How To Teach Your Dog To STAY For Hours
Do You Want to Learn How to Teach a Dog to Stay, Successfully?
Although we consider the “Stay” command as “Basic Dog Obedience” the truth is that “Stay” is a pretty advanced skill.
- If your dog doesn’t listen to you when you call him to come
- If your dog doesn’t sit when you tell him to sit
- If your dog doesn’t lay down when you ask him to down
- If he is in trouble fairly frequently and doesn’t listen to you…
THEN chances are he isn’t going to “Stay” when you tell him to!
Basic obedience is crucial to having a good companion dog! Schedule a time to work with your dog daily! If you aren’t working with your dog you are probably both getting lazy! Even well behaved dogs need to be trained and enjoy the training.
I recommend 5 times per day, actually. Keep the sessions short and leave your dog wanting more! Obedience and playing “the obedience” game should be the most fun thing for your dog, which will help him listen to you in times of stress. Make dog obedience part of your regular life schedule, you’ll be thankful to have a dog that is well trained and your dog will be thankful to have an owner that spends quality time with him and gives him something to do!
In Order to Teach Your Dog an Appropriate “Stay”, Successfully, You Need Patience
In order to teach your dog a good stay, you need to have patience so that your dog can mirror your behavior. If you are constantly moving, or thinking of something else or pressed to do something your dog is going to have a hard time settling in for training as well. You need to be as calm and soothing as possible and expect mistakes.
In order for a dog to learn to “Stay” he has to make a mistake. You must tell him to “Stay” and he must get up and be put back in that position (not in a forceful manner or with leash corrections) in order to learn. That fact makes the stay command not very positive and sometimes frustrating for you both.
Teaching Your Dog Patience
I try to use positive reinforcement as much as possible in dog training, and to do that I can set my dog up for success BEFORE I teach him “Stay”. First I teach him to be patient and he will be rewarded for just being still. In order for him to learn he and you must understand the basic ideals of clicker training for more on getting started clicker training click here.
Once he understands the game, that showing you behaviors gets him rewarded, you can begin to teach your dog patience. Even a tiny puppy can learn patience that will lead to “Stay”.
How to Get Started
Give your dog a command, sit if he knows it or down (click him for sitting or downing) and then wait for a second or so after the command is given to click again and reward him for just patiently staying. You can’t expect the amount of time to be great; instead click a fraction of a second if you need to, so that your dog wonders what he just did to get clicked. He won’t understand at first, but if he understands clicker training he will begin to think about what he was doing when you clicked and will figure it out quickly.
If you have a dog that pops right back up after giving a command; you must click before he gets up in order for him to learn. If he gets up, it is no problem, just give him the original command again and wait for that fraction of a second. Be patient and don’t reward until he shows a little patience. If he dances around and tries a behavior or multiple behaviors just wait him out without saying anything and when he calms down give the command calmly again and wait.
Stay is Crucial!
The trick with this is to take it slow. Once your dog begins to understand you can extend the time you expect him to “stay” or be patient; please note that you are still not using a command. Intermittently reinforcing the behavior is key! For more on understanding intermittent positive reinforcement click here. This will help you extend the time without having your dog pop up at certain time markers.
Finally, Adding the Command
I don’t add the “Stay” command until my dog or puppy can successfully be patient (or stay without the command) for at least a minute in a calm environment. By having him learn in this way, I know that he is capable of obeying the command once he understands it; and that makes it more positive. He still has to make the mistake of getting up, but I know that he will be more successful when I add the command.
Usually just adding the command itself will be enough to get him to break the position; which is actually good because you need him to make this mistake in order to learn. So keep that in mind, you actually want him to make the mistake in the beginning. And, also keep in mind that with the added command you need a release word.
I typically use the command “All Done” instead of “Okay” simply because we use “Okay” too much in regular life… and if you say “Okay” to someone else and your dog gets up; it is not his fault, it is yours! Now, with patience, you can both be successful in adding to the time and duration of the “Stay” command. And, keep in mind that however long your dog can do this at home with little to no distractions he will only be able to do a fraction of that as you add distractions.
In order to be successful add distractions slowly and go back to square one to teach your dog that the command means the same thing no matter where he is at or what the conditions are!
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”
The long stay is a trick not many dogs can perform but it’s one that is relatively easy to train. Some people think this sounds so cruel! But my dogs can do down stays for hours! 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 your dog to wait until he is told he can come through these barriers.
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.
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.
Here Are 4 Times Your Dog Should Know "Wait" Instead of "Stay":
- At the Front Door. The last thing I, or my clients, want is a dog that darts out the front door. This behavior is often deadly. The dog is so excited, and when in overdrive he doesn’t even recognize the danger.I teach all of my dogs to respect the door and to perform a formal “stay” while I come and go. Why not jump right to “wait”? Because “wait” allows for more freedom of behavior, and I need to be able to trust the dog first.For example, I often prop the front door open while I carry groceries into the house and my dog knows that when I ask her to “wait” she can’t cross the threshold. I don’t care if she goes and lays in the kitchen, or if she watches me from the door; but I don’t want her coming outside. This requires a dog whose behavior you trust, which requires time and training! But, it is nice because I don’t have to worry about her running out the front door and into or down the road! It is wonderful to live with a well-trained dog whose behaviors you can trust!
- In the Car. Many dogs are taught to jump out of the car, when they get to their destination. And, like the above example, the dog is excited and his habit is to jump out and run around. However, sometimes dogs jump out of cars at inappropriate or inopportune times and the owner has little to no control.This can put the dog at risk for getting hit by cars. I have literally seen clients who are terrified because they know they have to grab the dog and get the leash clicked on as fast as possible because the dog will be leaping out the moment the opportunity arises. Instead, making the dog “wait” for a moment to get his leash clicked and to put him in the right frame of mind is critical for good behavior, and everyone’s safety. Your dog is capable of learning to control himself, but you must require it of him!
- Coming Out of the Crate. I also don’t want to be “knee capped” when I let my dog out of his crate. Recently, I was working with a client whose dog not only has bruised up her legs by hitting her with the crate door, but he also gets overexcited when he is outside of the crate and begins jumping up on her and biting at her. When he is extremely overexcited, he is unable to control his impulses like he normally would. So I recommended that she teach the dog to “wait” in the crate, which will help him to compose his mind before exiting the crate, which then increases his ability to continue the good behavior when he comes out of the crate. Make sense? If you are insane and out of control, you have little to no ability to control your behavior. If, however, you are required to show some focus before you get what you want; you will likely keep some of that control!
- Going Outside and Coming Back In. I like my dogs to have manners! I don’t want them flying through the back door either going outside or coming back in. Although, I know that both times can be exciting. Sometimes I ask for a very specific form of obedience like a “sit” and “stay”. However, most of the time I just want my dog to “wait” at the threshold until told otherwise.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.