HOW TO TEACH YOUR LAB PUPPY TO STAY
So we have called your lab puppy over, got them to sit, then lay down and now we are going to teach your lab puppy to stay put. Now having a Labrador Retriever which is an energetic and very playful breed and now you also have a super hyper energetic, curious, hyper, playful…did I mention hyper…lab puppy so don’t get discouraged if this one takes a while. This is when you really, REALLY want to drain their energy on the pre-train exercise workout, more so than any other time. Also, if you are using treats as your training reward, I will try to cut the portions down by half as you really want to reward every little victory no matter the length or distance, even 2 seconds where they stay motionless is a victory within itself and a great foundation to build off of.
You are going to want to make sure there are no distractions behind you so that you know you have your pooches full attention. If working inside, make sure to have the TV and radio are turned off, no kids playing loudly near by, just you and your puppy, nothing else. You also want to ensure that your pup has either “sit” or “lay down” commands pretty much near perfect. Later in training we will work from a standing position but for now working with high energy puppies, giving the stay cue from a sitting or laying down position helps curb some of this leftover energy in the puppies reserve tank.
Needed training tools:
- A closed in space – A living room, basement, fenced in backyard. The smaller the space the less distractions that are likely to interfere.
- Reward Treats – Younger puppies will eat anything so their dry kibble is enoough to entice them. Just be sure that whatever you give them in training is subtracted from their daily portions as labs are known to put on a few uneeded pounds in their lifetime. A simple choice for healthy treats that you can make at home are dehydrated sweet potato fries…then you can snack as well! Smaller portions of food rewards work better for this particular training.
- Reward Toy – If you care to focus on their affixation to that favorite toy then you would want to use it here. A quick note here that a smaller toy would work better but at the same time, you can not choose what your puppy desires.
- Collar/Leash – As these are no needed in your living room or basement, your puppy has to learn to lay down on the leash also so why not kill two birds with one stone.
- Poop Bags – Of course if your at the park or in the back yard these are a given necessity.
Just one more quick note before we get started here. Up to this point we really have not focused on hand signals too much as I said I would cover all these in greater detail in a future post. For the “stay” command we will use a hand signal to act as a visual cue to really help in this training. No matter if your right or left handed, you will want your palm facing your puppy as if your almost telling your puppy …STOP…”in the name of love, before you break my heart” Sorry, just a need to break into song for a moment. Now you want to rotate your hand inwards or outwards 90 degrees. The reason for this is that I have found that when your fingers run vertically, the puppies tend to want to smell your hand and actually step forward and stand up as where if your fingers run horizontally across the bridge of the puppies nose they almost seem to lean backwards. I have asked vets, other trainers and dog professionals and have been unable to find out why this is but if done correctly, it completely works.
My reasoning is this, your hand in the horizontal position blocks more of their binocular vision giving the image of a wall coming towards them making them shift their weight backwards or trying to back up. With your fingers in the vertical position, I believe since the head can raise and lower and since they can see around the sides of the hand because of their wider field of vision, they simply sniff and smell the length of the hand. So with your visual cue perfected, let’s get started with training your puppy to stay.
THE STAY COMMAND
- You obviously want to start with your puppy in a stationary position like “sit” or “lay down”. Personally I have found it works better from the “down” position and as you get better with this command, I will move from them from the “down” position to “sit” and finally end with your dog standing and staying. Work from where you and your puppy are most comfortable.
- From here, place your hand in the position I spoke of earlier, Palm towards your pup, turn inwards 90 degrees and placeed above the snout and a little in front, being sure no contact is made. At the same time in a calm, stern, assertive voice give the “stay cue”. Wait 1 second and move to the next step.
- with the leash in your hand at first, just be sure there’salways total slack on the lead just hold it in case they decide to bolt and you can use it for correction purposes to return to the previous step. Take a few steps back …pause… then give the “come” command you learned earlier.
- If it has worked like this up to this point and only if they stayed even if for only a second was you were stationary, reward with a treat and positive reinforcement. “Good stay!” You can use a brief session of affection but I tend to limit to a 3-4 quick rubs, a few seconds if your using a toy reward, then return them to the “sit” or “down” command and repeat. 3 sets of 3 reps. Giving longer affection periods between sets act as a good rest and reset.
- Try to work on the duration more than the distance but definitely increase the distance over time. You can eventually leave the lead on the ground beside them when more trust is built up.
This is a higher difficulty trick so be patient and have fun with your puppy, after all they are only puppies once. Next we will move on to our last command in basic training. This is a pretty easy one to teach purely due to repetition as you will most likely use this one the most. We will train your lab puppy to “Drop or Leave it command
Still having a little problem with getting it to work? Don’t worry, Dogtown was not built in a day, just stay cool, calm, relaxed and assertive and have fun with it. The minute you start to get frustrated, your lab will pick up on it instantly and then become frustrated themselves. If this happens, try moving onto another command or trick or maybe it’s time to do some wrestling or goofing around. Check out this video which may divulge some tips or tricks I may have not mentioned and then go back into training again. Don’t worry, you and your furry friend WILL get it, I believe in you and so does your lab!!
Please leave your comments and stories in the comments below of your progression or any troubles you may be experiencing. I will do my ultimately best to get you back on track. Now you stay right here while I move onto our fifth and final command in Basic training.