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How to Teach a Puppy to Sit, Stay, and Wait

I love working with puppies, they are so adorable and sweet to train.

Puppy sitting.

Puppy sitting.

How to Train a Puppy

Any keen dog lover will know that there are many techniques and tips out there when it comes to training puppies. It is always advisable to read widely and talk to other owners, specifically owners of the same breed. If it is possible, speak with professional dog trainers. That said, there is a set of principles that apply to all breeds and all ages. You will not go far wrong if you keep these in mind when training your puppy:

  • Give the verbal command only once and expect your puppy to do as requested on the first command. Do not for example tell the puppy to "sit" and then, if he doesn't sit on the first command, continue saying "sit. sit; SIT!" If you try and train your puppy this way, you are actually training him to ignore you.
  • Give clear commands. This may sound obvious, but make sure your command is a simple one-word spoken in a clear voice. Your puppy does not speak your language. He must learn to recognise the sound, so make sure he can hear it.
  • One step and activity at a time. Dogs, and particularly young puppies, do not respond well to information overload. Keep your training sessions simple at first. It is your role as the trainer to help him succeed. It is not advisable to try too many activities or repetitions of an activity in the early stages of training. Every success, no matter how small, will give your puppy confidence, and he will be eager to do the same thing again and again.
  • Keep the training session short. Puppies have short attention spans and become tired very easily. Don't overdo your training sessions and always finish on a high point. It is a good idea to have a goal in mind for each session. When it's reached, stop and let him rest.
  • Do not practice failure. Simply put, if he ain't doing it stop the session and try again later.
  • Do not shout at or scold your puppy. Shouting and scolding only ever serve two purposes: You will frighten him, potentially making him a timid dog, and you will teach him how to be aggressive, which is not an acceptable trait in dogs.
  • Remember your puppy is a blank canvas. It is likely that when you bring a puppy home, he will be 8 weeks or so old. He will have learned how to feed, pee, poo, and a little about socialising. Apart from that, he knows nothing. This is why training him early and in the correct way is so important. You will be helping him for the rest of his life and you should not forget that.

Memorising and utilising all of the above will give you and your puppy a solid foundation for successful training. Training a puppy is a journey for both of you and will take as long as it takes. Don't rush. Be patient, and most of all enjoy it.

Training a Puppy to Sit on Command

The goal of this section is to achieve a quick sit on command and for him to stay there until you tell him to do something else. It is always a good idea, particularly with young pups to train him in a quiet, confined space to avoid unnecessary distractions. He will not be able to ignore you or escape to do something else without your permission.

There are many ideas about how to achieve a quick and consistent "sit." The aim of this article is to give you the simplest steps.

  1. Get his attention. He is too young to "sit" at a distance, so get him in close. When you command him to "sit" you expect him to have his bottom on the ground, his legs underneath his bottom, and his head high. Any other position is a slouch, not a "sit." Note: When you say the word "sit," it needs to be pronounced "ssssit" this way he will associate the sound with the activity and then the praise which he craves.
  2. Get your puppy's favourite treat or toy. Hold it above his nose and move it upwards and backwards over his head. He should naturally move his body into the sit position. When he does, say the word "sit" and praise him. Not too much praise, because you don't want him all excited and running all over the place. It is as simple as that, all you need to do to reinforce this command is do it often and be consistent with the outcome: quick sit=praise; slow sit/slouch/sloppy=nothing.
  3. Over a period of time, vary the length and location of the "sit" as this improves consistency. As he gets better at the "sit," think of a word to release him from the "sit" position. Mine is "fun." He will love sitting there waiting to have some fun. One tip: Don't use "play" as your release word as it is too close to "stay" and will confuse him.
  4. Practice is the key to this activity. Once you have him sitting for differing lengths of time and in different locations, you can move on to the "stay" command, which we will now teach you.
Training a puppy to sit.

Training a puppy to sit.

Training a Puppy to Stay on Command

We should start by explaining the difference between "stay" and "wait," as this is very important. They seem to be very similar, but in puppy terms, they mean two distinctly different activities.

When commanding your puppy to "stay" you are actually telling him to "stay put" and not to move under any circumstances until you come to him and release him from his position. Normally you would train him to "sit" and "stay," as this can prevent him from getting into danger. For example, if he is away from you and is about to jump into a busy road, the "sit" and "stay" commands will keep him out of harm's way.

The "wait" command however is used when you need him to stop temporarily. Maybe you are opening the garden gate, and you want him to wait before going through. This is when the "wait" command comes in handy.

Teaching the Stay Command

Once your puppy is consistent with the "sit" command, "stay" is generally easy to introduce. The main problem you will have in the early stages of training is that your puppy will want to follow you. To combat this you need to do all of your training at close quarters until he is happy to be separated from you.

