How to Train A Dog to Stay


You could or could not have an curiosity in displaying your dog in a proper obedience competitors. But you actually may use the strategy described right here to educate your dog to carry out a flawless and relaxed, snug show-ring keep – or only a stable, pleased keep that retains him securely in a protected location for a couple of minutes.

Before I knew something about dog coaching, I seen the “stay” cue as the beginning of some form of battle of the wills. I imagined a human would want to have unbelievable authority over a dog to persuade him to keep put for any period of time.

After I realized about optimistic reinforcement coaching, although, I got here to perceive that instructing a keep habits doesn’t want to have something to do with energy and management, and as an alternative is a matter of reinforcement and belief.

A actually stable keep is an attractive factor to observe. A dog is cued to keep, and regardless of distractions round him, he gained’t transfer from his spot. I’m particularly impressed after I see a dog trying pleased and relaxed whereas staying put, totally trusting that he’ll be launched finally.

The icing on the cake is that this habits is definitely fairly easy to educate, and as a bonus, it may be a extremely enjoyable course of for each the coach and her dog.

Once your dog has realized to keep on cue, the habits can come in useful. In the previous week alone, I’ve requested my dog to keep a lot of instances: When I opened the door for a supply, after we moved a heavy piece of furnishings and didn’t need him underfoot, and after I wanted to wipe highly regarded pasta sauce off the kitchen ground (don’t ask).

Your Dog Should Choose to Stay

When I’m instructing a dog what I need him to do after I ask him to “stay,” I goal to be certain he is aware of he has a alternative within the matter. He can keep, or he can stand up and stroll away. Yes, that’s proper – he can depart if he needs to, proper in the course of a coaching session. Does this shock you? Let me clarify.

I give my canine college students full company to finish a coaching session at any time when they need. They’re by no means obliged to take part. It’s my job to hold them engaged and concerned about what I’m instructing them.

I additionally arrange the surroundings to make it way more possible that the dog will provide me the habits I’m searching for, and in flip this may present me with the chance to reinforce that habits. If I’ve completed my job proper, the dog I’m instructing gained’t be concerned about getting up to depart. He’s allowed to – and I gained’t cease him if he does – however he gained’t need to.

Coercion is totally pointless when instructing a keep. When we practice utilizing rewards to reinforce behaviors, we make it extra possible that our dog will select to do the habits we reward. In different phrases, we significantly enhance the percentages that he’ll provide that habits when given the chance.

That’s how you find yourself with a dog who seems to be relaxed in a keep place, reasonably than nervous, vigilant, stressed, or on the verge of standing up and leaving. When I see these nervous dogs, I believe to myself how easy it will be to flip that state of affairs into one the dog trusts. “You want me to stay here? Sure thing, happy to! Take as long as you need!”

How to Prepare Your Dog to Learn to Stay

Before we get began, ensure you have the conditions in place:

A dog who’s had the chance to expend some vitality. Don’t strive to work on this habits when your dog is bursting on the seams and hasn’t but been for a stroll or had some play time. On the opposite hand, keep away from carrying him out fully earlier than practising. You need him to be a bit spent, however nonetheless have sufficient vitality to use his mind.

Food, and plenty of it. Cut treats into a really small dimension, like the dimensions of your pinky fingernail for a big dog, and half that dimension for a smaller dog. You’ll be utilizing a whole lot of meals and feeding repetitively. That means keep away from working instantly after feeding your dog when his tummy’s full, and alternately, keep away from working when your dog is absolutely hungry. A hungry dog is much too concerned about getting rapid entry to the meals, and he’ll wrestle to calm down into the train.

A mat, towel, or rug. In the early phases, you’ll be utilizing this merchandise as a goal on the ground to assist your dog determine the place he’s supposed to be. Avoid utilizing your dog’s mattress for this train. Your dog’s mattress ought to be as free as attainable from any guidelines or requests for habits, in my view.

That’s his sanctuary, his personal free area. Grab one thing else as an alternative.

