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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday's Training TIP: STAY

When I taught Obedience with private clients (and their dogs), the command STAY meant that the owner went out of their dog's sight and the dog had to hold his or her position until the owner returned.  Because the commands SIT and DOWN are "implied" stays (the dog cannot get up from either of these until he or she is released with an "OK" or are given another command), progressing to STAY is straightforward and fairly easy.

Just don't advance too quickly...


Introduce an "implied" STAY from a heel with both the SIT and DOWN position.  Work the SIT first, and then add the DOWN.
  1. With your puppy in a SIT position from a heel, take a short step to your right.  Do not say anything.  If your puppy gets up, calmly step back and put him/her back into a SIT.  If your puppy doesn't get up, praise your puppy ("Good sit!") and return to your heel position.
  2. Once your puppy consistently holds the SIT when you take a step to the side, take the side step and add another step forward.  Again, if your puppy gets up, return to your original position and put him/her back into the SIT.  Repeat until your puppy consistently holds the SIT.
  3. Eventually, you should be able to work your way totally around your puppy, one step at a time!
  4. Start to increase the distance you step away until you can move all the way to the end of the leash without your puppy breaking the SIT.

Introduce STAY (not from a heel position) in a controlled place, with few distractions, preferably indoors.  Start with the SIT and progress to the DOWN.
  1. Put your puppy in a SIT on his/her mat, or in the living room--somewhere that will eventually allow you to move out of his/her view within just a few steps.
  2. If you want to teach hand signals, hold your hand out with your fingers together like you are gesturing "stop."  Say "STAY" to your puppy and take a few steps away toward the place where you can get out of view (but don't go out of view yet).  Like the exercise above, if your puppy pops up, put him/her back into the SIT and try again, but don't step away so far--just take one step and return to praise your puppy.  "Good stay!"
  3. Repeat the "step-aways" (remaining in view) until your puppy is consistently holding the SIT.
  4. The first time you step out of sight, return to view quickly, go to your puppy and praise (or treat) him/her for remaining in position.
  5. Gradually lengthen the time you are out of view.  If your puppy keeps following you when you get out of sight, the distance is too great.  Try putting your puppy in a SIT closer to where you will be able to move out of sight and try again.
  6. Do this STAY exercise in different locations.  When your puppy STAYS reliably, you can add distractions.

  • Don't step away too slowly or carefully--be relaxed and move at a normal pace.  If you act too cautious, your puppy will tend to become suspicious and unsure and will want to follow you.
  • Do NOT progress until your puppy is CONSISTENTLY holding his/her position.
  • Be careful not to over-praise your puppy and instigate a "pup-up!"
  • Mix things up.  Heel, heel with a sit, heel and stop without a sit, heel and sit, then step away, etc.
  • If you have a Future Leader Dog puppy, always say your puppy's name before giving the command.
  • Always end your training session on a positive!  If your puppy seems to be "regressing," return to something he/she knows well and end there.
  • Release your puppy with an "OK!" at the end of the session so he/she will know the exercise is over.

FLD Gus, holding a STAY on his mat.  Notice the corner to the left--I can easily step out of sight.

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