Dog trainers have never been in agreement on what order to teach command to dogs. Most agree with Sit as the first command, and Down as the second, but after that it is a free-for-all.
I like to train my dogs in this order:
- Leave it
I chose to teach come before stay, because a dog naturally wants to come to his owner before he would chose to stay away. Also, come is commonly used as a release word from stay.
If you are training at home on your own, you can work in the order that works best for your dog. Just make sure to teach them the stay command. While they might be excellent in the sit and down position, they may get anxious to get up, and will need a command to let them know to stay put.
You will find the stay command very useful if your dog likes to go out the front door every time you open it. If you area able to say “sit” before you open the door and “stay” once the door is open, you will be able to control your dog’s unwanted wild behavior.
As with all of our training sessions, you should keep the first session to a few short minutes. If at all possible try training your dog when there are little distractions going on at home.
Step-by-step Instructions For The “Stay” Command
- Command your dog to sit or go into the down position. Also, if you have already taught them the stand position, you can use that too.
- If your dog remains in that position for a few seconds, give your dog a treat and praise. This is telling your dog that they can release from their position.
- Try again, and this time, lengthen the amount of time that your dog is in his position by holding off on the treat and the praise. After about 5 seconds, give the treat. If your dog will not hold the position for 5 seconds, say “unh-unh” or “aah-aah” and do not give them the treat.
- Once your dog is holding for 5 seconds on their own, it is time to add in the verbal command of “stay.” Use your command word to get them into position. As soon as they sit (for example) say “stay” and hold out your hand as if to stay stop.
- After about 5 seconds of holding the position, give the treat.
- Continue this process by lengthening the stay time 2 seconds at a time.
- After your dog seems to be comfortable with the stay command, you will want to eliminate the treat.
- As with all of our commands, you are going to want to try testing your command, in other locations and with many distractions around. Try taking your dog (on a leash) to the local soccer field, or another area with a lot of people on a weekend.
- One of the hardest steps for a dog to get, is this one. Follow all of the above steps as outlined. However, this time, when you tell your dog to stay, walk away from them. Your dog will naturally want to follow you, but they should remain in their position because you have not released them yet. This is another reason that I like to teach “Come” before “Stay”. I like to use “Come” as a release word for stay when I have stepped away from my dog. If he remains in the position, walk back over to him or use your release word and praise your pet.
While it is important to build your dog’s duration up with the “stay” command, you shouldn’t leave them there for longer than 2-3 minutes is they are in the sit or stand position. If you know you are going to be asking them to “stay” for a long period, then use the “down/stay” combo.