How to Train Your Dog to Stay: the three D’s of Learning to Stay

We’ll break up the coaching workout routines into three classes:

Distance – how far you may transfer away out of your dog.

Distraction – what sorts of actions you may make and different environmental distractions you may add to the equation.

Duration – how lengthy your dog can keep put earlier than you launch him.

We’ll work every of those classes individually at first. Keeping them separate will make it simpler to your dog to achieve success. We’ll begin with the simplest degree in every class, and we’ll regularly make the workout routines harder as your dog masters every degree.

But each time we make issues a bit more durable in a single class, we’ll be certain to hold the opposite two classes at a degree your dog already is aware of rather well. For instance, after we’re engaged on rising the space between you and your dog, we’ll be certain we hold the opposite two classes at a simple degree. We’ll by no means enhance the space and the length and the distraction ranges concurrently. That would simply be unfair to your dog and would sluggish your progress.

Verbal Cues for Teaching Stay

You’ll need a verbal cue or a hand gesture, or perhaps each. Personally, I take advantage of solely a hand gesture with my very own dog. It seems to be a bit like a “Stop!” hand gesture: hand positioned vertically, palm going through my dog, and fingers collectively. It doesn’t matter what gesture you select, so long as you and all relations are constant. For instance, if I hold my fingers collectively, however my husband opens his fingers (like he’s flashing the quantity 5), that may be complicated to our dog through the coaching course of.

It’s not mandatory to place your hand shut to your dog’s face. In reality, that may be intimidating and uncomfortable for him. I hold my elbow considerably bent and my hand about 12 inches in entrance of my physique.

The normal verbal cue is “Stay,” in fact, however you’re welcome to use no matter different phrase you need. If you select to educate each a verbal cue and a hand gesture, I counsel you start instructing solely the hand gesture at first. It’s simpler for dogs to be taught visible cues earlier than verbal ones.

Once your dog understands the visible cue, you may then add your verbal cue to your coaching classes by saying it simply prior to displaying your hand gesture. After many repetitions of claiming “Stay” earlier than displaying him the hand gesture, he may have related the 2, and try to be in a position to drop the hand gesture.

Choose a Release Word

Before we get began on instructing your dog to keep on cue, you want to select what phrase you’ll use to let him know he’s now free to transfer round. You can use no matter phrase you need! In reality, the extra unconventional your launch phrase, the much less possible your dog shall be by chance launched by another person saying the phrase, or by you saying the phrase in common dialog.

For instance, I see plenty of individuals use the phrase “Okay!” to launch their dogs. I believe it’s a wonderfully high-quality phrase to use, besides that it may typically trigger some confusion for the dog when that very same phrase is utilized in informal dialog whereas he’s been requested to keep.

Imagine asking your dog to keep, and shortly after, a member of the family tells you, “I’m just running to store, I’ll be right back.” What is your possible response to that? “Okay!” … and oopsie, you’ve simply unintentionally launched your dog from his keep.

To launch my dog, I say his identify adopted by “Let’s go!” however that’s only a suggestion. I’ve had purchasers use humorous phrases like “potato” and “shazam!”

Choose no matter launch phrase you want, so long as it’s unlikely to slip out throughout an off-the-cuff dialog. It’s additionally an ideal behavior to say your dog’s identify earlier than giving him your launch phrase. It lets him know that you simply’re addressing him, that the subsequent factor that comes out of your mouth is one thing he ought to listen to, and helps get rid of confusion.

2DSC 0327 - How to Train A Dog to StayThe preliminary cue that Jessie has chosen for Nova’s keep is a closed handheld in entrance of her physique.

Steps to Training Your Dog to Stay: Gaining Distance

The first train is extremely straightforward:

1. Choose a quiet spot in your house that may enable you to stroll a number of steps away out of your dog and the place there are few to no distractions. Grab about 15 small treats.

2. Ask your dog to lie down on a mat, and stand going through him.

three. Show him your hand gesture for “stay” and instantly lean down and place a deal with on the ground between your dog’s outstretched entrance legs, then stand straight once more.

four. Repeat this till you’ve gone by means of all 15 treats.

That’s it. You’re completed. It doesn’t seem to be a lot, however you have got already begun instructing your dog that mendacity on a mat and never shifting is absolutely type of enjoyable!

3DSC 0249 - How to Train A Dog to StayEvery time you ship a deal with to reward your dog, place it on the bottom between her entrance legs, the place she will be able to eat it with out having to shift her place. Delivering it on the bottom additionally retains her from stretching towards it and standing up.

Getting Your Dog to Stay at a DISTANCE

The subsequent train is ready up the identical means, besides now you’ll begin shifting away out of your dog, one step at a time. The lesson you’re instructing your dog is “even though I’m moving, the best thing for you to do now is to stay where you are.”

Once you have got your treats in hand, and your dog is mendacity on his mat, going through you, you’ll:

1. Show your dog the keep cue after which take a single step backward.

2. Return to your dog, lean down, and place a deal with on the ground between your dog’s outstretched entrance legs. Why on the ground? Because should you ship the deal with to his mouth, you’ll quickly discover he’ll begin to stretch his neck and physique upward and towards your hand to get the deal with. Soon, he’ll be standing!

three. Repeat this single-step train 5 instances. You may have gone by means of 5 treats.

four. Now present him the hand gesture after which take two steps again.

5. Return to your dog. Lean down and ship the deal with.

6. Repeat this two-step train 5 instances. You may have gone by means of 5 extra treats.

7. Now take three steps backward, return to your dog, and ship the deal with. When you’ve completed this 5 instances, try to be out of treats.

4DSC 0397 - How to Train A Dog to StayWork on rising the space between you and your dog through the keep at first. Once your dog’s keep is stable with a little bit of distance, cut back the space and start to observe stays of higher length.

Releasing the Stay

It’s time to launch your dog from his keep.

1. Stand nonetheless and resist the urge to make a gesture together with your fingers or physique. We need the discharge phrase to turn out to be vital and to not be overshadowed by any motion you would possibly make.

2. Say your dog’s identify, adopted by a short pause (so he doesn’t be taught to begin to rise when he hears his identify), then say your launch phrase. For instance, “Fido (brief pause), let’s go!”

three. Then, after you’ve completed saying your launch phrase, you may invite your dog to transfer off of his mat by clapping your fingers and shifting backward shortly, or clapping your thighs and utilizing a high-pitched playful voice (for instance).

four. Praise your dog and play with him for a second away from his mat. He’s completed rather well!

5. Soon after your brief break, seize some extra treats, invite your dog again on the mat, and start once more.This time, strive to make it to 4 steps backward for a number of repetitions. If your dog finds this more durable and stands up, refer to the trouble-shooting ideas beneath and on the subsequent two pages.

6. If he’s doing properly with 4 steps, resist the urge to go to 5 steps simply but! Instead, begin various the variety of steps you are taking, at all times returning to ship a deal with on the ground. Try taking three steps (return and deal with), then one step (return and deal with), then 4 steps (return and deal with), then two steps (return and deal with).

7. When you’re out of treats, stand nonetheless and say your launch cue, then invite your dog to step off his mat and play with you.

That’s sufficient for now. Call it a day!

Distance Practice Tips

As you regularly enhance the variety of steps you are taking away out of your dog, you may start including these new parts of issue.

Turn Your Back

So far, you’ve been taking steps whereas shifting backward, at all times going through your dog. Later, when your dog is acing the simpler workout routines, strive turning your again to stroll away out of your dog as an alternative of stepping backward. Keep it straightforward at first! If you may take eight steps away out of your dog whereas going through him, strive displaying him the hand gesture, turning your again, and taking solely three steps away earlier than turning again round and returning to him to ship the deal with.

Walk Around a Large Object

Once you’re in a position to transfer away out of your dog together with your again turned to him, strive strolling round an object that solely partially obstructs his view of you earlier than returning to ship a deal with to him. For instance, stroll across the eating room desk (he can nonetheless see your legs), or across the island within the kitchen (he can nonetheless see the highest half of your physique).

