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postheadericon Once your dog has learned things like the commands to sit and lie down positions you can progress onto the ‘stay’ command

Once your dog has learned things like the commands to sit and lie down positions you can progress onto the ‘stay’ command. It is great to have a dog who sits when told, but not so good if he leaps to his feet immediately. Therefore, we need a word that means ‘do not move for now’. This is when we teach the stay exercise.

When you have your dog’s attention, ask him to sit and show him the treat. Instead of giving it to him immediately, wait for a moment. If he moves, simply start again. If he stays still for one or two seconds (no more!) reward him for this and encourage him to move. Repeat, gradually lengthening the time.

What word will you use for this command? If ‘stay’ means ‘do not move from that position, I will reward you for being there’, do not confuse him, for example do not say ‘stay’ when you are going out of the door and leaving him. The word must be

a contract, ‘do not move, I will come back and reward you for being there’.

When you feel he is ready for you to introduce the word, say this as soon as he is sitting. Get your dog to sit and say ‘stay’. After one or two seconds, reward him and give him fuss. Say your release word and encourage your dog to move. He does not need another treat for this.

He gets the treat for staying, not for moving. If you are teaching him to stay, the reward must come while he is staying so if he gets the treat for moving, you are teaching him to move thus giving the wrong signals.

Gradually increase the duration of the stay. If he moves, simply start again and aim for slower progress next time. When he can stay for half a minute, you can begin to move a little. Shuffle your feet at first then reward him for staying still. Soon you will find that you can take one pace away before returning to him and rewarding him. Do not aim to progress too quickly.

As your dog learns to stay for increasing lengths of time, ensure that you can come back to him, reward him calmly and leave him again without him moving. This way he learns that when you say ‘stay’, all he has to do is sit there and wait for the good things to come to him. The release word should be a slight disappointment to him, as it tells him the good things have finished for the time being. The down stay is taught in exactly the same way as the stand stay.

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