Weird Question About Stay


Experienced Member
I just randomly remembered as a kid I was trying to teach my German Shepherd to stay. He was given to us at a year of age and was very clingy and anxious. He always wanted to be with you so stay was hard to teach. What I finally did was I tethered him to a tree. I put him in a sit at the end of the rope. Then he had to stay and I only had to return him to a sit if he got up. It worked great! He learned it so fast and was amazingly reliable too. Just wondering what everyone else thinks of this.


Experienced Member
Oddly, to me at least, they still teach this method in some classes, and here in the UK, it's actually a requirement that your dog remain calm etc when tethered, in the Kennel Club Good Citizen Gold examination.

Exercise 7 - Relaxed Isolation

The object of this exercise is for the dog to be content when left in isolation. During such times the dog should not become agitated, unduly stressed or defensive. The handler should fasten the dog to an approximate two metre line and then move out of sight for between two - five minutes as directed.
It was the one part of the exam that we found many people to disagree with, as not many people these days would ever consider leaving their dog tethered to a line.

With regards to using it as a method to teach the stay, it's as valid as any other method, I suppose. I just happen to think that it's not needed. I prefer to see a dog that is staying because it's learned that it's safe to do so, etc, rather than because it has no option because it's tied in place.

I don't mean that to come across as derogatory as it probably does; it's just personal preference.


Experienced Member
No I don't mind at all. I appreciate your response. I used this method as a twelve or thirteen year old kid, before I knew anything about clicker training. Just was curious what everyone thought of it. I'm having trouble teaching Jackal to stay because he always starts offering behaviors, but I don't think I want to use this method. I'm just going to exhaust him playing and running, put him on a leash and try again in an area that we don't usually train in to see if it makes a difference. He doesn't take anything seriously, he's clown, so its just going to require patience on my part. I just want to make sure he learns it and is very reliable at it.


Experienced Member
achieve1dream;13577 said:
I'm having trouble teaching Jackal to stay because he always starts offering behaviors, but I don't think I want to use this method.
A colleague of mine once said to me that it's unreasonable to expect any dog to sit-stay or down-stay away from you if it won't yet do these behaviours right next to you. I think the key is patience and security. The dog needs to feel secure that you are always going to come back, and it also needs to build its own levels of patience too.

Start in your living room or wherever and just have the dog sit and stay or down and stay at your feet, then, as that progresses, start moving slightly away, and keep increasing the distance. Be sure to reward the dog periodically as he/she stays there. That's how I did it for Ellie.


Experienced Member
I totally agree with CollieMan,I like it a lot moreif the dog FIGURES OUT that he has to stay, and doesn't learn he has to stay because he has NO OPTION.
But I guess this is just because I've got a too easy dog, she figures out almost anything. :D

By the way I completely understand you, Pami always wants to stay with me too, so stay was a hard thing to teach... :LOL:


Experienced Member
Thanks for the tips. Question: Do you ever physically reinforce the behavior? When I have him down (or sit), if I don't immediately give him the treat he gets up. I've worked on slowly lengthening the time before I give the treat, but if I wait too long he starts barking, pawing or he rolls over. How do I ever get it into his head that I'm wanting him to stay and not offer behaviors? I know eye contact is one thing, but I'm still confused. I may just have to wait until he gets older.

Oh and changing subjects! I finally got him to put both front paws in a box! It took an hour but it was worth it!

He is so focused on the treat it took forever to change his attention over to the box. Even then he didn't want to touch it, but I clicked every glance, sniff or shift toward the box and we eventually got it! I was so excited! Luckily I had enough kibble left for a big jackpot when he finally figured it out.


Experienced Member
Question: Do you ever physically reinforce the behavior?
I personally don't, but that's chiefly because I have an exceptionally timid dog and so it would be incredibly easy for me to undo a lot of progress by manhandling her. But others do, and with great success.

