How to Train a Dog to Stay When Commanded: Basic Dog Training and Obedience - Teaching Dogs to "Stay"

November 16, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

Training a dog to stay when commanded is a process which requires time, patience and persistence. However, training a dog to stay when commanded is also a fairly simple process.

Training a dog to stay can make managing the dog's behavior much simpler and easier for a dog owner. By training a dog to stay on command, a dog owner can command the dog to stay and settle down when the dog becomes too active and when the dog is exhibiting undesirable behavior.

How to Train a Dog to Stay - Choosing the Proper Time and Place to Train the Dog

Effective dog training and obedience requires a quiet, calm location where the dog can concentrate on the handler alone, without distraction.

The dog must be calm, relaxed and focused in order to effectively train the dog to obey any command. Do not try to train your dog to stay on command when your dog is excited or upset.

How to Train a Dog to Stay - The First Steps

Start by commanding the dog to sit and focus his attention on you. Do not give the dog a treat or reward yet. Doing so indicates to the dog that he has completed the task being asked of him.


Once the dog is seated and focusing his attention on you, hold your hand directly in front of you and say "stay." Then move to the side of the dog, walk behind the dog. Do not walk away from the dog at this point. Reward the dog when he stays as commanded.

Once the dog is staying in place as you walk around him, command the dog to "stay" and walk a step or two away from the dog. If the dog gets up and tries to follow, return the dog to the original location, again command him to sit and focus on you and then repeat the command to stay along with the hand signal.

Keep repeating this procedure until the dog remains seated while you walk a step or two away. In the beginning, ask the dog to stay only for a short time, perhaps for 15-20 seconds. Then reward the dog with a favorite food treat, toy or other reward.

How to Train a Dog to Stay - Asking More from the Dog

Once the dog is sitting and staying when you move a few steps away for a short time, it is time to move on to the next step in training the dog to stay. Try increasing the distance. Ask the dog to sit and stay as previously, but this time, move a few yards away from the dog. When the dog remains in a sitting position and does not move, reward him as before.

As the dog begins to learn the command, increasing the time the dog is expected to stay can be accomplished as well. Go slow and gradually increase the length of time required for the dog to stay.

As the dog's training progresses, it should be possible for you walk out of the room for a short period of time while still having the dog remain in a seated position without moving.

Additional Tips for Successfully Training a Dog to Stay

Basic dog training for any command will be more successful when some basic techniques are used.

  • When training a dog to perform any task, be generous with treats and rewards.
  • Keep training sessions short but frequent. Dog training sessions of 10-15 minutes several times daily are usually effective.
  • Make training sessions fun for the dog.
  • If the dog does not perform as commanded, do not punish the dog. Simply do not reward him.
  • If your dog is in a dangerous or distracting situation, do not attempt to train him under these circumstances. Remove the dog from the situation as quickly as possible. Do not reward or punish. Resume training only when the dog is relaxed and calm again.

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