Image by Jamie Street

"Stay" Cue

Stay is the opposite of Come. Instead of Fido coming to you, you come to Fido. It means to remain where you are until you come to him and release him. For the dog in the picture, it means stay on that stump. Therefore, we don't call our dog from a stay.

"Stay" for safety

Stay is used when we need our dog to stay in one place until we come to them. Here are some real-life uses.

1) To keep your dog from bolting out an open door while you carry something in or out.

2) To stop your dog from getting hit by a car if they have gotten away from you and crossed a street. You don't want to tell them to "Come" because they will need to cross the street again and may not get lucky this time. If you say nothing, they will probably keep running away. 

3) To stop your dog from following you when you're going to walk away from them briefly (to go to the bathroom or get something to drink from the kitchen). This is especially useful for dogs with separation anxiety who are being trained not to need constant contact with you or for dogs who are injured or recently had surgery to not jump off furniture every time you get up.

LEVEL 1

  1. First, we teach our dog that "Stay" means they remain where they are while we move.

  2. With your dog on-leash, ask them to 'Sit' beside you. Tell them "good dog" for the Sit but do not give a treat.

  3. Tell them to 'Stay' and give the hand signal (palm moves toward your dog as if you were signaling Stop.)

  4. Pause for a second to make sure your dog is holding the Sit.

  5. Hold the leash straight up and take 1 step to the side and then right back to your dog. Do not pause because Stay means you are moving. 

  6. When you return to your dog, lower the leash, say "YES!" and feed a treat.

  7. If your dog gets up from the Sit before you say "Yes", ask them to Sit again as quickly as you can before they take a step. If they break the Sit 3 times in a row, only take a half step to the side. If they still break the Sit, only step one leg to the side and back. 

Success Criteria

Your dog holds the Sit- Stay until you return to their side, say "YES!", and treat 5 times in a row.

LEVEL 2

  1. With your dog on-leash, ask them to 'Sit' beside you. Tell them "good dog" for the Sit but do not give a treat.

  2. Tell them to 'Stay' and give the hand signal (palm moves toward your dog, as if you were signalling Stop.)

  3. Pause for a second to make sure your dog is holding the Sit.

  4. Hold the leash straight up and take 1 step directly in front of your dog, toe-to toe with them, then right back to your dog's side. Do not pause because Stay means you are moving. 

  5. When you return to your dog, say "YES!" and feed a treat.

  6. If your dog gets up from the Sit before you say "Yes", ask them to Sit again as quickly as possible, before they take a step. If they break the Sit 3 times in a row, only take one half step to the side. If they still break the Sit, only step one leg to the side and back. 

Success Criteria

Your dog holds the Sit- Stay until you return to their side, say "YES!", and treat 5 times in a row.

LEVEL 3

  1. Repeat levels 2 and 3 with 3 steps. Then, add steps until you are at the end of the leash.

  2. If your dog breaks the Sit 3 times in a row, take fewer steps away until they are successful. 

Success Criteria

Your dog holds the Sit- Stay while you walk to the end of the leash and return to their side, say "YES!", and treat 5 times in a row.

LEVEL 4

  1. Repeat Level 3 in different locations inside your home.

Success Criteria

Your dog holds the Sit- Stay while you walk to the end of the leash and return to their side, say "YES!", and treat in any room of your home.

LEVEL 5

  1. Practice level 3 outdoors.

Success Criteria

You can open the door to the yard and your dog does not go out until released.

LEVEL 6

  1. Practice indoors without a leash, adding steps.

  2. Work up to going out of sight for one step only, adding steps as your dog is successful.

  3. Practice outdoors in a safe, fenced area.

Success Criteria

Your dog holds a Sit-Stay while you go out of sight.

Why return to your dog?

We strongly recommend returning to your dog to release them from the Stay and not calling them to you because it makes the exercise safer. If your dog gets into the habit of getting called off a Stay, they will begin to anticipate the release and jump the gun. No big deal if they are safe inside your home, but it can be a huge deal if they are loose and you're trying to reach them to put a leash on. A well-known dog trainer witnessed a tragedy with a client's dog because of this. The dog ran across a street. Her owner successfully got her to Sit-Stay, but as he walked toward her, she ran to meet him and was killed by a car. 

 

If the muscle memory is solid of Stay meaning don't move until you come to them, you're more likely to be able to retrieve your dog in an emergency situation.