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Basic Dog Training Commands: Stay

Basic Dog Training Commands—Step 2: Stay

This article is a part of a four step series that covers basic obedience training for dogs. Make sure to check out step 1: sit, step 3: come and step 4: off.

If a puppy is excited to see you, it is not out of the ordinary for him to run after something or run to you without considering the potential consequences.

When it comes to training your new puppy, teaching him the stay command is an important basic dog training skill because it helps him establish impulse control. Puppies are not born with good manners and control over their emotions, and their urges for food, love and playtime override their sense of safety or concern for those around them.

“Stay” is a very versatile command that can be used in times of play or to protect your puppy. You can use it while playing a game of hide-and-go-seek, or if you drop a glass in your kitchen and want to protect your pup’s paws while you grab a vacuum. The stay command also allows you to continue practicing the sit and come commands so that your pup can really master their basic obedience training.

How to Train a Dog to Stay

  1. Start out by asking your puppy to sit and then delaying their reward for a few seconds.
  2. Increase the delay by 3-5 seconds. Once mastered, increase even more.
  3. Begin using the “stay” command when your puppy can hold a sit for 15-30 seconds.
  4. Introduce the release command by telling your puppy to sit, and then, after the appropriate amount of time, saying your release command and tossing treats so that your puppy has to get up to retrieve them.
  5. You can then begin adding in distance into the training using the same technique—take a step back and then reward, increasing the distance as your puppy masters the skill.

To begin teaching the stay command, Paula Nowak, CPDT-KA and CTDI, head trainer and behavior consultant for Canine Country Academy in Lawrenceville, Georgia, says, “We like to teach puppies a default ‘Stay’ by continuing to reward them for remaining in the seated position.” So ask your puppy to sit and then delay their treat for a second or two. Then, increase the time to 3-5 seconds. Nowak explains, “We are teaching them that sit really means sit until I give you a release cue or tell you another command.” Once again, you will notice that the actual stay command is not being used yet. You will not begin to pair the command with the act of staying until your pup can hold their sit for 15-30 seconds.

Nowak adds that you will also need to teach your puppy when they can release their sit. So first you will need to decide which word makes the most sense for you and your puppy. Nowak recommends either “Okay,” “Release” or “Go” as effective commands. To train them that your chosen word means they can leave their sit, you will say the cue word and then toss a treat a little bit away from them. This will instantly pair the word with getting up in your pup’s mind.

Quick tip: To foster a meaningful trust between you and your pup, never use the stay command for extended periods of time, like when you are leaving the house to run errands for a few hours. You do not want to undo all your hard work by making your pup think that if they stay you are not going to come back.

Finding the Right Reward

Finding the right motivator is a key part of how to train a dog to stay. Without the proper incentive, your puppy will choose to stay by your side as opposed to staying put. The True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts with Real Sirloin Steak Dog Treats make the perfect dog treats to train with because they are highly palatable as well as pliable. They can be easily shredded into bite-size morsels so that your puppy will definitely want to work for it, but it won’t fill them up and ruin their appetite. Another training perk of having shred-able treats is that when you give your fur friend-in-training a few pieces at a time, they think they have won the jackpot and are even more motivated to continue learning and paying attention to you.

Time to move on to the next basic dog training command: come

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