Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Useful Dog Training: "Stay"

Have you ever been in obedience class and caught yourself thinking, "this is great, but what's the point???"  It's a fair enough question.  In general, anything (positive) you teach your dog is beneficial, because it increases the bond, communication and respect between you and your dog.  But some training may be beneficial in ways that aren't readily apparent.

"Stay" is a great example of a useful command.  Maybe when you started training you had grand expectations of being able to tell your dog "stay" and then parade around the house doing chores, walk down the street to the mailbox, return home and do some yoga, all while your obedient dog remained frozen in place where you left him.  And maybe you now think that "stay" is a useless command - after all, how many chores can you get done when you are stuck at the end of a 6-foot leash praising and reminding your dog that he should stay put?

In reality, if you don't teach your dog how to "stay" beyond what is learned in a 15-minute lesson at basic obedience class, then no, you probably won't get much use out of the command.  However, turning "stay" into a really useful command isn't that difficult and it probably isn't far out of reach.

The key to turning "stay" into a command you can be proud of is working on 3 things:


Gradually work on improving each one, making sure you go at your dog's pace.  If he's not successful 90% (or more) of the time then you're moving too fast.  Also, try to work on one skill at a time.  Want to work on increasing the distractions your dog can tolerate without breaking his stay?  Don't ask him to ignore temptations for 5 minutes in a row, even if he can hold the stay for 5 minutes without a lot of distractions (consider releasing him after only a minute instead).

So what do you get for all your hard work?  Lots of things!  "Stay" can keep your dog in the bathtub while you grab the towels you accidentally left on the counter.  It can be used in an emergency if you drop a glass and need to prevent cut paws while you clean the mess.  And my favorite this month, "stay" can help you get some great holiday photos.  How many uses can you think of?  Over the next week think about how many opportunities you would have to use the command "stay" if only your dog could do it.  Then give your dog the gift of some time spent training.  You'll enjoy the journey and the destination!

Merry Christmas from Pistol

 Yes, he got a cookie for tolerating the photo shoot!

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