‘How to Guide’

‘STAY’ Exercise

When teaching your dog to do a stay exercise for the first time, do so in an area where there is minimal distraction. Have some small treats in your pocket.

  1. Start with your dog in the Sit position, beside you (see Fig 1)
  2. Holding the lead in your hand closest to your dog, give the command of ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ and then step away to the side of your dog, with the leg that is furthest away from your dog, only. Leave the leg closest to your dog, where it is, next to your dog (see Fig 2).

       In this position you are beginning to create a small distance between yourself and your dog. Hold this position for no more than 3-5 seconds, then step back in to your dog, back to the start position (Fig1). Reward with a treat and lots of praise immediately upon returning to your dogs side, if your dog sat throughout the exercise and did not move.

      If your dog moves between 3-5 secs, simply and calmly reset your dog up and start again, but this time step away for 2 seconds and then return to your dog’s side. Once your dog is confident to sit for a few seconds you can move on to the following next step.

3. This is a repeat of step 2 above only this time, also bring the leg closest to your dog in line with your other leg (Fig 3). As above, lots of praise and treat upon return to your dog’s side, if he stayed in the sit position throughout and did not move.

4.  Steps 1-3 are repeated when teaching the ‘down’ exercise, except when you reward your dog at the end of a ‘down’ stay, place the ‘treat between his feet, rewarding him whilst still in the down position. (Fig 5)

  Eventually you will be aiming to step out in front of your dog a few paces, turning and standing sideways onto your dog, for a longer period of time. 

NEVER turn and face your dog when you are doing the 'Stay' exercise.  If you do, you are potentially conflicting this exercise with the 'Recall' exercise.  Stand sideways on or with your back to your dog to form a different body language association between the Stay and Recall exercises.

Stays = sideways on or turn your back to your dog.

Recall = turn to face your dog, ready to call into present position.

It is important in the early stage of teaching your dog this exercise, not to push for bigger distances or longer time periods if your dog is clearly not ready and as a result, breaks his stays. Try always to build on the success of an exercise slowly, allowing your dog the time it needs to become confident when doing this exercise, and understanding what it is you want him to do.

   As your dog becomes accustomed to this exercise, you can begin to add a little more pressure, by way of distractions. This could be in a room with other people present, or out in the garden or even out in a park or other area outside where distractions may be present. Remember, if you are adding distractions, then reduce the distance and time initially, to increase the likely success rate of the exercise.

  Wherever you choose to teach this exercise, ensure your dog has had the opportunity to ‘relieve’ himself beforehand. After all, it’s not easy to sit or lie down still and comfortably for a period of time, when you need to pee or poop!

  One further consideration when teaching this or any other exercise to your dog, is that of ‘yourself’. Be aware of your gestures and movements, especially your hands, when returning to your dog in this exercise. Try also not to look directly at your dog upon return. Your dog will be watching you and your movements throughout the exercise, looking for any signal from you that he can move towards you. The smallest of hand movement or eye to eye contact you do may just be enough for your dog to interpret that as a signal to move.

If you have a family member in the same household, ask if they can video you training this or any other exercise with your dog. It is always a useful tool to look back over to see not only what the dog does, but also what you do without even realising.

Happy Training!!

Recall Exercise

Recall Exercise ~ start to finish

  1. Start with dog sat or in a down beside you.
  2. Give command of ‘Sit’ or ‘Down’ or ‘Wait’
  3. Step off with your leg furthest away from your dog’s side.
  4. Walk a few paces then halt, right about turn, and face your dog.
  5. Ensure you are lined up in front of your dog and your feet are roughly hip width apart
  6. Call your dog in, to a present (sit) position in front of you. If in early training you are using treats, always reward at this point!
  7. To complete the exercise, give your dog a finish command (e.g. ‘Finish’ or ‘Close’), to return to the start position, sat beside you.

Proofing the Recall

When practising this exercise, it is always a good idea to ‘proof’ your dog. To do this simply complete steps 1 – 5 in the Recall above then:

6. Having turned to face your dog, count 2-3 secs then return back to your dog’s side.

7. Once at your dog’s side, use your voice to acknowledge your dog’s good ‘wait’ with some gentle praise. Try not to over excite your dog at this stage as you will be repeating the exercise straight away.

8.  Do this a couple of times and then on the final practice, call your dog in and complete to the present position.

The aim of ‘proofing’ in this exercise is to hopefully prevent your dog from anticipating the next part of the exercise, which is where the dog moves toward you to the present position, before you ask him to do so.

It is also useful to sometimes ‘finish’ to your dog from the present position. This again is to prevent anticipation to return to the ‘Finish’ position, from your dog.

To 'Finish' to your dog, simply return back to your dog's side from the present position as shown in the video below.

Throughout the recall exercise you can command your dog as many times as you feel necessary.  

REMEMBER ~ as you turn to face your dog, keep your hands still, do not be tempted to dip them  into a treat bag as you turn ~ your dog will be watching for any indicators for him to move before you are ready for him to do so.  Also, do not start with treats in your hand, doing so may cause the dog to step off with you as soon as you move away from your dog.  Your dog may associate this with readiness for heelwork.

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