If you want really reliable stays that you can use in real life situations, you need to remember about 3 things: the understanding of exercise, working with distractions and working on emergency tools in case your dog will break the exercise.
First of all your dog needs to understand that stay means keep the place and position until I release you from this task. I mentioned that before about choosing the most comfortable position for you dog for this exercise. Once I make a choice I stick to it. If you will let your dog to lets say lie down after you told them to sit during staying, he might think that probably there is nothing wrong if he does a little sniff when lying down and when this boring exercise is taking too long. If that is ok ‘why don’t I stand up and and sniff over there…just a bit’ :) Later they will think that ‘why stay, lets sniff strait away when mummy is gone.
The same rule applies to recalls. ‘If it gets to boring maybe it is ok to come back? I was rewarded for that in the past.’ The next thing is repeating commands. It is even worse if you facing your dog all the time. Staring at your dog it is also not greatest idea:). These are most useless forms of staying, as you can imagine. I don’t really know why anyone would need such a stay? Only reason that comes to my mind is that someone may want look at his dog from a distance…and maybe take a picture? Remember your dog will do what you teach him! As you can imagine later your dog will not be able to stay without these ‘helps’ of staring at your dog and continuously saying ‘Stay!’’
Think a second why or in what occasion you may want to use the stay in real life and try to create a similar situation during training. Be creative! It might be picking up something, moving stuff around, talking to someone who is afraid of dogs or who has a dog that is not dog friendly etc. In none of these situations would you be facing your dog the whole time and constantly repeating ‘stay!’ ;) I made a short video to make a little bit of fun and wanted to present dos and donts when practicing stays. So, forget a bit about time and distance and concentrate on being active all the time.
The last and most challenging thing is working on tools that you can use if your dog will break the stay. What I’m doing is teaching a negative verbal marker ‘no’ (which means: what you are doing is not what I wanted in first place) and supporting that with the command to come back to exercise. So if my doggy will break the stay, lets say because the other dog will distract him then I will say, ‘No!’ and ask him to sit or lie down and stay again from the distance.
To do this your dog needs to have a great understanding of markers and the ability to sit or lie down from a big distance and/or in motion. I’m always reinforcing the most used staying position and then practicing it in motion and from a big distance in separate training sessions. This will also help with training an emergency stop too! Then I’m creating a training situation when my dog gets distracted and breaks the stay and practising. Once you master that, you will have a great chance to succeed with the emergency command when your dog will break the stay in real life situation.
And very last thing what wasn’t included in video- once you have reliable stay start to work on stays out of sight. Useful when leaving your dog when grabbing a coffee before training other stuff.
Again thanks for reading. Share your thoughts in the comments.