How To Teach A Dog To Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Teaching your dog to stay is not just about obedience, but it is also about safety. A well-trained dog is less likely to run into danger, cause trouble, or get into trouble. So how to teach a dog to stay?

Stay commands assist your dog control their impulsivity and becoming more composed in all circumstances since dogs’ impulsivity can sometimes go too far when motivated by their sense of security or care for those around them.

This guide is designed to provide you with all the information you need to teach your dog to stay, so you can have a happy, healthy, and obedient pet.

Understanding The Stay Command

What Does The Stay Command Mean?

The stay command teaches your pup to stay put until released. Your dog’s safety and loyalty depend on this command. Teaching your pup to stay while crossing a busy road or waiting for you at home prevents them from racing off or getting into peril.

To train your dog to stay, use positive rewards. Follow this step-by-step “how to teach a dog to stay” plan to teach your canine this useful skill and become a well-behaved and loyal partner. Your pup will learn the stay command with care.

Why Is The Stay Command Important?

To keep your dog safe and well-behaved, teach them the stay command. Teach your pup to stay to avoid risky scenarios like approaching an aggressive animal. The stay command can also improve your connection with your pet by teaching them to trust and rely on you. Training your dog the stay command can also help them behave better in other parts of their life. With constancy, care, and positive reinforcement, your dog will learn the stay command and how to respond.

How To Use The Stay Command In Everyday Life?

Since it’s useful in many scenarios, your dog should learn the stay command. When leaving the home, use the stay command. By instructing your dog to stay put while you get your keys and shoes, you can prevent them from rushing out the door and getting lost or hurt.

When at a busy park or event, use the stay command. To prevent your dog from begging for food or jumping on guests, use the stay command during mealtimes and visits.

When To Start Training Your Dog?

Age Of The Dog

Training your dog should start as early as possible, regardless of their age. Puppies, for instance, are like sponges, and they can absorb information very quickly. However, this doesn’t mean that adult dogs cannot learn new tricks. Consistency is key when it comes to training your furry friend, and it’s never too late to start.

The Importance Of Consistency

Whether you’re training a puppy or an adult dog, the key is to be consistent with your training methods and expectations. By following the step-by-step guide in this comprehensive “how to teach a dog to stay” guide, you can ensure that your furry friend learns this essential skill, regardless of their age.

Training Environment

The training environment is crucial in the success of the training process. It is best to start training in a quiet and distraction-free environment, and as your dog becomes more proficient in their training, gradually increase the level of distractions.

Teaching a Dog to Stay Step-by-step

Make sure your pup knows “sit” and “come” before teaching it to stay. These orders will help your pup comprehend what’s required of it.

The owner is given the “stay” command to the dogs, who will all receive the same instructions

Train a dog to become such a better dog, also takes information and direction. We’ll go over the steps to effectively training your dog to comply with the “stay” command.

Step 1

To begin the session, choose one of the peaceful areas

When you start training your dog, you must have a quiet and safe environment. Distractions including sounds, movements, and smells can no longer interfere with your dog’s training session thanks to the new silent zone.

Start with a simple sit command. Teach your dog to sit on command first. Reward your dog with treats or praise every time they obey your command.

Step 2

Once your pooch is comfortable with the “sit” command, have them get into their starting position and give them compliments for a job well done. Then clearly state ‘Stay’, followed by an attention-grabbing flat palm hand signal to emphasize it – while using a firm yet friendly tone of voice. As soon as they stay in place, quickly offer rewards before they break away from this positive reinforcement training!

It’s important to act fast with this activity, so be sure you have the routine down pat before introducing your pup. Ensure that they stay seated five times in a row – and only then move on to the next challenge!

Step 3

Repeat the above steps with one additional variation:

  • Remove your hand signal
  • Diverge eye contact by looking away from your pup, reward again.

Eye contact is a dog’s strongest focus, making it the best way to test their ability to stay put. You can progress to more complex training once your dog has learned this skill!

