Dogs are remarkable creatures that fill our lives with love and joy. This doesn’t mean, however, that a dog should be the king of the house! Bringing a dog into a home, training it, and looking after it properly involves a lot of time and dedication. The importance of training your dog cannot be underestimated: they are a different species who have much different behavioral patterns to us humans. As a result of this, they need to be trained so that they can learn what is expected of them in the household.
One of the popular things to teach a dog is how to ‘stay’ on command. Here is a step-by-step guide about how to teach a dog to stay, complete with tips and tricks that will help you along the way.
Before You Begin Training…
First and foremost, the method outlined in this training guide is known as ‘dog-friendly’ training. Dog-friendly training simply means that good behavior is rewarded, and bad behavior is discouraged or prevented. Bad behavior is not specifically punished, in other words. Equipment that aims to discipline a dog through fear or intimidation are not included in this method. In other words, shock collars, choke chains, spray or squirt bottles (containing water), and any other innovation that involves a technique that causes the dog to obey out of fear of punishment is not incorporated into dog-friendly training, so discard these items before continuing to read the advice.
It’s Never Too Late
While it is ideal to start training a dog from when they are a puppy, this is not essential. Some dog owners give up on training their dogs, or don’t even try in the first place, if they got them already grown (say, from a shelter). The reality is, any dog of any age who receives consistent instructions, complete with consistent rewards for obeying them, will learn how to obey a command. If you’re serious about improving your dog’s behavior, it’s best to consider professional advice on looking after your pet.
Teach Your Dog to Stay
Teaching a dog to stay is an important command for them to learn for a number of reasons, including their safety. If you are walking your dog without a leash on a road that has regular traffic, training them to stay before crossing the road helps to ensure both their safety and yours.
Training a dog to stay can also help to avoid potentially awkward, or even dangerous, situations with other dogs. If, for example, you live in a neighborhood with a lot of dog-owners, and you like to let your dog out to roam around the front garden freely, teaching them to stay when a stranger is out walking their dog could help avoid potential conflict between the two dogs. Sure, your dog might be a goofball, but if you’ve never seen the other dog before, you cannot possibly know if they have an aggressive nature or love other dogs. These are just two examples of how teaching your dog to stay can help both you and them to enjoy each other’s company without the stress of potential mishaps. Now that some logical reasons for this training method have been referred to, let’s find out how to teach a dog to stay using the step-by-step guide below:
Step One: Familiar Surroundings
Start the training in a place that is familiar, with few distractions around for your dog. This increase the likelihood of earlier success. If you have more than one dog, training can be very difficult because their distract each other. In order to train a dog in a house with multiple dogs, it’s recommended that you train one at a time on their own: you can do this by simply going into a room with the chosen dog and closing the door in order to remove the distraction of the other dogs.
Step Two: Focus
Once in a familiar surrounding free of distractions, make sure to get your dog to focus on you by standing directly in front of them and giving them your full attention. Maintain eye contact and ask your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘lie down’, whichever you prefer. Whichever one you choose, be consistent, because this is the behavior your dog will associate with the ‘stay’ command.
Step Three: Reward and Praise
Before even attempting to command your dog to stay, reward them as normal for their obedience when you commanded them to ‘stay’ or ‘lie down’. In order to encourage effective training, the reward should be just as consistent as the training itself. For example, if your dog learned how to sit by being given one treat as a reward, don’t start giving it two as this will simply confuse them. Thus, this initial ‘sit’ command, even though it’s a precursor for teaching them how to stay, should be rewarded in exactly the same manner as you usually reward the dog. Moreover, anytime you command them to ‘sit’ or ‘lie’ down, whether it’s a standalone command or leading to a ‘stay’ command, they should be rewarded with the same treats every time: no exceptions.
Now that you’ve rewarded the dog in keeping with your normal ‘sit’ or ‘lie down’ reward routine, it’s time to progress to getting them to stay in the position you’ve commanded them to be in.
Step Four: Hold Position
This step acts as a bridge between steps three and five by introducing your dog to the idea of remaining in one spot for a given period of time. Give the normal command of ‘sit’ or ‘lie down’, and extend the time period for the command. If they usually just sit for a few seconds before receiving a treat, try upping the time to ten or fifteen seconds. Reward them when the time is increased significantly and they are obedient. Obviously, you don’t want to stuff your dog full of treats before attempting the actual stay command, so it’s recommended that four or fives time extensions are more than enough before moving to the next stage.
Step Five: Stay
As soon as you start to get into a pattern where the dog seems to fully understand and comply with the idea of remaining in one spot for a longer period of time, use the verbal cue of ‘stay’ and try the same method as before. If they try to come to you, don’t reward or punish them, just start back at the beginning and get them to sit or lie down again.
This part of the process can be frustrating, but the key to dog training is repetition and consistency, so don’t give up.
As soon as they start to get the gist of the stay command, reward them accordingly. If they fail to understand the stay command, try and try again until they do. If your training time is limited due to work or other responsibilities, take a temporary break from training and return to it on another day. Patience is key when it comes to training a dog: that’s for sure.
Teaching your dog to stay doesn’t just involve the stay command. You also need to think of a verbal cue that tells the dog that they can now move from the stay position. The cue you choose is entirely up to you: but as with all things training-related, make sure you are consistent and use the same release cue every time.