How to Train a Dog to Stay: Training 2 Pitties

Why it’s Important For Your Dog to Stay

One of the most important things you can do as a pet owner is train a dog to stay.

Not only is it important so they don’t jump when you walk in the door, it also keeps your dog safe and prevents them from running out into the street or jumping out of the car.

I use the “stay” command mainly during meal time. Before my dogs learned this command they would jump up and knock the bowl over or run for the bowl and scratch up my hands.

There have been a few times when I told Cali to stay and forgot to release her from the command.

One time I forgot and watched an entire episode on Netflix, only to turn and find her sitting next to the bowl staring at me; drooling. What a good girl! 

How I Trained My Dogs to Stay


The first thing that I do before teaching my dogs anything is taking them for a walk. This tires them out.

If a dog is hyper and full of energy it will be difficult for them to pay attention and focus on you.

Once we get back from the walk I’ll cut up a handful of treats into small pieces.

This way they only get a small taste and will want to work for more, and also the less they eat, the less likely you’ll have a chubby puppy.

If your dog responds more to toys than treats, you can also use that as a reward for holding the command.

After that, I start training by sitting on the floor and getting level with my puppy. Dogs tend to listen better when you’re not towering over them.

If your puppy knows any other tricks, start with these and reward him to get him into training mode. Once he’s excited to learn, I’ll move on to the next step. 

train a dog to stay puppy looking up

Level 1

When you want to train a dog to stay, you need to teach them what the command looks like. I introduced my puppy to the word, along with holding my flat to his face has a hand signal.

Make sure that when you say your command it is in a calm, but firm tone.

Saying a command in your high pitch puppy talk voice (we all have one) will only make your dog excited and and stop him from being focused.

I believe that it is important to use both verbal and visual commands as dogs can have different learning styles.

Cali responds better to verbal commands but Archie does better with hand signals.

Another cute benefit of hand signals is that it’s an awesome tool to use while making home movies.

Imagine your dog doing cool tricks without you screaming at them passive aggressively in the background? 

train a dog to stay holding treat

Level 2

After saying the command for the first time while using the hand signal I will take a treat and hold it away from the puppy’s face. I will then say the word “stay” along with the hand signal.

If you get any positive behavior from your puppy such as eye contact, or hesitation to take the treat, immediately give them a reward and show your excitement.

Do this step over and over again to show positive reinforcement.

Try to take longer periods of time in which your puppy holds the command and they will begin to understand what you want from them. 

train a dog to stay puppy looking at treat

Level 3

Once you can see that your puppy is grasping the command, try to change the situation but keep the same energy, command, and signal.

Instead of holding the treat in your hand, slowly place the treat on the ground and move your hand away while giving the command and hand signal.

Even if your puppy holds the command for a second, reward him greatly. This is a completely different task in your puppy’s head than when the treat was in your hand.

As you practice this, try to distance the time that your puppy holds the command. This is huge progress. So make sure you give yourself a pat on the back too!

train a dog to stay puppy focused

Level 4

After you can get your puppy to ignore a treat you place on the ground, make it more interesting .

Try dropping the treat on the ground or tossing it away from the puppy and give him the command.

This will help the puppy get used to the command in different environments. Just remember to always reward the puppy when they do something positive!

train a dog to stay new tricks

Level 5

At this point your puppy is almost a black belt at the “stay” command. You should be using the command throughout the day with different objects.

I would focus especially on the main places you want to use the command in real life such as the front door, or their food bowl.

You should also continue to change the environments in which you use the command so your dog can be prepared to hear the command at any time. This builds trust between you and your dog.

Practice telling your dog to stay and leave the room for a few seconds. If they hold the command, give them a big reward. Try giving the command and then running to the front door. 

Once your dog is a master at everything above you can start to practice outside.

You can try the dog park or a beach on a slow day. Make sure you practice on a really long leash until you are absolutely positive that your dog will stay and come to you on command. 


The “stay” command is one of the most important commands that you can teach your dog. This command can keep your dog in the bathtub, and keep them out of harm’s way.

I hope this article helps you learn how to train a dog to stay. I also hope that this helps put your mind at ease when it comes to their safety.

Always remember to have a long leash when you are practicing in open spaces. Never leave the house with your dog without a leash.

Even if you are confident in your dog and your training, you never know what can happen in the world that is out of your control.

Did you train your dog this command successfully in a different way? Let me know in the comments!

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