Picture of dog in stay position
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Teaching your dog how to stay is extremely helpful if you want to establish some ground rules or if you frequently take your pet to public areas.

It can also be helpful around the house to keep him out of trouble while you tend to something he’s very curious about.

STEP #1 – STRIKE A POSE

You’ll need to begin by putting your dog in the stance you want him or her to stay in.

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Often this is a sitting pose. However, if you want to start with your dog standing or lying down, that also works. 

Be mindful of anything that would make continuing that posture uncomfortable for your dog and cause him to move around.

Are you asking your dog to sit on hot pavement? Are you asking him sit on a chilly tile floor? 

Are you asking him to lie down in an area where he may not feel safe? Lying down is an exposed or susceptible position, so if you’re in a public area, this may not work well. 

Make sure to consider any factors that may make your pet reluctant to work with you.

STEP #2 – THE MAGIC WORD

Decide on a motion or word that lets your dog know his “stay” is done and he can move around. Try to pick a word that isn’t overly common to avoid confusion. 

Be aware it may be a word, a signal, your tone of voice, and eye contact all used together that your dog looks for to know he’s free to move about.

For this reason it’s good to be aware of your body language when you’re releasing your dog, so you can be consistent. 

STEP #3 – PICK YOUR “STAY” MOMENT

Make sure your dog is content before you start training. If your dog is rambunctious, anxious, needs to go to the bathroom, is hungry, doesn’t feel completely safe, etc., training will be a challenge.

STEP #4 – DURATION

Tell your dog to sit or lie down, then wait a second or two. Say your release word infused with a tone of praise (for this example, let’s say it’s “good boy”) and give your dog a treat. 

If you’re training a puppy or your dog is just always in motion, you may need 2 treats. Give one when he obeys your first command and, before he can get up, say “good boy” and give him a treat.

Make sure your dog gets up and moves around, then repeat the above step 10 or so times if you can.

Each time you do it, try to extend the time by a second before saying “good boy” and giving him a treat.

A frequent error owners make is to is to give the treat unhurriedly and to give it from your elevated, standing position (typically over your pet’d head).

Your dog will see the treat en route and will stop “staying” so he can intercept the treat. 

So give the treat quickly and at the height of his head. If he’s lying down, it’s helpful to place it on the ground between his paws.

If he’s sitting, deliver it from lower rather than higher—at the height of your dog’s chest is a good spot.

STEP #5 – DISTANCE

Once your pet is able to stay put for a bit (maybe 5-10 seconds), begin increasing your space from him. Initially it’s helpful to continue facing your dog and take a step back. 

This way he knows you’re fully focused on him as he’s trying to understand what you want him to do. If you turn around, he may get up to see what’s going on.

So take a step back, wait one second, then step forward, say “good boy,” and give your pet a treat.

Don’t combine the time element with the distance element when you first start out—it makes it exponentially more difficult for your pet. 

Keep expanding the distance, but as soon as you get back to your dog, allow them to get up and move around.

Once your dog becomes more comfortable with distance, you can start increasing the time bit by bit.

STEP #6 – DISTRACTION

If you want to train your dog to be very obedient, the next step is to include distractions while you’ve told him to “stay.”

For example, squeak a toy, bounce a ball a few times, or talk to another family member.

CONCLUSION

It will take patience and time, but your dog will get better and better at it! Lavish him with praise and treats and he’ll try his hardest. And you’ll have a great bonding experience with your pet that will last a lifetime.

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