This is an exercise that can only be correctly taught if each stage is perfected before continuing on to the next stage. The training for this exercise should be started indoors, the dog on the lead and no distractions. Initially the handler should be kneeling on the floor with the dog close to the handlers left side.
1. Give the SIT command once only, whilst putting the dog into the sit position at your left side, thereafter NEVER re-command, even if the dog moves. Pull up and back with your right hand in the collar, simultaneously push down with your left hand on the dog’s back just above the base of his tail. Never apply pressure any higher up the dog’s back as this could cause injury. Remember – even if the dog does not sit immediately; DO NOT repeat the sit command.
PRAISE the dog quietly once he is settled and comfortable in the SIT and remains there without any physical restraint from the handler. If the dog moves, replace him into the SIT with no further commands. Do this as often as necessary, until he is sitting still and comfortably, praise quietly, then give the release command and at the same time move the dog from where his is sitting. PRAISE.
2. Repeat stage 1 until the dog is sitting when commanded with confidence.Always use the method described in stage 1 to guide the dog into the sit position. Gently try to pull or push the dog out of position (the handler should still be kneeling next to the dog), but be prepared to place him back into the SIT should he move. If he resists your gentle attempts to dislodge him, PRAISE and give the release command. If the attempts to move succeed – place him back into the sit position without commanding and go back to stage 1 and start again, until he is doing the exercise with more reliability.
The more frequently stages 1-2 are repeated the easier it will be to progress through this exercise and the more reliable your dog will be.
3. When the dog is doing stage 2 confidently, without moving, the exercise can be expanded. Put the dog into the SIT and with, as little fuss as possible, stand upright. If he moves, put him straight back into the SIT without saying a word. When you are able to stand next to him use the lead, gently applying pressure to the collar to test the sit. If he moves again, replace him giving no extra commands and start stage 3 again. When he is resisting your attempts to move him from the sit PRAISE and RELEASE.
NB On no account should you proceed any further if he is not reliable on stage 3.
4. When he is doing stage 3 reliably and confidently, the exercise can again be expanded. Place him in the SIT, take a couple of steps away from him, but be ready to put him back just as he moves. Using the lead again gently apply pressure tot he collar, return to the dog immediately, PRAISE profusely and then RELEASE.
NEVER release the dog until you are standing by his side or he will never do a reliable sit stay.
THE DOWN STAY
This is taught in exactly the same stages as the SIT – remember to only command the dog once and only when you are standing next to him, always replace him into position using no extra commands and always PRAISE and RELEASE at the end of each sit/down.
When both the sit and down are perfected with no distraction indoors, use different places where there are no distractions and start again at stage 1, working through all the stages. Perfect the technique by gradually increasing the distractions i.e. rattling a bunch of keys, dropping your hanky etc.
NEVER TEMPT FATE by leaving the dog in a stay where a sudden distraction could cause an accident i.e. untethered outside a shop.
This original system was devised by Annette Conn and Kevin McNicolas of the Barnet & Mill Hill District Dog Training Clubs.