“Stay” is a command that tells your dog to remain stationary where you place them until they are released. This command is often bundled together with other commands such as “sit” or “down” to help your pup know what is expected of him. Because the simple act of remaining still can be a huge challenge for some dogs, especially wriggly young pups, please remember that patience is key!
First: Work on Time
- Put your hand in front of you with the palm facing your dog and hold it there for a few seconds.
- If your dog looks at you curiously and stays in place, reward your dog’s attention and stillness with a treat paired with a reward word like “good dog”.
- Repeat the action and now add the word “stay” as you put your hand up. Keep your hand there for few seconds and then repeat the reward process.
- Gradually lengthen the time as your dog’s ability to remain still increases. Aim for one minute.
Second: Slowly Add Distance
- Give your dog the “stay” command and then step backwards.
- If your dog breaks focus, lure him back to the original spot and repeat the exercise until you are bad up to a minute.
- If your dog keeps composure and stays still, walk back and reward with a treat along with verbal praise.
- Repeat this process a number of times.
- Once you feel comfortable with your dog’s ability to stay increase the amount of steps you take backward until you can walk at least five steps away and back without him breaking focus.
Third: Increase Distance
- Repeat the first two steps while gradually increasing distance. Be patient but if your dog is responding well, you can make the distance as far as you want.
- If your pup breaks focus at any point, go back to the previous distance and build back up gradually.
- Remember: at this stage you are still facing her while backing away.
Fourth: Slowly Turn Around
- Dogs are loyal and like to follow us when we walk away. It’s common that as soon as you ask your dog to stay and turn your back, he is likely to forget the command and follow you. That is why it is important to practice the “stay” command by slowly turning your body and walking away from your dog as well as walking to her side or around her in a circle.
Fifth: Testing it Out
- Can your dog stay in one place while people are present, when a visitor appears, while toys are being thrown around him or if you leave his sight? Testing out the command is called proofing a behavior. When any learned behavior is taken to a more stimulating environment or situation, it makes it a lot harder for a dog to comply, but every dog can get to this point with reinforcement.
This is a crucial command to master so don’t rush through it. Patience is key. Make sure you build up the time first before increasing your distance.