Sit and Stay: How to Train Your Dog to Stay

Is this your dream command? You’re not alone. I’m not sure why people have so much trouble teaching this one, but it’s probably because it’s rushed. They teach it one day and expect their dog to stay while they welcome company or walk into the kitchen for a sandwich. Promise this: you won’t rush. Taught progressively, this one’s a real winner. To prepare for your first lesson:

  • Take your dog into a quiet room. No TV. No kids. No cats. Just you two.
  • Slide your dog’s neck collar high near your dog’s head and center it between his ears.
  • Fold the leash in your left hand to hip level.
  •  Position your dog behind your heels.

Now you’re ready to teach your dog his first lesson! You’ll do six commands. No more, no less. Here are a couple of rules for your dog’s sake.

Look over your dog’s head when you practice; never look directly into his eyes. It’s too daunting. Stand tall. When you bend, it looks like you want to play. Stay close to your dog when you start out, about six inches from toe to paw. Creating too much distance too soon can be really scary. While doing each exercise, hold the lead directly above your dog’s head. If he confuses “Stay” with “Go,” you’ll be ready for a quick correction. Vary the length of each pause. If you don’t, your dog will think smart and break ahead of time. He’s just trying to please! Resist petting your dog until you finish the following steps. Too much petting will ruin his concentration.

Command “Sit”
Command “Sit”

1. Command “Sit” Align your dog with your ankles.

2. Command “Stay” as you flash your hand in front of your dog’s nose. Remove the signal and pause for five seconds. Command “OK” as you swing your arm forward and step out of position.

3. Again! Command “Sit, Stay” This time, pivot to face away from your dog and pause ten seconds. Return to the starting point, and release. “OK!”

4. Back again. Command “Stay” Pivot in front of your dog. Pause. Now march. Yes, march, slowly at first, like you’re sleepwalking. Once your dog holds still for that, start marching like a proud soldier.

5. Command “Stay” and pivot and pause. Now try jumping and waving your arms. Go slowly at first; ease into it.

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