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Your Golden Retriever puppy had you hook, line and sinker the moment you brought him into your home. The ball of golden fur rolls around the floor, interested in everyone and as confident as they come. You’ve recently managed to potty train him so your floors are finally staying clean. However, now you want to step up his training and teach him some basic obedience commands. One in particular that can prove useful is ‘stay’. This is perfect for keeping him at bay when you want space at the dinner table.
Training him to stay can also come in handy when you need him to stay put when you’re having shopping delivered or somebody is at the front door. As an added bonus, training of this type will lay the foundations for other commands too.
Golden Retriever puppies are intelligent and fast learners. So, teaching him to stay should be relatively straightforward. The hardest part will be showing him what it is you want him to do to begin with. However, a tasty treat or a favorite toy can help him get the message. Training will then consist of reinforcing the behavior.
If he’s a particularly receptive Golden Retriever puppy, he should respond to training in a matter of days. However, if he’s more interested in chewing your carpet or rolling around in puddles, then you may need a little while longer. It could be a week or two before you see consistent results. If you can get this training right, however, you will be able to put the brakes on him whenever you are in a challenging situation, such as when you are by busy roads.
Before you get to work, you will need to gather a few things. Stock up on mouth-watering treats. Alternatively, break his favorite food into small pieces. For one of the methods, you will also need a clicker and a much-loved toy.
Set aside just 10 minutes each day for training. The more frequently you train, the sooner you are likely to see results. Practice in a relatively quiet area, away from distractions.
Once you have all the above, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!
The Down & Stay Method
The first thing you need to do is to instruct your Golden Retriever to lie ‘down’. You can hold out a tasty treat if you need to capture his attention. Maintain eye contact as you give the instruction, this will help him concentrate further.
Once he is lying down, issue a ‘stay’ command in a firm voice. You can use any word or phrase you like. Golden Retrievers can learn hundreds of different commands. Just make sure you give the command in a clear, but playful voice.
Take one step back as you give the command. If he stays still, you can then smile, call him over or pat your legs to release him. The trick is to reward him for staying still just for a few seconds to start with.
Increase the time
Now follow the steps above again. But this time, take a couple of steps back before you release him. The time after that a few steps more. Keep practicing until you can leave the room and he will still stay put for a considerable length of time.
Lose the treats
Once he has got the hang of it, you can slowly phase out the treats. However, make sure you do not do this until you can leave him waiting in a variety of testing situations, such as meal times.
The Click & Reward Method
Start using the clicker in every day life. This is a fantastic way to communicate with your Golden Retriever puppy. Simply click and provide a treat whenever he performs a behavior correctly and follows your instruction. This signal will speed up the learning process.
Down & stay
Stand right in front of him and instruct him to 'lie down’. Once he is comfortable, issue a ‘stay’ command. While you can use any word or phrase you like for this instruction, try and choose a relatively short word that isn’t being used in conjunction with any other commands.
As you give the command, take one large step back. Hold eye contact as you do this, as this will help hold his concentration. Also, move back quickly to start with, you don’t need him to stay for long at the beginning.
Click & reward
Once you have taken a step back, click to let him know he has performed the behavior correctly. You can then hand over a treat or favorite toy for him to play with for a minute or so. Verbal praise will further reinforce that you’re happy with him and make him want to play again.
Practice this for a few minutes each day. However, after you can take a couple of steps back, also turn around and leave him there. It’s important he stays put even when you aren’t looking at him. If he doesn’t stay, don’t punish him, just don’t click. This will get the message across. Continue training until he stays even at meal times and when someone comes to the door.
The Traffic Stop Method
Take him to a quiet room or to his bed, and instruct him to 'lie down’. This will ensure he is in a comfortable position to stay put in.
Issue a ‘stay’ command in a clear but firm voice. Make sure you give the instruction just once. If he knows you will repeat the command, he may not bother to respond straightaway.
Once you give the command, take a step towards him while holding your hand up like a stop traffic signal. Moving towards him quickly like this will automatically make him hesitate for a few seconds.
You only need him to wait for a moment to start with. Then reward him and give him verbal praise. Now try again, hold out your hand and give the command, but have him wait slightly longer. Practice like this for the first couple of days, slowly increasing the time he stays each time.
Lose the hand signal
After a couple of days, he will associate the command with staying still. So, you can now stop giving the hand gesture. Instead continue to practice, but rely on just the instruction. Increase the period of time you leave him there for and even start leaving the room. Once he fully understands and responds to the command each time, you can cut out the treats.
By James Barra
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021