Teach Your Dog “STAY” And “WAIT”

28 02 2009
This girl is working on a STAY

This good girl is working on a STAY

Before we begin, I would like to note something about the STAY and WAIT commands.  Remember, these are two DIFFERENT commands.  How do you know which one to use?  It depends on the distance.  For example, if Mom says, “Spike, SITSTAY,” I learned that Mom will keep pretty close to me (usually within six feet) when she releases me.  However, if Mom says, “Spike, SITWAIT,” she may not even be in the same room when she releases me.  Simple, right?  Not really.  It is very important that you not teach these commands at the same time, and I suggest that you teach the STAY command first.

To teach STAY:

  1. Start with your dog in the SIT position.
  2. Command him to STAY by saying the word firmly and presenting a flat palm to his face (as if you are directing traffic and giving your dog the hand signal to stop).
  3. Release your dog from the STAY.
  4. It is important to practice this several times a day and in different areas.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  When you issue the STAY command, freeze your position.  Do not move, not even a sway!  Keep in mind that dogs have no idea what the word means, so you have to show us.  Show us that STAY means do not move!

At the beginning, I suggest you start with a 3 second STAY following a successful SIT.  You can then gradually build to a 30 second STAY.  Your ultimate goal with the STAY command is to have your dog hold it for one minute.  Once you have mastered a SIT, STAY for one minute, you can begin to increase the distance between you and your dog.  After your dog has held the STAY position for 60 seconds, take a couple steps backwards away from your dog and release your dog.

When training your dog, keep these 3 D’s in mind for success: Duration, Distance, and Distraction.  If your dog performs well in the STAY position for 60 seconds, you have already mastered duration for this command.  The steps backward are an exercise to strengthen the distance aspect of the command.  Distraction is the most difficult, and you should only work on that after you have COMPLETELY mastered a SIT, STAY and releasing your dog from up to a six feet distance after a one to two minute duration.

To teach WAIT:

  1. Ensure that your dog is leashed.
  2. Gather up the slack on the leash (or use a short leash) until your dog is immediately to your side.  It is important that your dog not be out in front of you or lagging behind you.  This is also known as the HEEL position.  Traditionally, this is on the left side of the human. However, it is okay if the human is more comfortable with the dog on the right side.  Do not worry if you have not yet worked with your dog on HEEL, because it is not something I have written about yet.  Also,there are no HEEL police.
  3. Approach a closed door.
  4. When YOU stop in front of the door, prior to opening it, command your dog to SIT.  He should be sitting right beside you facing forward.
  5. I suggest using the following hand signal to help drive home the WAIT command.  The hand signal is very similar to starting with a bicycle’s right turn hand signal and waving your palm downward to a bicycle’s stop hand signal (with your left hand, if your dog is on the left of you or with your right hand, if your dog is on the right of you).  Make this motion while saying the command, “WAIT.”  Your open palm should be in front of your dog’s face.
  6. When you begin to walk after having given the command, make sure that your first step is made with the foot that is furthest from the dog, rather than the foot closest to the dog.  What difference does the foot make?  If the human picks up the foot that is furthest away from the dog, that is an indication that the dog will not be moving yet. However, if the human picks up the foot closest to the dog, it means that the dog should move with the human in higher levels of training.  No need having to break bad habits later, right?
  7. If your dog begins to move with your first step, immediately step back and repeat the hand signal, ending in front of the dog’s face, repeating the “WAIT.”  Then, try stepping again.  Repeat this process until your dog does not move with you.
  8. When you step through the doorway, simply pat your thigh and command your dog to COME.  When your dog joins you on the other side, some people will command their dog to SIT, waiting for the door to be closed, while some will continue walking as the door closes.  This is merely a personal preference on the part of the human.

Now that you have two new commands to work on, you better go out and buy some treats…  NOT peanut butter ones!

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2 responses

8 03 2009
Teach Your Dog To “HEEL” « Ask Spike Online

[…] If her other knee bends, I remain seated, because I know that means that Mom is going to walk, but I will be staying behind in a STAY or WAIT.  How do I know this?  We practiced over and over and over, doing it right every time, so you do […]

21 03 2009
Teaching (Go To Your) “PLACE” And “PARK IT” Command « Ask Spike Online

[…] training commands, SIT, COME when called, TAKE IT, LEAVE IT, DROP IT, Potty Training, HEEL, and STAY and WAIT.  This would be the final command necessary to complete a “basic training” class, […]

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