Why train dogs to “stay”?


DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I understand why I should train a dog to “sit” or “come,” but why do training books always want you to teach them to “stay”? Doesn’t telling them to sit mean the dog should stay there? – Peter L., via email

DEAR PETER: “Stay” is a reinforcing command used after you order a dog to either sit or lie down. I can see your point in that it seems unnecessary, but it’s really an important training command.
During basic obedience training – which you should do with your dog daily – command the dog to “sit” in a firm voice. As soon as it follows the command and sits, use the command “stay.” Walk a few steps back, wait a moment and command the dog to “come.”
The power of this command is that it reinforces, particularly in early training stages, that the dog should stay right there. It doesn’t get a reward until the entire training sequence is done correctly: the dog sits, stays and then comes to the owner on command.
This can take awhile for the dog to get right, so many owners break up the command training into three levels: first, teaching the dog to “sit” on command, rewarding that success with a pat or a tiny treat. Second, getting the dog to stay seated for more than a couple of seconds. This takes a great deal of patience and repetition. Again, a reward is given when the dog “stays” for a specific amount of time, like 3 seconds, and then 10 seconds and upward. The third stage is getting the dog to stay while you’re walking away, gradually increasing the time and distance.
As the dog’s training progresses, some owners stop using the “stay” command. But it’s a word that makes obedience training much easier for both owner and dog.
Send your questions or comments to ask@pawscorner.com.
(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.


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