How to Teach Your Dog to Stay
One of the trickiest commands to teach a dog is to stay. It’ll take time and patience, but it’ll be worth it.
Getting your dog to stay means that he will stay in a sit, down or standing position until told to move. This is usually done with a release phrase like “all done.”
Here is your step-by-step guide on how to teach your dog to stay.
Get your dog in a down position on a raised bed.
- We prefer to start with “down” because dogs are able to hold a longer duration of stay in a relaxed position, and it’s easier to see the dog getting up (which gives us more time to stop that).
- The reason we use a raised bed is because it’s easier for the dog to understand when he is on it, and when he is off it (as the bed is up higher). It is also useful to you, the pet parent, because you know where to put your dog to begin, and where you need to put him back, if he gets up.
Build duration on the down.
You need duration first and foremost, before you add distractions or distance. With the dog in his down position on the raised dog bed, start building duration from when he lies down to when you reward and release.
- Tell your dog to lie “down.”
- Say “yes” when he obeys, and put a high value treat between his front paws, so he doesn’t have to get up to eat.
- If he doesn’t move for one more second, say “yes” and give another treat.
- Try to get another two or three “yeses” in, with a second or two in between each.
- If he gets up before you give him permission to, say your release phrase then throw a treat a few feet away from him so he has to get up to eat it. This will reset him to try again.
- Keep repeating this until your do can slowly increase his time between rewards.
In the beginning, we start with only one or two seconds between rewards, or before releasing the dog. But as he starts to understand that if he holds the down he’ll get a treat, he’ll be motivated to hold it longer.
Get your dog to stay while you leave the room.
Once your dog can stay in the down position on the raised bed for 30 seconds, step side to side. If the dog starts getting up, verbally correct with “eh-eh” or “no.”
Then, step into their space and either wait to see if the dog is thinking about what went wrong and correct himself, or put him back into a down by luring, applying leash pressure or verbally.
Don’t always call your dog to come to you from a stay position. If you do so, he’ll think the only way to release from a stay is to come to you. Practice by leaving the room and returning to him before giving the release word.
- How long you want your dog to stay is up to you—can be 20 seconds or 20 minutes.
- Always be sure to pair your stay command with a release word so he knows his stay is finished.
- Choose one release word and use only that word consistently when the stay is finished.
- Don’t give your stay command with food in your hand, as it will only lure your dog to follow you.