Dog commands: stay

The command stay can often keep your dog or puppy safe in dangerous environments. Using the proper verbal command and teaching visual signals can be done with praise and rewards, not physical corrections and harsh words.


The command stay is often the most difficult for a dog to learn.

Young puppies are especially difficult because their attention spans are short, they dislike sitting for any period of time and they would prefer to be up and playing with you. Understanding this will often give the trainer more patience than he or she would normally have.

As with any training, you want to be in a quiet area where there are few distractions from other pets, people or moving vehicles. A room in your home or a fenced back yard will often be the best training ground.

You will also want to be prepared and have certain items when beginning your training session. Items needed include a sturdy web leash, a training collar, edible treats, and a belly pouch to keep the treats in.

 In addition to your training aides, you will also want to pick a time that is right before your dog’s next meal. If your pet is a little hungry, it will be easier to keep him focused on the job at hand as well as interested in pleasing you to get the treat.

As with any training, rewards should be promptly given for desired obedience. Start out by giving verbal praise and an edible treat such as dry kibble, hard cheese cubes or wieners.

When you begin to teach your dog to stay, it is best to have him in the sit or down position on your left side. If you have been training your dog to sit using an edible treat, have him obey this time but do not give the reward. As soon as he has gotten into the sit or down position, tell him “stay” in a firm drawn out voice and bring your left hand, palm flat, down and facing your dog’s nose.

After giving him the verbal and visual command, take one step away from him with your right leg. As you do this, turn towards him and repeat the word “Stay.” Again use a hands signal from your new position but have it straight out in front of you, hand turned up and palm flat facing your dog. This will look like the hand signal from a police officer that has told you to stop.

After your dog has stayed for three to five seconds, return to him and calmly praise him. Give him the treat while he is still in the sit position, waiting until he has finished eating before repeating the command.

Gradually increase the time he stays until your dog will remain in position for a minute or so. When he is willing to do this, gradually increase the distance from him. If at anytime during an attempt at the stay command his eyes or attention wander, repeat the word “stay” using the same firm tone.

When teaching your dog to stay, avoid repeating your command over and over. If your dog doesn’t learn to obey on the first signal and verbal command, he will learn it is not necessary to do so until several commands are given.

It is important to remember patience and consistency is the key to successfully teaching your dog to stay.  On days you are tired or irritable and your pet seems fidgety, keep training sessions short. You will also want to end each session with your dog obeying your command and releasing him for a play period with you.