Training A Puppy to Wait
When training a puppy, Wait is what I consider a “temporary” stay. It is used most commonly in competition obedience in the Front behavior and also any retrieving exercise. It is also a good behavior to use when you are going to feed your puppy.
Having your puppy sit and wait until you release them to eat enforces your Alpha status and prevents a puppy that jumps up for the bowl and occasionally knocks it out of your hand spilling kibble all over.
Wait is also good if you are going to exit out a door and you don’t want your puppy dashing ahead of you through the exit first. Again, it will enforce your Alpha position if you enter and exit first and will prevent a puppy running out the front door every time it’s open and possibly being hit by a car.
In a wait behavior, you can move away from your puppy and then call them to you, give another command, or release them from a distance. Remember in a stay behavior, you must return to heel position next to your puppy in order to release them and your puppy must not break the position in which they are staying.
We teach wait almost exactly the same way that we teach stay, the main difference is the word you use and the fact that you do not need to return to heel to release them.
Start with your puppy training on leash in a sit position and using a flat palm in front of their face, tell them “wait”. In the beginning, do not move away from your puppy and start with short wait intervals of about five to ten seconds. Remember, as in stay, to release your puppy with your release word and make sure they get up out of the wait position. Continue to gradually add time to the wait until you are satisfied with the wait duration (which is generally 30 seconds to one minute).
Once your puppy is reliably waiting until you release them, you can begin to move to the front of the puppy’s nose and start working wait from there. Remember that adding movement to the behavior may confuse your puppy at first and his wait will not be as steady or as long. Reduce the amount of time you have them wait and then gradually add time as they are successful at shorter time intervals.
Whenever you decide to add distance, distractions or time have your puppy on the leash so that you can give a reminder if they start to break the wait. If the puppy starts to break, give them a reminder by keeping your leash off the ground and giving a slight upward pop and release on the leash with a reminder command “sit, wait”.
Do not pull your puppy up by the leash or jerk hard on it; the puppy just needs a simple and quick tug and release upwards to get them refocused on the wait behavior. If your puppy moves from the spot where he was when you gave him the wait command, as in stay, put the puppy back in the same spot and repeat the exercise. This will prevent the puppy “creeping and sitting” repeatedly towards you.
Practice your puppy training wait behavior in a variety of places and around different distractions increasing in difficulty as your puppy successfully maintains a wait behavior.