Dear Critter Corner: I have been working on teaching my dog to ‘stay’ but the second that I give him his treat or I try to take a few steps away, he gets up.  Are there any tips or tricks you can give me to get my dog to stay after I give him the treat or when I try to take a step or two away? 

There are a few tips that can help make it successful.  When working with the stay you want to start with teaching your pup to stay for a short amount of time, then you will add a small distance and finally you add distractions to the training.  This is referred to as the 3 D’s of training the stay; duration, distance and distraction.

In addition to working on the 3 D’s you want to make sure that you are reinforcing your pup while they are in the stay and not calling them to you for the treat.  Our pups are great at picking up patterns and we humans are great at repeating ourselves.  Most people, when working with distance will tell their dogs to stay and go out ‘x’ number of feet and then call the pup to them.  They do this over and over and the pup picks up quickly and starts to release themselves from the stay before being asked.  This is why I encourage you to always go back and reinforce your pup while they are in their stay.

We also use a release cue to end the exercise, this is something along the lines of, ‘okay’, ‘free’, or ‘release’.  If your pup releases themselves before you do, you will want to get them back into the position and general spot you originally asked them to be and be the one to end the exercise.  You are working to teach your pup that stay means stay.

With all dog training, we want to always look at setting our dogs up for success.  If we are seeing a lot of failures or the dog breaking the stay, look at how you can make it easier so that the dog succeeds!

If you would like help to address this or other behavior issues, please reach out to our Behavior Department to schedule a 1:1 Consultation at training@phs-spca.org or sign up for group classes on our website.

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