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Start this exercise with the dog sitting on your left side facing the same direction as you. Take the leash in your left hand holding it fairly short. Lightly restrain the dog by holding the leash back and slightly up (towards the dogs’ rear). This should be mild pressure, if you have too much pressure the dog will move backwards or jump up to relieve the pressure. Next swing your right hand across your body palm facing the dog and firmly command “STAY”. Do not get your hand to close to the dogs face and if you are working a small dog DO NOT bend down to the dog. You want the dog to watch you.

Once you have given the “stay” command step across the dogs’ path with your right foot and pivot to face the dog. You should almost be touching his toes. Make sure as you pivot in front of the dog that you extend your left arm to maintain steady pressure backward on the leash. If you pull your lead forward as you pivot the dog will get up.

Now count to five. You want a full five second count. Those of you with wiggly dogs cannot cheat with a rapid 5 count! If the dog starts to get up (you will notice that the dog tries to drop his head a bit when starting to stand or down) increase the leash pressure just enough that the dog stops moving. Again if you put to much pressure the dog will move backwards or jump up. Once the dog is settled back in position continue the 5 count. If the dog does manage to break out of the sit position simply lean over and place that hiney back on the ground without any commands then continue the count.

   When you have counted to 5 pivot back to the dogs side (where you started), release the pressure on the leash as you praise the dog then release with your end of exercise command. If the dog moves out of position when you praise simply put the dog back in the sit with no command and continue praising. The dog MUST wait to be released.

Work about 2 dozen stays at 5 seconds (not all at one time) then for every 5 stays add 5 seconds. So the first 24 at 5 seconds then the next 5 at 10 seconds the next 5 at 15 seconds etc. until you arrive at 30 seconds. This should take about 1-1 ˝ days to get to 30 seconds. Remember you are standing directly in front of the dog keeping steady leash pressure to assist the stay. As the time starts increasing you can use calm verbal praise while you are in front of the dog but do not repeat the commands of sit or stay.

When you have arrived at 30 second stays standing directly in front of the dog its time to move on. Now we will start adding distance. Start the dog the same as before. Hold your leash with the pressure up and back, command “stay”, pivot in front and take one step backwards (away from the dog). You will have to lean forward slightly to maintain steady leash pressure. When you add the new element of distance drop your time back to 5 seconds for the first 5 stays then as before increase the time by 5 seconds for every 5 stays you do. Work at this distance for 1 day.

   Next step; start as before with dog sitting and you holding pressure on the leash, command “stay”, pivot in front and take 2 steps backwards. You will now have to let the leash slip out a bit as you backup unless your arms are 4 feet long! This is the point where the dog makes the decision to obey the stay command as you are no longer assisting with the pressure. Because you have added a new element (more distance, lack of pressure) you will drop your time back to 5 seconds and work your way back to 30 seconds as described before. If the dog should break position use the leash to take the dog back to the original spot you left him in, place him back in position without command (or you may tell him “no”) and walk away again. If my dog moves 50 times I will place him back with a “no” 51 times! The dog soon gets the message that HE CANNOT MOVE when told to stay. It is very important not to repeat the commands of sit or stay when repositioning the dog; we want the dog to remember what he was told. The only way I can help the dog build memory is by saying nothing! 30 seconds is not a long span of time, most dogs can remember for that short span. Work at this level for 1-2 days.

Each day increase the distance you are away from your dog by 1 extra step until you are at the end of your 6 foot lead. Remember to drop the time to 5 seconds and work back to 30 with each increase in distance. Once you are at the 6 foot distance start increasing your time to 2-3 minutes but do it gradually.

Happy Training!!
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