Therapy Dogs International Testing Part 6, continued

TEST 6: SIT AND DOWN ON COMMAND/STAYING IN PLACE

Part 2 how to teach your dog to stay.

One of the first approaches to teach a stay is to just add duration to your sit or down cue. When you first teach a “sit” you mark the behavior the moment your dog’s butt hits the floor, right? Yes or click & treat. Once you have a solid sit (you get it at least 80% of the time) with either a hand signal or verbal cue you can start to add a little duration. You do this by delaying the marker.

Ask your dog to sit (count one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand) mark the behavior & treat. If your dog got up before you got a chance to mark the behavior just give him a quick oops (and no treat) and start over. Now you have a 3 second sit. As your dog gets more comfortable you can GRADUALLY increase the delay of the marker to 5 seconds, 10 seconds, even up to 15 seconds. But if your dog starts getting out of position before you can mark the behavior you’ve upped your criteria too quickly. If this happens drop your time to something your dog can easily do, and gradually increase the time, being certain of your dog’s success.

For the TDI test you can leave your dog in a sit or down, all instructions here apply to both behaviors.

Remember there are 3 components to a stay (see post Therapy Dogs International testing TEST 1: ACCEPTING A FRIENDLY STRANGER):
• Duration (how long)
• Distance (how far)
• Distraction (how much other stuff is going on)

You will work up to having a reliable (good 80% of the time) sit (or down) for 30 seconds before you add any distance. When you add distance — pivot in front & take 2 steps back — you will reduce the length of time, back to 10 seconds. Repeat for several days. If your dog is not successful you either need to reduce the amount of time or get closer. Once your dog can comfortably hold his sit for for 30 seconds with you 2 steps away, see how he does when you are 6 feet away, but again cut the duration back to 10 seconds gradually working up to 30 seconds. You will work up to a distance of 10 to 15 feet, for 30 seconds. (The test is a distance of 10 feet and duration is how long it takes you to walk out and back.)

When you add distractions make sure you reduce distance (start off right next to your dog) and reduce the duration, back to 10 seconds.

As your dog gets more proficient you will want to test your dog periodically but remember you want your dog to be successful, so set him up for success through gradually increasing your criteria.

Good luck 🙂

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