It is very important not to rush this as it will only frustrate you and teach your dog the definition of “stay” is getting up. Get your dog into a sit. Mark with a “yes” and then give quick flashes of the flat palm (stay hand signal) while simultaneously saying the word “stay”.
Count to two in your head, mark with a “yes” and reward with a treat or a chin rub. Repeat the hand signal only (NOT THE WORD), mark with a “yes” and reward. Practice this a few times a day in different areas of your house for a total of ten seconds at a time (five or so stay hand signals) close to your dog.. If your dog does break his stay, just give him the “sit” hand signal and the “stay” hand signal to gently tell him what you want, mark and reinforce. Do not repeat the verbal cue.
Make sure the treat you are rewarding with is not in the hand you are using to ask your dog to stay as it may cause him to get up. The hand signal is just a quick flash; you do not need to hold your hand out for your dog. It is simply a reminder to stay where he is.
Once you have 100% success (the dog is not frequently breaking the stay), you can add a few seconds in between the hand signal reminders. Slowly increase this time, maybe 15 seconds then 20, etc. Remember each time you bump up what you are asking of your dog, mark and reinforce to tell him how brilliant he is. If he continually gets up at six seconds you may need to reduce the time to allow him to be successful.
You can also do this as a “down”, however when properly teaching “stay”, if you instruct your dog to “sit” and “stay” and he lays down, that is not a “stay”. If your dog prefers to “stay” while laying down, be sure you tell him to “down” and “stay”. Got it? Good! We also love to use these while proofing a good “bed” cue, imagine if your dog stayed on his bed when the doorbell rang? Brilliant!
We love Dr. Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocols when teaching “stay”. Not only do they build up your dog’s endurance for distance, distraction and duration in methodical steps that actually allow your dog to succeed but they are great for building focus and relaxing troubled dogs. Links for specific exercises in MP3 or PDF formats. Please follow these to the letter, if your dog gets up every time, you are not teaching “stay”.
This photo is courtesy of my dear friend Nora. She takes amazing photos, you can catch her on Instgram by following snora88 or her rock star blog Second Hand City, she’s a gal of many talents.