How to Train Your Dog to Stop at a Distance

Medium
3-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Do you have any idea how to get your dog to stop and stay where he is from a distance? What are you going to do if he starts to run towards traffic? If you can't get him to come to a crashing halt on command, your pup could easily end up being injured or worse. Getting your pup to stay in place when he is excited can be particularly challenging.

Because of this, you need to start with short training sessions and even shorter stays in place. For this particular command, you may want to teach him a hand signal command as well as a voice command just in case he is far enough away he can't hear you clearly. This is a very important skill for your pup to master as it could save his life at some point in the future.

Defining Tasks

This one is a slightly more complicated version of 'stay' and one that can be more difficult for your pup to learn. If you haven't taught your pup to stay when he is close to you, be sure to do so before you attempt to teach him to stop at a distance. If he doesn't understand what is expected of him, there is no way you will be able to teach him to stop from a distance.

More importantly, there are several very good reasons why you might want your dog to stop in place rather than come to you upon command. For example, what if your dog has already crossed a busy street? If he attempts to come back, he risks injury a second time. On the other hand, if you can give him the stop command from your side of the street, he will be safe until you can get across the street to walk him home. 

Getting Started

For this skill, you will need a few things, along with tons of patience, to ensure he gets it right every time you give him the command. Remember, it could save his life. This is a multiple step process, not only do you want your pup to stop right where he is at, but also to sit or lie down at the same time until you get there. You may need:

  • Treats: For rewarding him when he gets it right.
  • A quiet place to work: It is much easier to teach your dog a new skill without interruptions.
  • Room to work: Since this is distance training, you will need some space to work in.
  • A long leash: You may need this, depending on the training method you choose. 

The Familiar Spot Method

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Step
1
Choose a familiar spot
Start by choosing a spot for training that your pup is familiar with and is relatively quiet.
Step
2
Focus first
Have your dog keep his focus on you. To do this, stand in front of him and giving him your full attention by looking him in the eyes.
Step
3
Make him lie down
Using a treat, have your dog lay or sit down. Give it to him when he does. Repeat this step until he will remain in position for several seconds at a time.
Step
4
Practice this part
Practice this until your dog will remain laying down or sitting in place for a minute or two, using treats to reward him.
Step
5
Add a verbal and visual cue
Now add in a verbal cue such as "stop" and a hand signal such as the one used by traffic cops to indicate 'stop'. While asking your pup to lie down, give the cues, rewarding him when he gets it right.
Step
6
Increase the distance
Start backing away from your pup, increasing the distance each time and rewarding him for stopping and staying. It will take a while for him to completely figure out what you want, but using plenty of praise and treats will speed up the process.
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The Dual Signal Method

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Step
1
Start with your dog
Start with your dog in a standing position and back up a step or two. Give him the 'down' command and hand signal. When he does so, say "Yes" and give him a treat. Repeat this step until he has mastered it.
Step
2
Move further back
Now take a couple more steps back and repeat the command and hand signal. Once again, the second he complies, be sure to reward him with a treat and praise. If he tries to walk up to you first, go back to step one and repeat it until you can back up more than a step or two.
Step
3
Introduce exaggerated commands
Now that you have your pup staying in place as you walk back a little, it's time to introduce him to a more exaggerated version of your visual commands. With your dog in a standing position, walk back a few feet and way and instead of just using your hand, try giving your "down" command and bending over at the waist at the same time as you hold your hand in the stop position. This will make it easier for your dog to see what you want and comply. Be sure to treat him when he does.
Step
4
Add more distance
At this point, you should start making the distance between you larger and larger, giving your pup plenty of time to get used to the distance and complying with your commands. If he balks, go back to a shorter distance until he will do what you want from any distance where he can still see or hear you. If he can't hear you, try using a whistle to get his attention.
Step
5
Practice, practice, practice
Keep practicing this until your pup no longer needs treats to comply and will stop on command. This includes both verbal and visual commands. Just remember to make the most out of your training sessions, make it as much fun as possible.
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The Traditional Method

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Step
1
Get an assistant
Start by having an assistant hold your dog on a short leash. Stand in front of him and have him sit using both verbal and visual signals. You can use the sit command or start right away using your 'down' command to help avoid confusion. Give him a treat when he does what's asked.
Step
2
Move back
Now it's time for you to back up a coupon of paces and give the commands again. If he tries to walk forward, have your assistant gently pull him back. If he won't go back, have your assistant use a treat to lure him back and then walk right up to him, make him sit and give him another treat.
Step
3
Repeat this
Repeat this training process until he does exactly what you tell him to every time. Be patient and reward him each time he gets it right. There is no point in trying to move further apart until your pup will do what he is told at 2 paces.
Step
4
Moving on back
Once he has mastered the command at 2 paces, you can slowly start to expand the distance between the two of you. Be sure to reward him with treats when he does it right.
Step
5
Ditch the assistant
Now you need to repeat the process, having disposed of your assistant. Start with shorter distances at first until you can get your pup to stop and lay down at any distance. This is going to take a little time so be patient, the results will be well-worth the effort.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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