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Down stay - how far to train ?


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Dylan is 8 months old and I have been training him to "stay" since he was about 5 months. At home off leash he will stay downstairs for as long as I tell him while I work upstairs in my studio ( He can go where he likes downstairs but has his favourite place ). I generally have him do this for 2 hours in the mornings - he has his "rug" up there on which he can lie other times of the day. Also in the mornings when I get up he has to do a down stay in his bed for 5 minutes or so until I am ready to give him his good morning cuddle. I also use down stay when I vacuum ( he loves the vacuum cleaner - in the physical sense of the word ! ).And if I feel it necessary to get him from under my feet at other times. He is really good about all of this. Outside we have also been practicing. We have 2 big parks where we go and he is up to about 5 minutes in total - the routine varies but he can do a 3 minute out of sight combined with 2 minutes of in-sight with me standing watching him, walking a wide circle around him, walking past him etc. For these exercises I have him on a long leash which is attached to a stake in the ground. I make him stay by the stake and he could move about 15 metres in any direction if he wanted to, but doesn't. I feel his down stay is very solid. I am very careful to be in a position where I can see what is happening and if I think anything risky might occur, I make myself visible or move back to him. But he is fine with people singly or in groups walking past him ( in-front or behind ). He has had dogs off leash run up to him and try to play with him and has ignored them on 2 occasions. ( He knows these dogs and their owners as do I - if an unknown dog appears, I go back close to him ). Actually, in our parks you are not supposed to let your dogs off leash. In one park it would be dangerous because of nearby roads, in the other it is not dangerous but good manners. I feel like he could stay a lot longer actually. He will also wait outside small shops (!) for me - the bakery or the convenience store etc. We are practicing in different places. Of course he is tied up and I actually get him to sit stay but recently he has lain down a couple of times. I feel like that is a good sign - that he is comfortable - so will just tell him to stay from now on. The big supermarket is a bit overwhelming for him - I have just gone in and stayed in sight for a little while and popped out of sight for up to 30 seconds or a minute so and not actually done any shopping (!). He has been looking nervous, but has not been upset. Sorry this is so long, but thought it necessary to explain ! I'd like him to be able to wait outside a supermarket for 10-15 minutes and will work towards that by practicing there. But I'm not quite sure where to go with the down stays at the park. Should I be having him stay longer ? I don't really know where to take the training from here. Sorry if this is all a bit naive but he is my first dog and I'm basically doing it all alone. If you have any advice, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks !

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You sound like you are doing wonderful work with Dylan. He is a fortunate dog. Now, how did he get to be with you in Tokyo? I'm just curious.


I guess I would be a bit nervous about leaving him outside shops, etc., not because of anything he might do but because of the worry of someone releasing him or stealing him. Is that not an issue where you are?


One thought about the downstairs stay - usually a stay means to stay in the place and position (sit, down, stand, etc.) that you command the dog. In my family, when I am leaving the dog(s) in the house or car when I leave, I use a "wait in" command to indicate that they have to remain inside but are free to move about inside the house or car, etc. You might wish to differentiate between a "stay" (in place and in position) and a "wait" (in an area and about to move about).


We also use "wait" in some other situations where I don't necessarily mean for them to "not move". In the barn, before I allow them to get into or out of the car, at the doorway so I can open the door and go through myself, etc.

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What a lovely post to read first thing in the morning! I love to hear of people who are willing to train their dogs well. For a first time dog owner, you are doing an exceptional job!


I agree that it's not a good idea to leave him waiting outside the store. I used to do that with my old Mickey until someone mentioned the dangers. Someone could have stolen her, some child could have run up wildly to her or even kicked her (some kids can be mean). So, even though I trusted her, I just couldn't trust all of the strangers.


You might want to do as Sue suggested and have two commands: one for staying in place and one for hanging around. Since you've already taught him that "stay" means to hang around in one general vicinity (like the downstairs), then you may want to use a word like "freeze" for staying in one position without moving.


But I'm not quite sure where to go with the down stays at the park. Should I be having him stay longer ? I don't really know where to take the training from here.
Well, what is your goal? Where to take it from here depends on what your goal is.
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Good advice, Miztiki, that you need to have a goal and that will help direct you as to where you want to be going.


In obedience, we learned the three D's - duration (time of stay), distraction (what's going on around the dog that's interesting, worrisome, etc.), and distance (how far from the dog you go).


Work on one thing at a time with Dylan - go a little further or have him stay a little longer or have him stay somewhere where there is more activity nearby - but only increase one of these things at a time.


It sounds to me like you have covered these items quite well so far. Unless a location was very secure (like inside your home, an enclosed yard, etc.) I would avoid going out of sight of Dylan. As Miztiki pointed out, it is not the dog you are worried about, it is passersby that might not act or react well to him. Also, should he get nervous when you move out of sight, he might move in a direction that wasn't safe.


One rule of thumb might be to never go further from him than he can clearly hear and see your commands. That way, if he breaks his stay or gets frightened by something, your voice and hand command can direct and reassure him.


Look for good opportunities in your home, neighborhood, or public areas to practice with him but always where safety for both Dylan and passersby is adequate.


Someone also pointed out on the board that you can never truly predict what outside influences may affect your dog and how they might affect him. They mentioned a police dog in a wooded area was startled by a deer that ran by, ignored his handler's commands and ran after the deer, and was never recovered. Keeping Dylan on a lead at all times might be a good safety factor. To work at longer distances, you could use a long line or light rope (like clothesline) to keep him "on lead" but at a distance.


It is a joy to hear from someone who is really working with their dog. You sound like you are doing a wonderful job training and socializing him!

