No Stinkin' Leashes Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: SF Bay Area
Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?
In Halo's last class she was referred to as the "stay star" by one of the other people in the class. Her sit stay is good, but her down stay is even better. She's rock solid no matter what I do. I can run circles around her, jump up and down, doesn't matter. In fact sometimes she won't even get up when I release her! Maybe the single biggest factor in her down stay is that from the time I brought her home I used a clicker to mark any time she laid down on her own and tossed her a treat. In the evening while we were watching TV if she was laying on the floor looking at me, I'd reward it. So that built a good foundation of "down is GOOD!" long before I tried putting it on cue. I didn't tell her what to do, I simply caught her in the act of doing something I liked and wanted to reinforce and rewarded her for it.
Then I used what is sometimes referred to as the bungee method to teach stay. Put the dog in a down and step back with one foot and immediately step forward again to deliver a treat. Either deliver it right to his mouth, or put it on the floor between his paws so he doesn't have to move to get it. Mark it when you treat, or use praise. Then take two steps back and return to reward. If he breaks the stay use a verbal correction ("oops!" or "ah ah", or whatever you're already using) and return him to the position. Don't reward him for going back into the down after he breaks. Work up to being able to take several steps back, always returning immediately to reward, then take a few steps to the side and return/reward. It won't take him long to realize that if he stays put he gets treats, if he gets up, he doesn't. Release him from the stay after a few minutes, and only after success. If he breaks at 3 steps, only take 2 steps so you can reward it and then release him. Do not reward the release.
I start this facing the dog because you can see right away if he's even thinking about breaking, and you can use your verbal correction and shift your weight towards him. Often this is enough to get him to relax back into the down. I think it's more challenging for the dog if you walk away with your back to him because not only can you not see and hopefully prevent him from breaking, he's also more likely to want to follow you. When he will remain in a down while you walk in circles around him (always rewarding when you're right in front) or back away the length of the room, try jumping up and down or clapping (stay close at first, don't try this for the first time when you're 10 feet away), and then start to work on walking away from him with your back turned. Any time you make it more difficult, go back to square one and just take a step or two away before returning to reward, and work back up to longer distance. Try ducking out of sight for just a second before returing to reward. Try it with him at your side in heel position instead of in front of you.
To work on duration you're again going to stay close at first. By now he's got the general idea that he needs to stay in place until released, and should be able to do that for at least 5 or 10 seconds. Start working up to longer stays, mark and reward while he's in position, then release him. Make down stays the default behavior for stuff he wants - do it with his food bowl on the floor until you release him to eat, before going for a walk, before coming in the house or getting out of the car. If he likes balls, toss one up in the air a few times, and if he holds the stay, release him and throw the ball as a reward. Work up to being able to bounce it on the ground a few times while he's in a stay and then release him and throw it. Think of ways you can use a down stay in daily life and you'll find that in no time he'll be a stay star too!
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short