Often, teaching a dog to stay in one spot is critical to his safety and might be used in combination with other commands. They are undoubtedly several ways to accomplish a stay. This is just one of the methods that has been successful for many of the dogs and puppies I have worked with.
Your puppy should have started attention and focus on you.
Your puppy should know how to sit. – However if the dog stands during the stay command, it is okay.
Let’s start with 2 people. One person will hold the dog on a leash with the puppy at their side, this person is called “the Tree.” They do not talk, move or interact with the puppy. The second person is called “the Trainer.” This person is going to walk up to the puppy and ask them to sit (facing the puppy). They can use a treat or toy and hold it at their chin to keep the puppy focused on them. The other hand will be straight out with the palm facing the dog, in a stop sign fashion. The trainer will ask the puppy to stay. They can use the puppy’s name just this one time, i.e., “Spot, stay.”
The “Tree” person is still standing facing the trainer and has taken the slack out of the leash, but not holding the leash too tight, just enough so there is no loose leash. Again, they say and do nothing but hold the puppy in one place.
The trainer then walks backward away from the puppy for a few steps, and repeats the word “stay” to the puppy without using the puppy’s name. The use of the word “Stay” is teaching the dog the English word and the hand signal is teaching the dog a non-verbal signal. After the trainer walks back a couple of steps, they then walk directly back to the puppy. If the puppy stands up when you walk back, just re-ask the puppy to sit. Mark the good behavior with a verbal “Yes” then reward the puppy with the treat, if used.
Note: Do not say the puppy’s name while you are asking the puppy to perform a stay. By using the name during a stationary exercise the puppy might think you are going to ask another command or exercise.
As you work on this exercise, continue to lengthen the distance you move away from the puppy, however always remember, you must go back to the puppy. DO NOT call a puppy or dog from a STAY. Stay means, stay they until I come back and get you. If you want to work on recall, use the word “Wait” instead of “Stay” and do not do the exercised during the same training session. By doing them at the same time, the puppy will get confused!
When you are ready to move to a one person Stay, put your thumb through the handle of the 6 foot leash and hold your hand in a stop sign position. Take the treat or reward in the other hand and hold at your chin. Ask you puppy to sit and then Stay. Take one step back and one step forward, mark the behavior, then treat/reward. Then repeat the exercise moving further and further back. Eventually you can use a long line and move the exercise outside, which holds more distractions.
Remember, if the puppy is failing, back up a step or two and/or lower the distractions.
5 Types of Rewards; treats, touch, loose leash, play, voice.
Call or e-mail if you have any questions, good luck
Montana C. Hayes