When I have him down (or sit), if I don't immediately give him the treat he gets up. I've worked on slowly lengthening the time before I give the treat, but if I wait too long he starts barking, pawing or he rolls over.
Consider yourself lucky! You have the sort of dog that I wanted when I got a Border Collie. One that would be full of energy, enthusiasm, and one that will try anything to get to food.

Going by your signature, I make Jack to be about ten months of age? If that's the case then he's still going to have quite a short attention span, so work on those things that a such a relatively young dog will enjoy first and foremost. Let your dog learn that you are the BEST thing in the world to be with. That is the singular most important thing to me. Once you have that in place, everything else becomes easier.

For the stay, just move in small increments. Aim for a five second stay at your feet first. Then increase to ten seconds, and so forth.

Congratulations on the paws in the box. It's great when it all pays off isn't it. With a dog like Jack, it sounds like he might enjoy the trick I spotted on YouTube the other night... Give it a whirl, you never know...


Whoops. This video shows how it's taught...



Experienced Member
Thank you Collieman for your reply. I'm going to do as you say and take advantage of his eagerness to perform and just leave stay alone for now. Thank you for the video too. I love that! It was so funny when he dumped the water and when he tried putting him paws in it. It was also nice seeing it done from the very beginning. Seeing how the steps were broken down is very helpful. Thanks again!


Well-Known Member
I agree with collieman about tying the dog up. It wasnt something I did with either of my dogs in the KCGCDS Gold test; we just left them in a designated area for the 'relaxed isolation' exercise. I prefer my dog to be able to move if it needs to so like it to be free.

I also agree with building up the length of the stay and the distractions very, very slowly. Try to reward him before he moves to reinforce the stay. I think physically reinforcing the stay depends a lot of the dog, and what you mean by physical reinforcement? If it includes stroking the chest/head/back...then I do that to my dogs when they are in the stay so they know I like what they are doing. I would not e.g. hit my dog if it made a mistake, but I may put them on lead initially to stop them running off.

Well Done on getting paws on the box :dogbiggrin:


Experienced Member
Yeah by physical reinforcement I meant blocking their chest with a hand or using a leash to keep them in place. Basically just needed to know if you guys were taking a hands off approach. :) Thanks for the advice.


Well-Known Member
Yes, I would put them on lead to stop them running too far away from me when they are learning, but I wouldnt use the lead to pin them into the position I wanted them to maintain, or to put them back into position if they break.

Good Luck!


New Member
chewing problem

hello to you all,
my dog has started chewing my shoes, i got him about 5days ago. he never chewed anything in the house until i left him with my spouse in the house.



Honored Member
Wow, frank, good luck with the shoes! Does your dog have access to proper chew toys and stuff? We keep our shoes all on the stairs or in our closets, and have taught Buddy 'no' for these areas....cuz we realized, if shoes are on living room floor, our dog gets shoes and toys mixed up.

Also, lotsa dogs needs excercise to behave well, if they don't get enuff excercise(throw a ball, long walks, play times) they WILL act up!! Did your dog get any excercize the day he chewed up the shoes? And it may be, your dog just simply does not know the difference yet between shoes and toys.:dogblink:

I'm just a dog owner, maybe some experts here can help you find ways to teach your dog the difference between shoes and toys. but for sure, keep shoes and toys in separate areas.
Maybe hold shoes in front of your dog, and say "no"..?:msniwonder:


Experienced Member
about the stay topic. i agree i won't ask my dog to do something at distance that i can't train or do close by. I use body blocks and gentle touches and positive reinforcement. depending on our progress the only corrections are a soft ah or ignoring undesired behavior.

so i start sitting next to my dog after she knows a down for example. and make sure the dog rolls onto one back hip (most have a preferred side so just watch them in normal rest and you'll know which), this is a more relaxed position than the sphinx like spring-load down which is very easy to jump up from. if they don't roll when you cue down a soft nudge the right direction on a back leg will help.

