Sounds simple, after all you are not really asking your dog to do anything, right? It's the opposite, you are asking your dog not to do anything. This is actually a real challenge for dogs, especially the young and curious who just want to explore with every fibre of their being. It is useful to have a good steady stay command in place. I use it daily. Putting down bowls of food, picking up poo (the last thing you need when picking up poo is for your dog to drag you off mid bend), waiting at the road side for traffic to cross.

Where to start?

So to teach 'stay' you just need some of your dog's normal kibble.

  • Start in a spot that’s familiar to your dog, without any tempting distractions around. Practising at home first is always easier as you can easily control the environment and level of distraction.

  • Keep your dog focused on you by standing facing them. With a treat in your hand, ask your dog to lie down, then tell them “stay,” holding your hand out with your palm toward her nose in the “stop” position. If your dog holds the position for a second or two, click and reward.

  • Repeat the process, this time making your dog hold the position for a few seconds longer before you click and reward.

  • Repeat the sequence, but take a step backwards this time. Just one step to begin with, give the visual and verbal command, step back and immediately step forward again.

  • Repeat and build up the steps you can take before you dog breaks the stay. If your dog does go to break the stay (and inevitably they will) step forward again, get them in a sit position and do one or two small steps before returning and praising.

  • This is because your dog has had enough for this lesson and we always, always end on a success.

Next Stage ...

Moving on. With regular, short practice sessions your dog will be an expert in no time. You will need to up your level of interest, after all for your dog this is pretty boring. To make things more challenging for you both try the following-

  • Turn away- believe it or not the simple act of facing the other direction and walking away presents a challenge. You will probably have to go back to the beginning and use very short distances and build them up.

  • Go outside, the outside world is full of distractions, keeping focus will be much harder.

Up the Ante

Now that you have built up steady down stay, you can make it harder for your dog.

  • Try all of the above with a sit instead of down.

  • Try asking your dog to go into a down from a distance.

  • Run- A real challenge for your dog to see you run into the distance and not follow. It goes against their natural instinct of wanting to be with you, especially when it looks like you are having fun!

So there you have it, go practice, have fun and remember to keep it short and sweet, and always end on a high note.