How to Train a Dog to Stay

How to Train a Dog to Stay

by Scritch

‘Stay’ is a useful training command for a variety of situations, whether it’s waiting to cross the street, welcoming a visitor into your home, or opening the car door to let your pup out. Being able to stay can help keep your dog safe as well as make life a little easier on you. With some patience and lots of practice, your dog can master this important command.

Training tips for success

Energy level: Begin a training session when your dog is relaxed, but not tired. An energetic dog may be too restless and excited to focus on training, making the process more difficult and frustrating. Relieve some of that extra energy by playing a game of fetch or going on a good, long walk before a training session.

Prepare your training treats: Whichever treat you use, be sure to break them up into small, pea-sized pieces so your dog doesn’t get full too quickly. This is also a good way to control her calorie intake.

Practice training before meals: Most training methods use treats as rewards, but if your dog is more motivated by a toy or verbal praise, then use that to your advantage! For the rest of us who need to use treats, you’ll find that your dog is more likely to succeed if she is food motivated. If your dog has just finished a meal, she may be full, therefore not very motivated to earn treats. 

With that said, let’s begin!

How to train ‘stay’

Decide on a release word, such as “OK,” that you’ll use to communicate to your dog that the action is complete.

  1. Start with your dog in a resting position, such as sitting or lying down. Say “stay” and take a few steps backward. After a few seconds, say your release word and return to your dog with a reward.
  2. If your dog gets up to follow you before you say the release word, start over and perhaps shorten the distance you get away from your dog.
  3. As your dog successfully stays, gradually increase the duration of time before you return to your dog and offer a reward.
  4. Gradually increase the distance you move away from your dog.
  5. Gradually increase the level of distraction your dog has to endure, such as a family member dangling a toy off to the side, all the way up to practicing at the dog park.

Practice at the same ‘level’ about 8-20 times before making it more challenging. If your dog doesn’t successfully stay, go back a level or two by reducing the duration or distance. To help solidify your dog’s training, practice at different times of the day and in different settings. A dog that has mastered ‘stay’ will remain in the same place until they hear their release word.

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