How to Teach a Dog to Stay (Step-by-Step Video)

By 22nd September 2017Dog Training
how to teach a dog to stay

In this article, we’re going to show you how to teach a dog to stay.

Like ‘leave it’ and the recall, learning how to teach a dog to stay has the potential to save your dog from serious injury, and even death.

We have seen and heard about dogs getting hit by cars, attacked by other dogs and scaring the wits out of other people because they have lacked the ability to ‘stay’. 

This is a really important command so it’s worth spending the time with your dog to make sure you both get it right.

Because this cue is all about teaching your dog to have self-control, it can be challenging – especially if you have a puppy, so it’s best to teach your dog to stay AFTER she has learned how to sit and how to lie down.

Ready? Let’s start!

How to Stop a Dog Pulling on the LeadOK, OK we admit it,

The training methods we write about here at Pet Checkers aren’t our own.

They are the positive re-enforcement methods of world-renowned dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell.

You can find out about her on her website at or if you like her training methods like we do, you can buy her book from

How to Teach Your Dog to Stay, Step-by-Step

Step One: Increase the Duration

Start this training by holding your palm outwards, in front of your dog.
Hold your hand there for a few seconds and then reward her with a treat for her calmness and stillness.
Repeat the action until she responds reliably.
Now it’s time to add the word to the action. Keep repeating this action and add the word ‘stay’ as you put you hand up.
Hold it there for a few seconds and reward her attention with fuss and a treat.
Once you’ve got your dogs’ attention, start to increase the length of time you have her wait. Do this until she waits for at least a minute.

Once she’s waiting reliably for a minute or more, it’s time to start increasing your distance from her.

Step Two: Create Distance

Now it’s time to create some distance between you and your dog.

Ask her to ‘stay’ and take a single step back.
If she moves, set her back down in her original position and try again.
If she stays in place once you’ve taken a step back, return to her and reward her with some fuss and a treat.
Keep repeating this process until she is really good at staying in one place. Then, and only then, should you start to increase the number of steps you take backward.

Step Three: Increase the Distance

Now you have created a little bit of distance between you and your dog, it’s time to start increasing it.

Keep repeating the first two steps while gradually increasing the number of steps you take away from her. It’s important that you don’t increase the distance too far too quickly as she won’t get it.
If she moves or breaks her stay, set her back in her original position and build up the distance again until you can go as far as you want.
At this point, you’re still walking backwards while facing her.

Step Four: Vary Your Body Position

We’re going to make things harder for your dog now.

Ask your dog to ‘stay’ and half turn away from her, still looking at her and take a few steps away from her. Dogs like to follow us when we turn away from them so don’t turn on her fully too soon. She’s likely to forget everything she’s just learned and try to follow you.
Now walk to each side and around in circles.
When she is staying reliably, try turning your back on her fully and walking away.

Step Five: Proofing the Cue

Once your dog has made it this far and she ‘stays’ when you walk around her and turn your back on her, it’s time to make things even harder.

This is called proofing the cue.

Ask her to stay.
Run around her, behind her, side to side, forwards, backwards and away from her.
Throw toys around.
Go and hide out of sight.
Ring the doorbell or knock at the door.
When she stays, praise her and give her a treat.
If she stands up and moves around, set her back in her original position and try again.
If she’s just not getting it yet, take her back to the previous stage where she was successful and build up again from there.

Frequently Asked Questions

Training your dog to stay can be quite challenging as it doesn’t come naturally to her. They’re social animals and spend their time together instead of being separate.

So with that being said, don’t get frustrated if she breaks her stay – she wants to be with you. Her natural instinct is to follow you.

But, if you’re struggling, here are a few commonly asked questions;

“My Dog Won’t Stay When She’s Excited, How Do I Fix it?”

The ‘stay’ command is a difficult command to master because it takes impulse control and dogs are impulsive by nature.

The key is to have her master the cue in a quiet environment where there are no distractions first. Then build up the level of distractions SLOWLY.

So when she mastered it indoors, take her into the garden. Once she’s mastered that, take her somewhere new but quiet and build up from there.

Don’t expect too much too soon. Doing so will set her up to fail. Take your time and reward generously from compliance with either super tasty treats, her favorite toy or some enthusiastic praise.

Leave a Comment Below!

So, we’ve shown you how to teach a dog to stay and now it’s your turn.

Have a go and leave a comment below to let us know how you get, or to ask a question.

We love hearing from our readers and we’ll respond to every comment.

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