How To Teach Your Dog To STAY For Hours – As If You Had a “Magic” Pause Button

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Most often people teach their dog a mediocre “Stay” command.

We take our dogs to dog obedience classes, or we try to train our puppies at home to stay, on a limited basis, while on leash; but how many people take this command seriously?

Unfortunately, I think I can answer that as a “not many” from over 20+ years of dog training experience!

Perhaps this is because people don’t realize how intricate you can make your stay command and how crucial it can be to your and your dog’s well-being.


Advanced Obedience and Teaching Your Dog to “Stay”

Many times, in advanced obedience people work on “out of sight stays”.

I try to touch on this briefly with my dogs, simply so that they do not panic when I leave them and they cannot see me; however I find that these stays are typically unnecessary for most of my real life scenarios.

I mean how often am I going to leave my dog outside of a store, or in another room for long periods of time without being able to see him/her.

Ironically, I don’t really use out of sight down stays often.

But I do utilize long down stays and vehicle stays while I pump gas.

Long Down “Stays”

Some people think this sounds so cruel!

But my dogs can do down stays for hours!Dog safe in the car

I got used to teaching this particular command when I was training Service Dogs for the disabled.

Service Dogs often spend hours lying under their master’s desk or in their office while their partner works.

These down stays are a tiny bit less structured, for instance I expect my dog to shift positions, chew on a bone and get comfortable whereas many people think a down stay means the dog can’t move at all.

In real life, I don’t need a strict down stay where my dog can’t shift his/her positioning at all.

But, I do need a down stay where my dog can lay on her bed while I eat or have company over (think holiday meals).

And, I like a stay or wait command (wait meaning the dog can’t cross the barrier) where I can leave my dog in my vehicle with the door open as I pump gas.


I am a single female, and I live near Baltimore city.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of crime in the area where I live and sometimes I need gas in places where I normally wouldn’t stop.

One of the things we used to train for in protection dog sports was leaving your dog inside the car, with the door open, and then having someone come up and pretend to mug you.

Chances are, I will never get mugged.

However, I feel more comfortable having my dog in my car with me and also leaving the door open while I pump gas.

The light from the open car door illuminates my dog’s presence to onlookers, and it also just makes me feel less at risk.

I can also get her to bark on command, should anyone get closer than I am comfortable with feeling.

It is something that I enjoy about her stay command.

I also know she would come out if I was in trouble.

But Even If That is Not a Concern for You

But even if that is not nor will ever be a concern for you, the other aspect of this kind of control, is that I never have to worry about my dog charging out of the car and running out in the street to be run over or killed by an oncoming car.

How many of you can open your vehicle or the front door of your home wide and be confident that your dog will not run outside or run away?

I can open the front door, I can open the back door, I can open the driver’s side car door, I can open the side car door and I know with acuity that my dog won’t run out.

I know from experience that not many people have this kind of control.


How To Get This Kind of Control

Change your lifestyle!

Many problems come from letting our dogs fly through doors in the first place.

Start to see doors as dangerous barriers your dog should not cross without you.

And, use a leash to teach him to wait until he is told he can come through these barriers.

In The Car

Dogs love to go for rides in the car!

When I am working with a new or rambunctious dog in the car, I close a leash in the passenger or other car door to keep my dog from running out on his own.

This acts like a tether and helps to prepare my dog for further training.

He can sit in the passenger side and realize that just because the door is open; doesn’t mean he needs to, or gets to run outside.

It allows him to learn a little patience, while giving you some peace of mind.

Don’t forget to still watch him!

Never leave him tethered to anything if you are not there, he could get caught up and strangle.

Once opening the door no longer excites him, I can begin teaching him to simply respect the open door through many training sessions.

If he tries to come through the door, I simply close it.

Eventually, he will realize that you will not allow him to charge through.

He will wait to be commanded or you take his leash and invite him to come with you.

At Home

Again, it is critical, even if I am taking him on a ride or for a walk, that I don’t allow him to fly through the doorway… no matter how excited he is to GO.

Next, I utilize a leash.

A leash gives me control and prevents the dog from actually getting outside by accident.

If anything, I can step on the leash while working door manners, and prevent any mistakes where he might take advantage.

Then I open the door, and if, again, he tries to charge through I shut the door.

The only way to getting through the door is with patience and on command.

If you are consistent, the dog will learn.

If you have allowed door charging, it just may take many consistent dog training sessions.

Want To Learn How To Better Utilize Your Dog’s “Stay”?

Check out our Impulse Control program, where we walk you through teaching your dog to learn how to be calm enough to actually HOLD a LONG stay.

Click here to learn about the Impulse Control training process














There are 15 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love the stay command. My dog actually likes staying, because she knows that something good will happen.


