There are a handful of essential commands that every dog should know. Sitting and staying are up right up there with them.
Not only will these commands come in handy when you want your dog to politely greet new people and other dogs, but it’ll also help keep your pup safe in potentially dangerous situations.
Unfortunately, for an excited Staffordshire bull terrier who just wants to be by his or her owner’s side, sitting and staying are two skills that don’t always come naturally.
The good news is that there are fairly simple steps to teach your Staffy to sit and stay. Keep reading to find out how.
Why it is Important for a Dog to Sit and Stay
Training a Staffy is not just about teaching them how to be a well-behaved member of society; it’s also about keeping your dog safe. With this in mind, there are a few important reasons why your dog should be able to sit and stay on command:
Safety. Want to stop your dog running out onto the road, chasing off after the neighbour’s cat or putting themselves at danger in multiple other ways? If your pup will sit and stay whenever you say, you’ll have a much easier time keeping them away from any potential hazards.
Polite greetings. If your Staffy likes jumping all over every new person he meets, you’ll probably be well aware that not everyone appreciates being so enthusiastically greeted by an unfamiliar dog. But if they'll sit and even stay on command, your dog has all the tools it needs to greet people calmly and politely.
Convenience. There are plenty of other everyday situations when a reliable sit and stay comes in very handy. For example, you might be saying goodbye to a few guests and you don’t want to worry about your dog racing out the open door.
Or you might be carrying a hot baking dish around the kitchen and you don’t want your dog to be underfoot.
In order to teach your Staffy to sit and stay, it’s important to break this skill up into its two individual parts: sitting and then staying.
1. Training your Staffy to Sit
Sit is usually the first training command most dog owners master. There’s a good chance you and your Staffy have already ticked this one off your to-do list, so feel free to skip ahead to the next section if that’s the case.
If not, let’s take a closer look at the basic steps you can follow to teach a dog to sit:
- With your dog in a standing position, stand in front of them with a treat in your hand.
- Hold the treat near their nose to let them sniff it.
- Move the treat up above your dog’s head.
- Once your Staffy looks up, move your hand further forwards so that your dog has to lean further back to continue following the treat.
- This will push his bottom towards the ground until he’s eventually in a sitting position.
- As soon as his bottom hits the ground, praise your dog and give them a tasty treat.
- Repeat this until your dog gets the hang of it, and start to introduce the “sit” command every time you move your hand above your dog’s head.
- You can then start phasing out the treat, only giving one occasionally as a reward to show your dog that they’re still doing the right thing.
- Eventually, and with plenty of practice, you can even stop making the hand movement and just use the “sit” command to get your dog into a sitting position.
2. Training your Staffy to Stay
Once your dog knows the “sit” command inside and out, we can move on to the slightly trickier skill of staying. The most important thing to remember when you start training your dog to stay is to do it in an environment free of distractions, such as your living room or garden. This will ensure that you have your Staffy’s full attention and set you up for success.
When you’ve found a suitable training spot, here’s what you need to do:
- Stand in front of your dog. With a treat in your hand, ask them to “sit”.
- Say “stay” and give your dog a hand signal — the universally recognised hand-signal for “stop” will work well here.
- Wait a few seconds and then reward your dog with a treat and praise for staying in the same spot — make sure he/she gets the reward while she’s still in a sitting position.
You can also introduce a release word, such as “OK” or even “good boy/girl”, to let them know when it’s time to get moving again.
- Practice repeatedly until your dog has got a basic stay down to a tee.
As soon as your dog has a good grasp of the “stay” command, you can start raising the level of difficulty by:
Increasing the distance. At first, you can ask your dog to stay while you’re standing right in front of him or her. You can then gradually increase the distance you are from your dog before giving them the okay to move from his spot. If they stand or move before you signal for them to do so, start again at a shorter distance.
Increasing the duration. Your dog’s first stays only need to be for a second or two. But as he/she gets the hang of it, you can slowly increase the amount of time you expect him/her to stay in the one spot. This part can take a while for some dogs to master, so be patient.
Increasing the number of distractions. Being able to sit and stay isn’t much use if your Staffy can’t produce this skill in a real-world situation.
Once your pup has mastered sitting and staying in a distraction-free environment, start asking them to do it when there are other things that could potentially draw their attention away from you — other people, other dogs, and new and interesting places.
If you know that your dog will reliably stay when there are other distractions present, you can head out into the world with a whole lot more confidence.With a little bit of practice, your Staffy should be able to sit and stay reliably no matter where they are or what's going on around them.
Staffy Training Tips
No matter what skill you’re trying to teach your Staffy, these tips will help make training simple and stress-free:
Make it fun
Your dog will quickly grow bored of long and repetitive training sessions. Try to make training enjoyable for your dog by keeping sessions short (5-10 minutes) and always ending on a positive note.
Keep a cool head
A Staffy who is struggling to grasp the skill you’re trying to teach can be very cute, but very frustrating at the same time. Take care not to let your frustration show as this will only confuse your pup even further.
Stay calm and remain consistent with your training methods for the best results.
Make training part of your daily routine
Training is important for all dogs, not just puppies. It provides much-needed mental stimulation as well as a simple way for you to spend some quality time with your dog.
Work a couple of training sessions into your Staffy’s daily routine to help her stay sharp and happy.
Training your dog to sit and stay is an essential task for every Staffy owner. But if you can follow the steps above and adopt a patient and consistent approach, your pup should master these simple skills in no time.
More Staffordshire Bull Terrier Training Articles
Check out these other training-related articles to further enhance your staffy's obedience training: