Unleash the Power of the “Stay” Command: A Beginner’s Guide

Hey there, dog lovers! Are you looking to level up your training game with your four-legged friend? 

You’ve come to the right place! In this beginner’s guide, we’ll dive into the world of the “Stay” command, an essential skill that every dog owner should teach their pup.

We’ll discuss the importance of this command and show you the steps to effectively teach your dog to stay put, even when distractions are all around. With our tips and tricks, you’ll transform your dog into a well-mannered and obedient companion in no time. 

So, let’s jump right in and unleash the power of the “Stay” command together!

short-coated tan dog sitting on yellow petaled flower field

The Importance of the “Stay” Command

So, you might be wondering why the “Stay” command is such a big deal, right?

Well, it’s not just about impressing your friends with your dog’s obedience skills. Teaching your dog to stay has several practical benefits that can make your life easier and keep your pup safe.

First and foremost, having your dog reliably stay in place can be a lifesaver in potentially dangerous situations. Imagine your dog is about to run into the street or approach a not-so-friendly dog. A solid “Stay” command can prevent accidents and keep both of you safe.

The “Stay” command helps reinforce your bond with your dog and fosters clear communication, smoothing other aspects of training and strengthening your relationship with your canine friend.

Another great benefit is that teaching your dog to stay can help them become more patient and calm. The training process requires them to focus and resist the urge to move, and as they practice, they’ll learn self-control and the ability to wait for your signal.

In real-life scenarios, this can translate to your dog resisting the urge to chase after squirrels or bark at the mailman, resulting in calmer, more predictable behavior.

Now let’s move on to building a solid foundation for stay training!

Building a Foundation for Stay Training 

Before we dive into teaching the “Stay” command, let’s quickly cover some essential groundwork to ensure success: 

  • Consistency. Be consistent with verbal cues, hand signals, and rewards to help your dog understand your expectations. 
  • Positive reinforcement. Use treats, praise, and affection to reward your dog for performing the desired behavior, creating a positive learning experience. 
  • Progress gradually. Start with short durations and distances for the “Stay” command, then build up as your dog becomes more comfortable. 
  • Train in a familiar environment. Choose a calm, familiar setting for initial training sessions to help your dog focus and reduce distractions. 

These simple tips will help create a solid foundation for stay training while keeping the focus on the core teaching steps. Now, let’s get to the main event—teaching the “Stay” command

Teaching the “Stay” Command

Now that we’ve built a solid foundation, let’s dive into teaching your dog the “Stay” command. Follow these four beginner-friendly steps to help your dog become a stay-training pro!

Step 1: Teaching Your Dog to Sit First

Ensure your dog has mastered the “Sit” command before introducing “Stay.”

To teach your dog to sit, hold a treat near their nose and slowly move it upward, so their head follows the treat and their bottom touches the ground. As soon as they sit, say “Sit,” reward them with the treat, and give praise. Repeat until your dog reliably sits on command.

If you need help teaching your dog to sit, check out our guide on how to teach your dog the “Sit” command. Once your dog can sit on command, you’re ready to introduce the “Stay” command.

Step 2: Adding the “Stay” Command

With your dog in a sitting position, hold your palm out flat towards them and say “Stay.” Keep your hand in place and maintain eye contact for a few seconds. If your dog remains seated, give them a treat and praise.

If they break the sit, calmly guide them back into position and repeat the process. Practice this step multiple times a day, gradually increasing the duration your dog stays in position.


Always use the same hand signal and verbal cue, and offer the same type of treat for successful attempts. If you’ve got multiple family members involved in the training, ensure everyone’s on the same page. Different cues can confuse your dog, making the training process longer and less effective.

Step 3: Increasing Stay Duration and Distance

Once your dog can stay for about 10 seconds, start to increase the duration and distance gradually. 

Increase the duration by a few seconds and distance by a step or two at a time, so your dog can adjust comfortably.

It can be tempting to test their progress with a long-distance ‘Stay’, but pushing too far too soon can lead to setbacks. Celebrate small victories and progress at a pace that keeps your dog confident.

Take a step back while maintaining the “Stay” hand signal and say “Stay” again. If your dog remains in place, return to them, reward, and praise. Keep adding steps and duration as your dog becomes comfortable.

Step 4: Adding Distractions to Stay Training

When your dog can reliably stay with distance and duration, it’s time to introduce distractions.

