How to Train a Jack Russell Terrier to Stay

Medium
3-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

Have you ever been to an Obedience Trial and watched the dogs participating? There is one exercise where all of the dogs must line up, go into a 'down-stay', and remain there while their owners walk away. Most of the dogs wait patiently, trusting that their owners will return. Some get up and do not pass the test. Of those that do stay, some lay their heads down, preparing themselves for a long wait. Others stare vigilantly in the direction that their owners were last seen, stiff as a board while they anxiously await their owner's return. Some remain in place but are clearly resisting the temptation to bolt up and greet the other dogs on the line. 

What do all of the dogs that remain in place have in common? They all 'stay'. Your Jack Russell Terrier might be the dog that is trying not to greet every other dog in the line, or the dog that is staring holes in your back while you walk away, or perhaps he is the dog that is calm enough to take a nap while you are gone. Whatever his personality is, 'stay' is a wonderful command to teach him.

Imagine having a dog that will "Stay" when you tell him to--even when dogs walk by, kids chase each other in a nearby field, bicycles whiz past, and you walk away to do something for a moment. It might seem impossible, but 'stay' is actually not that hard to teach. Teaching your Jack Russell Terrier how to remain in place when things are tempting him to get up simply takes practice and consistency. 'Stay' is not only convenient but one day it could save your dog's life.

Defining Tasks

Expect 'stay' to take between three and eight weeks to train. How fast Fido learns this will depend a lot on how often you practice it with him. If you wish to teach him how to stay at a distance, for long periods of time, and around hard distractions, then expect the training to take longer than eight weeks for most dogs. He should grasp the concept of 'stay' rather quickly though. It will simply take him more time to build up the self-control required to remain in place when things are tempting him to move.

Which method will work best for your pup will depend a lot on the age and temperament of your dog. If your dog is easily motivated, loves to please, or is very young, then the 'Reward' method will probably yield the quickest results. If your dog is not very motivated by rewards or tends to ignore you when you do not have a treat in your hand, then the 'Stop Sign' or 'Leash Pressure' method will probably work best.

Once your dog has learned 'stay', and you are working on increasing duration, distance, or distraction level, then try rewarding your dog while he is in the stay position without letting him get up, in addition to when you tell him "OK". Doing this will help him to enjoy staying, rather than simply waiting to be released the entire time.

While you are working on increasing the amount of time that your dog stays put, you can do the 'Pressure' method while sitting down. You can even do it while you are work on your computer or are watching TV. Just remember to reward your dog for doing well, and to work up to long periods of time very gradually. Once your dog is staying for twenty minutes or longer, feel free to offer him a stuffed Kong or chew toy to chew on while he is in the 'down' position.

When you praise your dog while doing this, praise him in a warm, genuine, and calm voice. Do not praise your dog in an excited or loud voice while he is still in the 'stay' position, or you might cause him to get up him before he is supposed to. When you first reward him with a treat while he is in the 'stay' position, he might think that that reward means that he has permission to get up. Simply insist that he stay, and he will learn over time that rewards do not mean the command is over, only "OK" means he that he can get up.

Getting Started

To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. If your dog is very food motivated, then you can use his own dog food in place of the treats as a reward. You will need a calm location to teach this at at first. Your dog will also need to know the 'sit' or 'down' command. If you are using the 'Leash Pressure' method then he will specifically need to know the 'down' command. If you are using the 'Leash Pressure' method, you will need a six-foot, non-retractable leash and somewhere comfortable for you to sit. For all of the methods you will need patience, possibly a bit of stubbornness yourself, consistency, calmness, and warm praise to let your pup know when he has done a great job!

The Reward Method

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Step
1
Give command
To begin, go to a calm location and tell your dog "Sit" or "Down". If your dog does not know how to do either of those commands, then teach one of those commands first, before moving onto the next step.
Step
2
Reward
When your dog is in the 'sit' or the 'down' position, every two seconds that Fido remains in that position, praise him and give him another treat. If he is in the 'down' position, then give him the treat by placing it between his two front paws. If he is in the 'sit' position, give him the treat from your hand below his chin. Giving him treats this way will encourage him to stay in the 'sit' or 'down' position.
Step
3
Stop the treats
If your pup moves out of the position, then stop giving him treats. Stand still and wait ten seconds, to see if he will get back into that position himself. If he does sit or lie back down, then praise him and continue to give him treats every two seconds. If he does not get back into the position on his own, then tell him "Sit" or "Down" again, and resume rewarding him every two seconds, after he has remained in that position for two seconds.
Step
4
Space out rewards
When your pup will stay in that position, without getting up, for one minute, then start to gradually increase the amount of time between rewards. Start by increasing the time between rewards to five seconds, then increase it to ten seconds, then fifteen seconds, then twenty-five seconds, then thirty-five seconds, then forty-five seconds, then one minute. When you have reached one minute, then follow the same pattern for increasing the time in minutes, until you have reached thirty minutes.
Step
5
Add distance
When your dog will stay in the 'sit' or 'down' position for thirty minutes, practice walking away from him. At first, walk only a couple of feet away. As he improves, begin to add distance, adding a couple of feet at a time. Do this until you can stand a hundred feet away and Fido will stay put.
Step
6
Add distractions
When your dog can stay for long periods of time and from a distance, then practice around different types of distractions. Have him stay in new locations, around new smells, around people, dogs, other animals, and interesting stimuli, such as someone tossing a ball at the park! Start with easy distractions and gradually move onto harder ones as he improves.
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The Stop Sign Method

