Puppies love to explore, but sometimes, you need them to stay in one place! From sitting still before meal time to waiting at the crosswalk, the “stay” command is a fundamental of obedience training that will help throughout your dog’s life. Read on to learn how to train a puppy to stay. Then make sure to fill your pet sitter or doggy daycare provider in on your preferred method of puppy training.
Gather puppy training supplies
Puppy training doesn’t take a whole lot more than you, your puppy, and some treats, but some training supplies will help. You’ll need:
- You’ll need:
- A collar and leash. This reflective collar from Max & Neo is a great option: it’s adjustable with a heavy-duty snap buckle. In addition, for every collar purchased, the company donates one to a shelter pet.
- Tasty treats (these soft, chewy Wellness treats are perfect for puppy teeth)
- A clicker, if you plan to use one. Otherwise, choose a bridge word like “yes!” to connect the desired behavior to the reward (more on clickers and other training supplies here)
Once you have everything you need, you’ll want to choose a secure location to train. Start indoors, and gradually move to outdoor locations with more distractions as your puppy masters the command.
Start with duration
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In the first stage of training “stay,” you’ll build up the length of time your puppy can sit still. Start with your puppy in a “sit” or “down” position. Stand directly in front of her, one or two steps back.
- Hold your hand in front of you with your palm facing the puppy in a “stop!” position. Most puppies will naturally pause and pay attention at this motion.
- When your puppy looks at you and sits still, click your clicker (or say your bridge word) and give her a treat
- Act fast! At the start, your puppy’s attention may be very fast. Reward them for pausing.
- Repeat the action, and this time add the word “stay” when you put up your hand
- Repeat the click/bridge + treat reward
- Repeat the above steps, gradually lengthening the amount of time your hand is up as your puppy increases her focus
Once your puppy reliably stays still when you use the “stay” command and hand cue, it’s time to start putting more distance between you.
- Starting with your puppy in a “sit” or “down” position, tell her to “stay” (using the hand motion) and take a step backwards
- If the puppy moves or gets up, lure her back to her starting position and start over
- If the puppy stays in one place, immediately click/bridge + reward her with a treat
- Repeat this process until your puppy is consistently stays in one place
- Once your puppy reliably “stays” when you take one step back, you can gradually add steps. Don’t try to add too much, too fast! If your puppy “breaks” (gets up), lure her back to her starting position and start over.
Adding distance to your puppy’s “stay” will take time. Remember, patience and consistency are key!
Throw in distractions
If your puppy has mastered staying in one place while you take steps away from her, it’s time to add in more distraction. The idea here is to gradually increase the difficulty of the command. Gradually is the key word: don’t try to add too many distractions at once, and remember to consistently praise and reward your puppy for her “stay.”
Again, start with your puppy in a “sit” or “down” position. Give the “stay” command and hand motion, then do one of the following distractions:
- Turn your back on the puppy. Then, walk a few steps away
- Walk in a circle around your puppy
- Toss a toy or treat to one side
- Ring the doorbell (this one requires a second human to help)
Practicing “stay” with a variety of distractions and environments will help your puppy learn to sit still in any situation.
Practice, practice, practice
Training your puppy to “stay” takes time, patience, and consistency. Puppies have short attention spans, so break up training into several short sessions throughout the day. Laying a solid training foundation will make life with your puppy easier and more fun!
Check out our blog archives for additional puppy training tips and tricks, and have fun bonding with your new best friend.
Preview image via flickr/bullcitydog