Last week I was in Cherokee County with a new Home Dog Training client and his Basenji named Gracie.  It was our second lesson and she and Gracie were doing just great.  Gracie was now giving my client clear and respectful focus.  The bond between them was tightening and it was obvious that they were building a great relationship.  The one thing that my client was having some problems with was the “Stay” command.  She told me that Gracie just didn’t seem to get it and both of them were becoming frustrated.  She needed my help in figuring out what was going wrong.

The great news that I had for my client was that she and Gracie had established their “teacher/student relationship”.  This was because she could easily get Gracie’s respectful focus when she required to tell Gracie what needed to be done.  This is always the most difficult part of obedience or behavioral dog training.  She now needs to build the appropriate lesson plan to have Gracie understand “Stay”.

All lesson plans start at a point where the student understands what they need to do.  They then proceed with small, measurable steps that encourage and educate the student in the direction of the final lesson.  The lesson plan ends when the student has accomplished the final goal of the plan.  This is true for us when we learned Algebra and Calculus.  It is equally valid for my client teaching Gracie how to Stay.

First, we need to establish “how much Gracie understands about Stay”.  I asked my client if Gracie could always sit on command.  She told me that Gracie was great with the Sit command.  Bingo, that is where we will start.

Now, we simply needed to put together the measurable steps from Sit to Stay.  I outlined the following steps for my client:

  • Have Gracie on a six-foot leash. Stand next to her and put her in a Sit.  (Gracie already knows this, so here is our beginning point).
  • Now, calmly and slowly step directly in front of Gracie. Hold out your hand and say “Stay”.  This would look just like a traffic cop stopping traffic in the middle of an intersection.
  • Wait for five seconds while Gracie remains stable.
  • Then, step back to her side and praise her in a high pitched, pleasant voice.
  • Repeat the above process until Gracie is always stable.
  • Extend the time you are standing in front of Gracie from five seconds to approximately twenty seconds. This can be done slowly over a day or two.

Now, we are ready to move on to our next level…

  • Have Gracie in a Sit/Stay as you are standing directly in front of her with your hand extended.
  • Now, slowly step backwards until you reach the end of the leash. Keep your hand extended in the “traffic cop stance”.
  • Be sure not to tug the leash as you back up because that would give a false suggestion of “come”.
  • Once you reach the end of the leash (approximately six feed in front of her), pause for five seconds.
  • If Gracie moves, return to standing next to her and start the process again.
  • Once you can have Gracie in a Sit/Stay, back away from her (directly ahead of her), and stand there for five seconds without her moving; slowly return to standing right in front of her, turn so that you are at her side, and praise her in a high, pleasant voice.
  • Repeat the above process, extending the time you are at the end of the leash until you can be at the end of the leash for about twenty to thirty seconds.

Now, we are ready for step three…

  • Repeat the above process until you are standing at the end of the leash with Gracie in a Sit/Stay and she is not moving.
  • Now, slowly walk to your right in a semi-circle around Gracie until you are directly on her left side. Always stay the consistent six feet away from her.
  • Wait there for about five seconds.
  • Now, start to proceed to your left in the reverse semi-circle until you are in front of her again. Do not stop there, continue to your left in the reverse semi-circle until you are directly on her right.
  • Wait there for about five seconds.
  • Now, move back in your semi-circle until you are in front of her again. Wait momentarily.  Remember, you are still at the extent of the leash approximately six feet away.
  • Approach her, turn and stand next to her, and then praise her in a high, calming voice.
  • If she breaks her Sit/Stay at any time during this process, start over from the beginning.
  • Repeat this exercise until she calmly watches you and stays in her spot.

Here comes step four…

  • Repeat the above process. The big difference here is that you are not going to stop when you are directly in your semi-circle on her left side.
  • Continue to circle her with your semi-circle. You will go in back of her and then appear again on her right side.
  • You will continue until you have gone 360 degrees and are now standing in front of her again at the end of the leash.
  • Wait a moment and then move back to her, turn and stand next to her, and now praise her in a high and soothing voice.
  • If she “breaks her sit/stay”, go back to the beginning and repeat the process.

Step five is next…

  • Once you can walk around her and she never moves, you are ready for the final step.
  • Put her in a sit/stay as you face her.
  • Now, drop the leash and slowly back away from her.
  • Keep her in your sight as you continue to face her and move to a far end of the room. Make sure that she keeps focus on you.
  • Be sure that you continue to have your hand raised (like the traffic cop).
  • If she begins to move, give her a small correction sound (i.e. Cesar Milan’s “shhht”, a low guttural “No”, “eh-eh”, etc.)
  • Move back to her and then praise her with a high pitched, calming voice.
  • Continue this process, going to different parts of the room while she is in a Sit/Stay.
  • If she moves, return to her side and begin again.

During any of these steps, if Gracie is “simply not getting it”, move back a step until she is being successful.  Once successful, move back up the linear steps towards completion.  Consistency and repetition is key.  It is always important to remember that success is not measured by speed.  It is measured by clear and positive results.

Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Cherokee County Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Cherokee County Georgia.