In our last post, we showed you how easy it is to train your dog to come when called. This article will teach you how to get your dog to "stay" when you command it to. A well trained dog is a pleasure for its family and anyone else who comes in close contact with it. Even most avid animal lovers can be put off by a pup that never obeys and runs wild. Teaching a dog to stay is extremely useful and can keep your dog from getting into trouble when the opportunity arises.
Teaching a dog to stay is a complex command because it actually contains three parts -- duration, distance and distraction. You'll want to start by teaching each part separately, beginning with duration. Whenever you are teaching a puppy to sit or lay down, you want to teach them to stay their for longer and longer periods of time. That's what duration is all about.
Start teaching duration by standing in front of your dog (make sure you go ahead and put a treat in your hand). Your pup will most likely be fixated on you becuase he knows you have a goodie in your hand. Just stand there and repeat the trigger words "wait..." "wait..." and after a minute or so, step away and use the trigger word "free" and let your dog come to you and get his treat. You want to make sure that you are very clear to your pet that they are allowed to move when you tell them to. Of course, you can substitute the trigger words for anything you choose, but the key is repetition and consistently doing the same thing every time. Continue practicing this duration technique as often as possible and begin to gradually increase the time your dog must wait before being released.
Distance and Distraction
The second part you will want to incorporate into your stay training is distance. What this means is that you will gradually begin to increase your distance from your pet as you continue the duration portion of the training. Start by showing your dog that you are going to start moving by moving your body or legs. However, don't allow you dog to think he can move just because you are. Don't reward your pet if it is not completing the appropriate action. Just move around a little. If your dog stats to get up, just put them back down and start over. After you have moved a round for a bit, use your trigger word (i.e., "free") to let your dog know it is okay for him to move and give him a treat and praise. Keep practicing this until you are confident your dog is understanding what it is supposed to do.
Once your dog is starting to consistently show the proper behavior, you should start incorporating the command word "stay". It is not advisable to start using the command word until you are pretty sure your dog will show the proper behavior. There is a also a hand signal that goes along with this behavior which is basically a flat palm directed at you pet's face. Everytime you start with your dog in a sitting or lying position, give them the hand signal. Begin moving around, jumping, or whatever you like, and as soon as you are ready to let your dog move, give the trigger word "free" and allow them to get their treat.
As you increase your distance and your pup stays still come back to them and reward them with a treat after each interval. Finally, give the trigger word to move and allow you dog to come to you for the treat. After lots of repetition, your dog will begin to understand what they are required to do. Make sure you keep your training sessions short and sweet. A puppy's attention span is not very long and "stay" is not a very exciting thing for them.
Here is a great instructional video on teaching your dog to stay when you command it: