How to Teach a Dog to Stay (5 Steps)

Teaching a dog to stay is a fundamental command that every dog owner should master. 

The “stay” command requires your dog to stay in position until you give them a release word. Not only does it help you keep your dog under control and well-behaved, but it can also be a life-saving skill in certain situations. 

Imagine you’re crossing a busy street with your dog, and they understand the stay command. This simple action can save their life and give you peace of mind. The stay command is also valuable in social situations, where a well-behaved and controlled dog is more likely to be welcomed.

How to teach a dog to stay, training a dog to stay

This article will explore the three vital dimensions of dog trainingduration, distance, and distraction – and how they apply to teach your furry companion to stay

Patience and positive reinforcement are key to successful training!

How to Teach Your Dog to Stay

Step 1: Choose the Right Location

Find a Quiet, Distraction-Free Location: Start training in a place where there are minimal distractions, such as a quiet room in your home or a secluded spot in your yard. As your dog becomes more proficient in staying, you can gradually introduce more distractions.

Ensure Your Dog’s Comfort: Before beginning the training session, ensure that your dog is comfortable and relaxed. A calm and happy dog will be more receptive to learning.

Step 2: Teach Your Dog the Stay Command

A. Ask Your Dog to Sit or Lie Down

Before teaching the “Stay” command, make sure your dog knows the “Sit” or “Lay Down” command. This serves as the foundation for the “stay” position.

Related Article: How to Train a Dog to Sit

Related Article: How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down

B. Say the Stay Command and Use a Hand Signal

Teaching a dog to stay using hand signal

With your dog in either the sitting or lying position, it’s time to introduce the “Stay” command. 

Use a clear and firm tone while saying the word “stay” to convey your instructions effectively.

Simultaneously, hold up your hand in a stop sign gesture, indicating to your dog that they are to remain in their current position.

C. Reward Your Dog

Rewarding the dog in a sitting position

Once you have given the “stay” command, give your dog a few seconds to process and adhere to the instruction. If your dog stays in position during this time, reward their behavior with a treat as positive reinforcement.

Additionally, provide verbal praise such as “good job” or “terrific” to reinforce the desired behavior and further motivate your dog.

D. Repeat and Increase Duration

To improve the ‘stay’ command, practice the steps multiple times until you can move farther away from your dog

Begin with short durations of 1-3 seconds and then increase the duration, aiming for a solid 30-second stay or even longer.

The key is to ensure your dog’s success by breaking down the training into manageable steps. Rewarding small achievements motivates your dog to keep learning and boosts their confidence.

Step 3: Add Distance

Gradually Increase Distance: Once your dog can stay for several seconds without breaking the command, you can start adding distance between you and your dog. Take a few steps back while maintaining eye contact with your dog.

Reward Successful Stays: If your dog stays in position while you move away, reward them with treats and verbal praise. Continue practicing, gradually increasing the distance you walk away from your dog.

training a dog to stay by increasing duration and distances.

Step 4: Add Distractions

Practice in Different Locations: Now that your dog can stay for longer durations and handle distance, it’s time to add distractions. Practice the “stay” command in different locations, such as the dog park, with different people and other animals around.

Handle Breaks Calmly: If your dog breaks the “stay” command due to distractions, remain calm, and gently reset them to the starting position. Avoid getting frustrated or scolding your dog, as this may hinder their progress.

Step 5: Practice Regularly

Consistency is Key: To reinforce the “stay” command, practice regularly. Aim for daily training sessions of 5-10 minutes each.

Maintain a Good Rate of Reinforcement: Continue rewarding your dog during the training sessions, especially when they successfully maintain the stay for extended periods.

Related Article: How to Train a Dog to Come When Called

At the end of the exercise, use a release cue like ‘OK,’ ‘FREE,’ or ‘DOUBLE TAP IN YOUR LAP.’ This will signal to the dog that they can leave the current position, and the training for that exercise is complete.

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