I facilitated a one-hour workshop last night on teaching dogs a reliable stay. These are notes from the workshop handout. This blog has several videos that show the results (Wait vs Stay, I Found My Best Friend in the Dog Pound, and others). I hope this is helpful.
Stay Workshop Notes
As with all training, stay practice should be fun! Take it slow, give lots of praise and treats, and connect with your dog. If you or your dog begins to get frustrated, take a break.
Remember, training should be fun!
Wait vs. Stay
Wait = relatively brief and informal, usually under a minute, and dog may be called from a wait. Common opportunities for wait include doorways, entering and exiting cars or buses, putting on collars or harnesses, practicing recall or other behaviors and tricks. Dogs may be called from a wait.
Stay= with practice, can be 30 minutes or more, dog must be released or transitioned, but never called. May be helpful around the house or yard when dog has tendency to follow humans around, or in public places to help ensure calmness, or for fun and practice anywhere. Dogs are never called from a stay. Stay may be transitioned into another behavior, such as heel, or released, but always from touching distance.
Use a big, clear “stop” hand signal. Say, “Stay.” Enunciate and draw it out. Over the course of days or weeks, reduce the treats, lengthen the time between them, and reduce the over-emphasis. In the beginning, though, set the dog up for success! Make it easy! Using a mat or a platform can be helpful. No corrections — Just lead the dog back to the position and start over. Don’t reward for intermediate steps. (Don’t reward for the sit or lay down necessary to start over if the dog breaks the stay).
If you cue your dog to stay while she is sitting, and she sits for a minute, then lies down, is that all right? Are you likely to pursue Rally-O, competitive obedience, or film work? Precision is important in these pursuits, so it may be best to be strict in one’s expectations early. Even if you decide to try these things later, however, precision can always be added. Decide amongst your family what the expectations are, and then be consistent.