The Stay Command


New Member

I am currently trying to teach the Sit - Stay Command to my one year old Golden. He doesn't seem to be catching on to this and I was wondering if anyone else has had a challenge training this. He has know the Sit command for quite a while now. I can get him to stay for about 5 seconds but he just bounces right back up.

I start off with telling him to sit and give a treat for that. Then I tell him to stay I can get him to about 5 or 6 seconds without him bouncing right back up. Then I give him a treat and tell him to release.

If I go any longer than 5 or 6 seconds he gets very excited and starts barking and gets anxious like I was suspose to give him a treat and I didn't and then he starts jumping and walking in circles like he's trying to figure out what he didn't do. I don't know if that makes any sense.

Am I just expecting too much, this has been going on for about a week and a half with about three or four training sessions a day spaced out. Should I just wait and go back to it or keep on?

Any feedback or suggestions welcomed.



Experienced Member
sit right by him and put him on leash just so he can't run off. don't use the leash other than prevention of escape. no pulling etc. ask for a sit and do it on carpet. goldens are big and furry enough and are structured so that a sit on a slick floor produces a gradual spreading out of his legs in 4 directions. not very comfortable.

i think a clicker would also be a great advantage here. ask for sit and wait a beat then click/treat. make him wait a bit longer each time when clicking. at one year my girl is up to about 3 minutes unattended so he can do this easily, he has the attention span. wait a little longer and a little longer. have a treat either preloaded in ur hand or mouth so you won't be fumbling for it. if he starts to move or get up, touch his rump lightly, or put a hand in front of his nose like a block, say stay and lure him back into a sit by moving the treat just above his nose slowly up. the second he's back in position click/treat.

you always want to reward the dog and click when in position not after you release because u don't want him anticipating the release. you want him thinking i get lots of treats for staying so i'll stay until they release me. after release i get no more treats. if you are close enough and can touch right away this will stop him BEFORE he gets up.

once he'll stay when ur right there back up a step, then two, then add more and more by moving around, walking around him, squatting in front of him, doing hops etc. start in a very low distraction environment and slowly add distractions only as you succeed. If he busts you went too fast. back up a bit and start again.

you can also practice with down stays which are a little easier and more comfy for dogs built like a golden. that way you don't have to contend with the comfort factor and the boredom part which will tempt them to lie down. good luck

Jean Cote

Staff member
heidib860;13251 said:
I am currently trying to teach the Sit - Stay Command to my one year old Golden. He doesn't seem to be catching on to this and I was wondering if anyone else has had a challenge training this. He has know the Sit command for quite a while now. I can get him to stay for about 5 seconds but he just bounces right back up.
Have you looked at the 'wait' lesson which is in the Classroom? It is very similar, a wait can be released from distance while a stay must be released while the dog is next to you. So in other words, if you want a formal stay command, you must initiate the behavior by first placing your dog on a sit to your side, telling him to stay, and for him to remain still until you return to his side and give him the release word.

If he cannot remain sitting for 5 seconds, you should aim at reinforcing your dog for staying for 2 or 3 seconds!

Another aspect for you to look at is what you do during the stay. Moving your body around like walking or moving your hands is considered a distraction. In the beginning, you shouldn't move too much, perhaps your goal will be to pivot in front of your dog and pivot back to his side. And then to gradually increase the (1) time (2) distance and (3) distractions. ;)

I would also add that you say an 'Ahh!' exactly when your dog stands up from his sit. In order for him to stand up, he has to lean forward before, so you can say you 'Ahh' exactly when he is standing up. This will let the dog know where he messed up. Then move around the room, find a new location (not the same spot over and over), and try again. :D


New Member
3 minutes that's incredible. I really thought that seeing that Max was still in the puppy stage with his high activity level that might of been contribuating to it. I guess I was underestimating Max. Thanks for the suggestions and the info. I didn't even think about the slick floors adding into it. Thanks for pointing that out.

I've tried to be a still as possible and as calm as possible really focusing on my voice so that wouldn't cause any excitement when doing the sit stay. I've been directly infront of him with my hand infront of his face palm out. I haven't been pivoting knowing that would be the end of the stay.