As mentioned earlier; if you practice varying the length of the sits you are already on your way to teaching him to "stay."

  1. Have your puppy in the "sit" position then simply stand in front of him and don't move. At this point, you need to introduce the word "stay." Show puppy the palm of your right hand and say "stay." If you have been practising the varied length sit he should "stay." If he doesn't and starts to move around, re-seat him and try again.
  2. If your puppy is now sitting for varied lengths and not moving (don't forget he will be waiting for his release command) it is time to introduce the "step back." Take one step backwards, still showing him the palm of your hand and stop. Stand for ten seconds and return to your puppy and release him. Don't forget the praise. Do this exercise over and over gradually increasing the length of the "stay" and the amount of "steps backwards." Remember he is a puppy. His natural instinct at this age will be to follow you, so don't get frustrated with him. Just return to the spot where he is supposed to be sitting, re-seat him, and try again.
  3. The next step is to stand at his side and get him to sit/stay. Take one "step forward" and stop. Your puppy may find this a little more difficult as he is unable to see your face and to him, it looks like you are leaving him. If he stays, turn around to face him, pause, then return to him and praise him. Gradually increase the distance by taking more steps forward. Always turn to face him, pause, return to him and praise him before releasing him from the "sit" position.

All puppies need practice, some take longer than others to learn a new skill. One thing you can be sure of is that consistency will soon have your puppy sitting and staying whilst you are able to move a fair distance away from him.

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Introducing the Wait Command

As mentioned earlier, the "wait" command is a temporary pause in the puppies' movements and not a controlled "stay." For this reason "wait" can be either sitting down or standing up. The main point is that your puppy stops what he was doing and waits for you to give him permission to carry on. "Wait" should only be used for temporary stops. If you need him to stay put for a while use "stay."

If your puppy has been practising "stay" he will be used to waiting.

  1. When you want your puppy to "wait" show him the palm of your right hand. Say "wait." At this point, you may find he automatically sits down. If he does, great. If he doesn't, that's fine too. What does matter is he recognises the palm of your hand as a command to stop doing what he is doing.
  2. When he stops, give him a few seconds and then call him to you and praise him. Do not go to him as with the "stay." He will soon recognise the difference and see "wait" as a slight pause before the fun can continue.

Closing Thoughts

OK! There we have it. The quickest ways to teach your puppy to sit, stay, and wait. The secret is repetition, practice, and praise. Please bear in mind the age of your puppy. If he is very young, start slowly but start, as it is never too early to build the foundations for a sociable, stable, and happy dog. Your puppy will see all of this as a game. It will keep his little brain active, and it will build a strong bond of trust between both of you.

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2010 Aiden Roberts


Steve(UK) on March 18, 2020:

A very interesting and useful page. Cheers

Amanda Uy on July 17, 2018:

I love reading your page. It would really help if you made one about how to potty train on pad and outside. Other than that thank you so much. As I was reading I was teaching my puppy. Thank you so much!!

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on February 12, 2012:

Thank you Laura I really appreciate comment. it's some time since I wrote this article and it's nice to see it's still useful.

Thanks again


Laura Schneider from Minnesota, USA on February 12, 2012:

Excellent, unresistable article! I've read many descriptions of these commands and learned them from many teachers, but yours is the most well-rounded and complete that I've ever seen. I'm definitely going to read your other articles. I'm also more than half-tempted to put my 3.5-year-old Lab and myself through "basic training" again based on your articles (not all in one day, obviously :-) ). We're good, but could be better of course. (voted up, excellent, etc.)

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on February 03, 2011:


Thanks Linda

lindatymensky on February 02, 2011:

Again, a well written and informative piece! Where were you when my doggies were pups?! Linda

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on January 29, 2011:

Thanks Sally's Trove

I generally prefer dogs to people :)

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on January 29, 2011:

Stellar article on the simple commands and the owner's relationship to the puppy in order have a positive training experience.

It breaks my heart to see a young dog screamed at in an effort to teach positive behavior.

I've felt lately that owners who can't engage with their dogs on the dogs' terms (to your point about language), have trouble engaging with people, too.

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on January 12, 2011:

April, congratulations on getting a choccy lab; they are beautiful intelligent dogs. Out of the three colours they can be a little less cooperative and strong willed but will reward you with so much love. Enjoy this time with your puppy as they do not stay that way very long.

April on January 09, 2011:

I just got a 3 month old chocolate lab and she already completely potty train and knows how to sit.. I'm working on stay and come.. I'm a proud new mommy

Springer Spaniel Forum on November 14, 2010:

Some really good advice for new puppy owners - well done for sharing this great advice.

