How rewarding it is for your dog to sit and stay calmly before you allow him to get some food, or treat or a toy. And for your dog, it is a wonderful experience to wait until you to give the command. Because that’s how your dog wants to interact with you. You are in charge of his space and he will obey and reward you when you make training fun.
The Sit & Stay Game makes training your dog to sit and stay a fun and rewarding experience for both of you.
Rules of the Game
- Choose a high-reward food and make sure that your dog is hungry and ready to eat.
- Decide on the “Command” word. Keep it consistent, something like “Sit (or Stay or Wait)” works well.
- Decide on the “No Reward” marker word, something like “Nope (or Too Bad or Opps)” works well.
- Watch your dog’s language. The way a dog says “please” is to get into the “sit” position.
- Be patient. You dog will sit to say “please” (eventually).
Sit & Stay Food Bowl Game
When a dog wants food, a toy, to play, or just going out the door, he looks for a command from the pack leader. So here’s a brilliant way to train your dog that is fun and rewarding. At the same time, you are giving your dog the impression that you are the pack leader:
- Ask your dog to “Sit” while you hold the food bowl out of reach from your dog, about 2 feet away. Stand sideways with one shoulder facing him. Hold the bowl on the opposite side.
- Begin to lower the bowl straight down to the floor. As you lower the bowl, if your dog moves or gets up, simply say very matter-of-factly “Nope” (your command word) AND at the same time move the bowl away and out of reach. Then ask your dog to sit again. (You may need to step out of position so you can face your dog sideways or put him back into position if he has scooted forward). The key is to start fresh from the same position again.
- When your dog maintains the SIT POSITION, start lowering the bowl to the floor–while he is still in position. If your dog starts to get up to come to the bowl, pull the bowl back up again. The key is that you are bending down with the bowl and pulling back with the bowl until you can place it on the floor while your dog is HOLDING THE SIT POSITION.
- Make eye contact with your dog while he is in the sit position. You want your dog to stay in the sit position AND make eye contact, before you move the bowl to your dog and give it to him.
- When you have placed the bowl on the floor, say “Stay” (or your command word), wait a few seconds, then move the bowl towards your dog and allow him to eat. Don’t expect too much from your dog, yet. Just a few seconds of HOLDING THE STAY POSITION “wait” time is good at first.
- When your dog has maintained the SIT & STAY for a few seconds, then move the bowl toward your dog and allow him to eat his food. Play the game one or two times a day, at feeding time, adding a few seconds to the “Stay” time until your dog holds the SIT & STAY position and you give him the bowl. You are developing your dog’s behavior to sit and wait for your command in order to get the reward.
Remember both you and your dog needs to understand the rules: In order to get food your dog must hold the Sit & Stay position and look at you (not the food) to win the game!
You can try this with a treat, a ball or toy too. Keep it fun, laugh at your dog when he tries to cheat, and give your dog praise when he gets it right.
The Sit & Stay Game is not just about training your dog to sit and stay for food. It’s about the praise you give–and the joy you get when your dog politely sits and stays for you. What it’s really about is winning a fun and rewarding relationship for both you and your dog!