How to Teach a Dog to Stay? Step by Step Guide

Stay is one of the most fundamental commands that any dog can learn. It comes in handy in various cases, such as when you have visitors and do not want your dog jumping all over them or when you’re holding something big and need your dog to get out of the way. It will take some time, but with patience and effort, you will be able to train your dog to stay in place.

Tools Needed to Teach a Dog to Stay

While training your dog to stay, a few tools can help you teach your dog the command quickly.

Reinforcer: Choose a motivator for your canine to use while learning to make good decisions. A good reinforcer is something your dog enjoys, is tiny, and can be given repeatedly. This is something edible, such as a treat. Hotdogs sliced into tiny pieces, diced cheese or lunch meat, or store-bought training treats are healthy choices.

Effective Marker: A marker is nothing but a sign or a verbal signal which indicates the dog’s task to be ‘good.’ Words like ‘good,’ ‘great,’ ‘yes,” super’ can be used to develop an effective marker. It is recommended to be consistent with the terms you use for your dog.  

How Long Will It Take to Teach Your Dog to Stay?

Consistent practice session will help your dog to learn the stay position quickly. You should keep in mind that training your dog obedience is a lifetime course.

How to Teach a Dog to Stay: A step by step guide 

Ensure your dog knows how to sit – Prior to teaching your dog to stay, he/she will need to know how to sit on command as you dog will generally begin the stay command in a seated posture. To teach the sit command, read How to Teach Your Dog to Sit.

Plan short trainings – Training sessions with your dog should last no more than a few minutes and be spaced out uniformly for a week. Try to practice for a brief period everyday as if you miss days, your dog will forget what he learned previously. Two five-minute sessions a day are preferable to an hour-long session on a Saturday. This continuity ensures that the dog becomes used to his training schedule and learns what you’re trying to teach him faster.

Teach with Positive Reinforcement: Find out what the dog enjoys and use it as a reward after a successful training session. It will keep him inspired to do the right thing, which in this case is to ‘stay.’ Regular dog treats are an excellent choice in this situation. They’re compact and easy to eat, which is helpful in this case because you’ll most likely need several of them during a training session. Your dog can also prefer one particular toy. When they do the right thing, present them the toy.

  • Step 1: Command your Dog to Stay – Ask your dog to “sit” now, as you have his attention. Mark the action with a treat as soon as he does. Repeat this sequence several times without saying anything or shifting so that the dog knows that staying in that spot equals rewards. Then, without changing your posture, show him an open hand facing upwards OR utter the word “stay.” This will be your cue; pick one and stick to it. Mark the action and offer him a reward if he remains in line. Repeat the process many times. 
  • Step 2: Take a Step Backward – Offer your hand gesture or verbal cue while your dog is still there. Return to him by slowly rocking back on one foot or taking one step back and returning to him. Mark and reinforce if he stays in place. 
  • Step 3: Add More Distance – Don’t hurry it or go too far too quickly! To ensure your dog’s success, you can only be able to take one or two steps away at first. Raise your open hand or say “stay” as a verbal signal, and take a few steps backward before returning to your dog. Whether he stays, reward him for his good deeds.
  • Step 4: Increase the time duration for your dog to stay – Increase the amount of time you make your dog stay.  Start with a few seconds and gradually build up.
  • Step 5: Distract your dog while he is in the stay position: When you use the stay order in real life, something will likely come along and distract your dog. It would be best if you taught him to keep his attention even though this happens. There are many approaches you can take. Also, don’t be afraid to make any of your own. Remember to restart if your dog gets up during any disturbances.
  • Step 6: Go out of sight – You should try this technique as the last check to ensure they stay in place when asked to. until the dog has mastered staying. Try turning a corner or going inside for a few seconds, then coming out. Then steadily increase the length of time your dog can stay in place with you out of sight.

Definite Beginning and Definite Ending 

The first and most essential principle of the stay is that it must have a clear beginning and end. This entails combining the stay order with a release word that signifies the end of the stay. “OK,” “Free,” “Release,” and “All Done” are all standard release terms. When the “stay” is over, use one word as your relief word and use it consistently. 

Place the dog in a sit, down, or stand position to teach the release term. Then offer your dog a stay command, followed by your release word, and treat immediately. If your dog does not move after hearing the release term, don’t worry. To signal that it is OK to proceed, you should take a step back, clap your hands, or participate in some constructive contact.

The 3 D’s: Distance, Distraction, Duration 

You will be able to move on to the next level after you’ve effectively paired a release word with your stay command. These are known as the Three D’s by dog trainers: Duration, Distance, and Distractions. The duration of time your dog is in a stay is measured. The term “distance” refers to the distance between you and your dog. Anything that deviates your pet dog’s attention during the training is considered a distraction. 

Proofing Behavior

Dogs are behavior-oriented creatures. This means that anything, even nothing, will cause a dog to abandon his stay. Proofing is a crucial aspect of teaching the stay to be dependable in several circumstances. Still, start small and work your way up in terms of what you’re asking of your dog.


Set your dog up for success by going slow and consistently reinforcing. Consider taking little measures. If your dog does not keep the stay at some time, consider whether you are going too quickly or whether the reinforcement rate is too poor. Reinforce them in the spot for shorter periods by going back a few steps in the process.  

Learning new tricks with your dog is enjoyable and straightforward when you use positive reinforcement. Through more practice and training, you can train your dog to shake, roll over, heel, fetch, and a variety of other new dog tricks so that they can live safely by your side.

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