How to teach my dog to stay?
You enjoy teaching your dog new commands and would like to teach him the command “Stay”. Great! Let's find out together the exercise you can do (and do again!) to teach your dog not to move when you ask him to.
Why teach your dog the command “Stay”?
The order “Stay” is not as important as the order “Stop” but it is still very interesting! Indeed, it will allow you to:
- Make your dog stay while you are walking away from him – for example, while you run to the bakery;
- Make your dog stay when you do something which requires not having him around/or you want him to wait for – for example when you're serving his meal or when you arrive home with your arms full;
- Reassure your dog if he tends to panic as soon as he loses sight of you, whether at home or outdoors.
How to teach your dog the command “Stay”
Before you start learning the “Stay” command, make sure your dog has mastered his name and the commands “Sit”, “Stop” and “Recall”. This will make your life easier!
Learning in several stages
As is often the case, learning a new trick (or a new command, if you prefer) will be done in several steps: first in one room, then throughout your house and finally, outside with more and more distractions.
Step #1: In a room
Take some treats that your dog likes and choose a room of your house. To limit the stress, close the door. To increase the chances of success, choose a time when your dog is calm and attentive (not just after a walk or after you return home).
Ask your dog to stop (with the command “Stop”) and sit (with the command “Sit”). Then say his name and say “Stay”. Start walking a few steps away from him without turning your back on him. If he doesn't move, call him using the command “Here”, “Come here”… and congratulate him with a kibble.
If he moves, do it again. Make him stay and sit down.
Repeat as long as necessary for him to understand the order. Then increase the difficulty by:
- Not telling him “Come here” right away. Wait.
- Turning your back on him and going to position yourself.
- Ceasing to reward him systematically.
Be careful though: a dog gets quickly bored (a puppy even more!). Don't do sessions longer than a few minutes and, as soon as your dog gets bored and no longer listens to you, stop. It is better to start several times during the day rather than to do one long session after the other, which will test your patience and your dog's!
Step #2: Throughout the house
Once the command “Stay” is well established in a room, when you are only a few metres from your dog, proceed to the next step: repeat the previous exercise throughout the house.
The difficulty is that when you go out of your dog's field of vision, he will tend to move (you will hear his paws on the floor and see his head appear through the door of the room where he is…).
Each time he moves and joins you without any order from you, turn around and reposition him correctly in the room you had chosen originally. Make him stay and sit down and move away again.
Step #3: Outside
When the command is learned within the house, it is time to move on to the outdoors with the same steps: start by moving away a little, without turning your back on him, then move away further, then make him wait, then move out of his field of vision.
You can then try the experience in front of a bakery, while you're buying bread (for more security, don't hesitate to tie him the first few times…).
Please note: the more your dog is stressed by abandonment or is overly attached to you, the more complicated (or even traumatic) the exercise will be for him. Take it easy, step by step.
The right attitudes to adopt when exercising
As with any exercise and order we propose here, it is important to note that:
- it's all about repetition;
- you have to be patient and gentle;
- your voice (and especially your tone) is important.
Repetition more than length
To teach a command to a dog, it is better to favor repetition (5 minute sessions 3 to 4 times a day) rather than lengthy sessions (one 20 minute session). Indeed, your dog may lose interest in you after a more or less lengthy period of time (it depends on the dogs and their attention span).
Patience and gentleness!
Do not practice with your dog if you are annoyed or tired. You may get angry with him and this will have the opposite effect. Instead, benefit from a moment of play and calm in order to enjoy the exercises together with your pet.
Your tone of voice matters
A firm tone for giving orders and a high, playful tone for praising your dog should work well.
And you, have you ever taught a dog the command “Stay”? How did you do it? How did he handle it?
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