Sometimes your dog needs to stay still and sit, as when you answer the doorbell and need to pick up the flowers for your birthday. Along with sit and down, stay is one of the most important commands for dog training. When discussing training, dog trainers refer to the word “cue” and not “command”. Your dog will learn the stay cue quickly and easily. This is how to teach your dog how to stay and sit.
In small increments, teach how to sit and stay.
It is important to show your dog how to respond to cues in small steps. This will help your dog become more confident. Good stay is when your dog stays still for a certain amount of time while you’re away from him. We don’t try to teach dogs all three elements at once – distance, duration and distraction. Each piece is added gradually, beginning with duration and moving on to distance and then finally to distraction.
Begin with Duration
If you place your dog on a mat, it’s much easier to teach him to stay. This is especially true if he’s already learned to “go to my mat” behavior. To learn the steps for teaching “go to your mat,” see https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/training/mat-training-tips/ ). Nancy Kerns.
Holding a treat, with your dog in a sitting or laying down position, you can say “Stay” to him and then hold it up for 1 second. If your dog stays, you can mark his brief stay by clicking a clicker (or using a verbal marker such as “Yes!”), and then give him the treat. To keep him still, you can hold the treat in front of his nose for a few seconds. If he gets up, you can say “Oops!” with a happy voice. Then, put the treat behind his back and ask him to sit down again. If he gets up too quickly, you’ll say “Oops!” in a cheerful voice. He will realize that the reward is gone when he gets up.
You can gradually increase the time he stays by increasing the number of successful repetitions. After marking and rewarding his behavior, he will eventually stay for at least 10 seconds. You can mix longer stays with shorter ones to ensure that he doesn’t get frustrated.
After several repetitions, you can stop holding up the treat.
Holding a treat, with your dog in a sitting or laying down position, you can say “Stay” to him and then hold it up for 1 second. If your dog stays, you can mark his brief stay by clicking a clicker (or using a verbal marker such as “Yes!”), and then give him the treat. Nancy Kerns.
After several repetitions, use a release word to end your stay. This will ensure that your dog knows that you aren’t done until you let him go. Because of its frequent use in conversation, the word “Okay” is not recommended. Perhaps your dog is at the beach on a down-stay. Your spouse turns to you and says, “Okay, let’s go to dinner tonight.” You may use the most common release cues, “Free,”” “All done,” or “Release.” Your dog will not understand them until you have associated them with the release.
Your dog should be excited when you release him from the stay. Encourage him to get up and give him praises. To let him know that the stay is over, it’s crucial that he gets up when you give the release cue.
Now, add distance
Be sure to mark the time you are away from your dog, and to return to him when you give the release cue. This will ensure that he knows the stay is not over until you return. Nancy Kerns.
You can add distance to your dog’s stay if he is able to hold it for 30 seconds consistently. You can ask your dog to stay, then take one step back and mark the behavior. Two steps is enough if your dog stays still when you move one step back. Next, take three steps. Next, step to the side. Continue for four more steps. Next, take three steps to your side. You can keep moving in a different direction and distance from each other so that the behavior doesn’t get more difficult.
The duration of your stay will increase as you distance yourself from your dog. Slowly increase the duration by standing for longer periods at the increased distance before marking and returning.
It is a difficult task to move behind your dog. Dogs are sensitive to your movements out of their lines of sight and will naturally move to avoid discomfort. Do not try to go behind your dog for the first time. Nancy Kerns.
You’re asking too much if your dog “breaks” the stay after you release him. Increase the distance so that he is able to succeed.
Make sure to mark the time you are away from your dog, and to return to him after you give the release cue. This will help ensure that he knows the stay doesn’t end until you return. You can pause for different lengths before you release your dog. This will help him understand that he must wait until you give the release cue to get up. He will not wait for you to release each time and think that your return is the release. Once your stay is established, you can teach him other action cues such as “Come!” that can be used as a release.
Distractions for the Wedding
Start small and gradually increase the distractions. This is a great way to have fun! Photo by Nancy Kerns.
The real fun begins now. As you add something new, distractions, to your dog’s practice sessions decrease in duration and distance.
Start with a small amount. Stand in front of your dog and ask him to “Stay.” Then, jump once, slightly above the ground. You can reward him with a treat if he stays in one place. Continue this process until he is solid with just one jump. Then, increase the number of distracting movements that you make. There are many options: jumping higher, doing two jumps or clapping your hands. You could also try bouncing a ball, getting down on your fours, and jumping on one foot. You can mix and match easier and more difficult challenges to ensure that the challenge doesn’t get inexorably harder. Also, remember to use your release cue often and return.
Mix up random combinations of duration, distance and distractions. If your dog fails to hold his position, reduce these D’s until he is stable again.
How to teach a dog to stay whole
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