Step 4

You ask your dog to sit again, but this time you allow them to stay longer. Before increasing the length, your pup should keep put for at least five times. Repeat, steadily adding two to three seconds each time.

Some dogs can keep the pose for 30 seconds, while others only last a second. Thus, every time you train, record the length you’re increasing to. If your pup moves, you may have increased time too rapidly. Restart with a reduced time span.

Don’t forget their reward after executing the “stay” command until they complete the required number of seconds.

Step 5

Take a step back. Once your dog has understood the “stay” command, take a step back from your pet while saying “stay.”

Each time you ask to stay and take a step back, if your dog stays in place, return to reward him with the training snacks you did, and give him praise and pats on the head.

As your pup masters the stay command, challenge them further by gradually increasing their distance from you – adding more steps to strengthen their resolve!

Step 6

Once your dog has mastered staying put, start adding distractions into the mix. Such as:

  • Have someone ring the doorbell
  • Throw a ball near your dog
  • Put toys nearby
  • Dance around them

To test your dog’s impulse control while it is in the “stay” position.

Step 7

Once your dog is comfortable being asked to “stay” in a familiar environment, let begin to practice in new locations, such as the kitchen, living room, garden, or your neighbor’s, friend’s.

By repeatedly saying “stay”, you give the dogs more opportunity to become used to the order. You can also teach your dog the release command, like ‘OK’, “come” or “okay”, to let them know that they can leave the stay. Reward them with treats or praise for a job well done.

As with the other steps, build up slowly and restart if habits slip.

Tips And Tricks For Perfecting The Stay Command

  • To master the stay command, there are some key tips and tricks to bear in mind.
  • Start training your dog to stay in a calm and quiet environment free from distractions.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and toys to encourage your dog to stay in position for longer periods.
  • Breaking up dog stay training into fewer periods makes it easier. It’s best to have several 15-minute exercise periods per day.
  • As your dog improves their stay command, you can slowly increase the distance between yourself and your furry friend, and lengthen the duration of their stay.
  • Vary the duration of the stay command so that your dog doesn’t get too used to staying in one position for a set amount of time.
  • Consistency is key when it comes to dog training. It’s important to avoid negative reinforcement techniques such as yelling or punishment, as these can create feelings of anxiety and stress in your furry friend.
  • Leads, clickers, and other teaching aids are used to teach the pup to stay.

By following these techniques and strategies, you can effectively teach your furry friend to remain in position on your command, and reap the rewards of having a well-trained companion.

Readmore: List of Dog Training Commands – From Basic to Advanced

Create a Definite Beginning and a Definite Ending

The first and foremost regulation for teaching your dog the “stay” command is to establish a clear beginning and end. This entails coupling your “stay” command with a specific release word that indicates to your dog that the “stay” has concluded. Popular release words include “OK,” “Free,” “Release,” and “All Done.” It is important to choose one release word and consistently use it to signify the end of the “stay” command.

To teach your dog the release word, place them in a sit, down, or stand position according to your preference. Next, issue the “stay” command, and immediately follow it up with your chosen release word and reward your dog. Do not worry if your dog does not move after hearing the release word. You can step back, clap your hands, or engage in positive interaction to indicate that it is now acceptable to move.

While training your dog to stay, be aware of these common errors that can impede progress:

  • Avoid issuing the “stay” command while holding food in your hand, as this may only entice your dog to follow you.
  • Refrain from constantly calling your dog to come to you from a stay position, as this may cause them to anticipate a recall. Instead, practice by leaving your dog in a stay position and returning to them before issuing the release word.


Dogs possess a unique talent to help us stay in the present moment, which is one of the reasons we cherish them. But at the same time, their tendency to get distracted or break their stay without any apparent reason is also a common occurrence. That’s why proofing is a crucial step in training the stay for reliability in various situations.

