Tag Archive for: Training

Stay vs Wait

The difference between Wait and Stay can mean the difference between successful management vs you running down the street chasing the your dog.

Dog training commands should be simple, but can often become complicated and confusing for the dog (and human too).

For example, if one handler uses command “X” to mean one action for their dog, and then another person uses command “Y” for the same action, our dogs are left having to remember which word which person uses for which command. And, handlers are left wondering why their dog isn’t understanding and preforming simple commands.

“Say what?”

The dog’s internal response is probably the dog version of, “Honestly, I’m not sure what either of you mean.”

To make life easier for everyone, dog, handlers, parents, kids, dog-sitters, trainers, etc., it is imperative that everyone in the house use the same command for the same behavior.

The Wait and the Stay commands are often used interchangeably.

In a home with low distractions, one dog, and no kids, this is probably not a huge problem. However, when we start layering the distractions like kids, other dogs, many visitors, etc., the difference between Wait and Stay can mean the difference between successful management vs everyone running down the street chasing the fluffy lighten bolt that is their dog.

The definitions of Wait and Stay in standard dog training are…

Wait – Hang on a second or two, (a short duration) then receive a follow-up command or release word.

Stay – Hold position, freeze in place for an undetermined length of time (could be awhile).

The difference is often hard to see at first, but in the dog’s head it is a major difference in difficulty.

Wait is something a dog can usually achieve even when they are cranked up by exciting visitors, or stressful situations.

However, the Stay is harder to hold depending on how stressed or excited a dog might be.

To understand this in terms we humans experience, we need only look to air travel. We experience differences in difficultly between a short fifteen minute wait to board our airplane, verses the delayed flight that could be hours. One is much harder than the other for different reasons for different people, but in the end, the two different lengths of delay are very different demands on us.

Here are some sample situations where I would use the Wait and Stay commands differently:
  • Dog wants to go outside
    • Ask for wait before opening the door.
    • Door is opened only if dog holds position for a few seconds
  • Aunt Millie is knocking on the door
    • Ask for a wait
    • Door opens if the dog is holding position
    • Once Aunt Millie is in, the dog gets the go say hello command.
  • Baby drops toy
    • Ask dog for a wait
    • Pick up toy before dog gets there, or redirect the dog with a touch command.
  • In an elevator
    • Ask for a stay
      • Dog freezes in place for the duration of the ride regardless of the number of people getting in and out
    • At the veterinarian
      • Ask for a stay for the examination, shots, blood draws
        • Your veterinarian will thank you
    • At a traffic light
      • Ask for a stay
        • Dog freezes in place for the duration of the light regardless of the distractions that go by, like bicycles, skateboard, other dogs, etc…

Your dog will learn the difference between these two commands because once you have an understanding of what the commands are, you will mark and reward the appropriate behaviors.

You give your dog the WAIT command and he holds a position for a short duration – Praise and Reward.
You give your dog the STAY command and she freezes in place for an interval between one and three minutes – Praise and Reward.

How to help your dog cope with fireworks

Firework Fear

As Bonfire night creeps up on us, with it comes the constant noise of fireworks being set off, even in the weeks leading up to the event.

It is undoubtedly one of the noisiest times of year and dog owners will know only too well just how much of a problem it can cause for their dogs.

The loud explosions and flashes often leave dogs feeling anxious and frightened, a sight that is never pleasant for owners.

However, to ensure that their dogs are safe and feel secure, owners will need to plan ahead to lessen the impact that fireworks have.

Introduce your dog to noise

The loud explosions startle your dog but you can get your dog used to different noises prior to the big event.

One thing you can do is use a recording of firework explosions that can be played to your dog in a controlled way. You will need to take this approach gradually over time but it can work.

The following training exercise is best done outdoors, somewhere safe like the garden.

  1. Find something to distracted you dog with like their favourite toy. Begin playing with your dog making sure they are very engaged with the activity.
  2. Whilst playing start the recording of fireworks at a low volume.
  3. Continue to play whilst gradually increasing the volume.
  4. If your dog starts to become overly anxious and you cannot get their attention lower the volume until they are at ease and start again.
  5. Do not be tempted to use food as a reward during the training exercise. Otherwise they may associate the food with the negative experience.

If you dog progresses well you might like to use some Party Poppers instead of the recording. Using Poppers can help you dog get more accustomed to real explosions and the smell of gunpowder.

Never fire them anywhere near the dog. The Popper should be in the background whilst they are engaged in playing.

If your dog is already particularly nervous then you should see a behavioural specialist.

The power of pheromones

Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP) can be effective at reducing stress-related behaviours in a number of contexts such as Bonfire night.

You will need one plugin device per room (where the dog will be). Start using them 2-3 weeks in advance of fireworks night.

Help your dog to feel safe

The chances are that your dog will feel insecure so you could create a safe haven for your dog to retreat to.

Give them some of your clothing so they pick up on your scent and allow them to hide under or behind furniture.

Whatever makes them feel safe, allow them to do it. You could always make them feel safer by distracting them through using the TV or the radio.

The additional noise can drown out the fireworks slightly and reduce the impact.

Dog coping with fireworks

Keep your behaviour consistent

Dogs have the ability to pick up on our behaviours and they sense where our moods change.

