I use Wait for any release where my dog will be coming to me (recall, walking by) or a general release where they do not need to remain in heel position; I use wait for things like doors, food etc
Stay is formal. They will not move from their position, no dancing paws etc. I will formally return to them (by circling behind them and stopping in heel position) and release from heel position. On release they can break position but need to stay in heel position until their leash is on and they hear "let's go", "free" etc.
Sharon with her golden crew Faelan, Towhee, Brady and Aedan
Running on silent paws beside me now and forever King , Rowdy and Casey
You add obedience to the game,
not the game to obedience -- Shade Whitesel
Give up your goals,
Focus on the process -- Denise Fenzi
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Some people will use stay when they will go back to release, and wait when you are going to call the dog. It sounds like this is what your instructor was thinking.
Other people use wait when they dent want their dogs to rush through a door, but don't expect them to hold a certain position until released either.
I dont use stay or wait. If I want my dog to sit, I'll tell him sit, and he should stay there until released.
AJ's Maiden By the Sea CDX RE (Annabel)
Mud E Paws UDX OM2 RE OBHF (Conner) 2004-2015
Sunfire's Flying Head Over Heels UD BN RE JH WC (Flip)
Sunfire's Ashes To Gold BN RN WC (Phoenix)
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I've wondered this, too. I don't think it matters at all, it's all in how you use it and consistency. I've started using "wait" for a brief wait (such as at the door so I can enter first) and "stay" to indicate a longer wait.
Kathleen, mom to one human, age 19, two canines, and a bunch of fish.
I bought the dogs a ranch, part one
I bought the dogs a ranch, part two
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This is exactly how I use Wait and Stay. Wait means stop where you are until I release you from wherever I am. Stay means don't move until I come back and release you.
I also almost never use heel, instead I use a "by me" command so I can hike with all three of mine off-leash and have them stay close to me when I need them nearby (usually for safety reasons).
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I was told by Liza's trainer that 'stay' means: stay put until I come back for you and formally give the release word. 'Wait' is : stay focused on me until I give the release, and then come to where I am.
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