This cue can come after any other stationary cue – usually, we use it with ‘sit’ and ‘down’. The cue ‘stay’ tells the dog to keep its position until being told otherwise or until he/she is being clicked and treated (the click ends the behavior). There are three variables to work with: duration, distance, distractions.
- Prepare in advance a clicker and some highly reinforcing treats.
- when your dog is either in a sit or a down position, say the cue ‘stay’ wait 1 second and click and treat.
- Say the word ‘stay’ again (remember that your last click ended the previous exercise) and again, wait 1-2 seconds, click and treat.
- Repeat steps 2,3 while gradually increasing the duration of stay needed before the click and the treat. Try to get to 10-15 seconds before continuing to the next step.
- Now, we can start working on distance: say ‘stay’ and move 1 step back – click and treat immediately. Repeat several times.
- say ‘stay’ and take 2 steps back – if the dog stays – click and treat – if not, you need lower your expectations and take only a step or a step and a half back before the click and the treat. Try to get to a distance of 8-10 steps back before continuing t the next step.
- Start moving in various directions – back, sides, front, behind the dog, with your back to the dog. You will notice that the behavior deteriorates and that you need to go back to basics when you do that – that’s normal.
- When the dog does respond well to the cue you can start adding distractions. At the beginning make the distractions low key, like another quiet person in the room, an unmovable toy, etc. gradually, you can make the distractions more distracting – a person dribbling a ball or jumping up and down, a ball being thrown on the ground, etc.