“Stay”

Stay is perhaps a command that you have looked forward to teaching, after all, it is up there on top of the list, as one of the most useful and used essential commands. This command can be paired with sit and down. With these combination commands under your belt, daily life with your companion will be made easier.

Teaching your dog restraint has practical uses, as well. By reinforcing the wanted behavior of remaining in place, your dog will not end up in potentially dangerous situations, such as running out the door and into the street. This command also limits the possibility of your dog putting you in embarrassing or inconvenient situations, such as jumping up on people, or chasing the neighbor’s pet kangaroo. Furthermore, it is a valuable command that teaches compliance, which facilitates better control of your dog. Stay not only teaches your dog patience, but also reinforces his understanding of who is in charge of the decision-making. After you have taught your dog sit and down, the stay command should be next on your training agenda, as they make for useful pairings.

– To begin with, find yourselves a quiet low distraction place, and bring plenty of treats. Give the sit command, and after he obeys, wait two-seconds before you click and treat. Continue practicing while gradually extending the duration of time between his compliance and his receiving the click and treat, thus reinforcing the length of time he is in the sit position. Work up to 10-15 seconds of sitting before clicking and treating.

– Next, you can begin to issue the combination sit-stay command, and this time you can add a hand signal to the mix. While you issue the command, his signal can simply be your flat hand directed towards his fuzzy little face, at about 12 inches/30 centimeters. You can also choose a unique hand signal of your own to use in conjunction with sit-stay, being careful to avoid the use of the middle finger, as not to offend the neighbors or passersby. Continue practicing while increasing the time he is in the sit position. Gradually increase the sit-stay time to one minute before you C/T.

– If your dog gets up during this training, it means you are moving too quickly. Try again with a shorter stay time goal, and then slowly increase the time your dog is to remain completely still. Continue practicing until your dog will stay for longer intervals. A good way to keep track of your dog’s progress through each training session is by starting a training log. This is helpful for many reasons, including monitoring his compliance, goals, outcomes, as well as wanted and unwanted behaviors.

– Now, it is time to test your progress.

Now, say “sit-stay,” and take one big step away from your dog, then C/T him for his obedience. Keep practicing this until you can take two big steps in any direction, away from your dog without him moving. It is essential that you return to treat your dog at the exact spot in which he stayed in place. Refrain from treating him if he rises, or if he comes to you.

Keep progressing with this exercise until you can take several steps away, eventually moving completely out of sight of your dog, while he stays stationary. Work towards the goal of him staying motionless for two full minutes while you are in his sight, followed by an additional two minutes that you remain out of his sight. By gradually increasing the stay-time interval during this training, you reinforce the stay-response behavior to the point that your dog will stay put no matter what is going on. Often dogs will simply lie down after a number of minutes in the stay position. Usually, after about five minutes my dog just lies down until I release him.

– Lastly, begin increasing the distractions, while practicing all that has been trained up to this point. As previously instructed, begin the practice indoors, and then take it outside into the yard, and then move away from the familiarity of your house and neighborhood. For obvious reasons, be patient in the more distracting locations. It is important to maintain a practice routine of at least five minutes per day, particularly in places with increasing distraction. During your training sessions, continue to add other people, animals, all in a variety of noisy and increasingly distracting environments. The desired outcome of this training is to have a dog that remains in place in any situation you both may encounter during your time together.

Now, repeat the above steps chronologically using the command “down.”

– Gradually phase out clicking and treating your dog every time that on command he obeys a command. As previously instructed, phase out treating by reducing it gradually, first by treating one out of two times, then once out three times, followed by once out of four, five, six, and then finally refrain all together. Be sure not decrease the treats too quickly. Observe and take notes of your dog’s abilities and pace. The goal is to have a dog that will obey all the commands without reward, and only by a vocal, or physical cue.

When finished with this section you should have the commands “sit-stay” and “down-stay” obeyed by your dog. Take care not to train both commands in the same training sessions.

HELPFUL HINTS

Always, reward your dog in the location where he has remained in place. It is important to refrain from releasing him with a C/T while using the come command. This will invariably confuse the outcome of the training, and diminish the importance of the come command. Keep it clear and simple.

– Note when your dog decides not to participate. It could be that the training is getting too difficult, too quickly. Put variation in the stay-time, as well as in the location, when giving commands to your dog. Give the little fella a chance to learn at his own pace.

– Practice the command of stay, particularly before he meets a new person. Practice this also before he follows you out the door, or into the car, or in the course of feeding, before you put down his food bowl.

– If you encounter any difficulties, back up a step, or calmly resume later. Be aware that each dog has his own pace of learning, so your ongoing patience is crucial. It is best to simply laugh, smile, and roll with your dog’s own natural abilities while enjoying the process of teaching and learning together. After all, this is all quality time spent while hanging out with your new best friend.

~ Paws On – Paws Off ~