Training your dog to stay is easy, fun and very useful. Your pooch should know how to sit, down and stand before you teach him the stay command. It is a little harder but every dog learns this fairly quickly.
The command stay can be used to prevent your dog from running out every time you open the door, to greet people without jumping, to wait for the food bowl to touch the ground before eating and even to stay in a certain position at the vet's office during an examination.
Training your dog to stay is an ongoing exercise that you may have to practice in different places, with different people and with a variety of distraction. The more you practice it, the better you pet will respond.
This step-by-step guide is easy to follow and also very detailed, so you can learn as much as your dog!
Find a quiet place and start training your dog to stay when he/she is tired (after a long walk).
This is one of those rare cases in which I will tell you that is it OK to start using the verbal commands "Stay" and "Free" from the beginning. But, do not say the word STAY more than once! Otherwise your pet will learn that "stay" doesn't mean anything but "Stay..Stay...Stayyyy" means stay!
Stay:Your Pooch must hold the position he/she is in (like sit, down or stand). The hand signal is usually showing your palm to your dog as in "stop".
Free: Your pet can now break the stay. You can use any other word you like (OK!, Release, Done!, etc.). Your hand signal can be moving both hands up and to the sides as in "all done" in sign language.
Two ways for training your dog to stay and you can use them both!
1 - Make your pet fail to show him what you DO NOT want him to do. Then reward when he does stay. This method is good to help your dog discriminate between following a treat (which is what we have been teaching him to do so far!) and staying still for the treat to come to him!
2 - Reward your dog constantly while on a stay. Then add time between rewards to teach your dog to stay longer and longer without so many treats.
Here is what to do:
You can move on to the next step when your dog can sit or down stay for up to 10 seconds (without breaking the stay) 8 out 10 times you practice!
Repeat step 1 in many different places! Make sure you start with places that are quiet with low distraction and move up to more difficult more distracting ones.
Your canine friend must succeed each new place before moving on to a harder one! This means he can stay for 10 seconds 8 out of 10 times you ask!
Here is a list of places for training your dog to stay:
Always think about your pet's safety. If you think your pooch may run away while training, use a hand's free leash to practice in public places.
Repeat step 1 with many different distractions!
Make sure you start with easy distraction and move up to more difficult ones.
During this step you can also work on extending the duration up to 30 seconds.
Your dog must succeed each distraction before moving on to a harder one! This means he can stay for each new distraction 8 out of 10 times you ask!
You are now combining two difficulties! Distractions and Duration. That is why you need to start all over from Step 1. You can't ask your furry friend to sit stay for 10 seconds while you throw a ball, he will most definitely go after the ball!. You need to start with half a second and add a low distraction, then add duration...and so on.
Distractions to work on:
Repeat step 1 at increasing distances! Start with one step away, come back and reward! Two steps away come back and reward! continue like this until you are a few feet away from your pet!
If he tries to break the stay, say your no-reward-mark and do not give him a treat! Start over and go back down to a shorter distance if he is not succeeding.
During this step you can also work on extending the duration up to 60 seconds.
You are now combining two difficulties! Distance and Duration. That is why you need to start all over from Step 1. You can't ask your pet to sit stay for 60 seconds while you leave the room! You need to start with half a second and one step away, then two steps...and so on.
Your canine friend must succeed each distance before moving on to a harder one! This means he can stay as you walk away 8 out of 10 times you ask!
Dogs learn better when each aspect of a behavior is trained separately and later on combined together. When training your hound to stay with distractions you had to lower the criteria each time. When you combine three or more aspects you need to relax your criteria too!
If your dog can sit stay for 60 seconds while you walk 5 feet away, he most likely will NOT be able to do the same while there is a ball rolling on the floor or another dog playing close by.
To train this you need to start with a few seconds and a few steps away while the distraction is happening. Start at whatever combination your dog is likely to succeed!
After training many behaviors in different locations, with different distractions and at different distances, your pet will start "getting" things faster! Eventually you will find yourself in a completely new situation that your dog can master without previous training!
Training your dog to stay is done!
Well, not really...you always need to practice practice practice! Just as a reminder at this point.
This is normal and the only solution is repetition and consistency. Up until now you have been teaching your pooch to follow treats in your hand with Luring. And as soon as he got the treat the exercise was over. Now you need to teach him that he has to stay until you say so. Be patient and go slowly...help him succeed every step of the way. The more your dog succeeds, the more good associations he has with the behavior, the better he will be at it!