  • To proof for duration: it’s important to understand that dogs can sense if we’re paying attention to them or not, regardless of proximity. So, practice asking your dog to stay while you do different activities like reading, watching TV, or cooking. Reward your dog at varying intervals, but make sure to release them only after giving the release word.
  • To proof for distance: start by moving away from your dog at different angles, leaving to the side, diagonally, or even going behind them. When practicing out of sight stays, use a mirror to see your dog around corners. You can either angle a wall mirror or use a hand mirror discreetly.
  • Proofing for distractions: can be challenging, but it’s essential to start slowly and gradually increase the level of difficulty. Try bouncing or rolling a ball near your dog while they’re on a stay, jumping up and down, or even running past them. One helpful technique is to use the “leave it” command during the stay. Remind your dog to stay and to ignore distractions like toys.

Remember, it’s crucial to start with simple proofing exercises and gradually increase the level of difficulty. With consistent practice and positive reinforcement, your dog can learn to stay reliably in a variety of situations.

Keep in Mind 3D’s When Teaching Your Dogs To Stay

Once you have successfully paired a release word with your stay command, you can proceed to the next stage of training, known as the Three D’s: Duration, Distance, and Distractions. These include your dog’s stay, distance, and distractions.


Duration refers to the length of time your dog remains in a stay position. To begin, position your dog in a sit, down, or stand and give the stay command. Count to three before releasing your dog using the chosen release word. Slowly lengthen the stay. If your dog breaks the stay, reset and ask them to stay for a shorter period in which they were successful.


Distance involves moving away from your dog. It is important not to rush this stage of training. Begin by stepping back with one foot and leaning away before returning to your dog to release and reward them. Step-by-step, expand the distance. Remember not to hold food in the hand that gives the stay command and to always return to your dog before releasing them. Avoid always calling your dog out of a stay.


Distractions can be anything that happens during your dog’s stay, big or small. It is essential to have a solid foundation in release word, stay duration, and distance before adding distractions. Start with easy distractions at home or in the backyard and gradually work up to more challenging distractions in different environments. One effective technique is to use high-value treats as rewards when introducing and increasing distractions.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Teaching Dogs To Stay

Training your dog to stay can be challenging, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Rushing the training process: Teaching your dog to stay requires patience, and it’s crucial to take things one step at a time.
  • Not using positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is the key to success when it comes to dog training. Always reward your pet when they obey your commands.
  • Punishing the dog: Punishing your dog for not obeying your commands is not an effective way to train them.
  • Inconsistency: Consistency is essential in dog training. If you’re not consistent with your commands, your dog will not learn
  • Not gradually increasing the difficulty: If you always practice the stay command in the same spot, your dog may struggle when asked to stay in a different environment.

The benefits of having a dog that knows how to stay

Training your pup to stay can improve your connection and benefit both of you. Staying dogs have these benefits:

  • Increased safety: Teaching your dog to stay can keep them safe in hazardous situations such as crossing a busy street or approaching strangers.
  • Better behavior: A dog that knows how to stay is more likely to exhibit better behavior overall. This skill can help your dog become more disciplined, responsive, and well-behaved in various settings.
  • Better socialization: A well-trained dog that stays is more likely to be accepted by other dogs and people, making it easier to go out and socialize.
  • Better communication: Teaching your dog to stay is an excellent way to enhance communication between you and your pet. Your pup will learn to follow your commands, making it easier to bond with him.
  • Increased confidence: Teaching your dog to stay can boost their confidence and independence. Your pup will be more confident and happy after learning this skill.

In conclusion, teaching your dog to stay is an essential skill that provides numerous benefits for both you and your furry friend. With patience and practice, anyone can learn how to teach their dog to stay and enjoy the many advantages of having a well-trained pet.

Troubleshooting When Teaching Dogs To Stay

Even the most well-behaved dogs can struggle with stay training. To help you through this process, we’ve listed some common obstacles pet owners face when training their pets to stay, along with some useful remedies.