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on October 09, 2010:

Hi miss-nicky, welcome to hubpages.

Thank you for your question, don't worry a 9 week old puppy is doing very well sitting on command, stick with it and follow the advice above about training the stay; your puppy is a breed that learn quick. There is no "normal" in dog training, predictable outcomes yes but "normal" no.

Have fun and persevere.

missy-nicky on October 08, 2010:

my nine-week-old border collie knows how to sit, but doesn't yet know the command of 'stay'. Can I tell him to sit, sit, sit, sit, until he stays, then call it stay? When I bac off and say stay he moves, but if I repeat 'sit' he stays. Is that normal?

Dog Supplies on August 26, 2010:

Thoughtful review..Really interesting and helpful tips for the training of pets..


Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on August 25, 2010:

Dog obedience tips thank you for taking the time to comment.

Training a dog with hand signals is easy to do and very rewarding, if you think about it we actually use hand signals subconciously so it makes sense to focus the signals you are already doing. Dogs and puppies read body language and tone so they are programmed to follow hand signals.

Thanks again.

dog obedience tips on August 25, 2010:

My puppy do understand some basic sign language. Tagging along with my pet will surely make this training a little easier. Thanks so much for sharing some ideal ways in puppy training.

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on August 24, 2010:

Thanks the secret to training a puppy is little often and make it fun. Good luck.

jojo on August 24, 2010:

Hey Aiden, I just got a pup from my friend. hopefully I can do all your recommendations to train him ;)

Payday Loans on August 21, 2010:

This is really amazing. Thank you.Nice Post. They are very nice to teach with. They are superbly enjoying.

trucking insurance on August 21, 2010:

I have 3 puppies at home and I really want to teach them tricks and teaching them how to sit, stay and wait could be a good start. Thanks for your helpful information. Looking forward for more related posts.

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on July 04, 2010:

Thank you for your for your kind and positve words.

My articles on puppy training have been very well received and are turning into a full puppy training program. I will take a look at your writing.

Thanks again

witwriter on July 04, 2010:

This is excellent training information. extremely detailed, clear and well presented. Obviously, you care about dogs and their owners enjoying a quality relationship. I'll refer people to this hub. Keep up the great work. I have a few short pieces re: dogs if you're interested. Witwriter

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on July 03, 2010:

Hi gramarye

Good luck with your new puppy.

I am writing a full series of dog training articles covering puppy basics up to advanced dog handling.

I have published here on hubpages basic puppy training, puppy recall, how to teach your puppy to sit, wait and stay. In the next few days I will be publishing another 3 articles in this series. Thank you for bookmarking this hub and please do follow me so you get notifications when my new hubs are published.

Thanks Again.

gramarye from Adelaide - Australia on July 02, 2010:

Aiden, I'm looking at a puppy tomorrow, so naturally this is bookmarked. You did say a "series of articles" will there be more?

kaltopsyd from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA on July 02, 2010:

Thanks Aiden! My puppy now sits on command... and she gives me her paw on command too. lol. It's so funny. Now if only she can use the potty in the right place on command. *sigh*

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on July 01, 2010:


Puppies sit natrually, when they do as there bum hit's the floor, say "sit" and praise, they soon associate sit with bum hitting floor.

Have Fun

kaltopsyd from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA on June 30, 2010:

I thought my 7 week old puppy sat on command today. She did it twice on my command... but it was just a coincidence. :(

Anyway, thanks for the tips. Congrats on your HubNuggets nomination by the way.

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on June 28, 2010:

I know it is very exciting I just hope people follow the link and vote for this hub.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on June 27, 2010:

Aiden, I am always amazed at how dogs become trained. Wonderful! Thank you for this hub to help puppy lovers. Well, I may not know much about puppy training but I do know how to bring you to this place of excitement and adventure~! Follow me! This way to the Hubnuggets lair. Yes, because your hub has been nominated in the Hubnuggets! Wooohooo!

Elayne from Rocky Mountains on June 26, 2010:

Great hub! My daughter has a minature schnauzer that is really nervous and does not mind very well. I'll pass this to her. Aloha!

Aiden Roberts (author) from United Kingdom on June 26, 2010:

Thank you so much, I for my sins am doing gun dog training ( field trials not shooting ) with my two chocolate labradors. We are having a lot of fun and heartache at the same time.

raisingme from Fraser Valley, British Columbia on June 26, 2010:

I used to show Shetland Sheepdogs in Obedience Trials. I now have three Papillons. This hub is, in my view, excellent. Well Done!

billyaustindillon on June 12, 2010:

Great advice and very useful. One of our dogs was stone deaf and we had to take to a training school and learn hand signals. It was amazing how they trained him. He was very jumpy and anxious and they cured a much of it.

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