One of every dog’s necessary skills is to be able to stay either in a position such as sit-stay or down-stay or on Place such as on a place board, dog bed or towel. Whether you call it stay or not, really doesn’t matter. Personally, I don’t use the word “stay” because I’m very consistent with my dog. Sit means sit and down means down.
There are 3 D’s involved when teaching your dog to stay either in a position or on a location. They are: Duration, Distractions and Distance. Despite everyone’s ultimate goal to get to the Distance component as soon as possible, I teach that component last.
I want the dog to be very solid with being able to stay in the position or on place for longer periods of time (duration) and amongst distractions before teaching it with distance. The reason being is because with Duration and Distractions I am near the dog with him on leash. If he breaks position or the location, I can help guide him back into position whereas if I start working on distance too soon, I can’t offer him that help.
However, I know everyone is tempted to start on Distance too soon because that is their end goal. So to feed that temptation without causing training problems, only go a few steps away. With a dog on a 6 foot leash, you’re able to go four or five feet away and quickly return to praise your dog for staying. Don’t go further than the length of the leash until your dog is solid with Duration and amongst Distractions.
Those are the 3D’s of teaching a dog to Stay. I’ll go into more detail of each in another blog post. Until then, check out our dog training services at Michigan Dog Training.