If “Stay” is your dream direction, you’re not alone. This command focuses on impulse control: “STAY” still around activity and when there is new company visiting, “Stay” when I’m leaving you, or when you most want to follow me. It’s easy to understand why dogs have trouble learning it.
My number one tip: don’t rush it! If you begin teaching the direction today, don’t expect your dog to stay while you’re welcoming company or walking into the kitchen for a sandwich tomorrow.
Promise me this: You won’t rush. When taught progressively, this direction is a real winner.
Here are a few rules to follow when teaching the “Stay” direction:
- Stay close to your puppy when you start out. You should have about 6 inches from toe to paw. Creating too much distance too soon can be really scary for your pup.
- While doing each exercise, hold the lead directly above your puppy’s head. That way, if he confuses “Stay” with “Go,” you’re ready for a quick correction.
- Look over your puppy’s head when you practice; never look directly into his eyes. It’s too daunting for him.
- Stand tall. When you bend down, you look like you want to play.
- When you return to your puppy’s side at the end of each exercise, vary the length you pause before you release him with “OK!” This will prevent his “reading” the pattern and encourage a more watchful eye on your direction.
- Resist petting your puppy until you finish teaching him the steps for the “Stay” direction. Petting is interactive and elicits playful posturing. Too much petting ruins his concentration.
Practice this simplified sequence twice a day until your puppy’s feeling mighty fine about his accomplishments.