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5 Reasons Your Dog Doesn't Stay + How to Train Dog to Stay | Pupford

September 27th, 2023

Filed under Training

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We’ve received a lot of messages from people asking questions (and some desperate pleas) about why their dogs won’t stay when they ask. And, of course, how to teach a dog to stay.

If you find yourself in this situation with your dog, don’t worry!

It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed as a dog parent and all your training has gone to waste.

Quite the opposite -- this is a great opportunity to solidify your dog’s training foundation with a few new techniques.

First, a quick poll ⤵️

Now that we know where your dog stands with “stay,” let’s get into it!

Here are all the things we’ll be covering in this article:

  • 5 reasons your dog won’t stay
  • What to do when your dog won’t stay
  • 5 ways to get your dog to stay

Let’s start with the big question: why?

5 Reasons Your Dog Doesn’t Stay

5 reasons your dog won't stay | Pupford

There are a few possible reasons your dog isn’t responding successfully to the “stay” behavior.

Here are the most common ⬇️

🐶 Learn how to teach your dog to stay with our 100% free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up free here! 🐶

1. They Don’t Understand What You’re Asking

If your dog doesn’t seem to respond to the behavior at all, they might not understand what you are asking of them.

This happens when you move a little too quickly through the training progressions and your dog hasn’t quite grasped what the behavior means.

Potentially, your dog hasn't had enough successful 'stays' to really ingrain the behavior.

Related Reading: 21 Dog Training Mistakes

2. Their Impulses Reward Them With Something Better


Dogs have impulses, especially when they’re around other people or animals.

If they follow those impulses and are rewarded with something more exciting than their “stay” reinforcement (like getting to chase a squirrel around the park), they’ll pick the better reward.

3. You’ve Never Trained With Distractions

If you’ve only had training sessions in quiet environments with no distractions, your pup might not know how to focus when there’s a lot going on in the situation.

Training with distractions is super important for teaching your pup how to focus on you and your cues even when there are other things going on.

This concept is often called proofing, and it is vital for a well-behaved pup. Learn more about generalization in dog training and proofing here.

4. Your Reinforcements Aren’t Strong Enough


The work has to be worth the reward!

Training with high-value training treats will encourage your dog to follow through with behavior cues.

🐶 Learn how to teach your dog to stay with our 100% free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up free here! 🐶

5. You’re Asking Them To Do Too Much

Are you using multiple variations of “stay?”

Are you giving a different cue right away when pup doesn’t respond to “stay” right away?

Asking them for too many things at once can confuse or overwhelm them.

Additionally, asking them to do too much can mean you're asking them to stay for a full minute when they can barely stay for 10 seconds...

Baby steps!

What To Do When Your Dog Doesn’t Stay


The most important thing to do when your dog won’t stay is to correct the behavior as soon as possible. This will not only keep your pup and other animals safe, but it will help get your training back on track.

In this case, repetition will be key.

You’ll want to work on “stay” in several short training sessions per week -- be patient, you’ll want to make sure your dog is really nailing every step.

Read on ⤵️

5 Ways to Teach Your Dog to Stay

brown-dog-waiting-for-a-cue-to-do-a-trick | Pupford

Sure, we said you need to be consistent, but consistently doing what?

Here are five ways to help get your dog to stay ⏬

Change Up Your Training Session

There are three major components to “stay”: how far away you are from your dog (distance), what is happening in your dog's environment (distractions) and how long you ask them to be in the stay (duration).

You’ll want to work on them separately in the beginning, putting even emphasis on all three.

Then, combine them in later training sessions. It will be easier for your dog to grasp this way!

Reward More Often

This is especially important when working on duration stays.

You’ll want to make sure to reward frequently throughout the stay, and if you want to increase the time between rewards, do so gradually over a few training sessions.

If you’re worried about overfeeding your dog with too many rewards, use low-calorie training treats!

🐶 Learn how to teach your dog to stay with our 100% free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up free here! 🐶

Utilize a Long Lead


A lead of about 30 feet will help you train more difficult behaviors while staying in control. This will also help keep pup safe and sound for those “stay” attempts that don’t go so well.

You should use your long lead for all “stay” training sessions, but it’s even more important for distance stays!

Learn more about long lead training here.

Train With Distractions

If you’ve ever played a sport, your coach probably told you to “practice like you play.”

The same goes for training your dog. You’ll want to train them in similar situations as when you’ll use the real cue word.

So think about the situations where you’d ask your dog to stay: it will likely be when other people or animals are around, or in a situation where you really want your dog closeby. So it only makes sense to train with distractions around.

The key is to start with no distractions, and as your dog progresses, slowly introduce more and more distractions.

For example, you’ll want to introduce the behavior in your home with no distractions, and eventually work to train the behavior in a park.

Improve Impulse Control

Depending on your dog’s breed, they may have a tendency to be energetic, reactive, or impulsive. To better help your dog stay when there are distractions, you’ll want to work on impulse control.

Related Reading: Reactive Dog Training

We’ve specifically designed a training course with 21 games to help control impulses and keep your dog focused during training sessions.

It comes with an explanation of why each game is helpful, instructional GIFs so you can visualize the steps of each game, as well as lifetime access to all the games on any device.

Get access to 21 Impulse Control Games here!

Teaching Your Dog to Stay Recap


So if your dog is having trouble with “stay,” don’t worry. They’ll get it with a little patience and practice with you!

If you’re working on “stay” with your dog right now, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

What has helped you the most?

🐶 Learn how to teach your dog to stay with our 100% free course, 30 Day Perfect Pup. Sign up free here! 🐶


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