WAIT! (how to train it, that is)

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RearCross1 085 Here’s a quick tutorial for teaching your dog to wait.

Not to be confused with the stay command, Wait is a useful command to have in addition to Stay. “Stay” means “stay in that position until I release you.” Wait means “don’t move forward.”

Tomorrow I’ll post a how-to that follows up on this, for teaching your dog to wait at the front door. (Update: Here’s the article: How to Stop Your Dog From Bolting Out The Door)

Step 1. Start with your dog on leash, somewhere with few distractions, like your backyard. Walk alongside him and after a few steps, turn in towards him, bringing your outside hand, open-palmed, in front of him so that you are facing him, blocking his path. When he stops moving, praise and give him a small treat (if you’re clicker training, click and treat). Hold the position for a second, then give your release word (“okay”, “free,” etc) and keep walking.

Repeat this about a dozen times, and switch sides, working on your dogs left and then right.

Don’t add the verbal cue “wait” yet; first get him used to the hand signal.

Step 2. Gradually make the motion of turning towards the dog less exaggerated, until you are only placing your outside arm in front of him, and turning towards him only slightly.

Step 3. Add the verbal command. Say “wait” as soon as the dog stops moving.

Step 4. Next, have your dog wait while you take a step away. If he stays in position, praise/treat. Take a few more steps away. Work on this until you can walk, then run, away without him taking even one step towards you until you release him.

A couple tips:

  • Praise him for waiting before you give the release cue. If you release and then praise, it will likely confuse Fido. He’ll probably assume you’re praising him for coming towards you, not waiting.
  • As your dog gets better at Wait, practice it in different places with different distractions. Indoors, on walks, with people watching, etc.
  • With this command in your “tool kit,” you can teach your dog to wait at curbs before stepping into the street, stop him before he jumps on someone, or, as you’ll see in this how-to, keep him from barging out the front door.

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