Teach Your Dog to Stay

The problem: Teaching an adult dog to ''sit'' and ''stay'' on command
The solution: Use verbal commands, hand signals and lots of praise
Time spent each day: 10 minutes
Total training time: 4 weeks

Our dog Calvin was not trained as a puppy, and when he grew to 116 pounds at four years old, it was evident that training was in order. We did the typical dog-training class through our local parks and recreation service, and although he did improve, he still could not master the sit/stay command. This command seemed like the final chapter in his training, so with a little reading and a lot of determination we set about teaching him on our own.

Over the course of the next two weeks, I would place Calvin in the ''stay'' command by making eye contact and raising one finger. To Calvin, this meant ''sit,'' which he would do every time. (Any sit command signal you use will work; the key is to get them to sit.) Hooray, we were halfway there!

Now the hard part. I would hold my hand out to him with an open palm and say ''stay.'' Then I would walk away, and at first, he would trot off after me every time. I would return him to the spot where we started and again give him the ''sit'' and ''stay'' commands. When I would walk away again, I noticed he would hesitate a bit before following after me. I would repeat this with him until he would stay where I placed him for about 15 seconds. Then I would release him from the command by saying ''okay'' and showering him with lots of love and praise.

I repeated this twice a day, each time increasing the time I would keep him in the ''stay'' command. At day four I noticed a marked improvement, and he was more focused on me and the signals I would give him. He really seemed to enjoy our daily training sessions, and I enjoyed giving him praise each time he completed the command correctly. In two weeks, Calvin had mastered the sit/stay command, and this only took 10 minutes out of each day. With a little time, a little patience and a lot of love, an older dog can learn the sit/stay command. Our dog Calvin is 116 pounds of living proof.

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