Your Dog Keeps Moving

Getting your dog to stay in one place can be a challenging aspect of teaching the “stay” command. Due to their high energy levels, many dogs have trouble staying still. Additionally, some dogs get easily distracted and tend to wander around, exploring their surroundings, rather than staying in one place.

Solution: To help your dog stay in one place, start by practicing in a quiet, low-distraction environment. Reward your dog with a treat or praise each time they stay in place for a short period. Gradually increase the duration of the stay over time. You can also use leashes and tethers to help dogs stay placed.

Your Dog Won’t Stay When You’re Out of Sight

Pet owners often struggle to teach their pets to stay because they walk around when they’re not around. Some dogs may feel insecure and require constant visibility from their owner to stay put.

Solution: To address this issue, start by practicing in a closed room with your dog. Begin with short periods of time when you’re out of sight, and reward your dog each time they remain in place. Gradually increase the duration of time you’re out of sight. If your dog gets up and moves around, bring them back to their spot in a calm manner and try again. With consistency and patience, your dog will eventually learn to stay put even when you’re not within sight.

Your Dog Breaks the Stay When Distracted

Dogs can get easily distracted by sounds, smells, or other animals, which can cause them to break their stay.

Solution: To help your dog stay focused, practice in a low-distraction environment and gradually increase the level of distraction. Start by having someone walk by in the distance, and gradually work up to having someone walk by close to your dog. Reward your dog each time they stay in place, even if they’re distracted. You can also practice teaching your dog to “watch me” or “focus” to help them stay focused on you.

Your Dog Won’t Stay in New Environments

Some dogs will only stay in place in familiar environments, and as soon as they’re in a new place, they become too distracted or nervous to stay in place.

Solution: To help your dog stay in new environments, start by practicing in a low-distraction area and gradually work up to more distracting environments. It’s essential to reward your dog every time they remain in place, even if it’s only for a short duration. You can also use a hand motion to teach your pup to stay in spot despite of their surroundings.


Teaching your dog how to stay is an essential command that will ensure their safety and your peace of mind. With consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement, your furry friend can learn to stay in no time.

Remember to start with short training sessions and gradually increase the duration and distance, always using positive reinforcement as the primary training method. Introducing distractions will reinforce the stay command, but be sure to start with mild distractions and gradually increase the difficulty.

By following the step-by-step guide in this comprehensive How To Teach A Dog To Stay guide, you’ll be able to teach your furry friend the valuable skill of staying put on command.

FAQs Of How To Teach A Dog To Stay

What if my dog doesn’t stay?

If your dog doesn’t stay, it’s likely that you’re increasing the difficulty too quickly. Go back to shorter durations and distances and gradually build up to longer periods and distances.

How long does a dog learn to stay?

How long it takes to train your dog to stay depends on its type, age, and disposition. However, with consistency and positive reinforcement, most dogs can learn to stay within a few weeks.

Can I train an older dog to stay?

It may take longer for them to learn as they may have already developed habits that are difficult to break. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are crucial when training an older dog.

What’s the best age to start training my dog to stay?

The earlier, the better. You can start training your dog as early as 7 to 8 weeks old.

Can I train my dog to stay on my own?

It’s possible to teach your pup to stay on your own, but you’ll need patience and study.

How often should I practice training my dog to stay?

Consistency is key when training your dog to stay. You should practice this command every day, for short periods of time. You can gradually increase the distance and time as your dog becomes more comfortable with the command.

Should I use treats to train my dog to stay?

Treats can be a useful tool for training your dog to stay. You can use treats to reward your dog for good behavior and encourage it to stay in position.

Can I use another command word instead of stay?

You can use any word you want for the stay cue since your dog doesn’t know what the word means before you start training. However, our experts recommend using a short word or phrase and being consistent when using it to avoid confusion. The same goes for your release word.