A young puppy has the patience of an active toddler. When you first teach behaviors, keep durations short. What do I mean by that? Work up to a solid 20 second stay for things such as place or go to bed, sit stay, down stay, kennel doorways and wait. That’s the first benchmark. As soon as your puppy can remain still and calm for that amount of time (it may take the first few weeks to achieve this so be patient) then start adding the 4D’s: distance, duration, distractions and difficulty. Note: We teach more about this in our Online Puppy School. For more details, check it out!
Once your puppy is one year old, they should have enough patience to hold an hour-long stay, maybe more. So how do we go from 20 seconds to one hour? Each day add a few more seconds to the time. Give your puppy a treat intermittently to keep them in place for the desired time. Mix up when they get treats and which treat they get to keep them motivated.
Another helpful idea is to practice these while watching TV. Give your pup a break on the commercials. Stand up and play a game of fetch then start again when your show resumes. Practice the wait cue while you mop, vacuum or sweep. It helps your puppy to practice behaviors in real life situations. If you simply go through the motions for no reason their attention span will wear out. Make each day a new experience by changing up the location and training throughout the day as part of your day. Be creative.
In addition, I like to chart out three-month goals on a sheet (also included in our Online Puppy School.) Divide the year into quarters then work toward a 15 minute stay after the first three months, a 30 minute stay at the six month mark, a 45 minute stay at nine months and finally an hour at the year mark. These are just guidelines to keep you on pace.
Creating fool-proof stays requires lots of practice. Don’t push your puppy too hard too fast. We want most sessions to be successful and we always end the practice with a nice solid stay. Typically I shorten the last practice stay of the session to make sure it’s a positive one.
If you need help getting your puppy to stay, my team of trainers and I provide one-on-one coaching sessions via video. These are unlimited as part of our Online Puppy School membership. We love what we do and are happy to help you and your dog achieve success.