So, in dog training lingo, there is a thing called the sit-stay and another called the down-stay. They are related, and pretty self-explanatory. In a sit-stay the dog is to sit and stay until you release him. In a down-stay he is supposed to lay down and stay until you release him.
Columbus is in a Canine Good Citizen training class. This week’s homework was to put him in either a sit-stay or down-stay for 30 minutes. 30 minutes! 30 minutes?
Yup. And the purpose was not for it to be perfect, but for us to correct our dogs back into the desired command so s/he would know we were serious.
I was dreading this homework. But I got the chance to do it today when I brought Columbus to our town’s annual Labor Day tennis tournament finals.
We had gone over to the edge of the hill (everyone sits on a grassy hill to watch the tennis on the court below) so Columbus could be in the shade. He was laying down and I thought to myself, “this could be a good time.” So I told him “STAY” and sort-of kept in contact with him so I could feel if he was going to break out of it.
I kept telling him, “good down,” “good stay.” He really pretty much lasted for 20 minutes with this kind of encouragement and the occasional “no” when I sensed he was going to try and get up.
Then a dog came by. Up Columbus stood before I could stop him. And it required forcing – and I mean forcing – him back down into the down position.
Then another dog came by and I told the lady that I was training my dog and he had 10 minutes left in a 30-minute stay. She thankfully understood and kept on walking. Before that, it looked like she was coming over to let the dogs meet.
I kept hoping I wouldn’t have to give that spiel to too many people and they’d just stay away. And I hoped that my family wouldn’t get there in the middle of the stay because Columbus would have gotten all excited.
Turns out it all went well and some people I know came right at the end and I told them what I was doing – they are dog people – and they sat down next to us and ignored him so I could bring him out of the stay on my own timing. Which I did, and then he greeted them.
All-in-all, it went way better than I expected. I may even do the exercise again. When we had dinner tonight I put him in another down-stay and he was really good with it. I didn’t make him stay in it for long, but we are on our way!