“Stay” is one of the first commands most people teach their dogs. But when you train a dog to stay, they often don’t like to listen, especially if there are distractions. Teaching a dog to stay is important because it can help keep them out of trouble and help them form a closer bond with you. Therefore, even if you have a stubborn dog, you should still take the time to teach them to stay.
Train Your Dog to Stay: Step-by-Step
With enough consistency and positive reinforcement, you should be able to train your dog to stay with no problems. Some dogs will pick up on it much faster than others, but it’s important to never give up. If you’re having trouble getting your dog to listen during training, then here are a few steps you should follow.
#1 – Gather Supplies
Before you give your dog the command, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Ideally, you should have a leash hooked onto your dog’s collar or harness, especially if you are training outside. That way, if they decide to run off instead of listen, you’ll be able to catch them. Additionally, you should have a reward ready for when they listen, such as their favorite training treats.
#2 – Prepare Your Dog
The first time you train your dog to stay, make sure you keep the leash on them. As they learn the command better, you can eventually try it without the leash, but it’s much safer to use it in the beginning. First, you’ll want to try the command in an area free of distractions, such as your own home or backyard. Then, you should later find new places to practice the command so your dog will get used to staying even with distractions.
#3 – Say the Command
Before you tell them to “stay”, tell them “sit” or “down” first. This will help them stay still, especially if they’re usually jumpy or fidgety. First, start out with only a short distance between you, and tell them to stay. After a while, you can gradually add more distance, but don’t rush it. You can also make them stay for longer periods of time as they get used to the command. However, when you’re just starting out, you should start with a short distance and duration, then work your way up from there.
Using a hand motion can also be helpful for your dog as long as the motion is consistent every time. Most people tend to use an outstretched palm as they say “stay”. A combination of a word and action can often be easier for dogs to understand.
#4 – Release from Command
When you’re ready for your dog to stop staying, you should tell them a release command. Some common release words are “okay”, “release”, and “done”, but you can choose whatever you want as long as the word is clear and consistently used. This encourages your dog to move afterwards. Even if your dog doesn’t move at the sound of the release command, you should still praise them and let them know they did a good job.
This praise can start off as a training treat, but then you should eventually transition them to other rewards such as petting or phrases like “good boy” or “good girl”. If you only reward your dog with treats, they might not listen if there’s no food involved. Plus, too many treats could cause them to gain weight.
#5 – Repeat
Repetition is the key to getting your dog to listen. Work on the command frequently, always using the same command, hand motion, and release word. Make sure everyone else in your household also knows what the specific command words are so that no one accidentally confuses your pup. With enough time, dedication, and patience, your dog should eventually learn to stay even without expecting a treat.
As you repeat the command, you should slowly try new things with it. Once your dog seems to be getting the hang of it in your home, you should then try it in other locations with distractions such as the park. Oftentimes, you’ll most likely need to use the command when your dog is distracted by something, so they need to know how to stay no matter the circumstances. Even after they know the command well, you should still work on training with them regularly for practice and as a fun activity.
Overcoming Problems with Training
Some dogs will always be more difficult than others, especially if they’re stubborn or lazy. So, it can be easy to become frustrated with training. Even if you’ve repeated the command over and over again, your dog still might not understand. Some dogs might even lose interest after a while. Therefore, you should always keep training sessions short. Try the command a few times and then take a break or move on to something else. That way, you can keep your dog engaged the entire time.
There are also a few common mistakes that dog parents often make with training. First of all, you should not have the treats in your hands while giving the command. This will only lure your dog toward you, making it harder for them to stay. Keep them in your pocket, out of sight from your dog. Also, you should not use “come” as a release command. It might seem like an easy way to teach two commands at once, but it will only make your dog think that they have to come to you after every “stay” command. Plus, then they might anticipate coming to you after staying instead of actually learning what “come” means.
You also might notice that your dog stays perfectly during training sessions, but as soon as you actually need them to stay, they don’t listen. If this happens, then you should try to mix up training even further. Time, distance, and l0cation are great ways to vary training, but you should also try changing your own actions. For example, instead of just standing near your dog, see if you can get them to stay while you sit on the couch or eat a snack. That way, you’ll know they’re listening rather than just waiting for a reward.
If you train a dog to stay, it won’t always be easy, but it’s an important command for your dog to know. Even if you get frustrated, please don’t give up on your dog. With enough repetition, patience, and consistency, your dog will eventually get the hang of it. Just keep trying different things to find out what works best for your individual dog.