Creating a clear path of understanding between you and your dog relies on our tone, our body language, and our timing. When communicating with our dogs, we cannot speak to them in full sentences and expect them to understand what we want. Understanding a dogs means of communication and psychology will greatly help a dog owner successfully communicate with their dog.

dog sitting on a beach

When trying to teach your dog to stay, your tone, body language, and timing are important. Before beginning to train, it's best to obtain a long leash and a mat for this exercise.

First, begin by taking your dog to their mat and tell them to sit and stay. While telling your dog to stay, pull the leash lightly in the upward position. When dogs are pulled, their first instinct is to pull in the opposite direction which in this case is exactly what we want to reinforce. By pulling up on the leash, your dog will pull his body downward towards the mat in the “stay” position.

Release the tension from the leash and slowly take a few steps back. Do not let go of the leash, as it will take a few tries until your dog understands the behavior that is desired of him. If your dog moves away from his “stay” position, correct him with a light tug on the leash, say no in a negative tone but not aggressively, and lure him back to the mat where he must stay.

Yellow Lab Puppy in front of black backdrop

Once again, repeat the first step by pulling upward on the leash and telling your dog to stay. If he stays, then quickly reward that behavior and give your dog praise and a treat. In the beginning, be sure to reward him even if he stays for just a few moments. Each time, wait just a bit longer and longer until your dog understands that he will get a treat as long as he stays.

You have successfully taught your dog how to stay, but to make this exercise bullet proof, it will require more practice around several different distractions in several different environments. Keep practicing and increase your dog’s exposure to distractions and unfamiliar environments while in “stay” to achieve a great stay position!