How to Train a Dog to Stay

How that she’s mastered the sit command, naturally, you want to teach your dogs some more advanced tricks and teaching her to stay is right up that alley. Stick around as we share our favorite strategies, tips, and tricks on how to train a dog to stay.

Training your dog to stay is a basic command every dog should learn and can be especially useful in a variety of scenarios.

From keeping your dog safe while parking your car to calming her down when you’re entertaining guests or when you’re moving something heavy like furniture or an appliance; there are plenty of situations that the stay command could be used.

The only caveat to teaching your dog to stay is it’s not the easiest command for your dog to master, considering it will take every fiber of her being to ignore the variety of scents, sounds and sit still because they are generally always up to something.

But it’s not impossible.

With a bit of patience, persistence, and the right training, it’s fairly easy to teach any dog how to stay. However, to be successful, it’s important you get off on the right foot or in this case, paw.

Define the Rules

She needs to understand what’s expected of her; this will create a trusting and secure environment for her and boost her confidence as well. That means properly defining the “stay” command.

You’ll need to teach her the command in several life stages, including teaching the command in reverse so she can clearly understand it. Don’t worry, we aren’t not showing you advanced dog training techniques for show dogs, but we only want to set you up for success.

A dog that has mastered the “stay” command will remain sitting until the release command is given. Teaching your dog to “stay” on command is a great way for her to learn patience, and our goal is to get her to remain sitting until we issue the release command, then we can gradually increase the distance.

That’s why the first rule when training a dog to stay is to teach your dog a release command. Don’t overcomplicate things here; it can be as simple as “okay” or “dismissed.”

If you’ve already taught her the release cue, great job on your part, you’re ahead of the pack. For the rest of you who’ve got no idea, don’t worry, we’ve covered it in our guide on how to train a dog to stay.


First off, to teach your dog to stay, she should have learned the sit command. This is because when training a dog to stay, you typically want to start in the sit position.

If you haven’t don’t worry, check out our how to train a dog to sit guide and you’ll be good to go.

Our training philosophy is primarily based on positive reinforcement dog training. We are trying to encourage good behavior by rewarding your dog when she does what you want.

It’s not bribing your dog for good behavior but to train her with something she loves.

Choose a reward: a treat or favorite toy

That’s why it’s important to find out what she loves the most because we’ll be using it for positive reinforcement. It can be something as simple a piece of meat, a slice of an apple, a carrot, dried liver, a treat, or even her favorite kibble.

Don’t over complicate things, see what she likes the most, and use it as the reward for complying with your commands.

It’s a great way of motivating her to do what you want, and in our case, it’s getting her to stay.

The reward doesn’t necessarily have to be food or a treat; it could also be a favorite toy that your dog loves. We recommend using your typical dog biscuits since you’ll need more than a few for an effective training session.

3, 5-minute Training sessions daily

Additionally, we recommend scheduling short training sessions spread out through the day instead of one long session. Try and go for a 5-minute training session three times a day since dogs have a pretty short attention span and will get bored easily.

Get in the mood

You also want to train her when you’re in high spirits, fresh, and energetic, not when you’re tired from work or house chores. It’s especially important when training puppies in order for you to build a trusting, loving bond instead of traumatizing her when she tries your patience.

Keep expectations real

Don’t forget that your dog isn’t a human, and like a 2-year old, you don’t her expect for her to pick up on things very quickly.

It’s going to take time for her to be able to associate a command with behavior, so remember to be patient, persistent, and to train her consistently.

Choosing your training grounds

In every kind of obedience dog training, you want to train her in a quiet, distraction-free environment where her focus and attention will be directed at you.

Training her outdoors is a recipe for disaster so tray and pick a room in the house, e.g. the basement or the back yard where you won’t be disturbed.

However, make sure it’s a comfortable spot for her to stay in for a while, so no cold or wet spots.

Introduce the Release Word

It’s time to teach her the release the word.

Feel free to get creative here but make sure you’re consistent with it. We recommend going for something as simple “all right” or “okay.”

Teaching her the release word is fairly straightforward.

Start with your dog or puppy in the sit position or down position—check out this guide on how to train a dog to lay down.

Pick her favorite treat and toss it the side a few feet away to prompt to chase after it. Now, it’s crucial you get the timing spot on, issue the release command the moment she steps forward to get her tasty treat.

Do this as a couple of time so she can associate the word with moving freely. After a while, when you feel she’s understood it, issue the release the command first and then toss the treat once she’s on the move.

Notice how we started by tossing the treat then issuing the command and then we switched to issue the release command before tossing the treat.

The Stay Command

Before you can teach your dog the “stay” command, she should have mastered how to sit on cue or even the down position which is especially useful when calming her down if she’s overly excited.

Issue the sit command and when she complies give her a tasty treat, this way you’ll have her full attention because one treat is never enough.

Now stretch out your hand with your palm open facing her and simultaneously issue the “stay” command. The verbal cue, combined with the hand gesture helps her to understand to stay where she is.

Pause for a few seconds before giving her another treat for staying in the sitting position before releasing her. When training your dog, it’s important not to issue the command repeatedly.

Otherwise, she may come to learn that a few repetitions are acceptable before she can comply.

You also want to issue the “stay” command in a relatively happy or normal tone—save your firm voice for when she doesn’t comply. And don’t forget to use the hand gesture and voice at the same time so she can learn that both mean the same.

If she gets up before you issue the release command, it’s cool; you don’t need to use your firm voice. It means you’re taking things a bit too fast and she isn’t ready to stay sitting for that long.

Common Pitfalls to avoid

  • Since we’re using treats to get her to stay, we often carry them with us, which is okay. However, when you issue the stay command, it’s important not to have a treat in your hand since she’ll want it and come after it.
  • Additionally, you shouldn’t call out her name from the “stay” position. She will learn to expect a recall from the “stay” position, so you only want to give her the release cue—only until she’s mastered how to “stay” on cue.

Ramp it Up

By now, she should be able to “stay” for a few seconds at least, and it’s time to ramp things up and make it a bit more challenging. From the sit position, issue the “stay”’ command and give her treat when she stays.

Now try and backing away from her slowly. She may try and follow, and that’s when you can use your firmer tone to correct her. It can be something as simple as “no” or “ah-ah”—I’m sure you get the gist of it and don’t forget to treat when she complies.

To make it even more challenging, try and extend the duration she stays sitting or going much further away from her, you could even try leaving her line of sight.

Before trying these more challenging techniques, we recommend having her master how to stay for at least 30 seconds.

There you have it folks, our four easy steps on how to train a dog to stay. We did our best to create this article, and in case we missed anything, or if there’s anything you’d like to add, do let us know in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.