A big complaint of pet owners is that their dog will not stay in a command.
This often due to not having an effective communication system in place (see our blog about marker words) and we often forget to reward the pause.
Meaning we ask the dog to sit then we go about our business completely ignoring the fact that our dog held a sit for more than 2 seconds.
Those 2 seconds are paramount to reward if you want to increase your duration and create a “stay.” So to break it down a little further for you here are the steps to teach your dog stay. We’ll use sit for our example and will use marker words to communicate what we want. You’ll need treats and a leash to start the “stay” process.
Ask the dog to sit
Dog sits and you say “yes” to mark the correct behavior
Give dog a treat
Release dog by saying “okay”
Repeat steps 1 through 3
Now instead of releasing we are going to reward at different time intervals. Meaning wait a couple seconds give a treat. Repeat as much as your dog can stand and release with “okay.” So it should look like this: sit, mark, reward, 2 seconds, reward, 1 second, reward, release dog. Repeat until dog can calmly hold a sit for roughly 5 seconds.
When your dog can calmly hold a sit you then start moving away from your dog and will go back to reward.
I typically start with one or two baby steps in different directions.
So it should look like this: sit, mark, reward, baby step backwards, return to dog and reward, 2 baby steps to the side, return to dog and reward, release dog.
Gradually introduce more steps away, but always remember to go back to reward your dog for their “stay” and release when done.
That last bullet is super important. Without rewarding the pause or having a release word your stays may not be as consistent as you like.
Play with it and most importantly play with your dog.