i def would use a clicker so you can mark the exact moments for the dog that YES that is what gets the treat. so very close start extending a 5 second stay if the dog wiggles paws etc gentle ah or just touch to the bottom or shoulders to regain attention. if dog stills click/treat u don't need to wait 5 seconds because u just succeeded in stilling/staying ur dog. you want to preempt standing so a soft touch to top of body before he starts to get up works best. remember always to click and treat very fast ideally while still in down position--so the down stay is rewarded not the release.

what you want to work up to is maybe a progressive doggie stays down but wiggles and paws, then you ignore anything but your stay that you requested. still and quiet gets click/treat. this training is best done after exercise when the dog is satisfied but not exhausted and hungry. low distractions are the key so start in a bedroom or the kitchen where people aren't coming through and no birds/dogs/squirrels.

after a success release the dog by extending a treat so they have to stand and take a step to get it and saying your release word like "free." then maybe a couple of tricks the dog likes to do like sit or circle or a tug toy, fetch the ball. I like tuggies because I have hold and control and I can play then ask for a give and restart training. then let's ask for a down again and reward and stay again. only as fast as your dog and you can succeed advance to you standing right by where you can give your "ah" or touch or body block. by block i mean just step toward and prevent his leaving hopefully with a touch or not standing.

if things fall apart you went too fast in asking for more time. there is nothing wrong with holding a lure in your fist if he pops right back up to teach if you wait the treat fist opens. teaching patience and self control are the basics you must help him learn. luring is legal. :)

you were correctly extending the time but maybe too fast since boredom and frustration wiggles set in. where are you and what are you going when the wiggle start? make sessions only 1-3 minutes 3-6 times a day instead of one 8-10 min session. I'm betting if you leash your dog (but just as a prevention from running off) and get to the point where you can stand close but move a step or two about a bit that it may be more interesting. hold the treat where he can see it and knows that it will be his if he does the correct thing.

another trick is to use treats that are so good the dog will do just about anything for them. I used baked chicken or roast cut into pea size bits. (cheese, liver, hot dogs??) I put a piece in my mouth and let the dog see it and know i have it. then i get great interest in my face and me. as i progress i may close my lips and hide the treat---hmm do I have it or not? I use hand and voice signals for a stay at first because the dog will read the hand signals better than it hears the voice, the hand held out is a bit of a natural body block too.

I usually have a treat and clicker in my hand behind my back or the treat in my mouth or on the counter out of sight. your hands should be still unless giving a hand signal or luring - not rummaging for treats or clicker. you want the dog looking & listening to YOU not ur hands unless they are performing a deliberate task. you want him cueing to your commands and thinking about them not brain turn-off at the rattle of plastic or bait bag.

I do have occasion on training class to tether my dog, such as walking agility or rally course so tethering in the right situation can work. just never ever unattended and i usually use a bungee attachment so if she breaks it doesn't pull really hard. i would not use a long tether either so that the dog might build a lot of speed before hitting the end. ouch! :dogblink:

i used it most recently in teaching differential retrieve by name to get an object with great success. i have one dog trained to help me around the house and another puppy in training. the problem was if i drop something the older dog knows to go get it and bring it, but the puppy would get it first or pester the older dog until she dropped it. puppy then wouldn't bring it because the older dog returned to me and puppy worried the other dog might get the item. so i had two dogs trained to retrieve and give but neither could b/c of this quirk.

i tethered the puppy by my feet and asked the older dog to down stay. I took a very low interest toy and placed it 6 feet away and reinforced the stay. I have two clickers, digital for big dog and regular for puppy. I squatted by puppy asked for stay and cued the other dog "name go get the wrench" which she already knew. while she was doing that i click/treated puppy for the stay 1x per second very fast. I had to be more interesting and more rewarding than whatever else was going on. she broke stay 1 time and couldn't get the toy. so i cued come, down, stay again and tried again. After 3 successes i unclipped her, asked the other dog to stay, and cue puppy "go get the wrench." without the tether i couldn't get the down stay for puppy but using it once worked fine.

