1.23.18 - Written by Certified Professional Trainer and Guest Blogger, Nicole Ellis
Week 4 Training Tip - Teaching a "Stay" and the importance of it
Stay. It’s one of the first things I teach my dogs and from the day we start training, it becomes one of my most used behaviors. A stay is part of so many experiences, from movie sets to hiking to walking around town, we use it almost daily. It's as useful for taking cute photos as it is for crossing the street and for not chasing that squirrel.
I’ll go over how I teach this to my own dogs and clients' dogs.
- Start with your dog in a sit or down in front of you.
- Put your hand, palm facing forward, toward your dog and say ‘Stay’. Then quickly give a treat before your dog moves.
- If your dog gets up when you give him a treat, simply ask for the sit/down and repeat again. You don’t want him getting up till you say it’s okay to do so.
- Slowly start adding time, very slowly. One beat, then more. Say ‘Stay’, wait a beat, then reward. Let the beat get longer the next time.
- Do the same with the distance between you and your dog. Slowly take one small step away, then another. Keep adding distance this way.
- When you give your dog the reward, be sure to go to your dog and give them the treat while they are still in the stay. You don't want to call them to you because you don't want to reinforce the idea of getting up from the stay.
- When you are done with a training session, use what we call a 'release word'. This tells your dog it’s okay and safe to get up now. You can choose your own release word but try to make it a word you wouldn't use in other situations, such as 'release'. When you give your release word say it in a positive tone, calling your dog over. He doesn’t need a treat for releasing – getting to run to you is its own reward - but some belly rubs will never hurt.
- When you begin a training session, don’t start at the furthest distance you stopped at previously. Start a bit closer and with less duration to help set your pup up for success.
- If you find your dog is sneaking forward: try practicing on a training platform or behind a step.
- If your dog is getting up: decrease your time - even if that means instantly rewarding your dog after the stay sign is given. Then slowly add duration.
- Ready for a challenge? Try dropping a toy during the stay, rolling a ball, or walking around him to see if he stays.
- Lastly, of course, be sure to reward the solid stays and always end on a good note.