Teach your dog to Stay

Stay and Wait are two separate commands, Stay means "stay there until I come back to you", wait means "wait here until I call you to come to me". Stay should be taught first, and Wait taught at a later stage.


Teaching the Stay


Put your dog in a sit or a down. Say 'Stay' and back this up with a hand signal - open palm in front of your dogs nose. Now wait for a second or two, say 'good' and treat. Repeat this exercise gradually leaving a longer time between giving the command and giving the treat. If the dog breaks the stay, do not treat and start over. Release your dog with the command 'OK' and move around a bit in between to make each repetition of the exercise distinct.


When your dog can stay reliably for ten seconds or so begin to take one step back. If your dog continues to stay - fantastic! Step back in towards your dog, praise and treat. If your dog gets up to follow you, then don't praise or treat, just put your dog back into position and try again.


Continue this exercise, taking one step back, then two, then three, and gradually build up the distance between yourself and the dog. Remember with the stay you must always return to your dog, and to get the treat the dog must remain in the stay until you release it with OK.


When you can get a good distance away from your dog you can begin to build the stay up, introduce distractions, ask your dog to 'stay' in a variety of situations, for example when someone comes to the door, try walking around your dog in circles instead of moving off in a straight line, and eventually you can even try hiding, or leaving the room all together.


Teaching the Wait


Wait is taught in exactly the same manner but using a different hand signal - and instead of going back to your dog at the end of the exercise you call your dog to come to you. This instils a different mindset in the dog - she should remain more alert because she knows she will be asked to do something in a moment.


It can be very useful to use 'wait' as you are going through doorways and gates. Put your dog in a sit, give the command wait and open the door. If the dog stands up to bolt through the door tell them to 'Sit - Wait' again and close the door. Keep building it up until you can open the door and step outside it while your dog waits inside for the command to follow. This is a good way of reinforcing your leadership position and also teaches your dog good manners around doorways - when the delivery person calls it will be easier to get control of your dog if they are used to sitting and waiting at the door. Using the wait command can also help you build up the 'come' command - after having to sit and wait your dog should be eager to come to you when called - regular practising should help to reinforce the recall as well as improving the wait - a two for one deal in dog training!


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