Stay Where You Are

Way back in 1976 I had gone to Nainital with my children and Goldy my favorite Labrador Retriever bitch. Goldy was a dual Champion (both in breed and obedience classes). She was extraordinarily intelligent too. On return at Kathgodam, the rail terminus there was a huge crowd as three trains were to depart at short intervals. Porters were scarce. I could manage one. But since we were four including my wife and two children we had tons of baggage. The porter said he will make two trips. Holding a babe in arms and other with her hand, my wife was finding it difficult to make way through the jostling crowd and locate the compartment. So I took a chance and just made Goldy Sit and Stay with the luggage remaining in the foyer and accompanied them. The porter dumped the baggage in the compartment and returned back for the next sortie. I had almost forgotten that I had left Goldy outside. In a few minutes he came panting to me, saying that my dog was very furious and was not allowing him to touch anything. Goldy was trained to Guard as well, but this time I had not asked her to Guard. I had just instructed her to stay where she was, so that I could come and take her with me. As soon as the porter approached and tried to lift the suitcases, she applied discretion and gave a loud bark with a menacing growl.
By the time I reached there I found a crowd had gathered around and Goldy was staring at them, red eyed, bewildered and growling with anger. So that no one dare come near my baggage or touch any item.
Teaching a dog to Stay has lots of utilities. For a puppy or a naughty adult it is a kind of remote control, when just a sharp Stay and your dog stay put.
Teaching your dog to Stay is as difficult as teaching your four year old kid to stay at one place. Both are so fidgety that it becomes almost impossible to enforce the training. Well in case of dogs it is all the more difficult. They are curious explorers. The moment left alone they start sniffing the air and suddenly locate some interesting smell and begin to look for it in the room or the park or where ever they are.
If you have carefully read my earlier blog ‘The Invisible Leash’, you will understand the basics easily. Entire training programme revolves around timely reward and correction. The method described in earlier blog was for ‘infants’ that is puppies up to three months old. The puppies may learn the command and even obey it perfectly, but as they grow older they become intelligent and know how to hoodwink the master. Therefore the simpler methods of show a treat and make him work do not help. At this age the pup is confident of his legs and knows well that he can outsmart you, therefore you have to be one up to prove that come what may he can not run away. 

Like humans, dogs too have a habit of breaking the discipline, specially if it forced upon the dog. Therefore first principle is to make the training sessions as lively as possible. Dogs can make out your mental state from your tone and expressions. In no case you should have a sullen face while attempting to train your dog. The methods of training have been devised after years of research and practical experience with a variety of dogs. Accordingly these are organized in a particular order. As a novice there can be two major problems in training your dog at this stage. First is that the dog comes willingly when called, but gets fidgety after receiving his reward. The other can be the dog trying to escape after reaching you. The remedy to both these problems lies in the command STAY.

The first step in the next phase of training is to make the dog stay at a place in a particular position. This teaches him to remain stationary at one place on command. The advantages are many-of course you have already read about how Goldy, my Labrador bitch guarded my baggage at the railway station instinctively, though she was ordered to Stay only. But in addition there are many advantages, for example a dog in the habit of charging at the visitors in the house can be controlled easily just by one command. Some dogs have the knack of sneaking out of the house a moment before the master is about to leave. From the master’s activity they know that he will leave shortly and sneak out-because they hate the idea of remaining locked up in the house. If such a dog is trained to stay, one has just ask the do to stay and the problem is over. This training also comes handy while teaching your dog to guard, fetch and bark on command.
The first thee commands you taught your dog were mechanical. It is natural for a dog to come to you even when not called. It is also natural for him to sit or go to down position just to relax. By teaching him to assume these positions on command you condition his reflexes and he begins to respond quickly and eagerly, somewhat like a child learning alphabets. Soon he develops of sense of learning and he looks forward for more. Same way a dog looks for more communication from you. 
As usual the training for stay also starts from the confines of a room. The basic purpose of starting from a room and use of a leash is to make the dog realize that come what may, he can not run away. Secondly the four walls of the room do not offer him much to sniff around. Once he learns the command and you also gain confidence and are able to draw his attention, you move to another venue in the house. The command for STAY is issued in a slightly different manner. For example to call him one has to say COME softly, without dragging the word. On the contrary, while making him stay, one has to use a sort of booming voice and drag the end part of STAY. This makes the dog stun for a few seconds. Those precious seconds are enough for your command to reach home. Let us practice the three commands in the order suggested.

Word of Command: STAY 

  • Take the dog to the room at the usual training time.
  • Attach the choke collar and leash.
  • Keep one end of the leash in your left hand and make the dog COME to you. As soon as he reaches in front ask him to SIT.
  • Now you have to move backwards and if you continue to hold the leash, dog may think you want him to COME. Let the leash fall on the ground without his notice. End of the leash should be near you.
  • Once he sits move two paces backwards, while dragging the command STAY. While moving use your right palm to signal him to stay, like a traffic cop.
  • The dog should not move from his position, while you remain two paces behind.
  • Repeat the command from your stationary position and count up to five.
  • If the dog remains sitting, go back to him and pat and praise him in sweetest tone.
  • In case the dog moves towards you or moves away, give a sharp jerk on the leash along with a sharp NO. The correction will set him right. Praise him if he stops.
  • Repeat the procedure.
  • In the next repetition count up to six.
  • Gradually increase the duration of stay. Once he remains in STAY position for two minutes, increase the distance between him and you.
  • Never call the dog to come to you from STAY position. Always go to him and praise him.
  • While still practicing in the room, move to different directions, while the dog remains in STAY.
  • The dog may get fidgety when you go behind him. If so use soothing words to keep him calm and in position.
  • Keep on increasing the duration each day.
  • Shift to other venues in the house after you are confident that he will not break the training.
  • Do not attempt to train him to STAY outside your house. The park or street may have other dogs to or things to distract him.
  • Let the leash and collar remain attached even as you reach the stage of dog staying for 10 minutes in your absence.
  • Your endeavor should be to reach this stage by 12th day of training.
  • Keep on revising the command each day as you proceed further.
  • Different dogs show different types of behavior while accepting this command. Each dog needs a particular approach. You have to understand and anticipate your dog’s reactions in time.
  • Please also note that all through this training as of now the dog will remain sitting.
  • Please finish the lesson with a pat on his chest and an OKAY. 

Once the dog has understood the command STAY, you will find that it is easy to control the dog. While he stays and you are out of sight, please ensure that you are within ‘eye-shot’, so as reach him quickly if need be. Dog should always get a feeling that he can not break away from the leash and you are always around. Later when he is fully trained this inculcation of feeling is very helpful.    

More By  :  V. K. Joshi (Bijji)

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Thank you Sudhir. I am glad that my blog helped you. Keep reading and commenting-that helps me too. Thanks again.

18-Jul-2013 03:28 AM

Comment Thanks for such a nice and informative article. I also posses a German spits and have trained it up to some extent, I learned something more about dogs from your article and shall apply it to my pet. Thanks again.

Sudhir Joshi
11-Jul-2013 12:47 PM

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