Training Your Puppy to Stay in Heel Position
In puppy training, Stay is a behavior where the puppy holds the position you left him in until you release him from it. My number one rule of stay is that you NEVER call your puppy out of a stay.
This will only teach the puppy to anticipate movement and make your puppy’s stay very unsteady. I recommend starting and stopping stay from heel position. That means that every time you leave your puppy while it is staying, you always return to heel position and release him, no matter how long he has stayed.
If you allow your puppy to break from the stay (either getting up and moving or changing positions like from a sit to a down) without correcting, you are letting him have control and again, his stay will not be steady.
To begin teaching stay, place your puppy in a sit or a down in heel position. Always work new behaviors in a quiet environment with little to no distraction so that your puppy can concentrate on what you are training. Using a flat palm put it in front of his face and give the stay command only once. At this point, do not move away from your puppy.
Start with very short time intervals, only 5 to 10 seconds at first. If your puppy has successfully stayed for that short time interval, give the puppy a treat and then release the puppy using your release word (see the release word section). Be sure to give the puppy a treat before you release so that the puppy is being rewarded for staying and not for being released.
Also, remember to get the puppy up out of the position you had him stay in after using your release word so that you can work another repetition and your puppy doesn’t hold that position indefinitely.
Build up your time increments, adding more time as your puppy is successful at shorter time blocks until you have reached one minute. At this point, you can begin to add movement.
The biggest problem you will face while teaching stay is your puppy breaking the stay position. If your puppy breaks, say “no” and return him to the same spot you started him in and repeat the stay. Returning the puppy to the same spot will help the puppy remember what he was doing. If you reposition him where he moved to, you will decrease the puppy’s steadiness and encourage a stay that “creeps” forward meaning the puppy will sit, then move forward a foot, sit again, move forward a foot, sit again, etc.
If you find your puppy is repeatedly breaking, it may be that you are moving too quickly from one time interval to another or adding distance too quickly. Try reducing the amount of time you are requiring them to stay and/or reducing the distance you are from him to help him be successful.
Once he is successfully staying at the reduced requirements, you can try increasing time or distance once again. If you are working in a distracting environment, try going to a quieter place and repeating the exercise.