Disappear from His View Entirely

This one can take a while to work up to. Don’t rush it! When your dog efficiently stays on his mat when you stroll round an object, strive slipping out of his view for only a nano-second. Maybe you may stroll away from him in a straight line down a hallway, and after a number of steps, slip right into a bed room doorway or behind a nook, after which in a short time reappear. Return to him to ship a deal with between his paws.

Distance Trouble-Shooting Tips

When you’re stepping away out of your dog, transfer shortly. If you progress too slowly, your dog would possibly stand up and observe you. You need to transfer at a tempo that may guarantee him that you simply’re returning instantly to ship that deal with.
Don’t pause between stepping again and returning to your dog. Stay in fixed movement. Once you attain the utmost variety of steps you need to take throughout a repetition, instantly return in a single fluid movement. Your motion ought to appear to be that of a ball being tossed within the air; there isn’t any hesitation earlier than returning.
Be aware you’re not tossing the deal with or letting it drop on the ground from too excessive up. This would possibly trigger it to roll or bounce away out of your dog, and he’ll stand to get it. If that does occur, although, let him have it, and invite him again into place on his mat earlier than resuming the observe. It was your mistake, not his.
If your dog stands up once you bend down to ship a deal with, it’s attainable that he’s not snug with having somebody lean over him. Try bending your knees and squatting to keep away from leaning over him, or stand a step farther away from him.
If your dog efficiently stays on his mat when you take two steps backward, however he will get up and follows you once you strive three steps, return to a neater degree of the train and do a number of extra repetitions earlier than making an attempt three steps once more.
If you have got a dog who’s used to at all times coaching with the usage of a clicker and you are feeling he would do higher should you used one for these workout routines, you may click on to mark the second simply earlier than you start returning to him. In different phrases, you’ll click on at your farthest level. But generally, a marker just isn’t mandatory when coaching the keep habits.
5DSC 0440 - How to Train A Dog to StayAt this level, begin to combine it up. Walk round objects, hold your gaze on one thing apart from your dog, flip your again to your dog, and/or briefly step out of his view altogether – so he doesn’t affiliate the keep cue with solely you in entrance of him and making eye contact.

Steps to Training Your Dog to Stay D2: DURATION

To add length to the keep habits, you may start to pause earlier than returning to your dog to ship the deal with.

Start with a really brief pause at first. Take a simple variety of steps away out of your dog, pause for 2 seconds, and return to your dog to ship a deal with. Gradually enhance the variety of seconds you pause. Don’t transfer forward too shortly with this half! Resist leaping from a two-second pause to a 10-second pause, and simply as you probably did with the variety of steps within the earlier workout routines, range the size of your pauses.

For instance, when you’re in a position to constantly pause for 5 seconds earlier than returning to your dog, and your dog is trying good and relaxed, strive various your subsequent repetitions between 5 seconds, then three seconds, then one second, then enhance to six seconds, then again to two seconds. Keep it variable as you slowly enhance the variety of seconds.

Don’t overlook to observe your dog’s launch cue every so often! Once he’s off the mat, reward him playfully. Then invite him again to his mat for extra coaching and treats.

You would possibly discover that it takes a bit extra effort to persuade him to stand up once you launch him. That’s nice! It means he’s having fun with the keep train. It’s high-quality if he chooses to keep on the mat. A launch cue merely means “You can move, now” – not “You have to move now!”

Duration Trouble-Shooting Tips

If your dog seems to turn out to be much less tolerant of the longer pauses, he is likely to be anticipating that the subsequent pause will at all times be longer than the final one. That can turn out to be irritating and demotivating. You don’t at all times want to hold making the train harder in a linear trend. Once shortly, throw in a simple repetition or two to hold your dog within the recreation.
Avoid watching your dog when you pause. He’ll assume you’re anticipating him to do one thing, and also you would possibly discover him begin to give you behaviors that he is aware of. Keep going through your dog, however “act casual.” I typically look across the room calmly, blinking softly. Or I’ll examine my fingernails.
6DSC 0404 - How to Train A Dog to StayThanks to Jessie Bracey and Nova for demonstrating these workout routines.

Steps to Training Your Dog to Stay D3: DISTRACTION

Distractions want to be launched regularly into your coaching. So far, you’ve been working in a quiet surroundings and your entire actions have been fairly constant. You have been shifting away out of your dog and returning to him to give him a deal with.

Now you can begin to change the sport up a bit. Instead of shifting in a straight line away from him, you can begin shifting in a circle round him. But wait! You’ll want to proceed with this train the identical means you probably did with the space workout routines: One step at a time.

Once you have got your treats in hand, and your dog is mendacity on his mat, going through you, you’ll:

1. Show him your hand gesture, after which take a single step a bit to the best. Imagine you might be starting to stroll a circle round your dog, counter-clockwise.

2. Return to face your dog after that one single step. Lean down and place a deal with on the ground between his outstretched entrance legs.

three. Repeat this single-step-to-the-right train 5 instances, displaying your hand gesture earlier than every repetition.

four. Now take two steps counter-clockwise.

5. Return to your dog. Lean down and ship the deal with.

6. Repeat this two-step train 5 instances.

7. Now take three steps counter-clockwise, return to your dog, and ship the deal with.

eight. Once you have got efficiently completed a number of repetitions on the midway mark – i.e., you’ve reached your dog’s tail finish – you may then strive strolling all the best way across the dog.

When you’ve efficiently completed a handful of repetitions in a single route, it’s time to begin doing the identical train, however within the clockwise route. Again, begin with one step at a time. This would possibly really feel repetitive, however the sort of gradual progress is one of the simplest ways to get that good, relaxed response out of your dog once you ask him to keep.

Distraction Trouble-Shooting Tips

If your dog stands once you’re strolling a full circle round him, step round him extra shortly. He would possibly flip and shift his weight to watch you stroll. That’s okay. If you’re fast, he gained’t have time to rise up. Once you’ve gone round a few instances, he’ll perceive what to count on and he’ll calm down into the train.
Be aware of his tail! Sometimes dogs shall be fast to stand if we come too shut to his tail. I can’t blame them! If you discover this, give his tail finish a wider berth. That ought to assist reassure him.
If your dog struggles to keep put, go searching for issues within the surroundings that is likely to be making it onerous for him. Are there distractions like meals or toys on the ground, or one other dog shut by? Are you working subsequent to a busy space of the home, or perhaps subsequent to a door? Is there an equipment close by that retains turning on and off noisily?

More Distraction Practice Exercises for Learning Stay

Add Silly Movements

So far, you’ve stored your physique actions comparatively quiet. Now, start including extra actions that may function a distraction that your dog learns to ignore. For instance, after strolling a brief distance away out of your dog, briefly wave your arms round earlier than returning to him instantly to reward him. Or carry out a number of dance steps, get foolish with it! If your dog will get up, tone it down a bit till he understands that he’s nonetheless anticipated to maintain the keep. Then you may flip up the silliness quotient once more.

Add a Low-Value Toy

Grab a low-value toy or object and maintain it behind your again, out of your dog’s view. Stand again a number of steps from him, present him your keep gesture, then lengthen your different arm to the aspect to present him the article. Quickly conceal it behind you once more after which ship a deal with to him. Repeat this a number of instances. When your dog does properly, you may start shaking the toy a bit, and even squeaking it simply a couple of times. Remember to reward your dog after each single profitable repetition.

Add a High-Value Toy

Repeat the earlier train, however with a toy you realize your dog actually needs.

In the top, instructing a keep habits is all about rewarding your dog closely for staying in a single place. It’s additionally about releasing him typically throughout observe in order that he learns to belief that he’ll be allowed to transfer quickly sufficient, which ought to assist him to calm down whereas he waits.

Nancy Tucker, CPDT-KA, is a full-time coach, habits guide, and seminar presenter in Quebec, Canada.



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