Stay vs Wait

Hi my friends! Forgive the lack of posts but it seems the whole world got puppies for Christmas! Talk about swamped! Truth told, however, if I’m going to be “swamped” with anything, what could be better than being swamped with PUPPIES?!! This past month in working with families I’ve discovered there’s quite a variation in the definition of “Stay”. Lots of folks use “Waaait” rather than “Staaayy” in training their puppies and in my world of dog training it seems those two words are often used interchangeably. People tend to believe the two words are just two sides of the same coin. So is there really a difference? The answer is a resounding “YESSS”! How many of us have done this: We put our hand up and tell Rover to “Staaayy” only to release him a few moments later with an “Ok, come! Good boy!” but what message have we given Rover? Did he hear, “Now stay put, Rover, and don’t move from that spot until I tell you to” so he thinks, “OK, I’m going to sit right here until she says it’s okay to move”. So is that really a “Stay” or is it a “Wait”. A problem arises if we allow our dog’s to break their “Stay” because what we’ve taught them is that pretty soon an “OK” is coming to release them. Now, every time we put them in a “Sit, Staaayy” they are sitting there staring at you (often prancing) and chomping at the bit just waiting for that release word. So let me share with you a way which I have found to be much more reliable that makes it clear to our dogs what we are asking them to do. “Staaayy” means that you are coming back. “Waaait” means that you will release them soon. See the difference? Let me give you an example of each:
  • You’re getting ready to leave the house for your walk with Rover. You get to the door and he’s so excited to be going with you that he’s having trouble even holding it together. You have him next to you and you place your hand in front of him (like the pic above) and say “Rover, waaait”. Now Rover has to stand there until you cross the threshold of the doorway and then you say, “OK” and he promptly follows you out.
  • You are walking Max and Mick through Liberty Park on a very hot summer day and having a grand ol’ time when up ahead you spot a Sno’ Cone hut just like the one you went to as a kid! You’re super excited and want to get there before they run out of your fave flavor, Bahama Mama. It’s going to be too difficult to handle both dogs at the cashier window so you are in a panic because you reeeeeally want a Bahama Mama Sno Cone! You’re not worried though because you recently had this terrific dog trainer teach you the difference and you’ve been practicing!! You walk over to a nice shady tree and put Max and Mick into a Down and then you put out your hand and tell them “Staaayy”, which they happily do. You walk over to the hut and get the LAST (Phew!) Bahama Mama and don’t even give it a second thought because you know they will wait patiently until you come back.
When teaching a Stay do the following:
  1. Put your dog in front of you in a Sit
  2. Stick your hand out and say “Staaayy”
  3. Step backward one step (for a short wait) and then step back and give your dog a treat and a “Goooood Boy!”
  4. Then two steps, then three. Rinse and Repeat. Pretty soon you’ll be able to walk across the yard or a park! Your dog will learn quickly that you ALWAYS come back! They will learn to patiently wait.
Until next time….~Cindy
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