How to teach your dog to stay in 7 steps

How to teach your dog to stay

‘Stay’ is an incredibly useful command to teach your dog. It’s particularly effective when used day to day around the home, or to keep your dog safe when out and about.

For example, you may need Fido to stay on a specific spot when you answer the door to guests. This way your dog won’t bolt out of the front door or jump up on your visitors!

Or you could use stay when putting your dog back on the lead. Handy for regaining control if you’ve let them off for a run in the dog park.

‘Stay’ is a basic life skill that every dog should know. It’s not a particularly difficult command to teach and can easily be achieved in under a week. In most cases!

Here’s a super simple step by step guide to train the stay command.

A quick note: I’m not a professional dog trainer or anything of the sort. These are simply training techniques I’ve learnt from a qualified trainer and perfected with Loki.

How to teach your dog to stay in 7 easy steps

  1. Start by asking your dog to sit.
  2. Then hold your palm in front of your dog’s face (similar to a ‘stop’ hand gesture) and say ‘stay’
  3. Wait two seconds and if they’re still in position, offer your dog a treat. If your dog moves, put them back into position again and offer the treat after two seconds.
  4. Keep practicing these steps every day in short 5-minute sessions. When your dog starts to ‘get it’ slowly increase the length of time your dog stays in the sit position.
  5. When your dog comfortably stays put for an extended period, start increasing the distance between you and your dog. Take one step back then offer a treat and so on.
  6. When you’ve created distance between you and your dog, gradually increase the length of time. For more advanced training move out of sight for a few seconds, return to your dog and reward. Then gradually increase the time you’re out of sight.  
  7. When your dog will reliably stay at a distance, practice the training in new environments. Train your dog in your garden, at the dog park, at other people’s homes, or at your local garden centre.

Bonus tips when teaching stay

  • Don’t offer your dog a treat if they’ve moved from position. This will only confuse your dog and slow the training process. Only reward if they stay put.
  • Don’t keep food in the palm you’re using to hand signal, this will only entice your dog to follow you. Keep treats in your other hand or in your pocket.
  • Stay means stay. Don’t call your dog to you from a stay command. This should only be used with the wait command. Only treat and release your dog after you’ve returned to them.
  • Extend the length of time your dog stays put gradually. Practice often and increase by a few seconds each time.
  • Set your dog up to win, not fail. If your dog is losing concentration or getting tired, end the training and try again next time.

How are you getting on with your ‘stay’ training? Let me know in the comments below…

If you liked this post you may also like:

How to teach your dog to ‘wait’

How to teach your dog your dog to ‘leave it’

How to teach your dog to go to their bed

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