So you’ve got your dog to sit, but will she sit there until you tell her to move? If you are like the thousands of Americans struggling with dog training in their home then your answer is probably, no.
Arlene Patrick of Corona can’t get her dog to sit on the first command, let alone stay there. “Maui will sit very anxiously until she gets her treat. She practically bites my fingers off for the treat and then stands there waiting for more. She sits like she has ants in her pants, so as you can imagine, “stay” or “wait” is a concept she does not care to understand.”
Correcting these bad habits takes time but believe me, the time is always worth it. Set aside a time to practice learning (or re-learning) commands like “Stay”. Keep the sessions short (10-15 mins.) and make it a positive experience (happy tones and rewards). Rewards can consist of treats, toys, praise, or even a game. Whatever motivates your pup to work and keep working is a good tool. If you are using treats as a reward, be inconsistent with the rewards and don’t give a treat for every correct action. Using an irregular reward disbursement schedule will force your dog to pay attention instead of anticipating your next move. And lastly, remember that all dogs learn at a different pace. Have patience and don’t give up. No dog is too old to learn new tricks.
Learning (or re-learning) Stay
- Tell your dog to “sit” and or lay “down”. (Replace “down” with whatever command you choose, but be consistent or you will confuse your dog.)
- Give your dog calm praise with “good sit” or “good down” but wait before rewarding
- Reward then release your dog from “sit” or lay “down” position with a word of your choice, such as “release”, “go play”, or “carry on”. Again, it’s not about the word you use, it’s about using the same word each time.
- Repeat steps 1 – 3 a couple of times, making your dog wait longer each time before rewarding
- Repeat steps 1 – 2 but now use the command “stay” and take a single step back
- Return to your dog and reward her while saying “good stay”
- Release her from the “stay”
- Repeat steps 5 – 7 several times, gradually taking further steps from your dog each time. If your dog moves before you release her, you are probably asking too much, too soon. Start again with a short “stay”.
Mastering the Command:
Once your pup has the “stay” command down, switch things up by:
- Going in the back yard and front yard to practice
- Running in place, sitting on the floor, or walking around her
- Interrupting play and public outings with sit, stay
As your pup gets better at staying on command you can test her ability to follow directions by giving her distractions; Children playing, other animals, toys, etc. The more distractions she can resist the better. Happy Training!