How to Train a Dog to Stay

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Getting a new dog is an exciting time for new pet parents. Amongst all of the excitement you’re feeling, you might be wondering how to get started with dog training. There are a few commands that every dog should know, such as sitting and staying. Read on to learn how to teach your dog how to stay.

How to Teach Your Dog to Stay

First, you will need to gather your materials. You will want some treats, a clicker, and your dog in a state of relaxation. Training time is always more productive after your dog has gotten a little exercise in and isn’t bouncing off the walls.

  • Have your dog start in the sit position. Stay is a command that usually comes after a dog knows how to sit. Instead of rewarding your dog right after he sits as you normally would, wait a few seconds. When he stays in the same position, reward them with a click and a treat. When training your dog to stay, you will also want a “free” word for when your dog knows it’s okay to move.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Do this about a dozen times, increasing the time if you can.
  • Once your dog can sit for a longer duration, try increasing the distance. Start by just taking one step and rewarding your dog for staying. Don’t forget to say your “free” word when your dog can move!
  • Repeat the distance and duration as necessary. Work with your dog and don’t be afraid to repeat a step if he regresses.

When Not to Tell Your Dog to Stay

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It’s important to remember that while training your dog to stay, you should never put them in a position where sitting and staying is impossible, uncomfortable, or otherwise not a good option at the time.

For example, most trainers don’t recommend telling your dog to stay as you close the door and leave them for the day. This will confuse the dog and a well-trained pup might end up staying for the whole day! You will also not want to make your dog stay for extended periods of time or in a situation that is too hot, too cold, or could become dangerous.

What to Do If Your Dog Makes a Mistake During Training

No puppy is perfect, and there will always be learning curves throughout your training periods. But when your dog makes a mistake during training, it’s important not to harshly discipline him as this will quickly teach him that training is a bad thing. Instead, use a gentle but affirmative voice to tell them that the behavior wasn’t quite right. And unsurprisingly, don’t give him the treat or use the clicker.

After a gentle discipline, go back to training but start with something a little easier. For example, if you were taking four steps away from your pup, now only take three or two. Also consider the amount of time you’ve been at it. Puppies especially tire easily and quickly and may not be up for as long of training sessions as you had planned.

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Tips for Training Your Dog

Each dog will respond differently to training depending on their age, experience, breed, surrounding, and more. It’s helpful to note that trainers approach sessions with what they call the “three D’s”: duration, distance, and distraction. Think about this when building out your training sessions. You may also want to consider the following tips to make training a fun experience for both dog and owner:

  • Treat training as a reward, not a punishment, by encouraging your dog and celebrating their successes. Instead of focusing on negative behavior, focus on the growth of your pup!
  • Clicker training doesn’t work for all dogs. If you notice your dog not responding to the clicker, just stick with the good old treat system.
  • When considering duration, distance, and distraction, only focus on one aspect at a time. For example, if you got your pup to stay for 2 minutes and want to move farther away, drop the time down to 1 minute and take a few steps back. Focusing on too many elements at once may confuse your dog. You can slowly add in the other elements as you go (increasing the time back up and increasing the distance, let’s say).

These steps and tips will have you and your furry friend trained quickly, while also having some fun along the way.

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