Basic education

How to Teach your Dog to Stay Still on Command

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: July 17, 2017
How to Teach your Dog to Stay Still on Command

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In addition to the classic dog obedience exercises, your dog should learn other orders that are useful in everyday life. One of them should tell your dog to stay still on command, regardless of the circumstances. This will be very practical and can help you in many possible scenarios.

This AnimalWised article will use the "wait" command for the exercise, but feel free to use another word of your choice. Always make sure that the word is not similar to other commands, and that it is not excessively long.

There are two fundamental criteria for dog training which are explained below. Read on and learn how to teach your dog to stay still on command:

You may also be interested in: Training Your Dog to Use a Muzzle


  1. First steps
  2. Teaching your dog to wait
  3. Practice in different places

First steps

Take your dog towards the door. There's no need to bring bits of food or the clicker, as they won't be used in this exercise. When you get to the door, which should be closed, stand in your dog's way. Your dog needs to be at least one meter away from the door.

Next, position yourself in such a way that you can open the door and see your dog at the same time. You will not be facing the door or your dog, but side-on to both of them. Slowly open the door. When your dog lunges to leave, block its path with your body. Simply turn to face it and stand between it and the door.

When your dog back off, put yourself side-on again, leaving a clear path. If your dog tries to leave again, block its path once more. Repeat until your dog waits for a moment when the path is clear. At this point, say "come on" and let it leave.

Note that you should say "come on" when your dog waited for a short moment. Don't make the error of waiting too long. Little by little, you'll gradually increase the time in which your dog waits to be granted permission to leave, but the first few times should only be for a short moment.

How to Teach your Dog to Stay Still on Command - First steps

Teaching your dog to wait

Once you've got your dog to wait for three full seconds before allowing it to leave with the "come on" command, you can start using the "wait" command so that it knows it cannot rush past you. Simply perform the above procedure with the same training criteria as before, but say "wait" before opening the door. Praise it by saying "well done" whenever it does it correctly.

Practice until your dog reliably responds to the command "wait" at least 80% of the times in two consecutive training sessions. Remember to gradually increase the time. It can be very useful to accompany the word with a physical gesture so that the dog can correctly remember the command.

How to Teach your Dog to Stay Still on Command - Teaching your dog to wait

Practice in different places

This is where you'll need some delicious dog snacks, using positive reinforcement to teach it the "wait" order:

  • Zebra crossing: Your dog will probably be well accustomed to waiting at pedestrian crossings when the light is red. Encourage it to stay still by using the command "wait", before it stops on its own accord. When done properly, congratulate your dog.
  • Entrance to the dog park: As practiced when leaving the house, you can make the most of the entrance to the dog park to further develop the "wait" command in different situations.
  • Training: Keeping your dog mentally agile is very important. To do this, it's always advisable to devote time to going over the obedience orders which it's already learned at least twice a week. During your sessions you must include the "wait" command, and practice its effectiveness.
  • Before doing...: Before doing any activity, whether throwing a ball or giving it food, take advantage of the opportunity and remind it of the "wait" command.
How to Teach your Dog to Stay Still on Command - Practice in different places

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How to Teach your Dog to Stay Still on Command