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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Teaching Stay




Your dog can learn to stay in different positions.  Most dogs prefer to stay in the down position.  It is most comfortable for the dog to stay in for a length of time.  It also takes the most effort for the dog to move from a down position, as opposed to a sit or a stand stay.  If you expect to teach the stay in different positions, however, you may want to teach the sit stay before the down stay.  Dogs taught to down stay first, may often try to lie down while left on a sit stay because that is their habit already. 
Stay can be a difficult exercise for your b/d dog to learn.  All dogs like to be with us and don’t necessarily like to be left behind while we walk away.  But b/d dogs really like to keep track of us and they won’t be able to track us with their eyes as we leave to know where we are. 
Begin teaching stay by standing right next to your dog.  Don’t be in a hurry to walk away.  When you are practicing sit and down positions, reward while your dog is in position but don’t release her.  Instead, quickly reward again with her still in position.  By rewarding several times without a release cue, you are getting your dog used to staying in position longer.  After feeding several treats, then give the release cue.
Gradually pause slightly longer between treats, so your dog learns to wait in position longer for the treats.  When you are sure your dog will wait in position for the next reward to come, you can begin to add the stay cue.  If she is still trying to move out of position before the release cue, you need to practice this step more before moving on. 
Ask your dog to sit.  Reward in position.  Then give the stay cue and immediately reward your dog while she is still in the sit position.  Then release.  She just did her first very short sit stay!  The goal will be to very gradually build up the amount of time between the stay cue and the reward.  If your dog gets up after the stay cue but before the reward, begin again without rewarding.  The next time, make the time between the stay cue and the reward shorter so she can be successful. 
Build up to a 20 second stay with you staying right next to your dog.  Make sure you aren’t touching her during that time, because as you start to walk away from her, you won’t be able to touch her.  You don’t want her relying on touching you to stay in place.  Make your stay cue very clear, and make your release cue very clear.  Any rewards should come while your dog is still in the stay position.  If your dog lays down during the stay and you wanted her to sit, give the release cue and let her get up so you can start over again.  Do not reward, but make the next sit stay shorter so you can reward while she is still sitting.
When your dog can do a 20 second stay with you next to her, you can take one small step away from her after you give the stay cue.  Immediately step back next to her and reward.  Each time you practice, vary the direction you step away from her.  One time go out to the side, one time to the front, one time backwards.  When this is going well, take two steps away and immediately come back.  Then take two steps away and build up the time again to 20 seconds gradually.  It’s better to come back quickly and be able to reward a successful stay than to try to stretch the time too far and cause your dog to make a mistake.
Gradually add more distance and more time.  When you go farther, cut down the time at first and then build back up.  When you want to add more time, stay close by at first. 


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