Here at the dog hotel and also at most boarding kennels, a very important skill amongst both dog boarding guests and dog daycare regulars is that of wait and stay.
Many pet parents when trying to teach a dog to stay and wait, expect too much, too soon from their dogs – the key is to start very slowly.
You’re trying to achieve two things: firstly, that your dog will remain in a position for longer, and secondly , that you can move away from your dog without him moving.
You mustn’t just walk off into the countryside and expect them not to follow – remember most of the work you’ve done up to this point has been about making sure they stay with you.
Having a dog who will stay where you put them is a wonderful step towards safety, and added enjoyment of your time together. It means you can stop them from jumping out of your car as soon as you open the door. It also means you can get them to be patient when you stop to talk to someone you meet while walking. Teaching your dog to do this can be easy – but it’s also very easy to inadvertently get it wrong. The difference between a stay and a wait is that in a stay your dog remains where he is until you return and release him.
In a wait command your dog waits where he is until you tell him to do something different.
Here are few of the do’s and don’t of teaching your dog to stay and wait.
Do start teaching this command while on a leash for safety.
Do stand close to your dog.
Do get them into a comfortable position, even laying down.
Do only move half a step away at a time.
Don’t move too far away too quickly.
Don’t take your focus off the dog while training ( ie keep eye contact).
Tip: The stay and wait commands are easiest to teach when your dog is tired and listening to you, possibly after a long walk. When your dog is full of energy and first arrives at the dog park, all they will want to do is run off and have fun.
Plan to teach
1. Practice stay and wait with your dog is in the down position. It is slightly more difficult for your dog to get up then it is to take a step forward from a standing position. Make sure your dog has mastered the down command before using it as part of the stay routine. Remember you need to be able to walk before you can run, sit before you stand and remain down before you stay.
2. Aim to build up both time and distance slowly. Don’t try to build up both of these at once – you are decreasing the likelihood of success as you are expecting far too much at once. First build up time and then add distance. Staying for a minute in a down position while you stand right next to your dog is as much a part of learning to stay, as walking away is. Ask your dog for a down and then delay giving them a reward. Make them wait 10 seconds before rewarding them.
3. Slowly increase the time. Now start adding movement. Not moving away but moving from foot to foot and rewarding them for staying while you shuffle. Try waiting a moment longer before rewarding.
4. Keep building up the time your dog waits for the reward before eventually adding steps back.
This is a gradual process that should be taught repeatedly over time.
5. When not rewarding your dog you are keeping them focused with the appropriate hand signal. Use your hand like a stop sign to underline the wait and stay commands. This will be the very opposite of the opening and welcome body language associated with the “come” command.
6. Possibly the most common mistake is made when rewarding for stay. Make sure you return to your dog and the position they have held to reward them. Do not inadvertently reward them for “breaking” the stay by having them come to you at the end of the exercise.
For us here at the Royal Pet Hotel the importance of this command can be found in the safety it represents for our vacationing guests (dog boarding) and our dog daycare attendees. Just one example is being able to establish a safe environment prior to both door and gate exposure and is equally important at home as it is when at a boarding kennel.