Behavior

and Training Tips For Your Dog

Teaching “Stay” With Distractions and Consistency

 

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CONSISTENT Daily Practice and CUES (aka Requests, Marker Word and Rewards) ARE SO IMPORTANT… Page 9 in Blue Book, is WHY the marker word (YES) is so important and needs to be ingrained in the dog’s brain and in yours.

Speaking of consistent, this is a good week to notice if everyone in the household (pet sitter, roommates and or dog walker included) is consistent when they cue Fido.

Spend a few minutes having everyone ask the dog to sit, down, and Come, Come, Come and Staaaay.

Watch to see if the visual signals are the same. Listen to each family member saying the cue words. Is each word spoken with the same change in pitch? Remember it’s not so much what you say, but how you say it.

If one person says “Down or Staaaaaaay” in a descending tone, and another says it in a rising voice, then the dog is hearing two completely different cues.

You can even make it a game for the whole family at home and create rewards for those who are the most consistent—after all, we all know that dog training is as much about people training as it is about dogs.

So, help your roomies and family out please. Otherwise, you’d just have your dog read this page, right?

Speaking of reading, one way to help your family be consistent is to write down exactly what words you are using for each cue. Include how you say it and post it in an obvious place, matter of fact in a few places around the house!

Refer to it often—you might be surprised at how quickly and easily you begin to modify what you say to your dog until it becomes an entirely different cue.

That said, training your dog basic obedience and appropriate behavior is a responsibility of every pet owner. Arguably the most important lesson to teach your dog is to ‘stay’. Before you start any training, there are a few tools you’ll need for the job.

First, be sure to always have tasty training treats at the ready. An easy way to do this is with a treat pouch clipped to your waist or belt loop. And, he should always wear a collar and ID tags and a leash.

Why is ‘Stay’ So Important?

Most pet owners begin teaching their dog basic commands the moment they bring them home. The first “trick” almost all dogs learn is the ‘sit’ command, followed by ‘down’, and ‘come’. While these are all helpful cues to teach, the most important behavior of all, ‘stay’, is far too often ignored.

A dog who’s been taught a solid, reliable ‘stay’ is almost always safer than a dog that’s untrained. Imagine a visitor comes to your home. Without understanding ‘stay’, your dog could bolt out the front door.

During walks, dog owners frequently encounter squirrels, rabbits, or other dogs. Without a reliable ‘stay’ cue, your dog may dart after an animal, unaware of oncoming traffic or other hazards.

Even inside the home, ‘stay’ is a useful cue. When you ask your dog to sit while greeting a guest, or to lay down while your family eats dinner, a dog that hasn’t been taught to stay, may bounce right back up from where he’s sitting or leave his bed to beg at the dinner table.

The answer is simple. Stay isn’t technically a command or cue, but rather, the absence of a command or cue. A dog should be taught to always stay in whatever cue he’s been given, like ‘sit’, or ‘down’

 

Teaching “Staaaaay’

Training your dog to stay is not taught in the same way that other cues, and requests (behaviours) are taught. In fact, in many ways, it’s even simpler. Here’s how to do it:

  • Give the dog a cue or command, like ‘sit’ or ‘down’. As long as the dog is in that position, he is technically “staying”, it’s not necessary to give a verbal command for your dog to ‘stay’, but we really LOVE it. So say…. Staaaaayyyy
  • remember say it in a descending tone.
  • Bring your left hand up like a stop sign, fingers together with a flat palm facing the dogs eyes and head. and bring the right “treat hand” to your chest simultaneously as you say STaaaaayyy.  
  • Then Start to Shape the Stay 3 sec.  then the next time 5 sec, 10, 15, 20, then once they can hold that start moving backwards one step at a time. Slowly.  The goal is in your blue book  walk 15 steps back, then hold there for 15 seconds then walk back up to your dog after the hold. When the dog is in position, like sit stay as requested, give verbal marker cue “yes” for the sit first. THEN depending on how long you want your dog to “hold the sit stay” Release your dog  with another cue, like “break break break” to signal to them that they’re free to get up or move from their position.
  • Reward the dog with praise, treats, or toys – whichever is most valuable to him/her. After you have walked back up to her side and say Yes, then break break. 
  • Only reward the dog if he waited until released from the original cue to move. Remember you must be able to walk those 15 steps back to them and stand by their side, say “YES” give the treat and then say BREAK, BREAK, BREAK…. with a mono tone… not arousal tones…..progression is the key. So, take it slowly and progress a bit more each session.

You see, it’s actually quite easy if done properly. However, many dog owners make simple mistakes that can set their dog up for failure when teaching a dog to ‘stay’.

Important Tips to Remember

  • When training a dog to ‘stay’, progress very, very slowly, both in terms of the distance you are from your dog, the duration of time he must stay in position, and the level of distractions around you during your training sessions.
  • Distance: See Your Blue Workbook on Basic Obedience Please

  • Duration: Just as with distance, you’ll want to increase the duration of your dog’s initial ‘stays’ in very short increments. At first, give your dog his initial cue, then wait only a second or two before giving the release word and rewarding.
  • Gradually increase the length of time your dog must stay put. For some dogs, this process can be relatively quick, while others may need to practice for several weeks before fully grasping the concept.

You Dog MUST HAVE A SOLID STAY Before EVERY ADDING DISTRACTIONS.

  • Distractions: Distractions involve any outside elements that may distract your dog from his cue. Inside the home, distractions can include other family members, other pets, a knock on the door, the mailman making a delivery, and more. Outside, distractions can include anything from an animal or car passing by, an interesting new smell, or a dog barking from down the street.
  • It’s absolutely essential to practice having your dog ‘stay’ when distractions are present as you’ll most definitely be faced with them in real-life scenarios. Again, start small, inside the home, with few distractions and slowly incorporate them, continuing to reward your dog for staying in any given cue.
  • Because dogs don’t generalize well, it’ll be important to practice this, and other training cues and commands, in a variety of places, indoors and outdoors, under a variety of circumstances.
  • If, at any point during training, your dog is unsuccessful, simple go back to the most recent successful ‘stay’ and begin again, progressing more slowly as needed. Eventually, your dog will learn that when he’s given a cue, he must always remain in that position until released, regardless of whether he’s verbally told to ‘stay’.

 

Bonus: Have Your Dog Work Up to 1 min, then 3 then 5, then 7 then 10 minutes! Now you have an obidient dog!

 

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