Teaching your Dog to “Stay”

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“Stay where you are until I return and release you.”

Practical uses:

Stays are useful when you need your dog to be still while you do something else. They can also help to teach your dog self-control and independence.

How to teach:

Start in a quiet place with few or no distractions. “Stay” begins as an extended sit (see “Teaching Your Dog to ‘Sit'”). Stand directly in front of your dog and give the sit cue; gradually increase the time before you click and treat (C/T). Throw the treat so that the dog must get up to retrieve it. Do not step away from your dog — stay within a foot of your dog until he can remain in the stay position for at least 30 seconds at least nine out of ten times that you ask him to.

Adding the cue and moving on:

Begin using the cue word “stay” right after you say “sit.” Take one step away from the dog (remain facing him) and after two seconds step back to your original position and C/T (always throw the treat so that the click also acts as a “release,” giving permission to the dog to get up out of the stay). Again gradually increase the time before you C/T to 30 seconds, never moving more than one step from your dog. You should also begin using a release word, like “okay” or “free” as you throw the treat.

If the dog breaks his stay, gently return him to the original spot, then C/T for a shorter stay (i.e, if he broke at ten seconds, be sure to C/T at six or seven seconds this time). Make sure he “succeeds” (doesn’t break his stay) at least five more times before you begin increasing the time again. The idea is to have lots of successful stays that can be rewarded and few breaks, which are not rewarded.


Adding Distractions: