We are getting closer to our final command: the recall. This week we will be learning the first crucial part of that exercise. The “stay” command. Before you can teach your dachshund to come, they need to be able to stay. Stay is an important command for so many reasons. I use it when I want Flash to lie down while our guests eat a meal, or when I have dropped something on the floor. Most of all I use the “down-stay” command when a new person comes over. Being in a down position helps him to stay more relaxed and discourages him from barking unnecessarily.
There are two different positions we are going to learn the stay command in: sit and down. These are called “sit-stay” and “down-stay” respectively. First We will look at the “sit-stay”. You absolutely must practice this command on a leash! Remember, following through and being consistent is crucial to your dachshund learning to listen. You cannot enforce a stay if your dachshund decides to run away unless they are tethered to you with a leash. I truly cannot stress this enough! For stay commands we will NOT be using a food reward as it might teach your dachshund to become antsy and impatient in their stay.
For the “sit-stay” you want to start out with your dachshund sitting in (you guessed it!) heel position. If they are not quite at this point yet that is okay, you can go back to Week 3 and once you have them “sitting” you can return here. Different dogs take different amounts of time to learn things and that is okay! So sitting in heel position you are going to transfer your leash into your left hand and bring your open right hand three inches in front of their face as you say “stay”. Remember, this is stationary command so we are not going to use our dog’s name. After you say “stay” take a big step out with your right foot and turn to face your dog.
So there are a few new things going on here. We are stepping out with the right foot because if you remember from Week 2: Heel we stepped out with our left foot to cue our dachshund to move forward. They are conditioned to by that left leg to follow you, so we are using a different foot to cue them not to follow. You may think There are no possible way they can know the difference, but trust me they will if you keep practicing this way! After you step out with your right foot you are going to turn and face your dog and try for 5 seconds of staying in sit, one step away.
What happens if they get up? Or lie down? You have to be ready, especially if you are practicing this for the first time. Most dogs will try to either lie down in a more comfortable position or to run off and find something more interesting. So without putting tension on the leash, be prepared to correct them faster than they can lie down. If your dachshund goes to lie down you want to step into them quickly and pull up on the leash to get them back to a sit position. The stepping in provides them with spatial pressure and forces them to look at you. Their natural response to this should be to sit. You are not going to say anything, you are not going to give the stay command again. Just correct them while being completely silent. If you re-give the stay command, it’s teaching them that “stay” does not really mean stay because you keep saying it!
If your dachshund goes to get up and wander away again step in quickly and pull up on the leash while pushing down on their haunches. This is the same method we used in Week 3 to teach your dachshund to sit if they were not sitting. Again, with the stay command these are silent corrections. Correct your dachshund and return to one step in front of them without saying anything. Let them hold the stay for 5 seconds and then return to heel position and give them verbal praise. Note that just because you return to heel position your dachshund should not jump up from their sit until you release them with your release word from Week 1. If they do, silently correct them and then give their release word.
Now for the “down-stay”. Have your dachshund “down” in heel position. If they do not down you can refer to Week 4 for how to get them into the down position. For the “down-stay” you want to make sure that the D ring where your leash attaches to is facing the front of your dachshund so you can provide proper correction if needed. Once your dachshund is down take your precautions that we learned in Week 4 for a second or two and then transfer your leash into your left hand, while bringing your open right hand across in front of their face and say “stay”. Step out with the right foot and turn to face your dachshund, a step away.
Try for 5 seconds the first time. If your dachshund goes to get up you want to get in there as quick as possible and pull down on the leash close to the clasp so that they do not make it all the way up. You can use your right hand to push down on your doxie’s rear at the same time if need be. Once your 5 seconds are up return to heel position, give lots of verbal praise and transfer your leash back to your right hand while allowing your left hand to hover over your dachshund’s shoulders for a second or two before you release them.
That is it! There are a few important things to note about the “stay” command. First, do not push your dachshund further than their limits. Take baby steps! If you practice for 5 seconds the one day and then try from 30 seconds the next day, but your doxie keeps breaking command before the 30 seconds is up, try for 15 or 20 seconds instead. The same goes for distance. If they are not doing well from 3 feet, try going back to 2 feet and mastering the stay at that distance before increasing it. This command can definitely test your patience (and theirs!) but if you practice it daily, it should only take you a couple of weeks before your dachshund knows that stay means stay.
Another thing to note is that a down-stay is physically much easier for your dog. If you are planning to have your dog stay for a long period of time, please consider a down-stay over a sit-stay. Depending on your floor, it can be difficult to hold a sit-stay for a long period of time as their back legs tend to start slipping away from them. To give you an idea of the times you can aim for with each I can tell you we had to perform a 1 minute sit-stay and a 3 minute down-stay to pass our beginners’ obedience exam.
I will admit this is a command that I did not practice as much as I should have at first. Believe me I paid for it! But after three days of practicing about 10 times a day, Flash could do a 3-minute down-stay no problem. A week later he was doing 15 minutes during my lunch. Now, he down-stays for 45+ minutes when we have family over for dinner. It’s not impossible, just be consistent! Dinnertime is a great time to practice the down-stay and helps to keep them from jumping up and begging.
As always, if you have questions or comments please feel free to forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be more than happy to help you in your training journey. Do not forget to tag your pictures and videos with #DUTrainingChallenge so we can see your progress and enter you to win some cool prizes from The Smoothe Store and Puppia! Happy training!