I want to talk about stay today. Stay means; stay in the exact spot where I put you until I say so. There is no maybe, kinda, as long as you want to or wiggle room with the stay. Stay means stay. The stay behavior is one of the most over used and under trained, up there with come. Stay is or should be a very serious behavior, used only when you really mean it or intend to enforce it. When you add a nonchalant feeling about the meaning of stay you lose the power of it. We will be working on stay seriously now, Elsa and I. She started learning it when she was little and then did not get back to it for sometime as we were working on other much more important things like socializing.
Elsa learned wait very early on and she is very clear about it's meaning. She knows to wait when I say it and if I say it with enough repetition in the same situation she will wait without it being said. As I have said many times, she is amazingly quick about jumping into routines. But now we must learn the official stay and perfect it. All of my dogs in the past have been rock solid on their stay. I demand it. There is no wiggle room in a stay.
What I see as the biggest and most serious mistake when teaching the stay is the lack of enforcement. If you say stay, you must enforce it. When you allow a dog to remove themselves from a stay, you lose the true meaning of stay.
Call your dog out of a stay when training it.
Tell your dog to stay and then shrug your shoulders when they get out of it on their own.
Tell them stay when you don't really mean it.
Attempt to train a stay if you don't have the time.
Teach a solid stay with time, patience and enforcing it.
Teach meaning, time, distance and then distractions.
Move slowly only getting further, longer or more distractions with complete success at the current stage.
Use the term "wait" unless you have are going to enforce the stay.
When you teach a stay you start out very easy. The dog is directly in front of you and they stay for only a moment, a second really. Once they start to understand the meaning of stay you can add some time that they must stay. Then you add distance and proximity with you leaving the dog and then returning. Once that is conquered and you have a solid understanding of what the stay is you can then move to a low level distraction area and build from there.
The way I train the stay gives no room for error, no gray, just black and white. I say stay and you must stay where I have put you until I return and even then you must wait to be released. The dog is only rewarded in the stay position. The release is simply that, a release, nothing great just being released. If you make a huge party of the release it then becomes much better than the stay itself, not what you want.
One word and only one gets a dog out of a stay, choose it wisely and don't forget it.
If you don't mean it or don't intend to enforce it, don't say it.