How To Train Your Dog To Stay in 4 Steps

A confident "stay" command is useful in a variety of situations. It brings a lot of security to everyday life - for example, when your dog remains seated instead of excitedly rushing out the door when you take a package from the letter carrier. It's worth the effort! A strong stay command is one of the most enviable skills you can teach your dog.

Stay command
Article Overview

Why “Stay” Is So Important

A friendly dog can be seen in the distance? Of course, your four-legged friend wants to greet him. To wait patiently, he should remain seated until you allow him to run. With the simple "sit!" command, most owners are often consistent enough. Sometimes you correct him when he gets up too early, but sometimes you let your sweet darling get away with it because it's "just this once".

This can be very confusing for your dog. Sometimes he is allowed to let himself out of the command, sometimes it is forbidden. How is he supposed to know when he really needs to wait for your permission to get up and when he doesn't? As an owner, you must admit that you don't correct every single time your dog gets up.

Either it is noticed too late or not noticed at all. With the "stay" command, you can spare your faithful companion the confusion. The command to stay is used much more consciously and often enforced much more consistently - and more understandably for your dog.

It is a versatile command. Your dog is running free and a fellow dog or cyclist wants to pass? "Stay!" You let visitors in and the front door is open to the street for a while? "Stay!" You’re hiding his favorite toy for a search game and you don't want him to follow you? "Stay!".

4 Steps to a Safe “Stay”

2 dogs lying and waiting

Before you start training for a solid stay, your pet should already know "sit" and preferably "down". These commands are an excellent starting position to learn “stay”.

1. Small First Steps

Train in a quiet environment first. Your dog is much more attentive when there are no exciting distractions around. Now give him the command "sit". When your pup has sat down, hold your open hand up to him - much like a stop sign - and say, "Stay!" Maintain this hand signal.

Stand quietly in front of him and wait a moment. If your dog gets up again, sit him down and repeat, "Stay!” At the beginning of the training, a few seconds of obedience are enough before you reward him.

2. Slowly Increase the Difficulty

Once your pet has successfully completed this exercise a few times, you can slowly increase the training level. Increase the time he must wait in small steps. Don't rush things so as not to overwhelm him. Your dog learns much better with many small success experiences and has more joy in practicing.

Now when you give him the command "stay", move a few steps away from him. First, continue looking in his direction. When he stands up, walk back toward him and sit him down again. Then repeat the exercise with a little less distance and take even smaller steps in the training. Over time, the distance becomes greater and greater.

3. Increase the Challenge Even More

You can now start to turn your back while walking away from him. If this works well, repeat the same exercise a few times. Your darling will notice he’s unobserved, which may tempt him to get up or even follow you. If your dog leaves his position, correct him and train in smaller steps. In the beginning, for example, stay in front of him and slowly turn around.

Now, give your furry friend the command, "Stay!" Walk a few steps away from him, then jump there on the spot, throw a toy, squat, jog a few feet away from him, or dance around. For your dog, these movements are inviting. He could understand them as play cues and run to join in.

To prevent this from happening, you can also repeat the stay command a few times while doing these movements. The better your faithful friend can resist distractions, the less often you’ll need to repeat your command word. If he stands up, correct him again and practice with somewhat calmer movements. Adjust the speed of the training individually to your dog.

Dog sitting in front of wall

If all these exercises work well, you can increasingly make the training more difficult. Instruct your pet to stay where he is. Leave the room and rustle a bag of treats or rummage in a drawer, for example. At first, leave the door open. If your dog follows you, bring him back and start the exercise again.

If the task works well, close the door a little at a time until you can close it completely. The goal is for your dog to obey the command even when completely unobserved and wait patiently until you return and resolve the command.

4. Practice Everyday Situations

Once your furry friend can safely manage all the steps indoors, add distractions that you might encounter in everyday life. Attach your dog to their lead and have an acquaintance ring the doorbell. Your dog should stay in his position while you let the person in and not get up until you allow.

You can also move the workout outside. Give your dog the stay command in a meadow where children are playing in the distance or when a strange dog passes by, for example. In the beginning, stay with him so that you can correct him quickly. Here it is also advisable to use a long leash in case he does run off unexpectedly.

If he remains seated despite the distractions, you can begin to move further and further away from him. Do this looking at him first, and then later with your back to your dog. Outside stimuli make it pretty hard for your dog to focus. Therefore, be sure to practice with very small increments.

Dog waits obediently

In the forest, you can train your dog to stay in position even when he can no longer see you. Simply hide behind a tree for a short time and then come back. Your furry friend should not move from the spot until you resolve the command.

Bicyclists are also great to incorporate into your training. Instruct your dog to stay at the side of the road and let the bicycle pass you. Of course, your companion must neither jump on nor run after the cyclist. Practice the same activity with walkers and riders.

Dissolve the Command Properly

In order for your dog to internalize "stay" as a command he is not allowed to finish on his own, a dissolve signal is important. . To finish the exercise, go up to him and say "okay" or "end" and praise him. Only at this signal should your dog leave his position and get up or start running. This way you keep full control and there is no confusion for your dog as to when he is done with the exercise.

Common Mistakes

Sometimes, the difficulty is increased too quickly It's hard for your furry friend to resist distractions. Even staying far away from you is difficult for many dogs. Be sure to tailor the training to your dog individually and repeat the exercises successfully several times, before moving on to the next step.

If the training sessions are too long, your pet will lose concentration. Practice only 5-10 minutes at a time and then take a longer break. Several short exercises per day offer the greatest chance of success. A confident “stay” command takes time to become ingrained in your dog's mind.

Conclusion

Stay is a command which takes perseverance in training to be used safely and effectively. But the effort is worth it! Once your furry friend understands it correctly, you can go about your everyday life together in a much more relaxed way. 

These tips will lead you to success:

  • Have patience! This command can’t be learned overnight.
  • Stay calm! It doesn't help anyone if you yell at your dog. He doesn’t understand how he has upset you. If your dog does something wrong, bring him back to the starting position without comment and repeat the exercise.
  • Training is not a race! Take a step back if an exercise is too difficult for your dog.

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Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

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