The doorbell rings. Lola starts frantically barking, jumping, and clawing to get the door open. You howl, “Lola, sit... stay. Stay! STAY!!” to no avail. Sound familiar?
If so, it’s time to give your dog’s Stay a makeover. Many dogs learn to stay when it’s convenient for them. This may include waiting politely while you prepare her food or standing still for brushing. But when your dog is faced with an intense distraction, such as a ringing doorbell or food that’s fallen from the table, Stay becomes much harder for her to maintain.
Nailing these more challenging Stays starts with teaching relatively easy ones and gradually working your way up to high level distractions. We’re going to follow the popular method of teaching Stay using the Three D’s: Duration, Distance, and Distraction. This method isolates one variable (or “D”) at a time, so your dog won’t get overwhelmed or stressed.
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Phase 1: Duration
This is an important warmup for the more challenging Stays ahead.
Phase 2: Distance
Now for the fun stuff. You will walk away from your dog while she is in the Stay position.
Phase 3: Distraction
You can practice with any distraction by introducing it at a low intensity first, then gradually building it up. Here’s an example of having your dog stay while you pick up food that’s fallen.
By practicing at a slow and steady pace, your dog will learn Stay no matter what kind of distraction he encounters. Remember that developing impulse control is a lot of work for a dog, so reward him sufficiently for a job well done!
This article originally appeared here at petguide.com.
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant and certified dog trainer in Brooklyn, NY with Doggie Academy and in Southbury, CT.