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Train Your Dog to Stay: Step-by-Step Guide of 2024

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Teaching your pup to stay can seem like a daunting task, but with a bit of patience and attention, it’s actually quite simple. To help you get started on the right paw, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide for training your dog to stay in 2023.

From giving hand signals and verbal commands to avoiding common pitfalls, our guide will have you teaching your four-legged friend how to remain stationary in no time!

Using positive reinforcement methods such as treats or praise from an early age will ensure that not only does your pooch learn quickly, but they’ll also enjoy their training sessions too!

Key Takeaways

how to train your dog to stay

  • Start teaching the stay command at a young age, before six months old.
  • Use positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise, from an early age.
  • Gradually increase the duration, distance, and distractions for the best results.
  • Be consistent with the release command and timing of rewards.

Teach Your Dog to Stay

Teach Your Dog to Stay
By using a hand signal and reward system, you can quickly teach your pup to recognize the stop sign and stick around when instructed – even with distractions!

To start, have your dog lie down then give them the hand signal for ‘stop’. Wait a few seconds before giving them their treat. Ensure that they stay in this position while saying ‘stay’ followed by praise or positive reinforcement.

Gradually increase how long they must stay in this position as well as how far away from you they should be during training sessions.

Be aware of any common pitfalls such as always calling them back after giving the command or having food on-hand at all times; these mistakes will only confuse your pet rather than help progress their understanding of what is expected from them during each session.

A release word is an essential part of teaching stay: ensure it’s something distinct like okay or free that won’t be confused with other everyday phrases but also easy enough for anyone else working with him/her to remember so there isn’t any confusion about when he/she can move again once given permission.

Lastly, use proofing methods such as duration (length), distance (away from owner), and distractions (people moving around, etc.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step-by-Step Guide
Training your dog to stay is a great way to ensure their safety. To start, ask your pup to lie down and then give them the hand signal for ‘stop’.

Ask Your Dog to Lie Down

Ask your pup to assume the ‘down’ position and give them a verbal cue along with a hand signal. Use positive reinforcement in the form of treats, regular sessions, and lots of praise for success! Give treats straight away after they stay still for an amount of time or perform tasks such as local park visits.

Incorporate hand signals like stopping signs when teaching the stay command; use verbal cues too! Keep it interesting and fun by varying distances, distractions, and duration so that your pup is always learning something new.

Reward successes as you go on this journey towards mastery – soon enough you’ll have an obedient pooch who listens to all instructions without hesitation!

Give a Hand Signal

Give a clear hand signal – like a ‘stop’ sign – to indicate the stay command, and your pup will understand what you’re asking them to do. Use Hand Signal Techniques, such as the palm of your hand facing up, fingers pointed at the dog, or one finger pointing towards the ground, for consistency in signaling.

Reward timing is key when teaching this skill – treat them immediately after they remain still for a few seconds or perform tasks successfully! Vary signal variations so that they don’t get bored with the same commands.

With regular practice and a strong foundation built from basics, your pooch will be able to execute reliable stays even at a distance!

Wait a Few Seconds

Before rewarding your pup, wait a few seconds to ensure they have followed the command. Positive reinforcement and time management are key for successful training. Use consistent commands and reward systems with hand signals – an important rule of the stay! The next step is to say ‘stay’ or common release words before giving treats as rewards.

Creating a full step-by-step plan is essential for properly teaching this skill to dogs.

Say Stay

Say the Stay command to your pup, then reward them with a treat when they obey. To create reliable stays for any distance, use positive reinforcement; increase stay duration and cues; maintain consistency in various environments; and add distractions gradually.

Half-steps, good technique, and understanding will help you achieve mastery over your dog’s safety and behavior.

Reward Your Dog

Reward your pup for obeying the stay command with a treat to reinforce good behavior and create reliable stays. Positive reinforcement, mental stimulation, time commitment, and patience are all important parts of training.

Helpful hints from dog trainers can help you master the art of staying in no time! Increase duration gradually in two-second intervals while adding distractions slowly; reward your dog throughout to maintain motivation.

Release Word

Release Word
Once you’ve taught your pup to stay, use a release word like OK or Free to signal the end of the command. Teaching consistency is key when it comes to using this release command – be sure that you always give it in the same way each time and at regular intervals.

For extra effectiveness, reward your dog immediately after they respond to the release word, as timing can play an important role here too.

When training any new behavior, start small and work up gradually over time. Reinforce behaviors such as staying for longer periods or from farther distances while minimizing distractions step by step.

Do this until they have completely mastered these skills before attempting more challenging situations, such as waiting calmly in the back of a car or outside a friend’s house, etcetera.

The science of canine cognition has shown us that dogs learn best under conditions where success is achievable. So make sure your expectations are realistic when teaching commands like ‘stay’. Practice at various angles and apply proofing techniques regularly throughout each session.

