This page may contain affiliate links. We earn a commission for qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Our mission is to help save dogs’ and cats lives through our educational content. To help us create more veterinarian- and trainer-approved content, please consider buying one of our web-books for yourself or as a gift.
If you have a goal for your dog‘s ideal stay, it will be easier for you to gauge progress and adjust your training pace. Pro Tip: Often dogs are able to hold a longer duration of stay in a relaxed down position.
Long enough to grab their leash before I let them out of the car (about ten seconds) or while you eat dinner with the family (about 30 minutes)? When I start working with a client and their dog on the stay cue, my first question is “Do you want to have to say ‘stay‘ or would you prefer not to have to say anything to have this behavior happen?” Practice this duration-building exercise standing right next to or in front of your dog in a low distraction area, such as your living room.
Click or say your marker word when they perform the down (when their elbows hit the floor) and drop the treat between their paws so they don’t need to get out of position to eat it. Once your dog is able to hold their position for longer periods of time, start to increase the distance between you and them as they practice Stay. Click when they perform the down (when their elbows hit the floor) and drop the treat between their paws so they don’t need to get out of position to eat it.
Break eye contact so your dog doesn’t rely on your continued (and loving) gaze to stay in position, and practice turning your back. Fortunately, clickers do give you a small amount of time that acts as a bridge between when you click and when the treat is delivered. Change up where you practice your dog‘s Stay as they get better and better, always taking into account to lower the duration, distance, or both if distractions are high.
My favorite place to practice my dog‘s Stay around distractions is sitting outside a local coffee shop. I just throw down a small bath mat for her next to my chair, sip my coffee, and toss a treat or release her from her Stay intermittently. Safety First!If you’re practicing Stay with your dog outdoors, do so in a securely fenced area or use a long training lead .
Lower the length of time or the distance you’re walking away between clicks, then increase the criteria in small and easy increments. Add distance and connect with a certified behavior consultant to help your dog feel more comfortable in those situations.
How long does it take a dog to learn stay?
Young puppies have short attention spans but you can expect them to begin to learn simple obedience commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “stay,” as young as 7 to 8 weeks of age. Formal dog training has traditionally been delayed until 6 months of age.
This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as Dr. B to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with three locations, South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited hospital and Bostons first Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University.
Stay is a command that tells your dog to remain stationary where you place them until they are released. This can be used in correlation with a movement command such as sit or down to help the dog know what is expected of them.
Consider teaching your dog a temporary boundary like wait or just praising a command like good sit until he is released. Step 1 Kneel down and hold your dog by the collar or stand on the leash to anchor him from getting to the treats (you may want to have him on a harness so he is not pulling against his neck).
Eventually you will make it harder as you toss it up in the air and catch it, for other toys drop them and move them around or bounce a ball.
One of the most difficult behaviors for dogs to master is the Stay. This is a command that must be well-defined for your dog. This includes teaching the stay in several stages, as well as teaching the behavior in reverse, starting with the end and working backward for longer and more reliable stays.
You can step back, clap your hands, or otherwise engage in positive interaction to cue them that it is OK to move. Once you have successfully paired a release word with your stay command, you are ready to move to the next step.
It is important to have a strong foundation with your release word, stay duration, and distance before you try and add distractions. Proofing for duration from the science of canine cognition we know that dogs understand if we are paying attention to them or not, no matter what the proximity.
By: Drew Webster, CPDT-KA
“Stay” is a command that tells your dog to remain stationary where you place them until they are released. This can be used in correlation with a movement command such as “sit” or “down” to help the dog know what is expected of them.There are a lot of ways to teach a dog to stay, but if you want it to be an effective command the key is teaching your dog it is more rewarding to stay put rather than break a position.The biggest mistake most people make when teaching “stay” is teaching their dog to break that position rather than hold it. For example, if you ask your dog to “stay” walk away and call him to you, you’re actually teaching him to break the position you just asked him to hold. Smart dogs will begin to anticipate your release and the “stay” will be less reliable. Consider teaching your dog a temporary boundary like “wait” or just praising a command like “good sit” until he is released.“Stay” taught the fun and easy way simply rewards the dog for holding the position by bringing the reward to the dog and slowly adding more time to the length of the “stay” command. Rewards can be food, verbal praise, objects and play time. These are given when we return to release the dog or continually as he holds the “stay” command.
Kneel down and hold your dog by the collar or stand on the leash to anchor him from getting to the treats (you may want to have him on a harness so he is not pulling against his neck). Place the rewards at arm’s reach away out in front of him. If he is pulling and trying to get to the reward wait patiently. If he holds the position without pulling, calmly praise him and say “good stay” while you reach one of the rewards. The more the dog pulls for the reward, the longer they wait. Be calm and patient on the first few tries. Keep it short and sweet. Release the dog by saying “OK” and reward them with treats or play. You may need to do a few repetitions before moving on. The dog will begin to connect the behavior of staying with the reward. He will find it is more rewarding to hold still than to try to get the reward himself.
Stand up and hold the leash close to you. Say “stay” and toss the reward about two feet away. Wait for your dog to be calm and still. Then reach for the reward to bring it back to him (some dogs will pull and get excited when you touch the reward, be prepared to wait again or drop the reward and wait longer). When the dog is calm and staying patiently, release him by saying “OK” and reward.
Same thing as step two, stand on the leash at first, now toss the reward a bit further. Now you are going to have to walk to retrieve the object.Keep praising him and bring the reward back. You can release him and give him the reward. Encouragement is the key. He should enjoy learning to stay put because it is interactive and rewarding. Repeat this several times (maybe for a few days adding more and more time to the length of the “stay” command). If you are consistent he will be waiting to hear you release him by saying “OK” rather than trying to rush to get the reward.
Three D’s: Duration, Distance, and Distractions
The first and most important rule of the stay is to have a definite beginning and a definite ending. This means pairing your stay command with a release word that signals that the stay is finished. Common release words include “OK,” “Free,” Release,” and “All Done.” Choose one word as your release word and use only that word consistently when the “stay” is finished.To teach the release word, position your dog as you wish, in either a sit, down or stand. Then give your dog a stay command, followed almost immediately by your release word and reward. Don’t worry if your dog does not move following the release word. You can step back, clap your hands, or otherwise engage in positive interaction to cue them that it is OK to move.Do watch out for these common pitfalls when teaching stay: