While training your dog to stay may not seem like the most important command to teach, it has over the years in our house proved to be the most used and the most valuable.
Stay is a command that you can use with your dog throughout the day, whether it be when your dog waits to go for his walk, or when someone is at the door and you want your dog to sit and wait while you answer. This important command could also save your pup’s life.
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HOW TO START TEACHING YOUR DOG TO STAY
Start with your dog in the position you want them to hold, whether it’s a sit or a down position. If you are expecting your dog to stay in the spot for a while, you may want them to be in a down position. Also, consider your dog’s comfort, if you are outside you may not want your dog to be on a cold surface for an extended period of time.
TEACH YOUR DOG A RELEASE CUE
The release cue will be the same whether your dog is in sit or down position. The release cue is a word or gesture that means the stay is done. In our house we simply use “OK” clearly and directly to him.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG TO STAY
To work on your dog’s stay, you might pick a time when he/she is relaxed and well exercised. This is helpful especially for puppies who are a bit more playful at this stage. You’ll want to practice short sessions throughout the day. Teach your dog to stay for different durations, distractions and distances practiced separately at the beginning.
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In our house we use the hand command for stay. While saying the word “stay” the hand command used is the right hand held up at chest level or lower. Once your dog is in the stay position you want him/her in, tell him/her to “stay” for different durations of time, gradually increasing the amount of time your dog stays. Always reward your dog with treats after you release them. At the beginning you might give more treats to encourage the pup to hold the stay.
Once your dog can hold the stay, you can start to practice distraction by walking away or around your dog to make sure he/she holds the stay, always using a release cue when you don’t want him/her to stay any longer. Lastly, you can practice stay at a distance, by walking away from the dog and gradually increasing the distance.
As with any training, you want to be consistent and practice daily if possible. Always release the dog from his/her stay and praise the dog with a treat.