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How to train a dog to stay

Training your dog to 'wait' or 'stay' is simple and can be really handy for keeping your dog safe - for example, asking them to stay in the back of the car while you clip a lead onto their collar. You'll need your dog to be well practised at lying down on command before moving on to 'stay'.

crossbreed puppy receiving dog training outside

A six-step guide to teaching a dog to stay

  1. Ask your dog to lie down.
  2. Give your dog a hand signal - for example, a 'stop' sign with the palm of your hand facing your dog.
  3. Instead of giving your dog the treat straightaway, wait a few seconds. Say 'stay' and then give it to them. It's important to reward your dog while they're still lying down, and not if they've got back up.
  4. Practise this many times in short but regular sessions, gradually increasing the length of time your dog stays in the down position.
  5. Next, you can start to increase the distance between you and your dog. Start by only taking one step back before giving them the reward, and then slowly and gradually increase the distance.
  6. Practise in lots of different places - around the house, in the garden, at a friend's house and in the local park.

Extra tips

  • It's important to gradually extend the time you want your dog to stay. Practise regularly and increase the time by a few seconds each time.
  • Look out for signs that your dog is going to break the 'stay' and reward him before he does - set him up to win rather than fail.
  • You can also teach your dog to stay in a 'sit' position. Follow the steps above, but start by asking your dog to sit.

Find out more