It’s crucial to start with mild distractions, like bouncing a ball or having someone walk past, and progress slowly. 

Gradually increase the difficulty by introducing noisier or more tempting distractions. Introducing more difficult distractions too soon can lead to setbacks. For example, if your dog loves kids, avoid having children run around during the early distraction phases. As your dog masters ‘Stay’ with milder distractions, then gradually introduce those challenging triggers.

Always reward your dog for successfully staying in position, and be patient as they learn to ignore distractions.

By following these steps, your dog will be well on their way to mastering the “Stay” command. Remember to be patient, consistent, and always use positive reinforcement throughout the training process.

long coated brown dog sitting on grass

Reinforcing the “Stay” Command

To ensure long-lasting success with the “Stay” command, it’s essential to reinforce the behavior throughout your dog’s life. Here are a few tips to help maintain and strengthen your dog’s understanding of the command:

  1. Practice regularly. Even after your dog has mastered the “Stay” command, continue to practice it regularly to keep their skills sharp. Incorporate stay training into your dog’s daily routine, reinforcing the behavior with praise and treats.
  2. Apply the command in different contexts. Use the “Stay” command in various situations, such as when you’re out for a walk or during mealtimes. This helps your dog understand that the command applies in all contexts, not just during training sessions.
  3. Reward spontaneous good behavior. If you notice your dog staying in place without being asked, reward them with praise or a treat. This reinforces the behavior and encourages them to continue listening to your commands.
  4. Use the “Stay” command during playtime. Incorporating the “Stay” command into playtime helps your dog associate the command with fun and enjoyable experiences. For example, ask your dog to stay before you throw a toy or ball, and then release them to fetch it.

By following these reinforcement strategies, you’ll help your dog maintain their “Stay” command skills and ensure that the behavior remains strong throughout their life.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Training your dog to master the “Stay” command can sometimes present challenges. Here are a few common issues and solutions to help you overcome these obstacles and make your training sessions more effective:

Impatience or short attention span: Younger dogs and certain breeds may have difficulty staying still for extended periods. To overcome this, start with 2-3 second “Stay” durations and gradually build up the time as your dog becomes more comfortable.

Difficulty with distractions: Begin training in a calm, familiar environment, and slowly introduce mild distractions, like a family member walking by. Gradually increase the level of distractions as your dog becomes more adept at staying in place, such as playing a sound recording of a busy street.

Breaking the “Stay” command too early: If your dog breaks the “Stay” command before you release them, calmly guide them back into position and try again. Reward your dog for successful attempts and use a release word, like “OK” or “Free,” to signal when they can move.

Separation anxiety: If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, staying put as you move away can be challenging. To help them cope, use a high-value treat or toy to keep their focus. Gradually increase the distance, rewarding and praising them for remaining calm.

Boredom and Restlessness: To combat boredom and restlessness during stay training, mix in other commands or tricks between “stay” repetitions to keep your dog engaged. Also, use high-value treats and vary the rewards to maintain their interest and motivation.

By addressing these common challenges with practical solutions and personalized encouragement, you’ll set your dog up for success in mastering the “Stay” command.

Conclusion: Mastering ‘Stay’

We hope this beginner’s guide has equipped you with the knowledge and tools to teach your dog the “Stay” command effectively. With dedication, consistency, and a positive training approach, your dog will soon develop a reliable stay that enhances their safety and obedience.

As you continue on your dog training journey, be sure to explore our other blog posts covering topics like teaching your dog their name, teaching them to sit, lie down, come, drop it, and more. 

You can find all of these guides on our “Dog Guides page“. By honing these skills and building a strong bond with your dog, you’ll enjoy a harmonious relationship and a well-behaved companion.


What to do if your dog breaks the “stay” command?

If your dog breaks the “stay” command, simply return them to their original position and try again. Remember to only increase duration and distance once your dog has mastered the previous level.

Should I use a leash during stay training?

Using a leash during stay training can be helpful, especially in the beginning, as it provides better control and prevents your dog from wandering too far. Once your dog has mastered the “stay” command, you can slowly begin to remove the leash.

How often should I practice stay training with my dog?

It’s best to practice “stay training” in short sessions of 5-10 minutes, several times a day. This will help your dog retain what they’ve learned and make progress faster.

How long to teach a dog the “stay” command?

The time it takes to teach a dog the “stay” command varies, but with consistent practice and positive reinforcement, most dogs can learn within a few weeks to a month.

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