Clicker train your dog to stay

The stay command is usually combined with other obedience training commands like sit or down, as in sit-stays and down-stays. Once your dog can reliably respond to the different positional commands, clicker training him to stay in place just takes a little patience and practice.

Directions

You should train your dog to stay in both the sit and down positions, but only work on one at a time. Start with the obedience command your dog understands the best.

Give the positional command and count to two

Say the command just as you did when training your dog to sit or lay down, but this time don’t click and treat when he gets into position. Count to two then click and treat. Repeat this a couple of times.

Gradually increase the time your dog stays

Add a second or two with each repetition, as long as your dog stays in place. You may need to shorten the length of time if he gets anxious and breaks the stay early. Gently praise your dog as he stays so he knows he’s doing a good job.

At 5-second stays add a release word

When you’re up to five-second stays, say something like “okay” or “you’re done” at the end of the stay. Then click and treat. This release word tells your dog that he’s done staying and is free to go.

At 10-second stays add the cues

When your dog is able to hold a sit- or down-stay for ten seconds, it’s time to add the cues. After he sits or gets into the down position, say “Stay” in a firm voice and raise your open hand with the palm facing your dog and fingers up in a stop-type gesture. When the stay is over, say your release word and click and treat.

Increase the time, then add distance and distractions

Once you’ve trained your dog to stay for at least 30 seconds, you can begin to increase the distance between the two of you. Only take a step or two away at first. Then come back to release your dog and click and treat. As long as he stays successfully, you can continue to move farther away. Practice in different areas of the house and outdoors with different distractions. Only change one variable (time, distance, and distractions) at a time so you’re not asking too much of your dog too quickly.

Tips for teaching the stay command

The following tips will help you get the most out of your dog when training him to stay.

Set your dog up to succeed

If it looks like your dog is getting anxious, click and treat before he breaks the stay early. Then take a step back and reduce the time for the next repetition. Remember to keep your dog excited about training and allow him to earn rewards as often as possible.

Don’t say your dog’s name

You generally use your dog’s name to get his attention and set him up to act. And that’s exactly what you don’t want when clicker training him to stay in a position. You’ll send a conflicting message if you use your dog’s name along with the stay command, so save it until after you’ve released him.

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