Keep things interesting by mixing up activities during training sessions. Focus on being present in every moment with positive reinforcement ready whenever needed.

Common Pitfalls

Common Pitfalls
Now that you know the basics of teaching your pup to stay, it’s important to be aware of common pitfalls so you can avoid them.

One mistake many owners make is giving the command with food in hand, which can distract and confuse your dog.

Another issue is always calling a dog back from a stay; instead, let them come to you once they’ve completed it successfully – this helps build their confidence and encourages repetition.

When practicing staying behavior at home or out in public places like parks or backyards, keep these tips in mind: practice consistency by using the same release word each time; gradually increase duration and distance between yourself and your pup for best results while avoiding distractions as much as possible; set up success by offering rewards before failure occurs; reward early for correct responses during practice sessions but don’t use treats every time!

With patience, dedication, consistency – and plenty of praise – you’ll soon see successful stays no matter what environment you’re training in.

Three D’s

Three D’s
Gaining an understanding of the Three D’s – duration, distance, and distractions – is essential for effectively teaching your dog to stay. By slowly increasing each element in duration, distance, or distraction during training sessions, you can help build their confidence and create a reliable behavior.

Regular practice will ensure that your pup can handle any situation with ease; remember to reward early successes while avoiding too many treats! With patience and dedication, you’ll be able to master the art of staying with your furry friend in no time.


Practice gradually increasing the length of time your pup holds the stay, starting with two to three-second intervals. Use positive reinforcement and brief verbal cues to reinforce success during practice sessions.

Implement a reward system for correct responses to encourage longer stays. If distractions arise, take note and adjust accordingly. Keep in mind common pitfalls such as offering treats every time or calling back from a stay prematurely.

As you build up various intervals of duration across different environments, provide plenty of positive feedback along the way. This will help you master this command. Ensure safety during training by using additional information from earlier steps.


Increase your pup’s skill in staying by slowly moving away from them at different angles. Practice progressively harder distances, rewarding successful practices. Notice body language to stay ahead of mistakes and encourage progression with plenty of praise! Distance training is often one of the most difficult behaviors for dogs to learn, but taking the time to increase distance gradually will help ensure that your dog’s stay is reliable in lots of different places around you.


Adding distractions to the mix is a great way to help your pup become an obedient adult; start with easy ones and work up from there. To make sure your pup stays focused, use positive reinforcement, cue words, and reward systems.

Increase distraction levels gradually for best results – like training aids or having someone else join in on the fun! Make sure you reward successes all along this journey so that when harder challenges come around, they’ll be prepared! With patience and consistency, your dog will soon master staying amidst any number of distractions.


Once you’ve mastered the Three D’s, it’s time to take your pup’s stay command to the next level with proofing. Proofing is an important part of training your dog and should be done consistently for successful results.

With positive reinforcement and a reward system in place, you can begin setting boundaries for how long or far away from you they’ll wait while staying.

Start by practicing small exercises like making them stay while walking around them or having someone else enter the room.

As always, consistency is key when teaching any new behavior, so make sure to practice regularly! With patience and dedication, soon enough both of you will have developed a reliable ‘Stay’ that stands up against even distractions like other people or animals nearby – giving everyone peace of mind when out on walks together!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for a dog to learn the stay command?

Learning the ‘stay’ command takes time and patience. As they say, practice makes perfect, so it’s important to be consistent with your training sessions.

What is the best age to start teaching a dog to stay?

Start teaching your pup to stay at a young age – before they reach six months old. With patience and consistency, you can use hand signals, verbal cues, treats, and practice sessions to make them masters of the command.

What are the best treats to use when teaching my dog the stay command?

The best treats for teaching your dog the stay command are ones that they really enjoy! High-value treats, such as cheese, chicken, or hot dogs, work well. Remember to give a treat immediately after your dog stays in position and gradually increase the time and distance between you.

Are there any safety precautions I should take when teaching my dog to stay?

When teaching your dog to stay, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Make sure you have a clear release word and use it consistently. Gradually increase the time and distance between you and your pup while they stay, as well as adding distractions slowly.

Are there any other commands I should teach my dog before teaching them to stay?

Yes, teaching your dog commands such as sit and come is important before teaching them to stay. Having these basic commands mastered will help you ensure a successful stay command and keep your pup safe.


Training your dog to stay is a useful command that can help keep them safe. While it may take some time to master, it’s important to take it slow and practice consistently. With patience and practice, your dog will soon understand the command and be able to stay in any situation.

Remember to reward your dog for success and always use a release word to signal the end of the stay. With the right tips and techniques, you’ll have your dog staying reliably in no time.

Although teaching the stay command may seem difficult, it can be a rewarding experience for both you and your pet. It can also help with training other commands and provide a sense of safety and security for your dog.

With patience and practice, you can easily train your dog to stay and reap the benefits of the command.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.