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If you’re ever asked to think of the most intelligent of dog breeds, the dogs that come to mind are generally the Border Collie, the German Shepherd, or a more standard family dog like the Labrador or Golden Retriever. However, there is another breed that rises up as highly intelligent, eager to please, and very high energy. Though it may be hard to tell when your immediate thoughts turn to what might be known as a “circus dog” with its fluffy haircuts and bouncy step, the Poodle is definitely a standout star when it comes to obedience.
Poodles are fantastic at a variety of things such as obedience and sports, and can even excel in a job such as a service or hunting dog. But even Poodles need to learn the basics before moving on to more challenging work.
Teaching a Poodle to 'stay' may be more challenging than most other commands, simply because of their excess energy. With the urge to bounce and run around, keeping a Poodle’s focus can be complex and require a bit more motivation than normal. The good news is, many Poodles are food motivated and will readily pick up on a new command in order to obtain a tasty treat.
The ‘stay’ is important for any breed of dog in order to really get a handle on obedience. It can help keep your dog safe when out in public, can keep him from chasing after prey animals like cats and squirrels, and can prevent him from approaching any strange dogs or people who may not want him close by. Teaching the ‘stay’ can begin as soon as you bring your Poodle home. Even very young puppies can pick up on simple commands. Expect to dedicate at least three days to getting your Poodle to develop a really solid ‘stay’.
To teach your Poodle to stay, the only thing you’ll need is the proper motivation. While most Poodles are happy to behave for treats, others may find more motivation in the form of a favorite toy. Figure out which your Poodle prefers and use that to reinforce the appropriate behaviors.
If you decide to try teaching ‘stay’ with a clicker, invest in a small one. They are usually very inexpensive and some may even come in multi-packs. You may also choose to find a small mat or bed for your Poodle to practice his ‘stay’ on.
The Time Method
Poodles can have lots of energy. You don’t want to ask yours to ‘stay’ when he’s ready to go. Take him for a walk before working on obedience. This will help burn off some excess energy.
Lure to a certain spot
Use a treat to lure your dog to where you want him. This can be a random place in your home or in your backyard. You may also choose to use a mat of some kind.
Use the command ‘stay’
Get your dog adjusted to the word early on by using the word ‘stay’ and holding your hand up with the palm facing your dog.
Take a step away
Take a single step back and then immediately return to your dog.
As soon as you return, reward your Poodle with a treat and verbal praise.
Increase the amount of time
Each time you take the step back away from your dog, increase the amount of time you spend before returning. Increase it gradually. If he struggles to remain in place, go back to when he was last successful and try again.
The Distance Method
Ask for a ‘sit’
If your dog already knows how to sit, this becomes easier. Lure your Poodle into a 'sit' in a certain spot and reward for doing so.
Turn the ‘sit’ into a ‘stay’
Use the command ‘stay’ and the appropriate hand signal.
Take one or two steps away from your dog before returning to her very quickly.
Use plenty of food reinforcement to encourage your dog to stay where she is.
Increase the distance
Take a few more steps away each time before you return back to your dog to reward. Increase the distance over time.
Keep training short
Poodles may get distracted easily. Try not to overwhelm with asking too much of yours. Keep training sessions between ten and fifteen minutes to be effective and always end on a good note.
The Distraction Method
Start in a quiet place
Start your training somewhere with minimal distractions. A good place is inside the house or in the backyard on a quiet day where there are no other people or animals nearby.
Make progress in that spot
Work on both time and distance in the same place for a while. Once your Poodle can stay in place for a good amount of time while you are some distance away, you can progress.
Introduce small distractions
This can be something like the noise from a TV or radio. Another idea is to introduce another person who lives with you into the situation, but allow them to go about their business while not paying attention to your dog.
Reward for focus
Any time your dog manages to stay while distractions are present, reward him generously with lots of treats and verbal praise.
Up the distraction level
As your dog progresses, introduce more distractions while shifting into noisier locations. You can go from inside the house to the front yard and then eventually in a place like a pet store. Be sure to always reward for obedience and be prepared to go back to a lower distraction level and try again if your Poodle struggles.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 02/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021