How To Train Your Dog To Stay

Teaching your dog to stay can be a very useful in lots of situations such as answering the door to guests, or when you’re eating dinner and you want him to stay away from the table. A dog who has learned to stay will have a better sense of discipline and self control, which will make him far more trustworthy in many situations.


Dog training stay teaching mixed breed dog
Teaching a dog to stay is all about patience, persistence and trust

Dogs respond best to reward-based training, so always have a handful of tasty treats with you before you begin teaching a new command. If you immediately reward your dog after every correct response he will learn quickly. It is important that you never stop rewarding your dog with treats as he might begin to forget what you have taught him. Dogs are particularly receptive to sounds and body language, so make sure that when you are pronouncing your command it is clear and short, and that you repeat each hand signal in a very similar fashion each time.

Training your dog to stay is split into two stages. The first stage allows your dog to see the treat that he is working for so that he quickly gets familiar with the process. For the second stage, the treat is hidden so that you can begin to teach your dog to stay without having to tempt him with a treat each time. However, you will still need to reward your dog with a treat once he has correctly followed your command.

Stage One

  • Stand next to the mat, basket or bed that you would like your dog to stay on, and then call him over.

  • Show your dog that you have a treat in your hand by putting it in front of his nose, and then gently throw it onto the mat so that he goes onto it. When you throw the treat, make the same arm movement as you would if pointing to the mat.

  • As you throw the treat and point to the mat, give your dog the verbal command of “Go and sit down” or “Go to your bed”. (You can use any phrase to the same effect, but make sure you stick with the same one).

  • When he steps onto the mat, give him lots of enthusiastic verbal praise.

  • Repeat this process until your dog goes to the mat each time without hesitating. With this reward-based training he will quickly learn that if he stays on the mat he will get a treat. Some dogs may need a little more time but don’t give up, you’ll get there in the end.

Teaching a dog to stay
Teaching a dog to stay

Stage Two

  • Hold a treat in one hand behind your back and give your dog the same verbal command that you used before.

  • Standing a couple of steps further away from the mat this time, point to the mat with your empty hand. As soon as your dog turns his head to look at the mat, gently throw the treat onto the mat. You don’t want him to see you throw it. This will teach him that he will still get a reward if he goes to the mat, even if he doesn’t see one.

  • If your dog has correctly followed your command, move backwards a couple of steps so that he can return back off the mat.

  • Repeat stage two until your dog begins to go to his mat without hesitating or being tempted with a treat. Make sure that you give the verbal command and point in the same way each time. Every time your dog goes to his mat give him loads of verbal praise. When he is able to do it without hesitating you can stop throwing the treat. Instead go over to him and give the treat from your hand.

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