Training Dogs to Stay

Santa Cruz County Canine Training

Contact Us: 1-831-359-6926

Watch short video of Kayo an English Bulldog puppy.

Kayo a 5.5 month old English Bulldog. I’m using some Obedience Training for his impulse control. Obedience Training for English Bulldogs can be very rewarding.

Training a Dog to Stay in all or most situations makes life easy for an owner. There’s always so many reasons a good stay comes in handy. The main reasons usually are for safety reasons. A good stay keeps a dog out of trouble or harms way. So for a companion dog it’s really handy to have. For an inexperienced dog always start training a stay at home with low distractions before taking it out on the road.

  Since dogs are individuals and at  different learning stages  training  isn’t exactly a cookie-cutter process.  Overall teaching a good stay is fairly easy. However, there are cases where owners can get their dog to stay for one second but not any longer. Or anytime the owner moves an inch the dog moves with them. Then there are cases where owners train their dogs from one foot away and anything farther out the dog fails again. Then there’s those cases where nothing can keep the dog from moving  when asked to stay even for fraction of a second and moves instantly.  A nice solution is being quicker than the dogs reflex to move,  using Distance, and using Duration.

 Initially an owner will want to use a verbal Stay with a Hand Signal. The signal will be similar to a police officer trying  to stop somebody from moving forward.  If an owner can get their dog to pause or hesitant for a fraction of a second with enough time to Mark and Reward then the process has started. If a dog moves instantly an owner must give cue with hand signal before the dogs impulse to move. Their reflex is quick so the owner needs to be quicker with giving the cue and hand signal to stay.

Here’s an example:  Ask for Sit – Immediately say Stay while giving hand signal (don’t give dog time to think about anything. It’s almost like you’re surprising them they can’t move). With owner staying stationery immediately say”Good” and Reward. The owner needs to be quick with this beginning process. Repeat this process a few times while the dog is sitting there wondering what the heck is going on. At this time all the dog knows is every time he/she stays put they receive a treat. Remember dogs only repeat something that works for them. If they like what’s going on they will continue the behavior. Even if the behavior means not moving!  Once the dog experiences the short Stay and the Reward that comes quickly after  they will  start to stay in place more and more each time. Do a few repetitions from a foot or two away to start.   Since initially this is being done at close range it’s now time to start creating Distance between the owner and dog.imagesCAXON1m9

  Training Distance plays a big part in your dog feeling comfortable seeing you at a far distance without them being by your side. Up to this point they’ve probably never experienced this except maybe at home. The exercise should look something like the following instructions.

Remember never repeat “Stay” more than once at anytime in any exercise set.


Using Distance for a good Stay

  With dog sitting and staying in front of you say “Stay” while using Hand Signal and take step back. Immediately come forward say “Good” and reinforce with a treat. Don’t hold out treat while coming in because the dog will move to reach out for it.  Repeat the procedure but this time take two steps back, immediately come in towards dog,  Mark (“Good”) and Reward.  From here just start adding a step or two back at a time. At this point your goal is to work up to taking ten or twenty steps back without your dog failing. Remember it’s important to watch your dog carefully to make sure its staying steady. If at any time your dog looks unsteady complete exercise and release. Always set your dog to succeed not fail. Also remember not to hesitate after taking the steps back but  immediately come forward.

  One thing a dog is not accustomed to is watching  an owner turn and walk away without it wanting to follow. So the next step with training Distance is doing exactly that. Follow the same instructions as above but this time the owner will  turn their back to the dog and take steps away from the dog. Again start taking one step at a time and working up for more steps each repetition. This may be harder for particular dogs but if worked slowly and properly they will succeed. dog_clone1

Using Duration for a good Stay

  In the beginning when using Duration an owner will count by seconds on how long to stay back from their dog. When training a young or inexperienced dog never increase Distance and Duration too much at the same time. Ideally an owner should only increase one or the other at a time to be safe. The farther distance out you go the shorter time you stay out. The shorter distance out you go the longer you can stay out. It’s always possible to overtax a dog to failure. In essence a dog may not be able to do too much at one time. So it’s important to train within their capabilities.

  When working with Duration take a step back from dog while facing them and pause. In the beginning an owner will want to count off two seconds in their head to start and then move back in towards dog. Immediately Mark and then Reward as previous instructions.  Repeat procedure each time adding a step back and counting three seconds when pausing  then moving back in. Your goal is to work up to taking ten to twenty steps back while counting to three seconds at each pause. If dog begins to fail go back to where the dog was successful. When dog is successful again end the training. It’s always good to end training on a positive note.  Owner must remember to release dog. Dog must not move until owner releases on cue with a hand signal.

   If things are going well it’s going to be up to owner what their dog is able to handle. From here it’s possible to take ten, twenty or thirty steps back while counting higher than two or three seconds at each pause. Also an owner may be able to take multiple steps of four or more back during each repetition.  The exercise can take different twists and turns from here as long as the dog is steady throughout the entire training.  An owner will have to watch their dog closely on how steady they appear if testing their dog. If dog begins to fail go back to where dog was successful. Complete one more positive repetition and end training. Release dog.

  Proofing your Dog

  Proofing means testing your dogs Stay in a controlled setting. It’s common to use techniques such as having a dog stay in place as an owner walks circles around the dog. It’s fine if dog turns head to watch owner but must not move at anytime.  Another way to Proof is by  owner walking around dog while bouncing a ball. For ball dogs this can be quite a test. Another way to Proof is by having dog stay while throwing out a ball or treats a few feet in front of  dog. One of my favorites is having a dog stay while other people are calling the dog. In this Proofing the owner must be standing behind the dog. Some owners try to cheat by standing stationery in front of dog to distract dog from taking off.  If a dog is able to complete these without moving they’re beginning to understand what’s expected of them and using self-control.

  The recommendation is always go slow when starting this training. It’s always better that dogs succeed which enables them to learn quicker. If  dogs continue to fail they’re not understanding. This makes training harder because the owner  always has to correct their mistakes with their dogs. This in turn slows down the learning process for both owner and dog.  Happy Training.


Special Note:

 Training a Stay in a Down position may work better in the beginning for some dogs. A Down is a more relaxing position for dogs.

Giovannas Dog Training provides service for Private Dog Training, Group Dog Training, Private Puppy Training, and Group Puppy Training.

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