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Step
1
Get ready
To begin, go to a calm location and tell your dog "Sit" or "Down".
Step
2
Add command
When your Jack Russell is in the 'sit' or 'down' position, hold your hand out in front of you, with your palm facing your dog like a stop sign. Tell Fido to "Stay".
Step
3
Release
Hold your hand out for ten seconds, praising your dog softly while he stays. At the end of the ten seconds, tell your dog "OK", lower your hand, give him a treat, and allow him to stand up.
Step
4
Interupt movement
If your dog starts to get up before the ten seconds are over, then with your arm stretched forward and your palm facing your dog, quickly step toward your dog while telling him to "Stay". Help him back into the 'sit' or 'down' position if he does not self correct when you step toward him.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat having your dog stay for ten seconds, until he no longer needs to be reminded to stay during the ten seconds.
Step
6
Increase duration
When your dog can stay for ten seconds without trying to get up, increase the amount of time that he has to stay before being told "OK" and rewarded. Increase the amount of time gradually, only adding more time when your dog has mastered the current length of time.
Step
7
Add distance
When your dog can stay for thirty minutes, then add distance. To add distance, while your dog is in the 'stay' position, walk a couple of feet away from your dog. Practice having your dog stay while you are a couple of feet away until he will stay there consistently.
Step
8
Increase distance
When your dog will stay from that distance, gradually add more and more distance between you and your dog. Do this until your dog can stay when he is a hundred feet away from you.
Step
9
Add distractions
When your dog can stay from a distance and for long periods of time, then practice having him stay in the presence of distractions, such as smells, people, dogs, and other animals. Start with easy distractions and gradually work up to harder distractions as your dog improves. Soon he will have a rock solid 'stay'!
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The Leash Pressure Method

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Step
1
Find a seat
To begin, find somewhere comfortable for you to sit. Somewhere that you do not mind staying for a while yourself. A couch or a comfortable chair are good options.
Step
2
Command 'down'
Attach a six foot leash to your dog's collar and bring him over to your sitting place. Tell your dog "Down", and when he lies down, give him a treat.
Step
3
Add 'stay'
When your dog is in the down position, then tell him to "Stay" and step onto his leash. Leave enough slack in the leash for him to be comfortable while he is lying down, but not enough for him to stand up at all.
Step
4
Reward staying
If your dog remains in the 'down' position, give him a treat every two minutes that he remains there.
Step
5
Step on the leash
If your pup tries to get up, and he probably will, then when the leash under your foot catches him and prevents him from standing all the way up, remind him to 'stay', and simply wait until he lies back down. The first time that this happens he might fight the leash. If he does this, then simply keep pressure on the leash with your foot until he gives up and lies back down. When he does, praise him and after he has been in the 'down' position for thirty seconds, then give him another treat. Continue to give him treats for staying in the 'down' position, every two minutes.
Step
6
Release
After your dog has stayed in place for six minutes, even if he tried to get up during that time, then tell Fido "OK!" while he is staying and take your foot off of his leash. Then get up from your chair to encourage him to move. If he wishes to stay where he is, that is fine also, as long as he knows that he can move if he wants to.
Step
7
Space out rewards
As your pup improves and no longer tries to get up during the six minutes until he is told "OK", then gradually increase the amount of time between rewards. Do this until you are only rewarding your pup for remaining in place for five minutes in a row.
Step
8
Increase time
When you have reached five minutes between rewards, then begin to increase the amount of time that your dog must stay for before you tell him "OK". Do this until your dog can stay for thirty minutes in a row, while receiving rewards every five minutes.
Step
9
Space out rewards again
When your dog can stay in place, without trying to get up, for thirty minutes, then gradually increase the amount of time between rewards again. Increase the amount of time between rewards until you have reached thirty minutes, and your dog is only receiving one treat for staying for thirty minutes.
Step
10
Add distractions
When your dog can stay in place for thirty minutes, begin to practice in other locations and around various types of distractions. Start with easy distractions, and gradually move onto harder ones. When you increase the difficulty by adding a new distraction or location, then reward your dog more frequently again, until he has mastered staying in that location or around that particular distraction as well. Do this with every new type of distraction, until your dog is so familiar with different types of distractions that he no longer needs the extra rewards anywhere you go.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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