Next to the command to come, the stay command can save your dog’s life. While challenging, it is very important to teach your dog the obey the stay.
Dogs like activity, like to be with their people and may find this a difficult exercise. But teaching your dog to stay will pay off if you find yourselves in a dangerous situation.
First, position your dog in the sit or down command. Give the command to stay. You can reinforce the command with a hand signal, holding your hand, palm outward towards your dog and give the command to stay. Move a few feet away from your dog, repeating the stay command once. After a minute, go to your dog, praise him and offer a treat. As the exercise progresses, increase the distance away from your dog and the amount of time of the stay.
When your dog responds well to the stay, you can introduce a release command. I use the word “free” and clap my hands once. But you can use a word of your own choosing.
When your dog has trained well in the stay command, you can gradually add distractions – another person, toys, a dog, and then continue training outdoors where there are noises and other distractions.
Teaching the stay command is a slow process which is why distractions should be introduced slowly.
There is another good practice for the exercise. When walking your dog and coming to a cross street, have your dog sit and stay. You step out in the street and look both ways for oncoming traffic. If the way is clear, go to your dog, give the heel command and cross the street.
If your dog is in the habit of running to the door to greet visitors, the stay command will help tone down the excitement. Explain to your visitors that you are training your dog. Before opening the door, have your dog sit or down with the stay command several feet from the door. Visitors will appreciate not being rushed at by an over enthusiastic dog as well.
When getting ready for a walk and leashing your dog, have your dog sit and stay and you walk out the door first. This helps to avoid your dog dragging you out the door.
The stay command may involve lots of practice, but well worth the effort.