i also used the tether once after i had shoulder surgery and a huge cast/sling on. i looked weird and the puppy would just jump on me. it hurt and i had no defense so i asked my husband to tether her and i approached and sat within reach of her nose but not paws or jumping. when she quit lunging and calmed click treat, sniffing treats, a little closer to smell but i could lean away. after 10 minutes she was fine with this whole cast thing without another peep.

so i don't advocate a lot of tether training and do encourage neck care and supervision. it does seem in some cases should you need to leave your dog to walk a course, or for the CGC that it would be good practice for him to feel secure and not lunge/bark/go berserk and do a nice down stay knowing he'll be rewarded on your return.

in general as a stay tool i don't think a tether is the most effective though. just an opinion, the touch and click works very fast. good luck :dogtongue2:


Experienced Member
A rather funny example of me using the tether to train this differential retrieve. I have one arm in a cast so one hand to juggle two clickers and treats. I did this after a great training session on the deck and both were a bit bored with this task. It does serve to tell you when you should quit but what you can do differently. the first dog to retrieve is my older dog 4yo and the second is the 1yo. the 1yo is perfectly capable of getting the toy and bringing it but she's tired of it. so i resorted to re-shaping the entire exercise (clicking for pieces of behavior like touching the toy, then picking it up, then bringing it at least a little way, than giving it to me). Shaping is a whole new and fun part of clicker training you can learn.

The reason i posted this is i wanted to point out, she's frustrated and bored b/c she's already done it well several times but i HAD to get it on film. :) notice i am moving around and walking around before i recue-I’m resetting. i also once reset the entire thing and put the toy back at start.

after that nice long stay my older dog took her treats but a little rough so she was stressing though doing a nice down. I should have been rewarding her or noticing her more to see signs of stress.

lots of little lessons, stop soon, don't let them get bored, i was talking waaaay too much and that's a bad habit of mine. :dogtongue2: and sorry for the shot of my bum. videoing urself helps you see the things ur doing that might not be helping ur cause.


Our mini obedience session after the retrieve was also not great because I had the cast on and look weird, they were tired and so was I. So they did a pretty good job at name-command though puppy obv did not understand the verbal stand, she's cueing off a hand signal I wasn't able to give. So this tells me i need to work with her on voice only training sessions. Just keep in tune with your limits and the dog's and set up for success. Even a training session that disintegrates gives you something to learn from. Even if it's only a good laugh. ideally quit while the dogs are raring to go still and they'll be more excited for the next session.


Experienced Member
Thank you Snooks for your advice. Sorry it took so long for me to write back, been busy and not feeling well. I don't know how you do the two different clickers thing. I would get so dyslexic and mess it all up LOL!

As far as the stay thing with Jackal, I have started feeding him two meals a day (as opposed to free feeding) because he had begun to overeat. When I put the food bowl down I ask for a sit or down (or both) and he stays in position until I release him with an "okay!". I'm very excited about it because I think I have finally found a way to get the concept into his head. He knows he has to wait and it shouldn't be too difficult to take it from feeding time to other things, such as the door. He knows to sit before going out and has begun to wait longer and longer for the release word there as well. I think just forgetting about it has helped. When I think about something too much I tend to only think about the negative things, so often forgetting about it or changing my train of thought helps. I do really like your ideas though. I had forgotten about the treat in the hand thing (he knows leave it) or I could also put it on the floor. Just have to figure out how to change it from a leave it to a stay lol. I'm gonna get all dyslexic again.


Experienced Member
Oh believe me I get confused and mess it up all the time. At least I have my arm out of the sling now even though it doesn't move well yet. The only down side of messing up a clicker and clicking the wrong dog is that dog gets an extra treat so it's not so bad. :dogrolleyes:

it also works to use one clicker and make sure each dog knows who's being cued/clicked. i ignore the uncued dog. but not for too long :dogblush: