How to Train a Dog to Stay

Three Parts:Getting StartedTeaching Your Dog to StayUsing More Advanced Techniques

Learning to stay is one of the most basic commands that all dogs should know. It is useful in many situations, like if you have company and don't want your dog jumping all over your guests, or are carrying something heavy and need your dog out of the way. It can take some time, but with persistence and work, you can easily teach your dog to stay.

Part 1
Getting Started

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    Train your dog only when you're in the mood for it. You should be fresh and ready during a training session with your dog. If you're not feeling well or are too busy, you might not be able to devote the necessary energy to a training session. Especially if your dog is young, he may be disobedient. If you're in a bad mood, you might end up yelling at your dog, which will turn the training session into a negative experience.[1]
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    Plan on short training sessions. Training sessions with your dog should only last a few minutes and be spread evenly throughout a week. Try to train for a short time every day, since if you skip days the dog may well forget what he learned earlier. Two five-minute sessions every day is better than an hour-long session on a Saturday. This consistency will ensure that your dog gets used to his training routine and will pick up what you're trying to teach him faster.[2]
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    Know what rewards your dog likes most. Training will involve a lot of positive feedback. For dogs, this is usually some kind of treat. Find out what your dog likes and make that the reward for a good training session. It will keep him motivated to perform the right action, which in this case is 'stay.'[3]
    • Regular dog biscuits are a good option here. They're small and can be eaten quickly, which is a plus in this situation since you'll probably use several of them in a training session.
    • Your dog might also like one particular toy. Give him this when he performs the right action.
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    Teach your dog to sit. When training your dog to stay, you'll usually have him start in the sitting position. An obvious prerequisite would be to make sure he knows the command to sit. Read Teach Your Dog to Sit to take care of this step.

Part 2
Teaching Your Dog to Stay

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    Plan on doing this training routine for while before your dog picks up on it. Remember that your dog doesn't speak our language, so he has to learn to associate certain commands with actions. This takes time. Some dogs may pick up faster than others. The important part is to persist and remain consistent with your training until your dog gets it.
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    Have your dog sit in a comfortable spot. You'll want to start with your dog sitting a good spot. Make sure the ground isn't wet, cold, or covered with anything that might make your dog uncomfortable.[4]
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    Place your palm out in front of the dog's face while saying 'stay.' The combination of the verbal cue and the hand signal will help your dog associate these commands with staying where he is.[5]
    • Repeat 'stay' a few times before doing anything else so your dog learns the word. Say it in a happy tone. Save your firm tone for when your dog makes a mistake.
    • Be sure to use these same commands every time you tell your dog to stay. If you don't it will take him longer to understand what you want him to do.
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    Take one or two steps back. Keep your hand out and keep saying 'stay' while you do this.[6]
    • Your dog will probably get up and follow you the first few times you do this. When he starts to come up from his sitting position, correct him with a 'no' or 'ap ap ap' in a firmer tone than you said 'stay' in.[7]
    • Praise him when he sits back down. Go back to your happy tone when your dog remains still or sits back down after you give your corrective command.
    • Repeat this step as needed. This first step will probably be the hardest. Your untrained dog will want to follow you when you start walking away. Keep correcting him to sit back down, and remember to not give him a treat if he gets up and runs over to you. This just teaches him that getting up will get him a reward.
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    Give your dog a treat when he stays. Remember, positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog. When he stays in place after you take a few steps back, that means he's starting to understand the command. Reinforce his obedience with a treat.[8]
    • Don't have him come over to you to give him the treat yet. This teaches him that when he gets up he gets rewarded. You want to teach him that staying in place gets him the reward. Walk back to him, say some words of praise in a happy tone, and then give him the treat. When he gets better at staying, then you can add the command for him to come to you.
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    Have your dog come to you. Once your dog has gotten proficient at staying, you can complete the task by having him come to you. Come up with a word that will signal that the dog is released from the stay position. Dropping your hand and saying 'okay' is a popular signal. Then when the dog comes to you, give him a treat and praise him.[9]
    • Whatever word you use to release your dog from the stay, make sure you say it in a different tone than you would when normally speaking. Otherwise your dog might start expecting a treat every time you say 'okay' or another normal word.
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    Increase the distance you step back gradually. When your dog gets proficient at staying when you're a few steps away, start increasing the distance. Go 5 steps back, then 10. Then see if you can get across the whole yard. The point is to make sure the dog stays put as long as you continue telling him to.[10]
    • Remember to praise the dog and give a treat every time he succeeds.
    • If at any point the dog gets up and runs to you without you giving the command, don't give him a treat.

Part 3
Using More Advanced Techniques

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    Teach your dog to stay while lying down. There may be situations when you want your dog to lie down and stay where he is. For example, if someone who is afraid of dogs comes over to your house, he or she may be more comfortable with your dog lying down. To teach your dog to stay while lying down, use all the steps from Part 2, just start from the lie down position.[11]
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    Increase the length of time your dog stays. When your dog is comfortable with you being a good distance away, start increasing the amount of time you have him stay. Start with a few seconds, then gradually increase. Work your way up to several minutes if you can.[12]
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    Turn around as you walk away from your dog. While your dog learns to stay, you should stay facing him. As he improves, start turning your back as you move away from him. The lack of facial contact or hand motions will be a new challenge for your dog.[13]
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    Distract your dog while he stays. When you use the stay command in real life, it's possible that something will come along and distract your dog. You'll want to teach him to maintain his concentration even if this happens. There are several ways you can do this. Also don't be afraid to come up with a few of your own. Remember, if your dog gets up during any distractions, start over.[14]
    • Wave your other arm while your dog stays.
    • Start jumping up and down.
    • Bounce a tennis ball as you walk backwards.
    • Have someone walk by while your dog stays. Then have them walk or run by.
    • Have someone bring another dog passed your dog.
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    Go out of sight. When your dog gets very good at staying, you can try this advanced technique. Try turning a corner or stepping inside for a few seconds, then return. Then gradually work up and see how long your dog will stay in place with you out of sight.[15]


  • Don't make them stay for a long time the first time you do it.
  • If you get frustrated with your dog, don't show it. If you're angry at your dog, it might scare him and discourage him.
  • Don't be impatient. It might take some time for the dog to understand what your teaching him.


  • Do not yell or punish the dog for not staying. Only place him back in the original position and praise him when he does it correctly.
  • This process may take a long time. Do not give up! Training takes consistency and determination.

Article Info

Categories: Basic Commands