Creative training ideas for working on “Stay” when you are out of sight from your dog
How many times have you placed your dog in a stay command in one room and left him when you went to another room just to find out when you return he has “broken” his stay and moved around.
Maybe you put him in a down stay while you had to run back into the house to grab some thing and soon as you were out of his sight he got up and broke.
No matter what training methods you are using “timing” is critical to success in the dog learning what you are expecting out of him. In the scenario of the dog breaking stay when you are out of sight the challenge lies in how to correct or reinforce when you can’t see the dog.
You put the dog in a stay (normally a down) and you go out of sight of the dog maybe the next room or go answer the phone etc. and It normally unfold in either of the two types of scenarios;
Rover soon after you are out of his sight “breaks” his stay and come finds you.
The second scenario is soon after you are out of his sight, actually because you cannot see him you don’t know when he breaks the stay but when you return “rover” is up wondering around doing his own thing not following his last command of “stay”.
So your normal corrective actions for scenario number one
You correct the dog and take him back to the spot you had placed him in the “stay”, this is counterproductive.
Why is it counterproductive? Because the dog cannot rationalize and he may perceive the correction is actually for coming to you because not breaking the “stay”
It is far better to correct or reinforce the moment the dog starts to break his stay this way there is a direct correlation for the incorrect behavior
In the second scenario you return to find “Rover” off doing his own thing or anything but in the down position that you left him in
Your normal corrective action is to correct the dog and put him back in the spot he broke from
Again this is confusing to the dog because he cannot interpret why or for what he is being corrected for
Still it is far better to correct the dog the moment he is getting ready to break or as he is breaking the stay.
So how do you train the stay when you are out of sight?
There are several methods I like use but keep in mind that you cannot expect the dog to remain in the stay position longer out of your sight than in your sight.
A quick overview of some of the techniques
The second person method
In the second person method a friend or relative watches the dog while you go out of sight, the minute the dog break he or she lets you know or he makes the correction for you.
The window method
In the window method you place the dog in a down or stay position and you watch the dog through the window which gives you the chance to correct the dog as soon as he starts to break.
The Baby Monitor Method
This is the method that I really like to use. In this method I use a wireless baby monitor system that has a small portable video camera and wireless monitor. I tried the type that uses a smart phone and works through my home Wi-Fi but there was too much delay and it also limits me to where use only where I have Wi-Fi. The type I use now is really low priced but works pretty decent. This gives me the advantage to see right at the moment the dog gets ready to break the stay.
No matter what method you use be creative in the distraction and always make sure your dog ends on a successful session. Keep it short to start with and increase time and distractions as the dog get more proficient. Have fun and make sure your dog has fun!
Check out the small video I made about the use of Baby Monitor for working on stay when the owner is out of sight.