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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Pet Professional Tip

Recommend "Down-Stay" to clients who have "velcro" dogs.  This is dogs who follow them around in the house every where they go.

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Before teaching the dog to down-stay, the dog should be willing to lay down on cue reliably. Then, start by find the dog in a situation where he or she is already comfortably laying down and tell the dog, "Good down-stay." Then, call the dog to you.

Always teach "stay" by standing in front of the dog until the dog is capable of freezing in a "sit" or "down" position for at least one minute.

Hand signals

After giving the "down" Instruction, face your palm at the dog in a vertical position a few inches from the dog's nose and say, "Stay."

If the dog moves...

Learning to "stay" requires the dog to increase his or her ability to focus and pay attention.  A common mistake made by people is to ask dogs to "stay," and then forget about the dog. The person goes about his or her business and the dog does NOT learn to stay until released.  Always teach "stay" by standing in front of the dog until the dog is capable of freezing in a sit or down position for at least one minute. Then strengthen the dog's understanding by asking the dog to "stay" as you walk around the dog. If you think the dog may move, remind the day, "down - stay" as you circle. Wait in front of the dog for a few seconds, then praise the dog, then release by saying, "okay" and encouraging the dog to move.

Close tethering

If the dog has trouble learning to "down-stay" for an extended period, you can use "close tethering"  Close tethering is leashing the dog to a solid object and coupling this with a "Stay" Instruction, with you near by. Using this technique, the dog is not able to go or move away but you are able to praise the dog for staying. With this technique, you can gradually remove the lead and continue to praise the dog in the "down-stay" position. If the dog breaks the "down-stay," take him or her back to the original spot (without scolding), repeat the "down-stay" Instruction for a shorter time, then release the dog.

Once the dog learns to "stay" for longer and longer periods of time the dog will be able to be indoors on his or her best, calm behavior. For example, you can teach the dog to stay in place on a mat or dog bed while you eat dinner, watch television or even have guests in your home. 
Go at your dog's individual pace to keep learning exercises both positive and successful.

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