It’s easy to teach one’s dog to sit on demand, because it is something that dogs tend to do naturally. Teaching your dog to sit and wait until you release him is another matter. This trick takes some patience, time and quite a few tricks. I often hear people telling their dogs to wait or to stay, assuming that this will make the dog stay in place. However, unless you specifically taught your dog to stay in position (sitting or lying down, or in any other position), your dog won’t know that he has to stay until released. Let’s fix it! Teaching the dog to stay is about teaching him self-control, which is also helpful for dogs having issues with excitability, meeting visitors etc.
Before you begin, think about your release word. It could be something like “off you go”, “off”, “thank you” or some other word that you would naturally use. Make sure it’s not something your dog would often hear in other contexts – probably, “OK” is not the best choice. Once you have your word, treats and clicker ready, you can begin training in a quiet space. Here is how to teach your dog to sit\down and wait: in 10 steps:
- Say “sit” or “down” once (just once!). You can also use a gesture.
- Once the dog sits down, click & treat.
- Wait 1 second and click & treat again.
- Wait another second and click & treat again.
- Say “off you go” or your release word.
- Repeat 20-30 times daily for a few days.
- Once the dog can stay for 1-2 seconds, increase the intervals between treats.
- As you increase the intervals, you can also start moving around. Begin with a couple of steps backwards, maintaining contact with your dog.
- Once you’re able to move around the room, try going behind your dog or turning away from him.
- Your next step is to walk out of the room. Begin by disappearing for a second and then gradually increase the time.
Important: don’t forget to click & treat while your dog is still waiting, and make sure you say “off you go” if he decides to leave. Even if you’re a bit late, still say it: your dog will associate this word with release. In a way, you will still remain in control.
Remember, your dog will do what you teach him or her to do. Why not try teaching your dog some self-control this weekend? Good luck!