I think I'll take a break from the sit stay and work on the down stay and revist the sit stay when we've had success with the down stay which sounds easier for Max to do.


Experienced Member
one thing i picked up in clicker class is that the clicker ends the behavior. so while u can give periodic rewards for a down when you click/treat that ends the behavior, treat in the down or stay position. then i use my release word free.

the release is probably as important as the stay. if you don't release or forget the dog will eventually self-release and it dilutes ur stay work. if puppy gets excited by good dog then just be silent the click treat is a reward. I always seem to want to talk to her though.

i'm not new to clicker but new to the karen pryor clicker stuff this year so i found this variation interesting. my trainer has a Belgian Mal she does SAR with who is wonderfully trained and used to be a reactive dog. i feel a lot more relaxed and learned a lot of stuff from this KP clicker class. I'm always open to new positive things that work. even little things sometimes make a big difference.

it's a toss up to me if you want to correct with an ahh or eh-eh. I started out doing a little eh! but then with the KP class i stopped. so while i think they can learn both ways i also think whatever works best for you and your dog. one way to find out is to do both. I certainly have no problem with either nor does my dog. i think doing things totally with shaping as KP often does sometimes is harder to start esp if you aren't used to it. kp might stick with some dogs better though because they have to guess at and think through what is getting me the reward??

shaping unless done right can get boring quicker for a dog. i'm still learning that part. :) I figure i'll give it a chance to see which i like best for us. food for thought though.

at first it might help too to try a mat, rug, or I use a fleece bed. my puppy was more likely to stay on something she considered her "spot." if you start there it might be a little easier to work up on time. it also sets the ground work for a nice go to mat later. then to make the stay solid train on all surfaces so ur dog will generalize that stay means stay anywhere I ask not just in the kitchen or the yard but everywhere.

let us here how it goes. :dogbiggrin:


Experienced Member
The way I like to teach stays is by rewarding DURING the behavior. I tell the dog stay, and immediately start shoveling treats into his mouth! The dog learns that as long as they sit still they get rewarded. Then when I'm done I give my release word (ok!) and move away. I don't give any treats after I release. I build time by slowly waiting longer and longer between giving them treats. I don't try to move away or add any distractions until I have at least a 30 second stay right in front of me with very few treats given.

I find most dogs learn faster when you are rewarding the behavior of staying, and not giving them the reward for after the stay.


New Member
I agree with fickla. I treat for duration before I ever move a foot. Also, once my dog knows how to sit, I don't feed it anymore. That way the dog waits for the series of treats coming for *continuing to sit*. Once I start to move away starting with a baby step of course, I add the stay signal (but I doubt the dog needs this) then feed when I return. Within a few trials I immediately go to a variable reinforcement schedule. sometimes I feed a single treat, other times I feed multiples or go back into position, then go back out again (this adds duration without distance).
And YES, never feed after the release. The release should be the end of the cookie train and the good feelings of stay. If you need the dog to move to set them up for another sit or down stay, just throw the treat a few feet away and tell the dog to "get it!".


Honored Member
Staff member
With dogs who don't particularly like the stay or want to follow you, I give the "sit" command, then "Stay!" and immediately click and reward--in the sit-stay. Slowly I increase the time asked for the stay, and then start taking steps backward. The 8 month old Border Collie I'm working with had a lot of trouble with this. I started without moving away, then asking for more time without moving away, and then had to go to just leaning into a step just slightly. She tunes in soooo much to how and when I move that I had to work on staying just when I was about to move, then progress to actually moving. It's taken quite a bit of work and we're just now getting to stepping about 6 steps away.

Mudflap has a wonderful stay. I'm constantly challenging it, and so far the best I've challenged was roughly 60-70 feet away, possibly more. I had her sit at one end of a field and I walked/jogged/ran/walked away, stood for a few minutes and then called her back. She's very good with the stay. We're currently working on throwing MANY toys pr treats while in the sit/down/stand stay and expecting her to hold the position. She's doing wonderfully. I teach the stay from in front of the dog. I ask for a sit in front of me, so that I can back away. I would also recommend looking into Patricia McConnell's body-blocking method to teach stay. This is shown on .