Teaching your dog to stay

The key to succeeding with the “stay” command is to make small steps of success and not giant leaps of failure! Break the exercise into three components – distance, duration and distraction. Add one at a time and build on successes.

Start teaching “stay” on lead. Train in a quiet location with no distractions.  Do not move anywhere at first. Ask your dog to stay, place your flat hand in front of him and stand up straight beside him. Count to five. If he hasn’t moved in this time say “yes” or “good boy” and give him a treat. Practise this three or four times before extending the stay to 10 seconds. (Duration 10 seconds, Distance 0, Distraction 0)

Add the challenge of distance: tell him to “stay” and use the same hand command. Take a small step out to the side for one second and then move back in. If he doesn’t move say “yes” or “good” and give a small treat and praise. Practise this three or four times before moving further out. (1sec Duration, 1 step Distance, 0 Distraction)

With your dog on lead gradually move further and further out until you are confident you can drop the lead. Do this in a safe environment in case your dog decides to take advantage of his freedom.

Only progress one of the Ds at a time, so that your dog always wins the game you are playing. Either increase the time he waits or increase the distance between you, but not both at the same time. This seems slow to us but your pup learns more rapidly and permanently through repeated successes and having fun.  Keep your training sessions short and end on a high note so neither of you get frustrated.


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