If your dog can stay when asked, life is easier. It’s so wonderful to have a dog who will stay throughout dinner when guests are over, and it’s great to have a dog who can stay when needed to keep her safe. I love teaching this cue to dogs! Teaching stay takes time, especially if you want that stay to work when you really need it. The first step in training a dog to stay is teaching her what the cue means, which is to remain in place until you tell her it is okay to move somewhere else. This step is usually pretty quick. Most of the time involved in training a dog to stay is about practicing so your dog can do it even when distracted or when you are not right next to her, or when you need her to stay for a long time. In fact, trainers commonly say that the 3 Ds of stay training are distraction, distance and duration.
Three common mistakes when training dogs to stay can easily be avoided just by knowing about them. They are: 1) Not releasing your dog from the stay, 2) Giving your dog a treat after you release her from the stay rather than while she is staying, and 3) Making the stays too hard too early on in the training process by asking your dog to stay for too long (duration), when too much is going on (distraction) or when you are too far away (distance).
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.