The Sit/Stay Command

May 01, 2017

--by Julie Morrill

After we teach a puppy to sit and remain sitting for a few seconds, we want to extend his sitting time. Some of our trainers say "sit" and "stay;" some only say "sit," because we expect him to remain in his commanded position until we blow our whistle or say “here” or “okay.” (Both the whistle and “here” command mean come to us; “okay” is a release command that means the pup is free to run around and be free to do whatever he likes.)

Why teach a puppy to sit and stay? MMK’s philosophy is that we determine how much dog we have in the house, rather than the dog determining how much dog we have in the house. In other words, we want a dog to know his place in the house is on a mat or pillow until we specifically, intentionally call him off of that place. We don't want a dog to have free reign of the house, because some people, namely visitors, may like dogs, but not necessarily love them to the point of being licked to death by them. When a dog is on his pillow, guests can walk up to the dog, visiting him and petting him as much as they want.

We teach a puppy to stay by slowly backing a step or two away from him as he’s sitting. If he takes even one step forward toward us, we give him a loud, growly “Naaah!” reprimand that sounds a lot like his own dog language. Then we tell him to sit again. Once he looks like he’s firmly planted in that sit position, we take one or two steps backward again. If he moves again, we repeat the above. If he remains sitting, we call him with “Here!” and reward him with a kibble treat. We repeat this series of commands until we can take five to ten steps away from him. Then we reward him with one final kibble treat, give him lots of loving praise, and end the session.

By the time our six weeks of training is complete, we can command a puppy to sit or lie down on a mat and back away 30-40 paces, even walking around corners or hiding behind trees, before giving him the “here” command for him to move from his mat and come to us. We also teach a puppy to sit or lie down and remain on a mat or pillow in the house for longer and longer periods of time by walking around, completing other chores and activities, and then calling him to come with the “here” command. The goal is to teach your puppy to remain in his designated place indefinitely without coming off until you give him a “here” or “okay” command.

Teaching your dog to sit and/or lie down in a designated place and stay there is an invaluable command for instilling good manners wherever you might be. It’s great for basic, everyday behavior around the house, but is especially important for when you have guests over to visit and you don’t want your dog jumping up on them. The “sit/stay” command is one of the first commands we teach young puppies in our Marble Mountain Kennels “Super Citizen” program and we recommend it to any new puppy owner. Remember, if you reward your pup with kibble treats and tons of praise, he’ll be eager to please you and be easy to train.

Happy training to you!

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