Does your dog need a better stay? If your stays need a bit of work, or if you’re training a young dog that doesn’t know stays yet, try these games to help increase your dog’s understanding of being still!
‘Treats from Above’ Sit Game
This game introduces the concept of staying in one position to the dog. Dogs generally catch onto the game very quickly, and you can add variations as you need.
The first step for the sit game is to either cue the sit or let the dog offer the sit. As soon as the dog sits, put your hand with a treat in it high above the dog’s head and quickly lower the treat toward the dog. If the dog jumps up toward the treat, raise your hand up away from the dog.
Watch your dog’s front feet – if both feet leave the ground the treat goes away from the dog.
You want the dog to understand that his jumping up caused the treat to go away. As soon as the dog sits again, the treat lowers toward the dog.
In the beginning stages, move fairly quickly with the treat so the dog can be successful, but it doesn’t take long for the dog to catch on.
You should find you’re able to raise criteria by slowing down the treat, and eventually moving it around and teasing the dog a little bit.
During this exercise take care to build on success, if your dog struggles always make it easier.
Rapid treats fed in position is the way you can teach the stay concept in any position – sit, down or stand. It’s super easy for your both, just keep the dog in position by feeding one treat after the other. If the dog gets out of position, simply stop feeding the treats, re-cue the position, then resume feeding.
As the dog’s position starts to get more solid, you can start slowing down the rate of treats.
When the dog understands the game with the treats coming from above and rapid treats, you can start playing the slow treats game. At this point, start moving the treats toward the dog from the front. If the dog breaks position, move the treat away and start moving toward the dog again when he resumes the position (sit for example). As your dog is successful, you can increase the difficulty.
In the video with Jim you can see how I move the treats away if he tries to move toward me.
As your dog catches on, you can make your treat delivery a little more exciting. If at any time, the dog moves toward the treat, pull the treat away and reset your dog if needed. Be sure to make it easier on the next repetition to ensure that you’re building on success.
Incorporate a few minutes of these games into your training will really help if you’re struggling a bit with stays or if your dog is inclined to jump up or nudge you to get treats.
You can use these games to practice all three stationary positions:
Once your dog understands these games, you will be well on your way to a solid stay!