Making your dog’s “Stay” work for you.
Once your dog understands the concept of stay (stay right where you are, I’ll come back to you and release you when it’s ok to come with me), you can start building on the “real-life” value of the behavior.
By now, you’ve already taught your dog each of the three individual components of stay: duration, distraction, and distance.
Now the real fun starts! it’s time to start putting those together. You start, of course, with just two of the elements and making sure your dog has a pretty good chance of getting clicked and reinforced.
Remember, your job as teacher of your dog is to make the exercise challenging, yet ensuring your dog can succeed.
What if you make a mistake?
Ok, so maybe you overestimated your dog’s skills and he went after the toy you tossed or came to you when you said his name — instead of staying planted where you asked him to “stay.” No worries, it’s not a big deal. Simplify the exercise — make it a little easier — so you can get your dog a click and a treat. So if you were tossing a toy (distraction) while you were 5 feet away (distance) from your dog, and he went for the toy, just shorten the distance (maybe stand 2.5 feet away) and toss the toy away from your dog. If your dog is successful, click and treat, then move maybe 3 feet away and toss away from your dog.
It’s pretty easy to make quick progress when you set your dog up for success.
Kinda makes you wonder why people do it any other way, doesn’t it?
Terri Harris says
I just found your wonderful website / blog yesterday! I’ve enjoyed watching many of your insightful and extremely helpful videos!! We have a 12 year old male beagle named Buddy. We got him from a beagle rescue society when he was about a year old. He’s very smart and extremely food motivated! 🙂 I taught him to ring a service bell when he was about two years old. Had I used your methods, it probably wouldn’t have taken 2 1/2 weeks to do it. After watching your videos, I’m surprised he ever learned because I didn’t think to use treats back then. I basically just used repetition; i.e., ringing the bell numerous times before he went out. Anyways, I digress. I’ve worked on “stay” with Buddy and he does O.K., but I sure wouldn’t bet a $100 on it nor can he make it through the 3 D’s, He usually holds the stay for about 10 seconds. Something we continue to work on, off and on. I release Buddy by asking him to “come” My question is, do you think it would be beneficial to introduce “release” to him at this point or cause more confusion than anything? Many thanks for your time.
Mills River, NC
Laurie Luck says
Hi Terri, it sounds like you and Buddy are a great team! I love to hear it! I do prefer a release as I — personally — don’t ever call a dog out of a stay. For me, stay means “I will come back to you.”
If I will call them away (or otherwise release them from a distance), I put the dog in a “wait.” I like the dogs to know the difference because I don’t ever want them to anticipate my calling them (or the release) and come to me from a stay.
If I need them to stay (for safety reasons like while I’m signing for a package, checking the mail at the road, etc.), I don’t ever have to worry that my training will come back to bite me.
Does that make sense?
Terri Harris says
Yes, it does make sense! Many thanks for your response.