Six Minute a Day Skill: Stay

The “Stay” skill asks the dog to remain in one position – usually either sitting or lying down – “until given a release word – usually “OK!” or “Free!”. These instructions show the dog learning “Stay” from a lying down position (which I generally recommend), but you can choose to have your dog sit if you prefer.

We’ll focus on making Stay harder by increasing Duration and Distance. The longer the Duration and/or the Distance, the harder the Stay becomes.

The instructions start at the first level of difficulty for each. But the instructions are the same no matter what.

The first Level of difficulty for Duration is one second – maybe even half a second.

The first Level of difficulty for Distance is walking one step away – maybe even half a step.

Only start adding Distance when your dog’s Baseline Duration is at least three seconds.

As always, find your dog’s Baseline and begin working from that level!

Teaching Baseline Duration of One Second.

Start your dog in either a Sit or Down position.

Keep your treats behind your back. Gently say “Stay” and hold finger up at dogs nose/in front of eyes.

When you count to your intended Duration, one second in this case, immediately and calmly give a word of praise, and deliver treat right to their mouth.

Be quick with the treat so the dog doesn’t get up to reach for it!

Don’t release yet. Instead immediately say “Stay” and give hand signal again, and repeat steps for One Second Stay.

Don’t release yet. Instead immediately say “Stay” and give hand signal again, and repeat steps for One Second Stay.

And release enthusiastically!

Next, repeat steps but start at 3 seconds.

Increasing Distance.

Once your dog’s Duration Baseline is at least three seconds, you can begin increasing Distance. Or you can keep adding more Duration – up to you!

Quickly take one step (or maybe half a step!) back and immediately praise and return with treat. Do not pause at the intended Distance because that adds Duration – hit your spot and get back to the dog quickly.

Repeat “Stay” signal and repeat One Step Stay three consecutive times, then increase to three steps.

When taking steps back move decisively… the longer it takes to get to your spot, the more Duration you are adding! You are working on Distance so try to not add Duration!

It’s important that the treat gets to your dog’s mouth before they begin standing up again!