Wait vs Stay
What's the difference?
These two commands are often used interchangeably and are also confusing to handlers. Both are telling the dog to remain where he is. The reality is that for most pet owners, they want the dog to remain where he is and either word can be used.
For those who want to go into Obedience Competition, there is a difference between “wait” and “stay.” “Wait” is used to mean—remain where you are until I tell you to do something else. For example, the handler tells the dog to sit, and wait and walks away from the dog. Then the handler turns, pauses and tells the dog to come. So, the dog remains waiting in position until another command is given. “Stay” is used to mean—remain where you are, and don’t move or change position until I come back to release you. For example, the handler tells the dog to sit and stay and walks away from the dog. The handler turns and faces the dog. Both remain in position for a minute and the handler returns to the dog into heel position. Then handler releases the dog. So, the dog remains exactly as it was left until the handler returns to the dog and releases it.
For most pet owners, what they are wanting is for the dog to “wait.” Wait until I get your food set down; wait until I get the car door open and the leash attached; wait while I retie my shoe…… The key for pet owners to use the same command for the same desired behavior, whether that command is “wait” or “stay.” For purposes of this training tip, the training for “wait” and “stay” will be separated in the traditional Obedience usage.
Wait: Remain where you are until released and told to do something else.
Start at a closed door that opens out.
Ask dog to “sit” and then place your open hand in front of the dog’s face and say “wait”. (The reason to start with a sit is that the dog is a bit less likely to move from a sit position than from standing one.)
Keeping one hand in front of the dog’s face, reach for doorknob- if dog moves, put him back in sit position.
Slowly open door continuing to keep your hand in place. Lightly praise the dog as it remains seated.
The handler goes through door first then releases the dog by saying, “ok” or “free” and invites the dog through the door.
Once the dog understands the word “wait”, the “sit” can be eliminated, as what you really want is that the dog waits without going through the door until invited to do so and whether it is standing, sitting or lying down doesn’t matter.
Sit/Stay: Remain where you are, as I left you, until I come back to release you.
With dog sitting on left, put your hand in front of dog’s face (not touching).
Say “stay” and stand up straight at dog’s side.
Pivot with human’s toes just in front of the dog’s paws. Pivot back to dog’s side.
If the remains seated, praise then release with treat and word such as “OK” or “Free.”*Lengthen the stay a few seconds at a time before adding distance (i.e. Remain toe to paw until dog reliably stays in place without moving for 30 seconds BEFORE the human moves farther away. Even then, move away by one baby step at a time!)
Written by Darlene Colmar, Asheville, NC