The Beginner’s Guide to Sit and Stay
Sit and stay are the foundation of training your dog. While these are relatively simple commands, they require a good deal of time and patience. But the reward is well worth it. Sit and stay help to teach your pup good manners, and they can play an important role in keeping your pet safe while he explores the world. How can you get started on teaching these two behaviors?
- Help your dog get into a sitting position. Pick some tasty treats that your dog enjoys and keep them handy during training sessions. Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose and slowly lift it upward. Your dog will follow the treat, allowing her back end to head toward the floor. Once she sits, hand over the treat and some praise.
- Allow them to get up. Your dog will need to know when it is ok to leave the sitting position. After you have handed over the treat, you can walk away and call them to follow. You also have the option of tossing a treat that they will need to walk to get.
- Practice. Early on in training, dogs will likely decide on their own when they are done sitting. Exercise some patience and keep working with your pet. Eventually, she will associate sitting with a treat. At this point, you can begin to phase out the treats. Instead, lift your empty hand to signal it is time to sit.
- Add the verbal command. When your dog reliably sits with your hand signal, you can add the verbal command. Over time, your pup will learn to respond solely to the word “sit.”
- Understand your goals. How long do you want your dog to stay? Do you want your pup to sit quietly and wait for a few moments while you go to another room, or do you want your dog to stay for a longer period? Keep your training goals in mind while you work with your dog.
- Get the proper training tools. Treats will come in handy again. You may also find a long leash useful while working on the stay and release commands. A release command is the word you use to let your dog know it is ok to leave the stay position.
- Start small. Your dog probably loves to follow you around the house, which means long distance stays are not the place to start. Begin with a simple command to sit or lie down. Hold your hand up in a stop position. Associate this hand motion with the word stay. Use the command and hand motion while your dog is sitting or lying down. Wait, and then hand over the treat.
- Increase the distance. As your dog connects the word “stay” with a treat, you can gradually increase the distance.
- Train with distractions. Your dog might find it easy to stay in the familiar environment of your home, but it is important to train in different places. Try sit and stay at a fenced-in park or out in your backyard. The ultimate goal is for your dog to stay even if there are distractions, like interesting smells, sounds, or other dogs.