Dog Manual

Lesson Five - Staying In Sit And Down Position

The object of this lesson is to teach the dog, at the command SIT-STAY or DOWN-STAY, to remain in position until another command is given even though the guide should disappear entirely from sight.


The Sign—For DOWN—Right hand over dog's head

For SIT—no sign

For  STAY—Left   hand   open, palm facing dog

When the dog is in the DOWN position, the guide should hold the leash in his left hand at the loop end, then issue the command STAY, step in front of the dog, facing him. Repeat the command STAY, and walk around the dog in a circle, from left to right, allowing the leash to hang loose from the hand. The right hand must be free, ready to give the sign of the raised hand accompanied by the command DOWN in the event that the dog should attempt to change his position.
After circling the dog several times, change the leash to the right hand and reverse the direction, circling from left to right. Should it become necessary to give the sign DOWN, change the leash back to the left hand . . . the right hand, remember, is the "sign hand" hence should be free when giving the sign.

DOWN-STAY-guide   walking around the dog in a circle.

Guide stepping over the dog.

Off leash; circle enlarged.

Continue circling around the dog first in one direction, then the other, repeating the command STAY from time to time. Keep narrowing the circle, step over the dog from left to right and vice versa, finishing in front of the dog and facing him as at the start. Throughout this procedure the leash is held over the dog to prevent entanglement.

If the dog remains quiet on the ground, drop the leash and repeat these exercises, issuing the command STAY at intervals as before. If still he remains quiet gradually widen the circles. Before long the dog, realizing he is not going to be left alone, will remain in position for some time. With this much accomplished, let us now take up the next step.

Stand in front of the dog facing him, the leash dropped to the ground. Give both command and sign STAY. Walk backwards a few steps, keeping your eyes on the dog and concentrating on the command. As the guide backs off, his right arm should be raised to full height because at long range the dog can see this action much better. By consulting the illustration you can see that a low sign at a distance would be obscured by the guide's body. Should it happen that the dog refuses to hold his position, step slowly toward him, giving a sharp command DOWN, the right arm still raised high in the air.  Repeat this exercise again and again, using commands and signs freely.

If it seems impossible to teach the dog to keep his position under commands and signs, look to yourself as to the cause of the difficulty. It may be due to the fact that you have been just a little careless in walking around, or over, the dog: maybe you have inadvertently stepped on his leg or his tail.   Reason enough, this, for the dog to become nervous and fearful so that as you approach he jumps up. Therefore be extremely careful not to step too close to the dog in the performance of this lesson. Possibly the dog refuses to obey long distance commands and persists in getting up and following. In this case the guide should wait until the dog is close to him, then pick up the leash, take him back to the starting point and bring him down again, with a jerk at his collar. Issue the command DOWN-STAY and walk backward, still facing him.

The right arm raised high in the air.

Raised only to body level, the right  
arm cannot easily be seen by the dog.

Do not strike the dog or punish him in any manner for disobedience because, in this instance, he would understand he was being punished for coming to his guide. Naturally, this would interfere markedly with the "Come when called" sign to be taught later. The sole remedy, then, is patience and constant practise on the part of the guide.

There is another method applicable for conquering an obstinate dog. Tie him to a post or a tree, give the command DOWN-STAY, then walk away and leave him for a few moments. Return and release him, and try him out once again. As a result of this procedure, the dog will probably get up and jump on his guide because he is glad to see him and because he anticipates his freedom. This ought not to be permitted. The dog must be "downed" each time he attempts it, and too, in a tone of voice that means business.
Still another method is concerned with the use of a long leash of about ten yards, tied to a tree, a fence or post. At a distance of, say, three yards, bring the dog to the down position. Remove the usual short leash, replacing it with the long one as inconspicuously as possible. Thinking of course he has gained his freedom, the dog will follow the guide as he backs away until he is brought up short at the end of the leash. The instant he reaches the end, give the command DOWN. Then return him to the starting point—three feet from the tree—and repeat. Remember to issue the command and the sign STAY when leaving him. If there happens to be no hitching post available at the moment, the guide may call upon someone to hold the end of the leash, and as the dog starts to move away he can give a jerk when he hears the guide command DOWN. Each time the dog moves from position he must be taken back, no matter how long or how short the distance may be, no matter how many times it must be repeated.

Frequently the guide makes the mistake of turning his back to the dog, or of walking away too quickly. He must back away so he can watch the dog. Later on, when he has learned to obey these commands, he can be left without watching.

About one minute is the required time, at the beginning of this lesson, for the dog to remain in the DOWN position without moving, but after several days of practise the time may be increased to five minutes. When he has stayed down for the required length of time, walk to him, pick up the leash and go through some of the exercises he has already learned.

The left hand gives the sign Stay.

The second part of this lesson, executed with the command SIT-STAY, is concerned with the identical procedure of the DOWN-STAY exercise, except that the dog is in a sitting instead of a lying down position.   By this I mean holding the leash and walking around the dog, then dropping the leash, backing away, etc., just as in the DOWN-STAY.

Now, with this exercise goes the almost invisible sign, LEFT HAND TOWARD THE DOG, and care must be used to avoid confusing the dog with lifted hand or right arm as that signifies DOWN to him. The command STAY is the same as in the first part of the lesson, and the time limit for the exercise is three minutes. Do not neglect to give the command STAY plus the sign every time you leave the dog.

When this much has been thoroughly learned, proceed to the next step. Give the command SIT-STAY and walk directly away from the dog instead of walking back' ward facing him. Do not look back until you have covered some distance, say about ten feet, then turn and watch him closely. Never walk away without issuing the command and making the sign STAY as illustrated above.

It is highly important at this point not to call the dog to the guide. Rather, go to him and pick up the leash. For he has not yet been taught to COME WHEN CALLED, a lesson to be taken up later.

Practise of the foregoing lesson should take some twenty minutes each day, ten in the morning, ten in the afternoon or evening. It will be found beneficial to practise the SIT-STAY when entering and leaving an automobile or, in fact, any sort of vehicle, especially on busy thoroughfares. Before getting in the car, command STAY; the dog will then sit beside the guide until the door has been opened and he is permitted to enter, but he must not enter without the proper command. By so doing he will remain close to the car, and all chance of being struck by a passing car or other vehicular traffic will be eliminated.

Before leaving the car, command STAY, when the dog will remain safely in it until the guide has alighted and has issued the command HEEL, this to prevent him from rushing out into the street before the guide has an opportunity to get him under control. A sensible safety measure also is to let the dog enter and leave vehicles on the side away from traffic so he will have no slightest chance to run in front of passing cars. The unfortunate experience of the late Senator Shall, of Minnesota, victim of just such an accident with his Seeing Eye dog, is a case in point which proves the wisdom of this procedure. A number of my own pupils too have attested to the benefits derived from it.

Execution of the STAY lesson is the first time the dog has been allowed to work without the leash. So many people fear that the dog may run away if unleashed and given a little liberty. Just such thinking may bring this about through the fact that the dog, sensing the uncertainty of his guide, succumbs to the very natural reaction of running toward or from him. If however the guide will concentrate on the command STAY and meantime keep his eye on the dog, he will at once nullify any uncertainty and, in the bargain, find the dog obedient to surprising degree.