe even one in the basement.
I stabilize the place command on what is called a fixed interval . This means reward is given around the place mat after a set amount of time if the dog has held the place command. If the dog breaks the command without reaching the required time , I use my conditioned punisher “ah” withhold food and begin again.
The evolution of a verbally taught place command is that you associate to a doorbell or even a door knock. Just like any command we teach on cue, present the stimulus of knocking or the doorbell first , then say place. Once paired enough times it will be the dogs cue to run to the place mat instead of the door.
Remember to generalize this command by working in as many different spaces as possible when training, this includes outdoor practice on the place mat in your backyard, and various living spaces in your home.