If you can see that your dog is frightened, try and stay calm and happy. Talk to your dog in the usual, cheery way and let them know that you are them for them.

If your dog is calm, you could reward them with treats.

Find out when displays are taking place

Your dog might suffer from health problems that could be made worse by the noise of fireworks.

Speak to your vet if you plan to give your dog remedies to cope with fireworks. Alongside this, it is always worth finding out when firework displays are taking place in your area and even when your neighbours plan to set them off. Displays can often take place a few days either side of the actual date.

Feed and walk your dog before dusk

After dark is the time when fireworks are set off, so feed your dog before it is all likely to begin. This will ensure that your dog manages to eat their food before they worry too much.

Along with this, you should also walk your dog because it is unlikely that they will want to go outside once they hear the fireworks.

Close all windows and doors

Closing all of your windows and doors, as well as the curtains, can help to reduce the noise and prevent the flashes of light from entering the room.

However, make sure that your dog is safe inside a room before you open your front door. One important thing to remember is to ensure that your dog has a collar, ID tag and is microchipped just in case they do escape as this will help those who find your dog to reunite them with you.

If after all your attempts the problem becomes worse then you could use the services of an animal behaviourist. They can help to train your dog in a way that helps them to become used to the noise.


Teach your dog to come back when you call


Most dogs love running around off the lead, but before you give your dog their ‘freedom’ it’s vital for their safety that you know they will come back when called, regardless of where they are and what’s going on around. To teach good recall your dog needs to learn that coming back to you is a good thing, something that will bring them plenty of praise and rewards.


First, ensure that your dog knows their name. This lets them know that you want their attention. To teach this have your dog very close to you, say their name and reward.

Choose a special word or sound as your recall cue that you use ONLY when you want your dog to return. It should be short and sharp, for example a verbal cue like ‘come’, or a whistle.

Start in an enclosed space with some tasty treats in a pouch. Get your dog’s attention with their name, then use your recall cue and take a step away from them. As they return reward with praise and a tasty treat.

Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog and the level of distractions you call them away from.

Once your dog is regularly returning to you inside it’s time to move it outside. It is recommended that you use a long line during this next phase of training.

Once your dog has moved away from use your recall cue, if they ignore you very gently guide them back to you with the long line and reward them once they return. You want your dog to learn that coming back to you straight away is much more rewarding than ignoring you and continuing their fun.

Key points

  1. Use a happy, excited voice and welcoming body language (crouched down, arms open) to train recall. Moving back from your dog as you call can encourage them even more.
  2. Always praise your dog for returning no matter how long it takes. Reward them more if they come back quickly. As your dog improves you won’t need to give them a treat every time they come back. Reward them every so often to keep them motivated.
  3. Use high value rewards for recall, especially if they have come away from something especially interesting (e.g. another dog). Try making your recall exciting by throwing their treats, or using play or chase games to get their reward.
  4. Set your dog up for success by initially training in a quiet place when your dog is already looking over at you, and gradually increase the level of distraction as they improve.
  5. Make recall a fun part of the walk, not just something you do when its home time! Do this by calling your dog back then allowing them to go and play again several times during a walk, but not to the point where they get bored.
  6. Gently hold your dog’s collar as you reward them so this contact is not only associated with being clipped back onto their lead.
  7. Use your recall cue sparingly, give your dog at least five seconds to respond to your first recall. Don’t call again if you think they’re unlikely to return, as this can have the opposite effect by confirming it’s alright to not come back.
  8. If your dog ignores you stay calm. Getting angry will only discourage your dog from returning. Instead, gently guide them with the long line, or go and collect them. Alternatively, run in the other direction or hide (if safe to do so) to encourage them to come looking for you.
  9. If they run off ahead of you try changing direction or hiding behind a tree and waiting for them to find you.

Make sure to get my best side!

It is quite often the case that photo shoots will be done in conjunction with filming. The main cast is taken to one side after filming for interviews and photos. Depending on the dogs role in the production, they may also be required to be photographed. Dogs and their handlers are increasingly being interviewed these days as it is popular to run a feature on the making of the commercial on You Tube, thereby maximising the reach of a particular campaign.

House of Fraser

House of Fraser photoshoot featuring Great Dane, Missy Bulldog and Edward Pembroke Corgi.

Some assignments do not involve any film work and are just photo shoots. This is more often the case for print e.g. books and magazines.


Aquascutum Photoshoot with Pierce Brosnan

Shoots can be in a studio or on location and may require static poses or action shots. Just because it’s photography doesn’t mean that your dog won’t be required to perform tricks. They may want your dog in a particular pose and to hold that for a duration whilst the photographs are taken. They may be required to jump, bark or roll over.


French cosmopolitan fashion shoot with Crena Watson

This type of work can be the most difficult for a dog to perform as they may need to hold a Stayposition for a long time, perhaps as long as 10 to 15 minutes. They may also need to follow commands during the Staysuch as looking up and down, flicking their ears and so on, all without getting up. This would need to be performed off-lead and with endless distractions such as make-up artists doing touch-ups, perfecting the models, set designers adjusting the stage, lighting changes, cameras not working, you get the idea.