Develop an optimal relationship with your dog

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Teaching A Puppy or Dog To Stay

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.

Pre-work –

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




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New Group Class Locations

Big Sky Dog Training is now teaching at PetPeople in Deerfield, IL, a great new store for our community. I have classes on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. You can start the 6-week training program any time, as registration is “Open Enrollment.”

PetPeople Stores
775 Waukegan Rd, Ste 150, Deerfield, IL 60015
Phone: 847.964.9841

The other location is at Dogs In The Ring in Skokie, IL. I have classes there on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Again, you can start the 6-week training program any time, as registration is “Open Enrollment.”

Dogs in the Ring
7243 St. Louis Ave, Skokie, IL 60076
Phone: 847-677-0680

The cost for these classes is $175.00 for each 6-week session. If you need to miss a class, you are welcome to make it up, hopefully within 8 weeks from your start date.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or to register.

Thank you,
Montana C. Hayes
Owner, Big Sky Dog Training

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Demonstrate Leadership…Don’t Be A Dominant Alpha Or Yeller

Featured image Let’s throw away the saying, “I have to be the Alpha of the pack.” First of all, when you bring a puppy or dog into your home, they become part of your family, not part of a pack. A pack of dogs are dogs that are unrelated and usually means 3 or more animals together. Like at the dog park.

Leadership is one of the most forward-thinking training procedures you can use on your puppy or dog. I am using Leadership in this instance to mean setting boundaries, both physical and behavioral. You wouldn’t let your young child decide what time to go to bed, or let them decide what time to eat, so why do that with your puppy and/or dog?

You don’t need to yell…yelling can aggravate the situation by bring more stress into the situation. If you don’t want the dog to beg at the dining room table during meal times, put the dog away during those times (i.e., crate or tether it). If you don’t want the dog to jump on you and your friends, then don’t let him/her do it when they are a puppy.

Physical boundaries relate to where your puppy or dog can physically go in your home and outside, depending on the dog’s age. Discuss these with your family:

  • Can the dog be up on the furniture?
  • Can the dog beg for food at the the dining or kitchen table?
  • Can the puppy have free run of the house? If not, what room(s) can he have access to?
  • Should the dog wait at the door before being let out?

Behavior boundaries relate to what behaviors are okay for your puppy or dog. Again, discussion with your family leads to compliance from everyone in the family, even the dog.

  • Can the dog jump on you?
  • Can the dog bite you or your clothing?
  • Do you want the dog licking you or your friends excessively? (Do you really believe a dog’s mouth is clean? Not!)
  • Is the dog allowed to pull on the lease?
  • Can the dog chase small animals? (My fear is of skunks!)

Give me a call and we can discuss way to avoid pitfalls and get you on the right track.


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Start Your Dog Training Group Class When You Want

Big Sky Dog Training, based out of the North Shore of Chicago, and Follow Your Nose Pet Boutique in Evanston, IL are offering open enrollment for all of their dog training classes. Beginning March 1, 2014 no more start dates are listed for the multiple 6 week dog training group classes. Group classes offered are Puppy, Basic, Intermediate and Fun Agility/Balance group classes.

Training and Certification tests offered by Big Sky Dog Training are AKC S.T.A.R., Canine Good Citizen and CGC/Advanced. Other training and certifications include the C.L.A.S.S. programs B.A., M.A., and PhD designed by APDT; Association for Professional Dog Trainers.

For information about any of the classes or certifications, please contact Montana C. Hayes, Owner of Big Sky Dog Training at 847-997-4707 or visit


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Basic Training Guidelines

  • Rewards are given for everything “good or right” that your dog does. Even if your dog makes an effort in the correct direction, reward him.
  • Get your dog’s attention. Call his or her name prior to giving any training command.
  • When giving commands correctly, you should be clear and use a short command once.
  • Releasing your dog from a command is just as important as giving the command. An example might be to say “OK”.
  • When training your dog, initially use hallways, doorways and quiet rooms with minimal distractions.
  • Always hold your leash with both hands during training, dog on your left. Do not wrap your leash around your hand or wrist.
  • Any training exercise should be initially established by an adult to reduce confusion on the dog’s part, and then have your children try.
  • Dogs, like any other animal, can be trained in any language. While you are in the United States start with English, just in case your dog runs away, you have a dog sitter, or you might have to give him away. This will make your dog more universally trained. Dogs can be bi-lingual. If you want to use another language, use it for special commands, not routine commands.

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Quickly Correct Problem Behavior

A cardinal rule in correcting problem behavior is: Don’t correct after the fact! In almost all cases, your dog will not associate a correction with behavior that was engaged in five minutes or five hours ago. The so-called “guilty look” is really a response to your tone of voice, your body language, and your dogs’ recognition of similarities between the current situation a previous correction (poop on carpet + owner entering room + owner raising eyebrows + owner approaching dog = punishment). “Repeat performances” are typically a result of not addressing more basic issues such as properly managing the dogs living environment, providing adequate exercise, teaching and rewarding correct behaviors and consistently correcting inappropriate behaviors at the instant they occur.

A special note for puppies: Don’t allow the puppy to do something now, at his or her present size, that you may not want him/her to do when fully grown.


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When & How to Reward Your Dog

When rewarding your dog, it is important for you to provide a combination of rewards. Remember you have five rewards to offer: touch, voice, play, treats, and loose leash.

  • Toys and treats are a great way to lure your dog for the “puppy come” game.
  • If you use treats as a reward, you don’t have to give them each time.
  • You can always use your dogs’ food as treat rewards.
  • If you use treats as a reward, remember to cut down on the quantity of food you feed.
  • Using multiple rewards provides your dog with a clear understanding that he “got it right.”
  • Remember to train for short periods of time (5-10 minutes), multiple times per day.