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Brandon McMillan’s 7 Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Stay

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Aug 25, 2020 • 4 min read

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Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

Obedience training is a necessary activity that keeps dogs sharp and well-behaved. While hiring a professional animal trainer or consulting an expert pet behaviorist isn’t necessary, there are many different factors that can influence the way a dog responds during basic training sessions. It’s important for dog owners to incorporate the best tools and techniques in order to make the most out of adult dog or new puppy training.



Brandon McMillan Teaches Dog TrainingBrandon McMillan Teaches Dog Training

Expert animal trainer Brandon McMillan teaches you his simple, effective training system to build trust and control with your dog.

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A Brief Introduction to Brandon McMillan

Brandon McMillan is a renowned animal trainer who has spent most of his life working with domesticated and wild animals. The Emmy Award-winning host of the critically acclaimed CBS series Lucky Dogs comes from a family of wild animal trainers—Brandon began helping raise tigers by the age of four. The animals he’s trained have appeared in countless television commercials and motion pictures, including the comedy blockbuster, The Hangover (2009). In 2016, the successful dog trainer released his first book, Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days. After spending a year training a service dog for an injured combat veteran, Brandon realized his calling was in training dogs to change people’s lives. To further his goals, Brandon co-founded the Argus Service Dog Foundation, an organization that trains service dogs to assist veterans with disabilities.

Brandon McMillan’s 7 Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Stay

Teaching your dog the stay command is essential for helping control their wild behavior. Like many other basic tricks, this command is easier to teach dogs who have learned the sit command. For efficiency, teach your dog one trick at a time, holding short 10- to 15-minute training sessions three times a day. To learn more about how to train your dog to stay, check out the following tips from successful dog trainer Brandon McMillan:

  1. Start in a corner. When you begin teaching the stay command, you’ll want to start your dog in a corner—or anywhere with a 90-degree angle—which will reduce the number of directions they can run from eight to three. Now stand in front of them, reducing their number of escape routes to two. You’ll then use your hands to cut off their last two directions.
  2. Use a verbal cue and a training treat. Once you establish your dog’s stay position (with their leash on), stand a few inches away from your dog and extend your hand, palm up, with a tasty treat between your first two fingers. When using your stay cue, make sure you say “stay” with emphasis—you don’t want to use a voice that suggests this command is an option.
  3. Reward with positive reinforcement. Give your dog a treat reward and verbal praise while they remain stationary in the sit-stay or down-stay position for a specific amount of time. Your dog will likely try to dart the first time (and many times after), but the leash will prevent them from running. If your dog does break away, reset them, and begin again with the basic command.
  4. Back up. Back away from your dog slowly, keeping your hand on their leash and repeating the command. If your dog moves or tries to dart toward you, take a step forward to discourage them. However, if your dog stays in the sitting position or down position from this distance, slowly return to your starting position (a few inches away) and reward them.
  5. Back up farther. Continue the process of backing farther and farther away, but always return to your dog slowly to pay him or her with a treat reward. Eventually, you’ll get to a distance where you can drop the leash and continue backing away.
  6. Increase the difficulty. After two to three days of training stay in the corner, you’ll want to move your dog to a flat wall. This increases the number of directions they can run, which in turn increases the importance of the command. While the location has changed, the process remains the same as the corner stay. If your dog has progressed after two to three days of training against a flat wall, you can begin training the technique in the open. The idea here is to utilize orbiting, or slowly walking around your dog while repeating the stay command. This is a new setup for your dog, so don’t get discouraged if they try to dart at first.
  7. Add distractions. Once your dog masters the technique in an open area, you’ll want to introduce distractions. Begin by stepping on their leash. Next, throw toys and treats around. As you throw each toy, repeat the stay command. If your dog doesn’t bolt toward the toys, reward him or her. Reset and repeat.
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Want to Learn More About Training the Goodest Boy or Girl?

Your dream of having a dog who understands words like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and—crucially—”no” is just a MasterClass All-Access Pass away. The only things you’ll need to train up a well-behaved pup are your laptop, a big bag of treats, and our exclusive instructional videos from superstar animal trainer Brandon McMillan.