How to Train a German Shepherd to Stay

Updated on October 19, 2018
Sam Shepards profile image

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds around today, and for good reason. They have a lot of positive traits associated with them that make them good companions for families and employers alike.

The German Shepherd dog, or GSD, is known for having a mild temperament and being very loyal. They are smart, strong, and eager to perform tasks, which makes them the ideal sort of dog for training.

Today, we’re going to teach you how to teach your GSD one of the most important commands for any dog owner: how to stay. We’ll also include some tips and tricks that will help you make the best of your training experience.

Why Teach a Dog to Stay?

'Stay' is one of the most important commands that you will teach your dog, and you can probably understand why quite easily.

If you have ever been to a friend’s place and rung the doorbell, only to hear a dog’s aggressive barking, then you might have wondered if you were going to be greeted by a dog at the door. If you weren’t, chances are that your friend has already instructed your dog how to properly stay.

But the stay command can be useful for more than just preventing a mere domestic frightening. Stay can be useful for helping to stop your dog from potential fights with other dogs, and can stop them from running into dangerous areas. If you see your dog running towards a barbed wire fence in the woods and you don’t want them to get hurt, it’s a good thing to be able to command them to stay.

How to Start German Shepherd Training

Before you teach your dog how to stay, it’s recommended that you first teach them how to lie down. Before that, you should teach them how to sit, because it’s easier to train a dog how to lie down once they know how to sit. We have articles written on each of these topics if you would like to check them out.

After your dog knows how to sit and lie down, you can begin the basic training for teaching them how to sit.

Make sure that you get some healthy treats so your dog will have a reward whenever they successfully complete the task. You may want to get a clicker before training your dog if you don’t already have one. Clickers can help to reinforce good behavior and can make it a lot easier to train your puppy.

Steps to Train a Dog to Stay

There are some basic instructions that you can follow to make this fairly simple.

  • Get your dog to sit or lie down, depending on which position that you want them to go into when you tell them to stay.
  • Once they’re in position, say 'stay' in a normal tone of voice that you’ll be able to recreate whenever you want your dog to listen.
  • Put your hand out in front of you and make sure that your palm is facing forward. If you have a clicker, you can click it several times and reward your dog. Even if you don’t have a clicker, give them a treat.
  • Practice this a few times, then tell him to lie down or sit. Increase the distance and the length of time that you get your dog to stay every time that he successfully completes the task.
  • If your dog is unable to complete the next level of the task, then go back and resume training him at an easier level.

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You will also want to decide on a 'release cue', so your dog will know when it’s okay to move again. This can be anything from 'okay' to 'free'. Whatever you feel comfortable with. Generally, it’s best not to begin using your release cue until after your dog has become quite comfortable with the command and can stay for a while.

Remember, it’s important to use a fairly neutral voice when you are teaching your dog a command. Dogs do not understand English in the same way that we do, and they listen to our volume and intonation as much as they do to the actual word.

It’s good to train your dog in your normal voice and then command them in the future using your normal voice. If you are too soft or too loud, you may need to spend extra time training for them to recognize different tones of voice. This is particularly important in situations where you will need to immediately tell your dog to stay—you might be inclined to shout 'STAY' but they may not recognize this as the same command.

Train a German Shepherd to Stay

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.

Questions & Answers

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      • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

        Sam Shepards 

        5 weeks ago from Europe

        Ah the leash pulling dog when seeing other dogs? :) I had one of those it all started with bad habits that can be difficult to unlearn.

        For me letting my dog stay on a training field with other dogs when tennisballs are being thrown. The best way to fail at stay is making your dog crazy for months about tennisballs and then make im stay/lie down on a field for 10 minutes when you have to stand 20 meters from him and other dogs are having fun.

      • profile image

        corina hollander 

        5 weeks ago

        My dog’s biggest distraction is someone at the door or outside, and especially other dogs when I’m walking him.:(

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