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Stay - Teaching Dog Commands

When you are satisfied that your dog has learned the 'sit' and 'down' commands you can move on to 'stay'. This command may take more time for your dog to learn as while it is easy enough to begin with there are really two commands here, teaching her to go to her spot, then adding on the stay command. We do it like this because she is more likely to stay in a spot she is happy in. Therefore go slowly and prepare a batch of their favorite treats. Having a dog that will stay on command is important, so the work you put into the training is worth it. .

“Go to your spot'

Following the treat

Place yourself a foot or two in front of your dog's bed or mat and call her. Tell her to 'go to your spot', hold a treat in front of her nose then toss it to her mat. She will go to the mat to eat her treat. Say 'yes' or 'good'. Clap your hands or move to get her off the mat and repeat, getting your dog to 'go to your spot' from various angles. After a time she will want to stay on her mat, after all that is where the treats keep ending up! When your dog wants to stick to the mat you can move on. For some it takes one session with 15 to 20 repetitions, for others it might need more. .


Introducing the hand signal

Now we move away from tossing the treat onto the mat and start using a hand signal. Warm up the first session with a few Step Ones then move on to the following. .

Place a treat in a hand that you hide behind your back and position yourself two feet from the mat. Give the command 'go to your spot' and point to it with your empty hand but make that movement similar to the one you used to throw the treat. Your dog should turn their head to the mat and at that moment when they are not looking toss the hidden treat on to the mat. This is teaching your dog that even when there is not a treat there first if she goes to the mat a treat will turn up! Now get her off the mat and repeat 15 to 20 times. Eventually you will reach a point where you can give the hand signal and she will go to the mat. Each time her four paws are on it say 'yes' or 'good' and give the treat. Repeat this for a few days. .

Adding distance

If you want her to go to her spot from more of a distance you can add this here. Repeat step 2 but slowly add some distance to how far your dog has to travel to get to the mat. Add more distance in small amounts and practice each repeatedly until she has it before adding any more. At 10 to 12 feet you can move on to the next command of 'stay'. .


Move the dog's mat next to a chair or the sofa where you can sit while your dog learns to 'stay'. From your seat tell her to 'go to your spot' and point to the mat then praise her. Then tell her 'lie down' and when she is down tell her to 'stay'. In your head count to ten and then say 'yes' or 'good' and give her a treat. When finished let her move a few steps away then repeat. Keep practicing for a few days and then slowly add on how much time she stays. .

When you are adding on more time you can actually mix it up. Start at 10, move on to 15, then 20, then go back to 10 then up to 25, 30, back to 10 then 40 and so on. Make the rewards you give her more random, starting with generous rewards and then make her work for them. If she gets up when you have not released her call her back or lead her back, get her to lie down and stay but this time no reward. Have her stay for at least 15, then praise, reward and release. If she gets up a lot then you are going too quickly and she needs shorter counts for a bit longer. .

At 3 minutes your dog may need something to keep her occupied while she is staying. You could give her a favorite toy, a pig ear to chew on, or a toy with food in it to work on. You can spend the time doing what you want to in your chair. Release her with 'okay' and take away the toy or chew when the stay is done. When you can get her to stay for 5 to 10 minutes you can go on to the next step. .

Adding distance

Now you can add in some distance between you and your dog while he stays. Send him to his spot on the mat and get him to lie down and praise him. Then tell him to 'stay'. Take a few steps away and if he stays say 'yes' or 'good' and give a reward. Release him and get him off the mat. Now repeat the above and when he has mastered one distance add a bit more. This may take a few days. You are making this harder with distance this time so at the moment just expect him to stay for a short amount of time, 30 seconds up to a minute. When you can move away by 15 steps move on. .


Combining additional time and distance

Now put together Step 1 and 2 in your training sessions. First of all move the mat away from your chair by about 6 to 8 feet. Tell him to go to his spot, tell him 'stay' and give him something to occupy him. Then go to your chair. After 5 minutes release your dog and reward. Once he has it change the time he has to stay and practice changing the distance and times for a few days. Keep adding in short easy repetitions now and then to keep your dog from finding it too hard or boring. .

Distractions when training

Now is the time to add distraction to the training. You can change locations like different rooms in the house at first. Then add in more like a family member moving around or cooking. Then move to the yard, then someone’s house, the park and so on. .

Tips to remember when training

Train when your dog has exercised and is calm. Hunger is also a good motivator! .

Do not repeat the command once you have given it. .

Use a release word to let him know he can move off his mat, he should not move until you say so unless he is just getting himself comfortable. .

If when shifting he steps off the mat say oops and put him back on, make him stay for 30 seconds then reward him so he knows he needs to keep on it. .

If you want to use a leash or tether for stay training you can. .

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