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It sounds like you are doing a great job so far with Dylan!


One thing that really helped with Tenaya's out-of-sight "stay", at a young age, was our game of hide-and-seek. As I recall, you are interested in getting Dylan into SAR when he gets older, so this would accomplish 2 training objectives.


the idea is that the dog is in a "stay" while you go hide a favorite toy, and can only go find it when you return and release him.


We start by playing fetch or tug with a favorite toy (the skunk, the hedgehog, the Kong-bone....) for a couple of minutes. then we tell Tenaya to "Wait" (our stay command), and walk off to hide the toy. We started by just hiding it a few feet away, under a table or behind a chair in the same room, so it was easy to enforce (remind) the "Wait", and easy for her to find her toy. Then we walk back to her, touch her cheek and say "OK! Where is it? Where's your skunk?". (Her SAR command is "Go Find!", so she knows which kind of thing she's looking for, toy or person). She runs off and starts using her nose to find where we hid the toy.


When she finds it, it's party time--lots of rough tug and fetch with the toy for a few minutes, and then repeat a few times.


We gradually lengthened the distance and time for hiding the toy, have done this in many different places. We started this when she was very young, around 15 weeks old, just as a game, not knowing how it would help her to learn "Stay".


she also has a very good stay now in many other places, including Agility class where other dogs are running around crazy. She may lie there and whine a bit ("Oh, I could do that SO much better than that silly Golden!") but she has a reliable stay now, in many distraction situations, at almost 2 years old.


Also, I would agree with other posters about leaving your dog outside shops alone. Even if Japan is safer than some other parts of the world, you are Dylan's protector--and if you aren't there or haven't left him in the care of someone reliable, leaving him unattended in public is risky--what if someone, a kid or whatever, provoked him and he defended himself by biting? He might have felt justified in protecting himself but in the case of dog bites, the dog is always wrong.


Work on the stay because you'll need it for other reasons--but please don't leave him alone in public!


Deanna in OR

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Thank you to everyone for replying again ! And for the encouraging words.

Sue and Ed - I originally planned to get a dog from a dog shelter but they didn't have any medium/large sized dogs. Apparently in the Tokyo area ( which is vast ), there are only about 30 such dogs available per year and you can only get one by entering a lottery as demand is greater than supply ! It is great news that there are so few dogs in shelters but I do believe that dogs they consider too dangerous to place are destroyed and I wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to numbers...But the guy said that the number of unwanted dogs has diminished a lot over the past 10 years or so. We got Dylan from a breeder here. I really debated about which kind of dog to get - a retriever, lab or BC, but my heart did a leap every time I saw a Border Collie and I'm afraid I went with that feeling. I know a bit better now - but hope to give Dylan a happy and fulfilling life I should add that we don't live in the metropolis itself but on the outskirts - there are a couple of mountains right behind our house where we can go hiking with Dylan so it isn't like is a pure city dog.

Oh - this is getting long ! About the downstairs "stay". I tell Dylan "wait downstairs". And when I want him to stay in one place I say "wait"(when he gets his food or I open the door for me to go out first), or "wait here"( when I go somewhere ). I don't use the word "stay". I did try to teach him but he kind of went loopy on me. And the above seems to work. I think when I start SAR training I will need to introduce other commands but don't want to introduce anything new now as I felt it might confuse him (?).

About his down stays outside - he is on a leash and I feel it is good to practise with me being out of sight. I didn't explain clearly enough maybe that I position myself in a place where I can see anyone approaching the park - it is a funny shape and has 2 entrances and I can see them both so can come into sight when I feel it is necessary.And I only started going out of sight after I had seen how he behaved in various situations when I was in sight. But I will be careful. We really live in the suburbs and there are not a lot of people that pass through. Also Dylan has SA and I just think that me being out of sight and then coming back helps our relationship.

Miztiki and Deanna - About leaving Dylan outside of shops. I know this is a difficult one. When I say I leave him outside of the small shops, these are shops on very quiet streets with big plate glass windows. We can see each other which is one reason I can do it. As for the supermarket, I take note. But we have a problem. Dylan has speration Anxiety and sometimes I need to go shopping......It has taken us a month for us to get up to 20 minutes where he is ok if I go out.At the moment my husband does a big shop for me once a week but he goes away a lot on business for up to a week at a time so I need Dylan to be ok for a short time outside a shop. I can't leave him longer than he can cope with at home during his de-sensitization training. If I race to the supermarket, I can do a quick shop in 25 minutes, but at the moment I wonder whether he will ever be ok, so that is why I wrote what I did. Sorry to be mundane. Actually, if you go to our supermarket, there is a whole line of dogs tied up outside ! And I've never heard of dogs being stolen/ released etc, but then I have not asked around. I'm going to have to rethink things though.

Deanna - I do the same thing with Dylan ! Our garden runs right around our house and I make him stay while I hide his balls - when I come back I ask him " Where are your balls ? Get your balls ! " and off he goes ! He loves looking for things and I'm running out of places to hide them ! I started off low but now he can find them even if I hide them higher up. I also do it with his food - I split it up into about 5 different parcels, get him to wait inside while I hide it outside. He is so serious when he darts out of the house !( When it rains we do it inside ) And he can find stuff so quickly. This is one reason why I think he should do SAR.( He can also find my husband in the woods EVERY time !)

I have to say that I'm not sure about what my goal is for down stay ! I do use it for practical purposes as I posted originally, but I guess I don't have any real reason to extend it too much ( outside )at the moment. Just to keep working on it - I do want to do SAR though, and don't know how long he should be expected to do the kind of out of sight down stay that INU mentioned. Could anyone advise ? Thanks again !

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