Command 1: Sit and Stay
While there are two separate commands here, sit and stay are critical commands, required to help keep your dog safe and alert at all times. The first task is to find a reward that your dog responds to. For my dog Anzac, this has always been food. It’s important to know that every dog is different. With many dogs not motivated by food, it’s important to find what works well for your dog using positive reinforcement. If your dog responds well to food treats, ensure this is included in your dog’s daily calorie count so they don’t put on any extra unwanted weight.
Next, you want to start helping them understand how to complete the sit action, followed by associating that action with a word. For many, the sit action can be achieved by raising your reward above their nose or eye line, encouraging the head back, and for them to sit instinctively, followed by a reward. Once they achieve this action, you can begin to include a command word, for example, sit, repeating the word sit as they complete the action, followed by a reward and the word yes or good boy/girl.
At these early stages, it is always best to say the command word once they complete the action, to ensure the word becomes associated with the action instead of just a word.
Once your dog has a strong understanding of the sit command you can begin testing their abilities with stay. This is best achieved by first putting them in the sit position and taking one step back and using the word stay. Put your hand out in the stop position to help give a visual to the command. Wait a few seconds and then reward them, with an affirming yes or good boy/girl.
As they grow to understand this command, you can continue to push it further and further, by taking more steps back and asking them to stay longer.