How to Train a Dog to Stay in 5 Simple Steps

Key takeaways

Teaching a dog to sit and stay is a valuable and practical lesson. It will help you become a responsible pet parent and make sure your dog stays safe.

However, the training process can take time and a lot of patience.

Don't waste your time by using outdated or ineffective training methods. Instead, follow our five simple steps!

These include starting in a controlled environment, using basic commands, increasing the distance, repetition, and patience.

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. 5 Steps to Train a dog to stay
  3. FAQs
  4. Final thoughts

5 Steps to Train a dog to stay

Stay training is an essential activity for a new puppy and dogs of any age. Ensuring your dog stays put when they need to can ensure their safety and yours. By feeling more in control of your pup's behavior, you'll be more confident on walks and experiencing different situations together.
This helps your dog become less reactive, making both you and your pup’s life easier and less stressful.

1. Start training in a controlled environment

When you start dog training, you need to make sure you keep your dog safe and help them focus by practicing in a controlled and secure environment.
Choose somewhere that is:





Already known to your dog

If you have a backyard, then this is the ideal place. Because your dog is familiar with the smells and sounds, they are less likely to get distracted and want to explore. If you don't, then you may have to take your dog to a friend's house or practice indoors until you feel ready to try your tricks elsewhere.
German shepherd being trained in their front garden
Top Tip: Making sure you are relaxed in the area is important, too. Dogs can easily pick up on stress or tension, which will make it difficult for them to feel confident and relaxed.

2. Use basic commands with simple actions

The first command you should start with is the position you want them to remain in when they are staying. This is often a 'sit,' which can work well to make sure your dog is relaxed and comfortable enough to stay.
To start using this command, use the following steps:


Stay close to your dog and say 'sit'


If they do sit, wait a moment and then reward them with a treat


If they don't, gently put light pressure on their lower back to cause them to sit


Wait a moment and then reward them with a treat

Repeat this until you no longer need to be by their side.
You should also implement a release word that your dog will associate with good behavior so they know they have completed a command. You should say this word just before giving them a treat. Common options include:

Good boy/girl

Good dog

Well done

Two dog owners walking their dog in the woods

3. Gradually increase distance

Now your dog understands the sit command, try to repeat this as you gradually build the distance between you both.
When they are sat, increase the time you wait before giving them a treat. You can also try moving away from them when they are sat. If they go to follow you, repeat the 'sit' command or introduce the 'stay' command.
An owner struggling to train their dog to stay

4. Repeat, repeat, repeat

Once your dog understands the stay cue, you should keep repeating it in different environments and situations. Try the following:

Dinner time: When you next feed your dog dinner, put their food down on the floor and use the stay cue. See if they can resist tucking into their food, and reward them if they can!

On walks: During walks, when your dog is off the leash, command them to stay at random moments. This will help consolidate their training.

Before approaching other dogs or people: If you have a particularly excitable pup, then using the stay command before they bound up to other dogs can help keep them safe.

Suggestion: If your dog is getting more and more confident, why not try to associate the stay cue with a hand signal?
A dog waiting to eat their dinner

5. Have patience

This might seem like simple steps, but every dog thinks and processes things differently. To teach a dog a new trick or command, you need to have patience and understand that the above steps will need plenty of repetition and time for your pup to learn the meaning of the commands.
Remember to give your dog lots of rewards and lots of breaks!
A dog owner cuddling their dog


How long does it take to train a dog to stay?

A focused puppy can learn how to stay in a couple of days. For older dogs, it may take a little longer, but normally, most dogs will be able to learn this command in under a week.

How old is too late to train a dog?

No age is too old for a dog to be trained. Every dog, whether they're a puppy or a senior, will be able to learn new tricks!

How do you train a dog to stay beside you?

You can train a dog to stay beside you by using a command word and rewarding positive behavior. Repeat your practice, and be sure to use a release word so your dog understands the behavior they are being rewarded for.

What is the hardest dog command?

There are many difficult dog commands, but some of the hardest include training them to speak on command, stand up on their back legs, and stay at your heels while on a walk.

What are release words for dogs?

Release words are used in dog training to teach your dog that a specific position or behavior is the one they are being rewarded for. When you use it, it tells your furry friend that they have successfully completed the trick.

What order do you teach dogs commands?

You should teach dog commands in the easiest first order. This means you can keep gradually increasing the difficulty of the tricks you are teaching.

Final thoughts

Whether you've got an adult dog or a puppy, training them to stay is a valuable and practical trick that will help you be a responsible pet parent. When you're out and about or visiting family and friends, you'll be confident that you have full control over your furry friend!
Remember, patience and dedication are key! It may feel frustrating at first, but keep trying. Your dog will enjoy the training sessions, and it's a great opportunity to bond!

Written by

Image of the author
Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

Language selection