by Lynn Mayes
Due to being a complete idiot I had stay problems with my first dog. No one said “stays” were an important exercise at shows, not that I did many, but club progress nights were an embarrasing time!! I see my mistake being made by new handlers at the club and hear Pat saying “if you’re not sure, stay with your dog,don’t let it go wrong.” Such words of wisdom!
When I started training with Sophie I took it all in. And this is how we did it….
Teach your dog the sit, stand and down commands, use bribery (sausage, cheese, chicken – whatever the dog likes), then slowly move on to keeping them in whatever position you have put them in for just a few seconds at a time.
So; it’s Sophie sit, good girl (tit bit), then, so she knows she’s finished the sit-stay, pat her on chest and say finished. Don’t over praise when the dog has stopped its sit because, I think, if you go “finished, yes good dog, brilliant” etc. etc. you are actually praising them for moving, and that can cause problems. Gradually build up the sit, down or stand time by taking small steps away as well, don’t rush it. If Sophie moves I just say “wrong” and put her back where she was, then when she’s done a few seconds of sitting or whatever praise (good girl), release (pat on chest), then reward (tit bit) the best bit!
When teaching Rumour stays as a puppy I used to kneel down beside her and let her lick the tit bit for a few seconds before releasing her and letting her finish the tit bit off. I then moved onto stroking her quietly and gradually moving away a few steps at a time. It’s also a good idea to practise stays where ever you go, it only has to be for a few seconds but it builds confidence. It’s the same with any exercise, they “do it at home” or they’ve ” never done that before”. Whatever you expect from your dog, be consistent and do everything everywhere and praise when they get it right. If it’s wrong correct them without being horrible and restart what you were doing, then when it’s right praise and reward, after all you don’t work for free do you?
Dedicated to Pat Leverick: She was the one trainer who never said -as others did – “well its not a collie what do you expect”, nor did she tell me to go get a collie if I wanted to compete, she just taught me to have faith in my dogs and myself.