"Can she stay?" "Well; we can try." Picture a silent movie playing in fast motion; that is what many of my shoots look like. If stay is not on the list of things to do for the model today; I snap like mad until they inevitably slow down. And with most of my shoots; the very best is saved for the last. The dog or dogs are tired; they have stopped moving at top speed and I can get some wonderful animated and very real expressions. So; stay.........hmmmmmmm, really stay? Like not move at all? Or just stay in the same sort of vicinity? Stay is a toughie if you've never contemplated asking your dog to do this. So let's talk about it.
An official Stay in the competitive obedience ring means exactly that; the dog is to stay in the exact spot they have been placed into. That means if you put your dog into a sit, stay; they must stay sitting. A down stay; yep they have to remain in a down position. But that is the official type stay; for me stay means to stay in the same spot. I really don't care if the dog lies down from a sit; they can sit or lie down but they cannot stand. Stand is far too difficult to control movement; how much do you allow? One toe move? Two? Stand is hard for a stay; so it is sit or down for me.
There are a few essential for the optimum stay training:
1. Enforcing; you must enforce a stay. If you actually use the word stay and expect that in the near future your dog will stay when told then you MUST enforce. Do not use the word "stay" willy nilly. Don't tell your dog to stay and then forget and go do something. Do not ask them to stay if you just want them to sort of hang around.
2. Do not call your dog out of a stay; this gives way to the idea that at some point they will be coming to you out of the stay. Always return to your dog and then release them. That way they will never anticipate coming to you and break a stay.
3. Choose one release word; doesn't matter what it is but everyone should know it. This word is the only way your dog can move from a stay position.
4. Do not set your dog up for failure; start with no distractions, very short time and distance away. Begin easy; with each small success you can then up the "stay" requirements in distance, time and distractions.
Stay is one of the most important things that you can teach your dog. Sure it comes in handy if you'd like their photo taken; but on a day to day basis it is very useful. The more vocabulary that your dog understands; the easier it is to communicate. Plus when you can communicate "stay;" there is much less man handling needed.