  2. Harold Van Brunt says:

    I have gotten my dog to sit without command in front of the door before we go on our walk which she is looking to do. I hold the leash and open the door and she sits until I tell her to ” come”. this has taken many hours of training but it works. I have not tried it without a leash yet.


  3. Debra White says:

    I have a pitbull, she good sit, lay down or wait! Only thing get excited jump up on my sister? Try to say off, or down she very happy to see people just won’t stop jump on person? I try! She a 1yrs old!


  4. My dogs don’t go out of the door or come in with out my go ahead. At this point it’s just a hand motion and they will wait for it.
    I use the same thing in the car. Safety first!


  5. I have a 120 lb female Rottweiler who is my service dog. I use “wait” and “stay” but they mean very different things in her manners. “Wait” is used for things like standing in lines at the grocery store, bank or places where she needs to get up and move as the line moves. She is on hand signals and those are different as well. “Stay” is used if I open the car door, my front door or somewhere that she needs to remain until I give her a command to tell her what comes next. I also use wait before allowing her to eat and stay when playing fetch. The difference may not be apparent to you but they work beautifully for us. I use “stay” when playing fetch because if she should need to stop and drop because of a car etc or chasing a squirell, which she doesn’t do but for illustration, she gets “stay”…and in our world that means no moving until she is released by me. Wait means she can sit, stand or lie down what is important is her focus is on me as she waits to be told move. I use a different collar, leash and pack when she works, and she LOVES her job…you can tell by her “smile” which ppl comment on all the time because she looks and more importantly is happy. My Forties have always been called “The Spoiled-Rotten-Weilers”. They can be spoiled but have impeccable manners. If no manners then no spoiling…


  6. Bunny says:

    My dog is a mix pit. She is approaching 10 years old in June. She is my service dog.. it has been a supper challenge to train her. I use Waite and stay as different commands. My success is de Pender on her desire to follow through. At the beginning of an outing she has too much energy but she gets on track within a put 10 or15 minutes she has a few triggers that I haven’t been able to break such as cats, squirrels, other dogs that challenge her to fight or people she feels are a danger to me or my granddaughter. It is very frustrating and I need help with this. What suggestions do you have.


  7. Shannon says:

    My dog is 3 months old she is so smart. Really learning fast! But she is to smart… She comes when I call her, but she sits about 3 or 4 feet away. Unless she she sees a treat in my hand, she won’t come all the way to me!!!! It is so frustrating any ideas????


    Minette Reply:

    You are using treats incorrectly. Read this


  8. Savana says:

    I think it is very hard to train “stay” to extremely hyper dogs. My two dobermans are the most lovable giants ever, but they are so hyper that they can’t stop to listen! I have them “sit” before I open the door, but once I do they bolt out FAST AS THEY CAN before I can stop them and run circles around the property, (i live on a farm), play fighting with each other and going totally crazy! Then if I’m not careful, they accidentally run right into me, and keep going! One of my doberman’s is slightly calmer. Once she ran enough she’ll calm down, and (sometimes be able to look at me and listen.) But my other one….. he’s impossible to teach! Everything is a game. He doesn’t take any instruction like I mean it. He’ll just continue playing, and totally ignores me. If I have him on a leash, he won’t stop tugging, and won’t even try to pay attention. If he finally does do something right, and I reward him, he has no idea why he got it! And that’s because his mind is only on one thing, PLAY FIGHT! He’s just a big clown! Rolling on my feet, licking my ankles, biting my other doberman’s neck, and constantly has his mind on play. That’s all he knows how to do! Anyone know how I can calm these crazy clowns down? They’re very sweet, and love me to death, but have the shortest attention spans in the world!


  9. Babs says:

    I got a problem with my 8 month old jack russell cross with a chauhaua .shes really naughty she wont come back when called. She wees on the bed.i got a 15yr old dog as well and shes fighting with her when she got a toy or food around. They do eat separately when they have their food but when myself and my partner eats shes going for the other dog i also have two cats and shes the same with them any advice please


  10. Michele Smith says:

    I totally understand the difference between stay and wait and they indeed mean different things. I used to train labs for obedience trials and hunt (field) tests. Most “field test people” don’t usually train obedience. Honestly, I feel that the dogs did so much better when training obedience before training them to retrieve! I also agree that they can be spoiled rotten and also have manners! The more love they feel, the better they will work…all they want to do is please is, to them that’s what makes them truly Happy!


  11. I love dogs to stay WITh Me.
    Especially Lius and Mollie.


  12. LUIS
    He is 20, BLACK.
    He is a MALE French BULLDOG.
    I love him.


  13. Ella says:

    Debra I would recommend putting your dog on a leash. Ask her to down stay and when she breaks it and trays to jump, use the leash to stop her and put her in the down stay again. You might have to be very patient. Don’t let visitors pet her unless she is quite and good


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