Train Your Dog to StayBy Ian Williamson
Most problems with golden retrievers are a combination of their intelligence, energy, and desire to please. The importance of training your golden to stay comes in part from their energy. If your golden gets loose, he can run off in the blink of an eye.
One of the first steps in training your golden is to establish yourself as the "alpha dog" or "pack leader". This is especially important when raising a large breed dog, as many people are afraid of large dogs. It doesn't matter that goldens are not aggressive watch dogs. Good training will make your dog more welcome wherever you go.
Pay attention to your dog, and make eye contact often. When your dog does something right, look him in the eye, give verbal praise, and offer a treat, in that order. For example, when your dog sits (whether by command or not), make eye contact, say "good sit" and give him a treat, or "good stay", etc.
Goldens are sensitive, they do not do well with scolding or punishment. It's better to identify the good behavior and reward that, rather than use negativity.
Your dog can learn to stay from any position, lying down, sitting or standing. Eventually you will want to train him to stay from any of these.
With your dog on leash, stand to his right, place your hand in front of his face, palm towards him, and say "stay". Step away from your dog with your right foot first (stepping with the left foot encourages the dog to move too); take two steps, and turn and face him.
Give him the hand signal again, hand right in front of his face with the fingers pointing up, and repeat "stay". Return to his side, say "ok" and then say "good stay" and give him a treat.
Over time, increase the length of time you hold up your hand, and increase the distance you walk away from him. Eventually, walk away the length of the leash, hold your hand up, and repeat "stay".
Always return to his side and reward if he continues to do as he is told.
Little baby steps that you can reward with a "good stay" and a treat are much more valuable at first than trying unsuccessfully for a longer time or distance.
Are you worried about spoiling your dog with too many rewards? Are you concerned that he won't obey without them? As long as you never show the treat to your dog before he exhibits the desired behavior, you don't need to worry. A rule of thumb with goldens, since they are so sensitive and so eager to please, is pick your battles and bribe shamelessly.
You can overdo training, so if you can alter circumstances (like you would to childproof your home for a toddler) rather than discipline…do it. Keep your counters clean so your dog isn't tempted to clean them for you, but insist upon sitting and staying instead of jumping on people and licking children's' faces. Young children are easily knocked over by happy goldens!
When you feel your dog has learned to stay well, vary the circumstances. Make sure he can stay from a sitting, lying down, or standing position. Practice inside and outside, around other dogs and other people. Try to distract him with a rolling ball or have someone else call him. You aren't being mean; you aren't trying to trick him. You are simply helping him to understand better what you mean by "stay", and he will be deliriously happy when he knows he's got it right.
Here's a bonus tip, specific to golden retrievers but you be the judge if it's appropriate for your dog, retriever or not. Retrievers like carrying things in their mouths; many of them have favorite toys they don't like to be without. If your dog is having trouble concentrating during a training session, you can try letting him hold his favorite stuffed toy in his mouth. If he thinks it's playtime, it won't work; but oftentimes it gives him a focus.
With these few tips and techniques under your belt, your training sessions with your sunny-tempered golden can be quite fun and pleasurable for both of you.
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