Basic Dog Obedience – Teaching a Stay
For many people teaching their dog to stay is a real challenge. When teaching any dog obedience command or trick to your dog break it down into small steps and build it slowly.
The “Stay” is really an unnecessary command since it can be implied with the “Sit”, “Down” or “Place” commands. If you ask your dog to “Sit” you are asking her to “Sit” and to continue to “Sit” until released, making a “Stay” redundant. If you want to add the “Stay”, do so but we feel it is clearer and easier for the dog to understand one command. For example if you command your dog to “Sit” and she stands just repeat the command, “Sit”. You don’t have to say “Stay” or “No”, just command “Sit”. This is a much clearer way of communicating what you want your dog to do.
When breaking down a “Stay” there are three essential building blocks that are necessary to accomplish it. First there is “Time”. This is the time your dog can stay in a Sit, Down, or Place command. Second there is “Distance”. This is the distance you can move away from your dog while she stays in a commanded position. And third there is “Distractions”. While distracting your dog with other dogs, squirrels, cats, balls, toys, noises, etc. he will continue to hold the commanded position.
With that being said, put your dog on a leash at your heel side; command him to “Sit”, then pivot in front, facing your dog just a few feet away. Stand still and count silently to 5, then move back to heel position and praise your dog. Move your dog into a heel then stop and sit your dog and repeat the exercise. Add a few seconds each time. Repeat this until you can reach 2 or more minutes without your dog moving. When you have achieved 2 minutes then start adding distance a foot at a time. As you add distance you may have to cut back on the time. The first time you get to the end of your leash you may have to cut your time to 30 seconds or less. Cut the time as you add distance and once you can get to the end of your leash then start adding time again. When you can get 2 or more minutes at the end of a 6 foot leash then you can start adding distractions. However, when you add distractions you might have to cut both time and distance and then start the process of rebuilding. At any point during this process if your dog has problems with staying in the commanded position then back up one step or two and start rebuilding. Sometimes you might have to go all the way back to the beginning but the rebuilding process usually takes only a few repeats to get back to where you were.
The process in a nutshell is as follows: Increase Time, then Distance, then add Distractions. As you add one variable decrease the other until you can do all three at a specified Time, Distance and Distraction.
Dog obedience sessions should be short, about 10 to 15 minutes and repeated multiple times through-out the day. If you stick with this process you should have the foundation for a “Stay” within a few weeks.