Dog training commands should be simple, but can often become complicated and confusing for the dog (and human too).

For example, if one handler uses command “X” to mean one action for their dog, and then another person uses command “Y” for the same action, our dogs are left having to remember which word which person uses for which command, while handlers are left wondering why their dog isn’t understanding and preforming simple commands.

Pinball couch headtilt
“Say what?”

The dog’s internal response is probably the dog version of, “What ‘chu talk’n bout? The other guy uses “X,” you use ‘Y,” and honestly, I’m not sure what either of you mean.”

To make life easier for everyone, dog, handlers, parents, kids, dog-sitters, trainers, etc., it is imperative that everyone in the house use the same command for the same behavior.

This post is the first is a series of blogs on simple commands. This is re-posted from the Three Dogs Training website.

The Wait and the Stay commands are often used interchangeably. In a home with low distractions, one dog, and no kids, this is probably not a huge problem. However, when we start layering the distractions like kids, other dogs, many visitors, etc., the difference between Wait and Stay can mean the difference between successful management vs everyone running down the street chasing the fluffy lighten bolt that is their dog.

The definitions of Wait and Stay in standard dog training are:

  • Wait – Hang on a second or two, (a short duration) then receive a follow-up command or release word. Here is Pinball doing a simple wait at the door.
  • Stay – Hold position, freeze in place for an undetermined length of time (could be awhile).

The difference is often hard to see at first, but in the dog’s head it is a major difference in difficulty. Wait is something a dog can usually achieve even when they are cranked up by exciting visitors, or stressful situations. However, the Stay is harder to hold depending on how stressed or excited a dog might be.

To understand this in terms we humans experience, we need only look to air travel. We experience differences in difficultly between a short fifteen minute wait to board our airplane, verses the delayed flight that could be hours. One is much harder than the other for different reasons for different people, but in the end, the two different lengths of delay are very different demands on us.

Here are some sample situations where I would use the Wait and Stay commands differently:

– Dog wants to go outside, handler asks for wait before opening the door.
– Aunt Millie is knocking on the door, the dog is given the wait command, then, once Aunt Millie is in, the dog gets the go say hello command (for another blog).
– Baby drops toy, dog is headed to toy, ask dog for a wait, then be prepared to pick up toy before dog gets there, or redirect the dog with a touch command.
– I use stay for some veterinary visits and some grooming like ear cleaning, tooth brushing.
– At street corners, I will ask for a stay. I don’t know how long we will wait for the light, and I do want the dog frozen in place in this situation.
– In elevators, I will ask the dog for a stay, again I don’t know how long this will be and I do want the dog frozen as other people get on and off.

Your dog will learn the difference between these two commands because once you have an understanding of what the commands you are building look like, you will mark and reward the appropriate behaviors when your dog offers you the requested behavior.

Wait and Stay are two of the basic, essential commands I outline in Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs And they are initially covered in the Basic classes I teach, then expanded on in the Intermediate classes.

If your dog doesn’t have a good wait and a solid stay, it is time to do some homework.

Basic “go to” commands

In Please Don’t Bite the Baby, I write about the importance of training basic commands. In some ways dog training is like cooking. There are standard staple ingredients that go into complicated recipes and meals, and in dog training, we have standard commands that allow us to manage our dogs.Trista and Pingall Hmdepot

By using placement skills that essentially mean: come here, go there, don’t move, chill for awhile, greet politely, and others, we can control our dog’s behavior and help our dog understand what is expected in different situations.

Again, like cooking, you really only need to know how to make the things you eat (unless you are a professional). This is also true in dog training. Every household with a dog will require a different set of commands that their dog will need to be able to follow.

“In this excerpt from page 55 of Please Don’t Bite the Baby, I list what I consider to be the standard set of skills every dog should have.

“basic skills to build a foundation for communicating with and verbally managing your dog are critical with a baby in the home.

  • All done teaches your dog that the game or activity is over. You will need to provide rewards for the first several weeks whenever you say “all done.”
  • Come should be paid for exceedingly well for the first six months. Jackpot your dog when he gets to you, and when fading rewards, only reduce to intermittent rewards. Your dog should get a reward for come every now and then, forever.
  • Down: Your dog’s entire body is lying down; butt, hips, and elbows are touching the floor.
  • Drop it (some use give): Your dog should drop items from her mouth on command. This should be one of the greatest games you ever play with your dog so she loves to give up things.
  • Go say hello: Your dog will move forward to greet a person without jumping.
  • Go sniff: You can direct your dog away from anything or any- one, including your baby, with a simple hand gesture.
  • Leave it: Your dog should not go toward, sniff, pick up, or bark at an object that you indicate. In short, this command means “Don’t even think about it.”
  • Off: Your dog should get off the counter, the couch, you, your guests, or anything he is on. Do not use down. Human language works having one word mean different things in different contexts, but dogs need each command to have one meaning.
  • Settle: Your dog should relax on cue in a spot you indicate.
  • Sit: Your dog’s butt is on the floor. Don’t repeat your command. Sit is the most often repeated command. This repetition teaches dogs to sit on three or four commands or to ignore the command, or it just cranks up their energy.
  • Stand: Your dog is standing still on all four feet. This command allows you to wipe paws, do tick checks, and make sure your dog doesn’t think sit is just the beginning of down by allowing you to use stand between a sit and a down.
  • Stay: Your dog is essentially frozen in place. She is at military attention until you release her with the all-done command.
  • Wait is the equivalent of “hang on a second.” Your dog should literally pause for two to thirty seconds—it is a short break in your dog’s activity.

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting more detailed descriptions and videos of each of these.

Stay tuned…