Owner teaching dog to stay

Key takeaway

Teaching a dog to stay is a great way to have control over your dog when it’s most important. By teaching your dog to stay, you can teach them to wait for treats, keep them from running out of the front door, and keep your dog calm around company.

As a dog owner, there are a lot of things you need to learn if you want to take good care of your dog. From understanding how to bathe your dog to learning the basics of obedience training, a little knowledge goes a long way as a pet owner. For many dog owners, teaching a dog how to stay and obey other basic commands is a top priority, but it may not be as simple as it sounds.

Teaching your dog to stay is important because it’s a fundamental skill that all dogs should have. When you take your dog to the park or answer the door for a package, you need to be able to trust your dog to relax and stay put until you tell them not to. Once you’ve taught your dog how to stay, you can start focusing on other basic commands that may be helpful as well.

When it comes to teaching your dog to stay, there are some basic training techniques that help a lot. Alternatively, you can take your dog to a trainer who can help you teach them basic commands and behavioral skills. If you want to learn more about how to train a dog to stay, here’s a quick guide to help you out.

6 Steps to Train Your New Puppy or Dog the Stay Command

While teaching a dog how to stay isn’t rocket science, there’s a process you should follow for the best results. Of course, the alternative is to simply hire a professional positive reinforcement based dog trainer who can teach your dog to stay. If you want to do it on your own, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Start by asking your dog to lie down or sit when standing right next to them
  2. Use hand signals, such as a “stop” signal with your palm facing your dog, to encourage your dog to stay
  3. At first, reward your dog after one second, then after several successful repetitions, increase the time you wait before you reward to 3 seconds, then 5, then 10. Make sure you give your dog a treat while they’re lying down to encourage them to listen to the stay command.
  4. Repeat this process over and over, slowly increasing the amount of time your dog has to lie down before they get a treat.
  5. As your dog gets more comfortable with longer wait times, you can start to move further away from them when they’re lying down. Start by taking one step back and then step forward to reward, increasing the steps back after several successful repetitions. It’s important to gradually increase your distance so you don’t confuse your dog.
  6. Make sure you’re practicing the stay command in different environments — this is called “fluency” — for the best results. Fluency means your dog is able to perform the command despite environmental distractions. Places to practices fluency include the park, a friend’s house, the backyard, and anywhere else you can take a moment to train your dog. Ideally, you’ll want to start practicing fluency in a slightly more distracting environment and gradually increase over time.

It’s also important to keep your dog’s health in mind when they’re training. If you notice signs of dehydration in dogs, such as a dog panting heavily or reduced energy, you should pause training to make sure your dog is okay.

How Do I Train a Dog to Stay?

The key to training a dog to stay is to remain persistent. It’s not enough to try to teach your dog to stay once or twice a month; you have to commit to training your dog over a period of time.

One thing you always want to avoid with training is confusing your dog. Avoid giving your dog a stay command while you have a treat in your hand, as your dog may think you’re offering a treat. Clear signals can be especially important for dogs who have a hard time learning commands and listening to their people.

Even if your dog is having a hard time getting the hang of it, positive reinforcement should always be the foundation of your obedience training. Experts agree that positive reinforcement is an important part of how to teach the stay command as well as other basic commands. When your dog does what you’re asking them to do, make sure you praise and reward them so they know that behavior is encouraged. Eventually, your dog will learn to listen to the stay command.

Graphic listing 6 steps to train a dog to stay

How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Learn to Stay?

Every dog is different when it comes to training, so there’s no set amount of time it’s going to take your dog to learn to stay. Some dogs are naturally more obedient while others are harder to train. The time it takes to teach your dog to stay will also depend on the age of your dog as well as the consistency of your training program.

In general, you can expect for it to take several weeks to train a dog to stay. You’re not just teaching your dog to stay, you’re teaching them to follow basic commands and read your body language. If you’ve already taught your dog other basic commands, teaching them to stay may be easier.

While your dog might learn to listen to your command occasionally in the first week or two, you want your dog to stay every time. As you increase the duration and distance while training your dog to stay, your dog will also become better at listening to commands. If you’re having trouble getting your dog to stay as you increase duration and distance, consider getting help from a professional trainer.

Other Puppy Training Tips

You can train your puppy at home through time and determination, but there are some tips that can help you get the most out of puppy training. As long as you follow some basic tips when training your dog, teaching them to behave better and obey your commands shouldn’t be too difficult with time.

First and foremost, don’t use punishment to train your dog. Instead, use positive reinforcement to teach your dog which behaviors are encouraged. If your dog gets a treat and lots of praise for listening to your stay command, they’ll be much more likely to listen to that command. If you punish your dog when they don’t stay, odds are you’re just going to make them scared of you.

It’s also important that you don’t confuse your dog during training. Be consistent with commands and body language, that way your dog knows what you want them to do. Watch for signs of dog anxiety and take steps to make your dog more comfortable during training.

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between the stay vs wait command. When you teach your dog to wait, you’re teaching them to listen for a follow-up command. With the stay command, you’re simply teaching your dog to stay put until you tell them otherwise.

What is Proofing in Puppy Training?

Proofing, also known as fluency,  is a term used to describe training your dog to use a behavior or follow a command regardless of the situation. This is important with the stay command because you need to know your dog is going to stay whether you’re at home, at the park, or spending a day at the beach.

When it comes to fluency, you can teach your dog to stay while you read a book or watch TV. These longer training sessions teach your dog to listen to the stay command no matter how long you wait before giving another command.

You can proof for distance by moving away from your dog after giving a stay command. You can even go around a corner so you’re out of your dog’s sight. Getting your dog comfortable with the stay command at any distance is crucial.

Finally, you can proof for distractions by providing distractions while using the stay command. You can bounce a ball, jump up and down, or run around. The trick is to teach your dog to stay even when there’s a lot going on around them.

Owner rewarding dog for practicing stay command

Final Notes

As a dog owner, learning how to teach a dog to stay is an important part of training. Once your dog can stay on your command, you can take them to parks and other public places without worry. If you’re not comfortable training your dog, you can always get help from a vet or dog trainer.

If you need help training your dog to stay or listen to other basic commands, Dutch can help. We can connect you with a vet who can offer training tips and recommend healthy treats. Try Dutch to connect with a vet and take your dog training to the next level today.


  1. “Indoor Pet Initiative.” Basic Manners | Indoor Pet Initiative, https://indoorpet.osu.edu/dogs/puppy/basic-manners

  2. “Training Tips for Dogs.” CVMBS News, 11 Mar. 2022, https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/training-tips-for-dogs/

  3. Basic Dog Training Concepts, https://www4.uwsp.edu/psych/dog/la/drp12.htm