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Teaching your dog to stay is a basic obedience command. It is not the easiest of the major commands because your dog wants to be close to you. However, this can be an important one when it comes to keeping your dog safe from harm. Your dog may run into situations when staying put is the best choice to keep him safe.
Your dog respects you from the start and aims to please. You might need to teach your dog to stay if you are leaving the house, and he expects to join you. On a walk, you might need him to stay put without following you off trail or even just to the mailbox if someone is nearby. There are many reasons you will ask your dog to stay. The biggest difference in asking your dog to stay and asking your dog to wait is his understanding that he will be asked to release his stay position while waiting is simply asking for your dog to be patient.
Asking your dog to stay leaves him in a position where he should remain in place without following you. If you teach him to stay from a sitting or down position, he is more likely to stay in place than if you try to make his stay while on his feet.
To learn this command, your dog needs to trust he will be able to move toward you again soon. He should also have the most basic of commands such as 'sit' and 'down' mastered before you begin to work on 'stay'. Your dog will need to associate the command 'stay' with these positions. 'Stay' may be moderately difficult for some dogs because they want to be near you and not away from you. This makes your asking your dog to stay while he watches you walk away more difficult than other standard commands.
Treats will be a big part of training your dog to stay. Relax and have fun with this one. He should already have simple commands mastered, so teaching him to stay will just add a challenge to the commands he knows. Be patient and work on this command often in short sessions. Before training starts, pick one word you plan to use to release your dog once he can move. This can be the word, "release" or you can choose another word to let him know he is free to move. Whichever word you pick, be consistent and use the same word all the time.
The From Sit Method
Pick a release word to get your dog out of the 'stay' position such as “release,” “okay,” or “all done.” Try not to use a word you use for another command as to not confuse commands.
Put your dog into a basic command position such as 'sit' or 'down'. Once he is in position, give him a treat.
Give him the “stay” command and count to three. After you count, give your dog the verbal release cue and encourage him to move.
If your dog does not move, clap or get his attention by calling his name. Repeat this process increasing the time you leave him in the stay position by a few seconds each time.
Practice 'stay' with your dog in the 'down' position as well. Practice this command several times a day for several weeks.
Be sure to reward him each time he stays put while under the command.
The Clicker Method
Ask your dog to sit. Be sure to click and treat once he obeys.
Say the command “stay.” Place your hand in front of you with your palm out toward your dog.
Count and wait
Silently count a few seconds then lower your hand.
Click and treat
Click your clicker and treat your dog once you release him from the stay position.
Repeat these steps, starting with a sit position. Increase the time you have your dog in the 'stay' each time you repeat.
If your dog moves from the 'stay' position, start over but do not scold.
The key to this basic command is repetition. Keep at it until your dog understands when you give the command to 'stay' he is to stay put.
The From Down Method
Put your dog into a 'down' position. Treat him for obeying the 'down' command.
Say the command “stay.” After you say the command, offer your dog a treat between his paws on the floor.
As he eats the treat, repeat the word, “stay.” Take a step away from your pup, taking another treat with you.
Use a release word and have your dog move to a standing position. When he moves from his 'down' position upon release, give him the treat.
Repeat this command with your dog lying down, extending the time you expect him to remain in position. After each time, give him a treat between his paws, keeping him in the 'down' position.
Once he comprehends the command, move him and start again from a standing position, rewarding him for staying in the 'down' position once he is in place and you give the command. Practice this method several times a day for about ten minutes each session to keep the command fresh.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 02/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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