Teaching your dog to stay.
Items Needed: Clicker, Treats
Consider this scenario:
Company arrives, and your dog goes wild. You can’t keep him away from them; sniffing, nudging, licking. If only he knew to stay when you told him, to keep a good distance between himself and your company.
You seat yourself at the dining table. The meal is laid out before you, its scent arising around you, ice cold tea poured in the glass next to the salad bowl, and beside you hangs your dog’s dripping tongue and his eyes pierce you in want of the food you have yet to taste.
You tell him to get out. He does, but not allowing quite enough time to let you sip your tea, or take a bite, or say a word to your dinner guest as he unfolds a dark-red napkin onto his lap. The dog is back; you give him nothing. He trots past you and lays his large muzzle on top of the black suit pants of your guest, onto his red napkin, stares into his eyes, towards his plate, again into his eyes.
He comes and he goes, and he comes. Lock him outside on the screened-porch? He’ll only bark. Loudly. You’ll force him out of the room, but he won’t stay even if you tell him to. He doesn’t know how. You haven’t trained him.
Although this command may be unnecessary, since teaching your dog to sit or lay down should keep him in that position until you give the release command, it is sometimes helpful to have a stay command for longer periods of waiting, or if you want your dog to freeze in the middle of an action.
Have your dog sit. Click and treat.
Say ‘stay.’ Wait six seconds. Say ‘release’ then click and treat.
Say ‘sit,’ ‘stay’ and wait ten seconds. Say ‘release’ then click and treat.
Repeat four or five times per session.
Practice this trick in multiple sessions every day, gradually building up to several minutes before releasing.
We don’t usually use the stay command with Caspian, unless we want to emphasize that we want him to freeze and not move. We tell him to stay when we balance a treat or toy on his nose before giving him a release command to catch it. In addition to using the clicker, we would physically restrain him by holding his collar. We would gradually lessen our hold each time until he would stay on his own. We did this because Caspian gets excited really easily, and will sometimes “jump the gun” so to speak.
My dog is so impatient!
Dogs are impatient, it’s true. You have him sit, you tell him to stay, but he might have other ideas. You haven’t quite reached the ten second mark, and he’s running towards you. He’s impatient and wants a treat now. He knows that sooner or later he’ll get it, and he prefers sooner.
Sometimes, it’s the dog owners who are impatient. You tell your dog to stay, but he won’t stay so you get frustrated. But screaming at your dog won’t help. Be patient. In order for a dog to ‘stay,’ patience must be put to order, for both the dog and his owner. Go over the steps, and soon you’re dog will get the message. Don’t relent if they come begging before you reach your set time limit, and don’t treat them. You might have to go back a few seconds, or even half a minute. But make sure your dog is staying still as a statue until you say ‘release.’