Last month we discussed how to teach a bungee stay (a sit stay while you moved 1, 2, or even 3 steps back from your dog), and this month we’re working on a more advanced version of stay, the Circle Stay. As with the bungee stay, the Circle Stay is another great tool for teaching your dog to stay in a sit or down while distracted, even when the trainer is out of the dog’s sight. In this case, the dogs learn to tolerate your movement as you walk in a circle all the way around them.
To teach a Circle Stay:
1- Ask your dog to sit and then use your “Stay” hand signal or verbal cue. Take one step to the right or left of your dog then quickly return to them while they are still sitting and give them a treat. Remember to always go back to your original starting place in front of your dog to give them treats, otherwise they’ll spin to follow you and the treats!
2- Do 4-5 repetitions of the exercise taking just 1 step to the right or left of your dog.
- If your dog only gets 1 or 2 of the repetitions correct, make the exercise easier by just taking a half step to the side.
- If your dog gets 3 of the repetitions correct, do the same exercise 4-5 more times, again just taking one step to the side.
- If your dog gets all of the repetitions correct, then your dog is ready for you to add a second step, (moving in a clockwise or counter-clockwise semicircle around your dog)!
3- Continue to add one step at a time, repeating each stage or criteria of the training (1 step, 2 steps, 3 steps, etc) until your dog can do it correctly 4-5 times in a row. At that point, raise your criteria by adding a single step to your semicircle.
4- Once you can move in a semicircle from in front of your dog to directly behind your dog, try to complete the full circle. Most dogs have the hardest time sticking their stay when you move directly behind them and they lose eye contact with you. So, once they can tolerate that, they can probably hold their stay while you quickly complete the circle all the way around them.
After each successful repetition, praise your dog and them give them a food reward. Try to use a small piece of something tasty that your dog likes. Give them praise and a reward after every success.
If your dog gets up out of the sit stay, simply reset them in the stay and continue the exercise. Continue until you can move a full 360 degrees around your dog.