With a “soft” dog like Arthur, proofing the stay can be a trick because he likes to be right in your pocket. But teaching a reliable stay is a great confidence builder for a worried dog. It is also a great thing for a dog to have on his resume; you never know when a situation is going to come up when you need your dog to just stay put.
Also, it is great for posing for photos!
This post explains an easy way to teach a dog to stay. As I explained,
when I am at the farthest point away from the dog, I click and then return with the treat. I like the dog to maintain eye contact during this time. If he is watching me he is less inclined to be distracted by things that might tempt him to move.
Proofing the stay involves teaching the concept of what “stay” means. Sit here, even if I walk away. Sit here even if I call another dog. Sit here even if I go out of sight.
There are loads of ways to proof a stay. The “stay” command is like a muscle; it gets stronger in time as long as it is consistently reinforced.
Teaching the “down stay” is generally easier because it takes more energy for the dog to get up and move. “Sit stay is more difficult; so I tend to teach that first. As we go along, I up the ante, introducing more temptations and making the stay more difficult.
Arthur went to his first class with me on Friday night and made me proud by staying in place despite being in a totally new environment around a bunch of strange dogs. He was able to transfer all those lessons with Til in the farm store, to a new environment.
He did break a couple of times. But it is normal for a dog to get up and walk out of a stay in these early stages of training. If that happens, it’s not a big deal. He just gets taken back to the same spot and told again.
Here are some videos of Arthur in various stages of proofing.