I am often asked the question, “Should I tell my dog to stay?” As noted in an earlier blog article, “3D’s for teaching your dog to Stay,” “I don’t use the word “stay” because I’m very consistent with my dog. Sit means sit and down means down.”
If I tell my dog to “sit,” then I expect him to remain sitting until I release him from that position. If I tell him to go to “place” (such as on a place board) then it’s a location not a position. Again, I don’t need to also say stay as staying on “place” is implied through the training. However, if you’re more comfortable in saying stay, that’s fine. Just realize it’s more for your benefit than your dog’s.
Your dog will learn faster, the more you are consistent and precise in your cues, commands and expectations. Years ago, a college roommate of mine was taking an Abnormal Psychology course. As part of his homework, he asked me to take a 500 multiple question test. I didn’t know the purpose of the test at the time but later found out it was to test a person’s consistency rate. Many of the questions resulted in the same answer but were asked in a different way.
When announcing the score, he told me I was abnormal. I replied, “Abnormal!! What do you mean, I’m probably the most normal person you could find!” That’s probably a sign of an abnormal person right there LOL.
He told me that I scored 100% on the test and it was a test on consistency. He further explained that he called me abnormal as hardly anyone scores 100%. A dog training secret is that a high consistency rate is one of the main things that separate dog owners and dog trainers. And, that’s a good thing because consistency can be taught as well as dog training skills.
Dogs learn well when we chuck learning goals into smaller components and are consistent in their delivery. Once learned, we can add them together for the desired end result command. Thus if you’re consistent that a sit means a sit and a down means a down, you don’t need to give another command which is more ambiguous such as “stay.” It’s an added command that really doesn’t have as much meaning for the dog as the desired command. For example, a dog can’t jump on you if he’s been taught to reliably respond to a sit command. Thus, the stay command is not needed.
As William Shakespeare coined, “To be or not to be,” you can decide to tell your dog “to stay or not to stay.” It’s your choice.
For more information on having your dog trained or learning how to train your own dog, contact Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan or call 734-634-4152.