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How To Train A Dog To Stay

A brown and white dog sitting in the grass looking up at its owner
Amber LaRock Author of How to train a dog to stay
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Once your dog has mastered the basic commands, you may be ready to move on to something a bit more challenging. Training your dog to stay is not only a beneficial tool in canine obedience but can help keep them safe in many future situations to come.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of teaching your dog the stay command, and the steps to take to ensure they master it.

Training A Dog To Stay

Before you begin the process of teaching your dog how to stay, understand that this is one of the most challenging tracks in basic canine obedience. This command requires patience and the understanding that it may take some time to master, so try not to be discouraged if it’s more challenging than you anticipated.

This command requires well-defined boundaries, so you will need to stand firm on the rules you apply and the commands you choose from the start. Any leeway can make this trick confusing for your pup, so it’s important to make sure you are ready to stand firm on what you expect of them each step of the way.

Since this trick will take a bit more time, be ready to offer your pup plenty of treats to keep them encouraged along the way. A long process can become frustrating for your pup if they don’t have even motivation to keep trying, and treats are the perfect way to keep their attention on you. 

The last way to prepare for the trick ahead is to establish keywords that you’ll use to implement their stay action. Stay will, of course, tell them to remain in place, but you must then come up with a word that you will always use to release them from the stay position. For example, you can use okay, free, release, all done, etc. As long as you always use the same word, you can choose any word that fits.

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Teaching The Command

Now that you’re prepared to move forward with teaching your dog how to stay, let’s dive into the specific steps you’ll take throughout the process!

  1. First, position your dog in whichever position you desire when you ask them to stay. (Sitting, standing, laying down, etc.) Once you’ve done this,give your dog a stay command, followed almost immediately by your release word and reward. Even if your dog does not move with the release word, this will help them associate the release word with a treat.
  2. Make sure to keep the treat out of sight when using the “stay” command, and only provide it once the release word and appropriate behavior has occurred. If they can see the treat in your hand, this can be distracting and make the training process more challenging.
  3. Now that your dog understands the desired position associated with stay, you can then begin to enforce the actual action of staying. Make sure to have patience as they learn, and only offer the treat when they perform the desired action and you say the release word.
  4. Once they’ve mastered the stay command, you can then take it up a notch and practice moving further away from your pup as you ask them to stay. First try taking a few steps back, then go to the other side of the room, and even leave the room if your pup is skilled enough to understand this.

The Three D’s

Whenever you begin the process of teaching your dog the stay command, it’s important to remember the three D’s of this training process:

  • Duration: Start small with the time you ask your dog to stay before releasing, but remember that you want to build that time up as much as possible. It will take time, but the goal is to have a dog that will sit in place and remain in the stay position as long as you ask them to. Build these stay periods up little by little throughout your training process and you are sure to have success. Also, if your dog breaks before you release, start the process again. Do not reward them for their early release if you did not release them.
  • Distance: Just as you will practice increasing the duration of the stay command, you should practice increasing the distance between you and your pup while they are remaining in place. Do this by taking a few extra steps back each time and rewarding them each time they succeed. This will take time, but the goal is to have a dog that will remain in place even when you leave the room. This is the most rushed part of the process for most dog owners, so remember to take it slow.
  • Distraction:Remember how challenging this can be for your dog, so try your best not to add in any distractions until they completely master the command. Once you feel that they can confidently stay without fault, then you can try to add in distractions.

Teaching your dog how to stay can be extremely rewarding for both you and your pup. As long as you understand the steps to take to ensure their success, your dog will master this skill in no time!

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Meet The Author 

Amber LaRock

Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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