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How to train a Cocker spaniel to stay

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Cocker spaniels are lively dogs that adapt well and enjoy training. For a Cocker spaniel owner it is desirable and important to undertake training activities with the dog.

There are many commands that you will want your Cocker spaniel to be responsive to and one of these is to stay. 

Training a Cocker spaniel to stay is a simple process that involves sitting the dog down, holding your hand up while giving the stay command, and then gradually walking backwards before returning and praising the dog. Increase the distance as your Cocker becomes familiar with what you want him to do.

Where to begin when training a Cocker spaniel to stay

The easiest and best starting point is to begin with the ‘sit’ command. I use the word ‘hup’ but you can use whatever word you choose.

Training a spaniel to sit is not difficult but it is better if you can begin this when the dog is a youngster, simply because he will have no bad habit.  However, it is not hard to get an adult dog to sit either.

You can read more about training a spaniel to sit in this article, but, if you are in a rush here’s a quick overview:

  • We introduce the command at mealtimes. Hold your spaniel’s dish of dog food in one hand and, with the other hand, hold your palm outwards ( like in the Stop position ) and give the command ‘Hup or sit’.
  • Your spaniel, particularly a puppy, will jump around and get frustrated when he doesn’t get his food, but, eventually will sit down to think about it.
  • As soon as he sits, give him his food and repeat the command ‘sit or hup’.
  • Repeat at every meal and, as he gets better, get him to sit occasionally, such as when out on a walk before you take his lead off.
how to train a Cocker spaniel to stay

Training your Cocker spaniel to stay

Once your Cocker spaniel sits when told you can begin to work on the stay command.  This is an extension of ‘sit’ and your dog will need to be familar with that command before you move onto stay.

The way that you will get your Cocker to stay is simple, but you will need to be consistent. Here is how to do it:

  • Facing your spaniel, tell him to sit, use the hand signal to reinforce the instruction.
  • Keep facing your dog as he is sat down and walk backwards 3 to 4 steps. Keep your eye on him and, if he gets up to follow you, step forward and repeat the sit command, again using the hand signal also.
  • It will take a while and you will need to practice this frequently until your dog sits and does not move, so don’t become impatiemt or worried – if he gets up it is normal as he just wants to be with you.
  • As your dog becomes better at this you can gradually increase the distance that you are able to walk backwards from him.
  • Don’t rush and don’t get annoyed with him if he gets up.
  • Some Cocker spaniels pick this up really quickly and others will try everything to get to you, normally crawling on their bellies which is funny to watch.

More advanced stay exercises for your Cocker spaniel

Once your Cocker spaniel is familiar with the basics of the ‘stay’ command you can begin to think of more creative and advanced training.

This will help to embed the training more fully and will also be a good exercise for your Cocker which will help to develop and improve his steadiness.

Once you are able to walk backwards for about 20 to 25 paces without your Cocker getting up then you can start to work on more tempting stay exercises.

  • Sit your spaniel down and walk backwards for about 12 paces.
  • Making sure that he stays, begin to walk around him in a circle.
  • Don’t be surprised if he gets up to watch you walk around him and don’t get concerned if he does this. He would have to be a nutcase to not want to see where you were, as long as he doesn’t start to come towards you things are fine.
  • Go in different directions to mix things up as you circle him.
  • You can also sit him down and turn you back on him while walking away. This can be tempting for your dog as he cannot see your face and he may run to you. Again, practice makes perfect and whenever you introduce some changes to an exercise ( however minor ) your spaniel may need time to ‘get it’.

The importance of teaching a Cocker spaniel to stay

There are probably 101 reasons and more to teach your spaniel to stay and, in most cases safety is the key reason.

A working Cocker spaniel will need to be steady to both game and shot and will often need to simply ‘stay’ if it’s handler is occupied with another task.

Cockers may need to stay when they are in the car and their owner is opening the door to let them out. Being able to stay can prevent a dog from jumping out into danger.

Stay can be a good game for a spaniel to play while you throw tennis balls or dummies around him, which he can then fetch as a reward

Whatever your reason for training a Cocker spaniel to stay, these simple tips will help you to get success.

To recap – how to train a Cocker spaniel to stay

All dog training tasks build from one activity to another and the stay command is no different. Start with sit and then progress.

Take things slowly, particularly with a puppy or young dog, and always end the training session with something that the dog can do.

End on a positive note every time and, if things aren’t going well then have a break.

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