With my new clicker and bag of treats handy we set out. It was time to work on Zero’s stay command. I walked him to a field behind our apartment and unleashed him. He took off, jumping over plants, and chasing mice. I grabbed some treats and called him. He noticed the treats and came galloping over. I praised him, gave him a few treats, and asked him to sit. Let the training begin.
I knew I needed to work on Zero’s stay so I looked it up on Emily Larlham’s YouTube channel Kikopup. Watching her and her dog was amazing and really inspired me to become a better trainer. Before I jumped my guns I looked up what Victoria Stillwell had to say about stay. I found her YouTube channel with a very similar video, ultimately I found Emily’s better. If you watch both videos back to back you can tell which trainer is superior. Victoria Stillwell may be more famous, she even boasts a television show “It’s Me or the Dog”, but she wasn't as good at keeping her dog in a simple stay. Emily also taught a “sit-stay” which means the dog stays anytime they are told to sit, which is a very good practice.
Now came the tricky part. I asked Zero to stay and automatically clicked and treated. I kept clicking and treating at random quick intervals. After a couple minutes of that I released him with the cue “okay”. He ran off, sniffed some plants, and came back to me. He’s very food motivated and wanted to get more treats. I thought back to the videos and kept increasing distance and duration of his stays while making sure that I wasn't just making it harder. Emily’s video says to make sure you’re always spontaneous. This ensures your dog doesn't know when they’re going to get their next treat and will keep them interested. Anytime he got up without his cue I got him back into a sit and started again.
Zero is no master at stay, but hopefully he will be soon enough. He’s a lot better at staying inside than he is in an exciting field, but one day location won’t matter.
Training tip: Scatter your dog's meals on the floor! Fast eaters will need to slow down and it creates a game that even picky eaters will enjoy.
Kimberly Ward is an aspiring Young Adult author. When she’s not playing with her dog, she is usually reading YA novels (for research and obviously not pleasure), playing video games, browsing social media, and photographing the world around her. If she cannot be found she is most likely in her meticulously placed hammock on her balcony.