How To Train A Puppy To Stay

PetGuide logo

Being able to “Stay” is a useful skill for your dog to learn. If your pup will stay when told, it’s easier to keep her away from potentially dangerous situations or to stop her getting overexcited when something fun is going on. This command can take a bit of time and perseverance to master, but as long as your calm and patient with your puppy, it shouldn’t be too long before she can stay with the best of them. Be sure to keep training sessions to a maximum of 5 or 10 minutes, shorter still with young puppies, since your pup is only a baby and doesn’t have a good attention span. The following points are how to train a puppy to stay.

First Thing’s First

Before you can train a puppy to stay, she’ll need to be able to sit or lie on command. If you haven’t taught her to do so, go and teach her now. Then you may return and find out how much easier it is to get her to stay. When working with an energetic puppy, it may be best to try this after a walk or a long play session, once she has expended a bit of that energy.

Slowly Does It

In order to succeed, you’ll have to take things slowly. Get your puppy to sit or lie, then give the command to stay. Some people like to combine this with a hand signal, such as a flat palm with the fingers pointing upward. Wait for about 10 seconds after giving the command, if your puppy hasn’t moved, tell her “yes” or “good girl” and give her a treat. Once she’s had her treat, tell her “okay” or “free” so that she knows that you’ve released her from the command. When she’s got the hang of staying for 10 seconds, increase this to 15 seconds and then to 20 seconds, and so on, until she can comfortably stay for 30 to 40 seconds.

Adding Distance

Once your pup can stay for a little while with you standing by her, you need to add some distance to the equation. Put her into her stay, then take a step or two backward (it’s best to start be moving backward, as if you turn away, your pup is more likely to follow you), before stepping back toward her, praising her, giving her a treat and giving the release command. From here on out, there’s no tried and true formula. All you can do is gradually increase the amount time your dog has to stay for and how far away you get from her. This process can get a bit tedious, for you and your pooch, so make sure you don’t push her beyond her skill level or past her attention span.

Adding Distractions

It’s all very well staying still while there’s nothing going on, but you want your puppy to be able to hold her stay no matter what. Once she can stay indefinitely, with you some distance away from her, it’s time to add in some distractions. Start out small, for instance, having other members of the household moving or eating nearby. Eventually, she should be able to start even when you’re bouncing a ball or squeaking her favorite toy.

What if She Doesn’t Stay?

If your pup makes a mistake and gets up from her stay, don’t get frustrated. It’s a learning process so it can take a little while. Simply ask her to sit or lie again and repeat the stay command. Give her a short, simple stay that you know she can ace so that it builds back up her confidence. If she keeps missing the mark, you should consider whether she’s bored or tired and needs a break from her training. Pushing her or moving too fast will only discourage her.

loznnolaLauren Corona is a freelance writer from merry old England. She specializes in writing about dogs and other critters. Lauren lives near Oxford, with her gorgeous Doberman, Nola. When she’s not tapping away at the keyboard, you’ll find her walking in the woods with Nola-dog, raising money for the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, cooking vegan food, making zines and writing about herself in the third person.