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 COMMAND—SIT-STAY OR DOWN-STAY
hand over dog's head
For SIT—no sign
hand open, palm
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Now, with this exercise goes the almost invisible sign, LEFT HAND
TOWARD THE DOG, and care must be used to avoid confusing the dog
lifted hand or right arm as that signifies DOWN to him. The command
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
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