Dog Training: How to teach “Stay”

Today’s topic is from Sam and she says:

He does well with sit, it’s the stay part he struggles with, as we are working on the desensitizing part-he is fine with just about everyone, but he goes crazy with me.

Teaching stay is very easy but requires a lot of patience.

First I will start off with “general training” rules, then I will get to the specific question.


When you begin training stay, you should be next to your dog with him in “heel” position. Tell your dog, “Fido, stay” – say it firmly and take the palm of your hand and put it in front of his face / nose at the same time you say the word. Wait about one second (literally) and release. (“Fido, free” or whatever release word you have to let your dog know he is done with whatever command you asked him to do.) Increase the time to 3 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 10 seconds as he successfully completes that time. Do not go past 30 seconds until he can do that successfully many times in a row.

Once they can do that, tell them “Fido, stay” and turn immediately in front of them – so you are facing them – toe to toe. Do the stay from here. As they successfully do this several times, you can take one step back ward – this is where people tend to want to really speed up and “show off” how far away from their dog they can go. DO NOT DO THAT! (It’s the first sign of a novice trainer. LOL) The goal of training is to “let your dog win” so make sure he can do what you want and he understands what you want and has actually learned what you want BEFORE you move to the next step.


The above picture shows the dog off-leash…DO NOT TAKE YOUR DOG OFF-LEASH for a LONG, LONG. LONG, LONG time. Re-teaching stay is one of the most difficult things! But it does show a dog in a down stay from a distance away.

Once your dog can do a 1-minute stay from 10-feet away MANY, MANY, MANY times…you are ready for distractions. Start small and work your way up. Starting small might be having one of your kids walk by in another room or something like that. Another important point about training is that you need to do it in different locations – in the living room, in the garage, in the yard, etc. For your dog, each location is literally an entire new training. This is part of “distraction training” – teaching them that regardless of where they are, they are to listen, and do, what you tell them.

So, Sam, once your dog knows all the above, we are ready to work on his getting super excited when he sees YOU. This needs to be handled away from the stay first – as I assume he gets overly excited ANY time he sees you. So, to help him, start by getting him to calm down when he is not in a stay. Make sure he is not jumping up on you, etc. If he is just a total wiggle worm with you, use a firm voice and tell him “no” and only pet him when he is calm. Start slow don’t expect him to go from 100 to 0 in one day. Once he is calm when he isn’t staying, you can work on it with him in a stay. Simply have the handler tell him “No, Stay” when he sees you – then you decrease your distance from him slowly. This may take a firmer hand to actually complete the training – it depends on the situation. So, based off of what I have provided here…please tell me more about how things are going.

I pray this helps you and your family – please let me know!

Anyone else have a training question? Please leave a comment and I’ll answer it in another post.

I currently have one pending / coming soon:

Kellyann: Feeding question

You may be interested in checking out the other training posts I’ve done lately:

My dog training experience
Calming the Storm (the hyper dog)
Crate Training & Potty Training
Teaching Come

Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Disclaimer: although there are “general rules” that can often apply / help a dog, sometimes more information is needed or there is a “special situation” that is unknown by the trainer. Therefore this answer may not work for all dogs at all times. With that said, please do not bash me if you have tried what I have suggested and it did not work for you. (You are more than welcome to leave a comment telling me so and asking for additional advice, if you’d like.) My training philosophy is “positive motivational” and starts with the least “harsh” option and works up as necessary. Additionally, all my advice is intended for dogs that live INSIDE the home. Although the training would basically be the same, I’ve found it takes much longer to train a dog that lives outside the house.



One thought on “Dog Training: How to teach “Stay”

  1. Sam @ Sam's Noggin February 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm Reply

    These are great tips! I am passing the link on to my hubby as well! Thanks!


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