You’ve mastered sit and down, so what’s next? Now it’s time to reinforce those behaviors and have your dog learn to stay.
When in a stay, your dog holds her current position until they’re released.
- Start with your dog sitting or lying down, as she is less likely to move from these positions. Use a leash to guarantee control. Stand directly in front of her and in a serious tone, say “stay,” holding your palm flat, almost touching her nose.
- Move a short distance away, keeping eye contact with your dog, and return to her. Praise her with “good stay” and give her a treat. Be sure to give the praise and treat while your dog remains in the seated and staying position.
- If your dog moves from her stay before you have released her, gently but firmly put her back in the spot where she was originally told to stay.
- Gradually increase the time you ask your dog to stay, as well as the distance between yourselves. You want your dog to be successful so if she is breaking her stays, go back to a time and distance she is able to achieve.
*The tone of your voice and your body language will be a big part of getting your message across. Be firm and consistent, and it won’t take many sessions before your dog begins to understand.
Troubleshoot it! FAQ’s
- Does your dog keep getting up?
- Use very little verbal communication when teaching this skill. Talking evokes action, and you want inaction. Solid body language will convey your seriousness.
- Does your dog seem to break her stay the second before your release her?
- Do not show her the treat until you give it to her, as it may pull her forward. Vary your pattern; sometimes return to her and leave her again without rewarding.
Good to know! “Stay” means: don’t move a muscle until I release you. “Wait” is less formal, meaning: stay-ish there-ish for a short amount of time. “Wait until I get my things before running out of the house, please.”