Stay Drills

Ranger and I have been working on “Stay” so that he can be the boss of the CGC test.

I have to admit, I have had trouble coming up with interesting ways to talk about “Stay”.

Even pictures are boring. “Here is a picture of a dog nothing-ing”.  Alert the media.  [Note: In the header picture, the media were in fact alerted to Ranger’s Stay].

But, since some of you may be using these posts for actual Information, that I can provide.  So here’s a little summary of what might be a few less-common Stay drills than you have practiced before.

  • “Don’t move toward the treat” stays

    • I have Ranger lie down or sit, then the fun begins.  I relentlessly tease him with the treat.  Wave it by the left side of is face – if he twitches out of position, it goes away.  If he stays still, he gets the reward.  Then we move to over his head, in front of him, dropped by his feet… all around.  Sure, a 40 foot stay is great, but what if a grasshopper bounces by right next to your dog when you’re 40 feet away?  Make sure that close by distractions are already covered.
  • “I’m a complete idiot” stays

    • When we go to the park, I don’t JUST sit on my iPhone while the kids go nuts.  I chase them, play “Monster” make weird noses, flail around.  Heck sometimes sitting at home I do random movements, or laugh, or other types of distractions.  If your dog will only stay when you are standing in front of him holding your hand in his face saying “STAAAYYYYYY”, this behavior will never ever be useful.  So Ranger practices some stays while mommy jumps up and down, makes noises, turns in a circle, sits down, crouches (this one is haaaard for him), and all sorts of other things.
  • “FREEEE” proofing

    •  Ranger’s release cue is a very specific, high pitched “Freee!”  So, when we work on stays, sometimes we also work in him NOT releasing himself when he hears other words, even when spoken in the release “voice”.  Pop into our house one evening and you might see me standing in the kitchen saying “CATERPILLAR!”  “ARTICHOKE!” “OPOSSUM!” or “CHEESE!” while a very twitchy Labrador anxiously awaits The Word.
  • Weeping Angel stays

    • Ok, so if you are not a Dr. Who fan, I pity you greatly.  If you are, then you may have some idea of what this type of stay means.  Instead of putting Ranger in a specific position directly in front of me and then asking him to Stay, I sometimes just try to catch a doggy “freeze frame”.  So we may be working and he is standing at an angle to me just wagging his tail, or in a down position at my side, and I ask him to Stay right there where he is at.  Complete stillness earns the reward; any motion and he misses out.  Again, I want a USEFUL behavior.  Just today, Ranger was bouncing in front of me being a goober and he caught his collar on my woven alpaca blanket.  The world screeched to a halt (you don’t understand how much I love my blanket) and I told him “STAY” and he stood for me while I removed his collar so I could work the tag off.  Hallelujah.

Besides these more quirky ways of practicing, we also do basic work on the duration of the stay as well as my distance from Ranger. We also mix in some more fun behaviors so that he does not get bored of just sitting there – Ranger gets very excited at training time and I like to use some of that energy for working on snappy position changes and fast recalls.

Once Ranger has these down pat, I’ll move on to graduate level work.  My darling Collie, Lady, would perform a Down-Stay at the entrance of PetSmart with a treat on each paw while I walked around the store, so despite Ranger’s continued progress, I know there is always more to strive for.


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