Administrator & Alpha Bitch of the Wild Bunch
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Michigan, USA
Re: Teaching Stay
Basically, you need to make the stay itself rewarding. He already knows assuming the position is rewarding (I assume he gets treats/praise when doing this) and this is actually part of the problem... he'll bounce up again in order to get another opportunity to earn a treat by assuming a position again. So now he needs to learn that holding it is just as rewarding.
When first starting out, I do this by continuing to feed treats as the dog holds position. Random intervals and random times (so I might ask him to stay for 1 second, then 10, then 5, then 15, etc...). At first, I may be feeding rapid fire in order to keep the dog in position, then once he gets the idea gradually slow down the feeding, with more time in between treats.
Gradually once the time intervals are extended in terms of how long he will stay in position, then you can start adding distance between yourself and the dog, and distractions (and you moving a circle around him is a distraction). Just make sure to only focus on one element each exercise; time OR distance OR distraction. Not 2 or 3 at once. And time is the first one he needs to learn.
It also helps greatly to have a release word to cue the dog when he can get up (so he learns to hold position until released) and make sure to give the release before he can break on his own.
I don't use a stay command, I just teach the dogs to hold position until released or told to do something else. But if I were to use a stay command I wouldn't be saying it until the dog already had the concept. Training works best if you just focus on shaping the behavior you want and reinforcing it first, and then wait to add in word association until the dog understands the concept of the exercise. So I wouldn't worry about telling him to stay at this point, since the word won't mean anything to him. Just work on getting him to hold it. If you say anyting, I'd just reinforce the sit/down command, telling him "good sit/down" while he's holding position.
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