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Ruby wil listen to commands but how do I teach her to stay for a period of time. For instance if I say 'down'. I have to keep saying 'stay'. What is the best way to train her so that I only have to say it once?


where the tails wag
13,381 Posts
Stays are built in a few different ways, but each requires patience and persistence. And each method requires you to build the 3 major factors of the stay

Duration - time of the stay, start with 1 second and build
Distance - start at your side and build in front first, then to the sides, then behind, then out of sight
Distraction - when introducing distraction maintain or reduce duration and distance

I teach the release first (my release is Okay, others use free etc). I do this at my side, I sit the dog, praise and break with Okay - no body language but a lot of energy. Then rewards.

The first steps are with you by her side, then 1 step, then in front of her, then 2 steps away etc. You ping-pong distance and you ping-pong duration and then introduce distractions, reducing and then rebuilding both your distance and distractions.

Then if you use a leash, hold the leash taunt for the sit or step on the leash for a down - start building (slowly) duration. Then distance. Then distraction. Or distraction, then duration, then distance etc. Slowly reduce the tension on the leash.

If you use positive, you can either feed continuously and then reduce the speed of rewards or you can step in every second or so and reward, building up time, distance and distraction.

You can also use a combination of the methods.

Stays take a long time to teach truly reliable stays. I actually prefer to wait until the dog is older and has training already. They will need to be corrected and often - and even if you only give Uh-Uh and reposition your dog, it can be hard on the dog. I personally find a dog who knows he can earn rewards and release already can tolerate the correction a lot better and will begin to figure out how to earn that reward much faster - just my opinion though. If your dog has no attention span yet, she cannot be successful on her stays - she will forget that she is supposed to stay :)

Edit to add: If you are rewarding the release, praise, jackpot, tug etc after she has released herself.
By the same token, if you are rewarding the STAY, and this is important, reward while she is in position. Do not break her out and then reward. Stays are used for Sit, Down and Stand so if they break the position, oops, so sad - let's try again. If she breaks more than twice in a row, you are asking too much too soon - simplify at least one of the elements, possibly all 3 if she is having a really bad day of you are in a noisier/busier area. Start in an area she is very comfortable in with a minimum of distractions; kitchens may or may not be a good place depending on how scent free they are :)

Premium Member
16,435 Posts
I teach stay almost exactly like Sunrise, except I work on in a half circle close to the dog after the release word is learned. I imagine a u shape in front of the dog from shoulder to shoulder, and take tiny steps within that half-circle. I use a clicker to mark the right behavior if she/he stays put. I try to make sure the pup suceeds and not ask for too much too soon. I add the word STAY only once I can go all the way through the U and back successfully. I usually don't take many steps straight back until I can walk all the way around the dog. I do not use corrections beyond the no reward marker too bad- just simply release if the pup blows it and start again with no reward given. I give a high rate of feinforcement at first, and then change it up when the concept is solid. Here, we do The Daily Stay on every hike- a two minute sit-stay with the whole crew. It takes some practice to get the stays solid in all situations, but it is so useful.
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