“Stay” is one of the most difficult commands to teach because most dogs hate being still. 

Teaching your dog to stay is essential for their safety and for your peace of mind. “Stay” is very useful in many different situations, from being able to look both ways before crossing a street while on a walk to preventing the dog from dashing out the door when you have guests over. 

It is a great cue to practice your dog’s impulse control and encourages calm and relaxation.

Define Your Stay Criteria

It is very important that both you and your dog understand what exactly it means when you are telling your dog to “stay.” The general meaning of stay in dog training is that the dog will hold a motionless position. This position is typically the sit, down, or stand position. The general meaning of the word is that they hold the position until they are asked to do something else or given permission to move with a release word like “okay” or “all done.” Simply meaning that you are extending the length of their sit, down, or standing training cue. 

Having your dog stay beside you begins with building confidence in your dog. Your dog loves to make you happy, so they will work very hard to prove themselves to you. Since you are your dog’s favorite person, they want to be near you. Setting real boundaries helps your dog thrive. Not allowing your dog to leave your side when you are out and about or when you are walking together will give your dog the confidence to be your best friend. You want to train your dog to stay with you whether you are walking or sitting. 

If you are planning on competing with your dogs, the expectations for the “stay” command is stricter. 

Think about which criteria you will be meeting for the duration, distance, and distraction level for your dog’s stay cue. 

Implied Stay Vs Cued Stay

Before training your dog to stay, you need to decide if you want an implied stay or a cued stay. This is solely a personal preference. 

An implied stay means that if you ask your dog to perform a stationary behavior, such as sit, down, or stand, and they will move into that position and hold it until you ask them for something else or tell them that they are all done. The stay is implied in this cure. 

A cued stay is when the dog has a hand signal or verbal cue that means “hold this position,” apart from the hand signal or verbal cue for sit, down, or stand. Some dog owners prefer a separate cue for stay out of habit or they like the reminder for themselves and the dog. A down-side to relying on a separate cue for stay is that if you do not remember to use the hand signal or say the word “stay” and your dog moves before you meant for them to, but they didn’t make a mistake. Be sure to include this cue during training and real-life scenarios if you are planning on using this method. 

Getting Started

To begin training your dog to stay beside you, your dog will need to start with a leash. Make sure you have plenty of delicious treats to both keep your dog’s attention and to reward them for a job well done. This command requires plenty of repetitive training, so be prepared to work on a short training session every day. The leash method, the lead method, and the sit, stay, heel method are different approaches to teaching your dog to stay. They are similar and only have slight variations of the basic method. 

Training Your Dog to Stay

  • Begin with “down-stay” Ask your dog to go down.
  • Say “stay” in an even tone of voice and place your hand out in front of you with the palm facing forwards.
  • Wait a few seconds, then press your clicker and reward your dog for staying in place. Practice several times. If you are using verbal commands only, say “yes’ to inform the dog that you are pleased with them.
  • Next, ask your dog to go “Down” again, then step back and say “Stay.” 
  • Wait about three seconds, then click, and step forwards and reward them. Praise them for their cleverness. 
  • Gradually increase the length and the distance of the “stay.” Remember, do not try to do too much too soon.
  • If your dog breaks out of the “stay,” do not shout or reprimand them. By not clicking or being rewarded is a lesson enough. Losing patience and being short tempered is counterproductive. 

Contact Canine College

Sometimes it’s best to call in an expert when it comes to teaching your dog essential commands like “stay.” Canine College is an expert dog trainer and can help teach your dog this and other important commands. We have group dog training classes and private sessions to choose from. Checkout our list of offerings here and get in touch with us today to sign up


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