Stay is hands down one of my favorite commands to teach. It’s so much more than some trainers give it credit for in their group classes and the effects and possibilities are limitless. Stay is a command that teaches the dog many things and it’s so much more than just “Stay right here for a few seconds”. Stay is a way of getting a dog to focus on “being still”; a form of meditation if you will. For a dog who is used to engaging in every little things and who has a hard time slowing down and relaxing, this skill can be paramount to his/her rehabilitation to becoming a more balanced dog. A stay can help a dog with separation issues tolerate controlled separation from his/her owner. Instead of leaving the dog alone, you ask the dog to stop following you around in the house and be okay with staying away from you.
The main thing I use stay for is two fold: 1.) I want the dog to focus on being still and calm. Many dogs have a tendency to be on the move in exploration mode and contently looking for something to engage in, but never take the time to relax and be still. Humans can suffer from this same condition which results in stress and anxiety in US. It’s easy to see how it might have a similar effect on dogs. 2.) I use it as an opportunity to build cooperation, trust and respect between me and the dog. The way I teach stay is done without food, without punishments and with respect to the dog.
Also, a difference in how I teach stay compared to some others is something I adopted from a few different trainers. I want the dog to understand two things when I command “stay”. 1.) Stay in this location (not position) and 2.) I’ll come back to you to release you from the command. If i put a dog in a sit and the dog lays down, I don’t view that as a bad thing. The dog is committing MORE to the stay… he/she understands he might be there for a bit, so they’re seeking to be more comfortable. I’m alright with that. Also, I don’t CALL a dog from stay. If I put the dog in a sit stay and walk ten feet away and call the dog to me, eventually, the dog will anticipate the command, making the stay itself less stable (dog is waiting for his next command). In competition training, that’s not a bad thing. In real world, pet dog training, that’s not necessarily desirable. I want a dog to completely relax when I tell them to stay somewhere.
I’ll put up a video eventually on how I teach a dog to come when they’re called.
So, the video below is a video of a dog who was with me for a 6 Day JumpStart BootCamp and she’s helping me with an instructional video of how I teach stay
Hope you enjoy