Teaching “Wait”

25September 2019

Teaching your dog a reliable Stay and Wait is something every good dog owner should want. See below to start with training your dog to Stay. As your dog gets better, make the training a little more difficult. If your dog makes a mistake a few times, take the training back a step. Always set your dog up to succeed.

Teaching your dog to “Wait” is a fantastic and helpful command.  It will also help teach your dog patience and help you in your every day life with your dog.

Means to a dog:  Stay in this place until I come BACK TO YOU to release you.

Means to a dog:  Stay in this place until I ask you to do something else.  
ANOTHER CUE will follow the wait command.

First you must start by teaching a proper Stay command.  Do not move onto teaching the Wait command until you have trained the Stay command in all 3 parts.
3 Parts to the Stay Cue:
1.  Duration (time)
2.  Distance
3.  Distraction

Release Cue:
This means to a dog, you are now free to do what you want.  Common Release Cues include:  Break, Free, & Go.  I highly discourage owners from using “Okay” as a release cue.  This is a very commonly used phrase, and your dog may be randomly released by a passing stranger.  Use commands that are not common in every day speech.

Training your dog to “Stay:  Step One.”
Training your dog to “Stay:  Step Two.”

To teach the Stay cue, put the dog into a Sit position next to you.  Teaching the Stay is another command you will need 2 hands for.  One hand will be giving your stop sign hand signal while the other hand delivers treats.  Put the leash under your foot to work without the distraction.  For this, you will also need a Release Cue.  Basically, you will rapidly feed your dog treats to remain in the Stay position.  We are teaching the dog that remaining in a Stay is highly rewarding.  As your dog is chewing the last treat, give your “Good,” then quickly give your Release Cue while turning on your heels and walking away.  Do not worry if your dog does not immediately follow.  After a few practice sessions, they will easily pick up the Release Cue.

To improve the cue, gradually make the dog wait longer between treats.  At first there may only be 1-3 seconds between treats.  As your dog improves, start making it harder and harder by making the dog wait a little longer between rewards.  Do not go too fast.  If you feel the dog is going to break the Stay, either treat them before they move, or release the dog before they release themselves.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to build up time before adding distance or distractions.  Building up a reliable Stay with time will make it easy to transition into training distance and distractions.  You should be able to get your dog to Stay for at least one minute before moving to adding distance.  Work on improving only one part of the stay cue at a time.  First duration, then distance, then distractions.

Other helpful links:
Come when Called Step One
Come when Called Step Two
Come when Called Off leash
Come when Called with Distractions