Animal Behavior Network

Positive Dog Parenting

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

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Introduction

When teaching the "stay" Instruction, the first step is to find the pet in a situation where he or she is already relaxed and in a sit or down position. In a calm voice, say, "Good stay." This praises the dog for what he or she is already doing, while at the same time introducing the "stay" Instruction. If the dog starts to get up and come to you because you are paying attention to him or her, go over to the dog and gently put him or her back into the original position, and say, "Stay. Good dog." Then, say, "Okay" while clapping and moving away from the dog so that the dog also moves.

 
Asking the dog to stay is like asking the dog to "freeze" in an exact position (sit or down) until you ask the dog to change positions or release the dog to move freely.

 
Hand signals

Your dog will often learn a hand signal before learning a verbal cue. The simplest "stay" is taught from the sit position.  When your dog will sit reliably when requested you can begin teaching, "stay." After giving the "sit" 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...

If the dog gets up and moves, quickly approach the dog and ask for a "sit", repeat the word, "stay" and say, "good stay." Do NOT scold the dog. Repeat the "Stay" Instruction. Start with a one second "stay."  Give the food treat while the dog is staying.  Say, "good" as you give the treat. THEN, release the dog from the stay. As the dog learns the word, work on attention span and ability to stay by asking for a few seconds more. Extend the time gradually up to one minute. Do NOT move away from the dog. If the dog looks like he or she is even thinking about moving, repeat the "sit" and "stay" to remind the dog the exercise is not done. Eventually begin to work in a slow circle around your dog returning to the front BEFORE your dog breaks the "stay".  When you can walk all the way around your dog and your dog can stay in one position, while remaining focused on you for several minutes you may begin to work way further away from your dog.  Always stop on a good note! Go at your dog's individual pace to keep the exercise positive and successful. 

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