Teaching your dog the “stay” command gives you more control in many situations and is a great safety tool as well. The key to teaching stay is patience! Some dogs, especially puppies, would rather do anything than hold still!
- Ask your dog to “sit” or “down”. If your dog doesn’t know “sit” or “down” teach those commands first!
- Use sit-stay for short periods of time – think at the curb, while chatting with a neighbor while on a walk or checking out at the pet store. Use down-stay for longer duration stays like in the house with your pup in his place (if you missed how to teach “place” check out last month’s newsletter)!
- With your dog in position say “stay” and hold your hand out away from you, palm flat like you are telling someone to stop. After a few seconds of holding the position say “yes” and reward your dog. Remind her to “stay” and repeat.
- Gradually increase your distance from your dog, how long you ask her to stay between rewards and the distraction level. At first you will want to increase one component at a time. For example, if the house is quiet and you are only two feet away ask her to stay in place longer. If you are walking across the room reward more frequently.
- Incorporating toys is a great way to challenge distraction level. Start by holding a low value toy while she stays, progressing in distraction level to squeaking the toy, to tossing it in the air, all while she holds her position.
- When the session is over approach your dog, say “free” and encourage him to get up. Be sure to use your release word at the end of each “stay” session, and do not use the word unless you are done!
- You can also use the “come” command to release your dog. However, a mixture of the “free” and “come” command to release works best to avoid your dog anticipating you calling him before you are ready.
- If your dog gets up say “no” and have him go back into position and try again. If he breaks three times in a row that is a sign that you are making it too hard for him. Go back a step.
- Keep “stay” sessions short and fun, stopping before your dog becomes bored. For high energy dogs or puppies several three-minute sessions per day is more effective than one long one!
- “Stay” is a great command to combine with “place”. Simply send your dog to his place before asking him to “stay”.