ClickerSolutions Training Treasures

Technique Challenge: Stay

I do use a separate "stay" cue. I am not disciplined enough to remember if I left my dogs in a position sit, down, etc. and remembered to re-cue or release them. Wouldn't want to stop the flurry of canine activity around here, if I put my dogs in a "stay" I generally remember to release them. LOLOL

I also use a wait cue but that is more for "wait" at the door/gate instead of rushing out. Wait in the car don't jump out and so on...the dog can move around a bit just not go through the gate or jump out of the car until released.

Janet Smith
Good Dog! Training
Okemos, MI


One technique that I use in my "advanced" classes is one that I learned from Shirley Chong (I think). You have the dog in sit or down or whatever, you've already told them "stay", then you tug very gently on their leash or push very gently on them. When they resist the pull with that same instinct that makes them pull on walks, you click/treat.

Stacy Braslau-Schneck
Stacy's Wag'NTrain
San Jose, CA


The dog is in a sit, down, or stand, and with the right hand (holding the lead lightly) providing a bit of tension I simultaneously 'brace' the dog's chest with my left palm. Kind of a push-me pull-you thing. The dog learns that this resistance is what I'm looking for and my *stays* become rock solid!

Deb Manheim
rooklyn, NY


I don't have a separate cue for "Stay." I have a cue for "wait", which is very much like a "freeze"--when I hold my palm up, or verbally cue "wait", the dog stops in whatever position he is in, holds it until I cue a release.

I don't have a "stay" cue because I haven't needed it. If my dogs are cued to sit, then they sit until they are released by another cue or the click.

In shaping sit-stays and down-stays, I just increase the time they are in that position incrementally. I have never needed to add a separate cue to stay, because they are still doing the behavior I cued them to do.

When I first began clicker training, I did use a "stay" cue, but I think it was more a holdover from my compulsion-training days. Once I realized it was more like double-cueing to my dogs, I just let it go extinct.

I do use "WAIT" a lot--at doorways, in the van, crossing streets, etc.

Could you provide a little more detail about your "wait" cue, so that I can understand how to do it? ...And don't make your doggie sit so long that he is sure to fail. Right?

RIGHT! I don't use a "wait" or a "stay" cue for a sit-stay or down-stay. I have found that if I don't rush the shaping, if I move incrementally enough, never asking for more than they are capable of doing, that I do not need an extra cue to "remind" them to continue the sit or down behavior. I just keep holding off the click a few short moments at a time.

But this really depends on good shaping. If I shape too fast, I lose the behavior. If I shape verrrrry incrementally, not going from, say a 10 second stay to a 30 second stay, but instead from a 10 to a 13 second stay--I continue to shape strong, fluent behaviors. It's when I "lump"--bite off too big a piece, that I run into problems.

I also let the dog tell me. My puppy is not ready to do a one minute down or sit stay most of the time, unless he has just had tons of exercise. Too wiggly. Too bouncy. So I don't ask it of him. Instead, I do tons of short stays, of varying times, always watching the dog's body language for signs of restlessness, so that I can "catch" him doing something right.

For example, how do you deal with your doggie getting up from a sit? I mean, would you *only* C/T if the doggie gets up on being released?

This rarely happens, and each time it has, I can track it to trainer error! I "upped the criteria" or asked for way too much of the dog. But, if the dog does break the stay, I simply take the dog back to the position, begin anew and lower my criteria, building in tinier increments.

You cue, "sit." and then some release cue, and THEN...C/T? Is that it?

Actually, When I'm shaping a sit or a down, I just let the clicker be the release. The click ends the behavior. The click promises a treat is coming.

Quite often, once several behaviors are known, I release the dog from one behavior by cueing another. For instance, the dogs are in a sit-stay. I cue them into a down-stay. But I don't do this until the dogs are fairly fluent in the behaviors. Until then, I use the clicker for each behavior I am trying to strengthen.

Debi Davis
Tucson, AZ


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