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German Shepherd Training Series – Okay and Stay!

Welcome back to the German Shepherd Training series! Today we’ll go over two relatively simple commands; “Okay,” and “Stay.” This will be the second last post in this series that touches on simple commands. In the next post, we’ll go over “Let’s go.” Let’s get started!

German Shepherd Training - Stay

Release Command: Okay

Dog trainers usually use the command “okay” whenever they would like to release or free their dog from a previous command. For instance, after you’ve gotten your dog to sit, you can utilize the command “okay” to let your dog know that sitting is finished and he is free! This release word tells your dog that he’s finished with that command for now. In fact, there are some dog trainers that use a release command other than “okay”; for instance, “free.” The word you use to release your dog from a previous command doesn’t matter so much. More importantly, be sure to be consistent as to what you mean when you use your release command as well as when you execute them.

Stay Command

Teaching your dog the command “stay” requires that you use the commands that you’ve previously learnt through “sit” and “down.” In a way, this involves reinforcing your dog’s learning in these two previous commands which you’ve taught him. The only exception is that, rather than “releasing” or giving your dog the freedom after executing the “sit” or “down” command, you wait a few seconds before you execute the command “okay” to signify his release. Once you’ve released your dog, introduce a positive reinforcer whether its a toy or a treat.

Now you’re probably wondering what happens if this doesn’t go all that smoothly. What happens if your dog gets up after sitting or laying down before you even execute the command “okay?” Well, dog training experts suggest that you can do two things; the first is to go with the flow. That is, you can act as if releasing your dog was your intent and quickly mark it with an “okay.” The second option is to use a corrective marker by utilizing sounds such as “Eh” and by gently putting him back to his original spot. Again, as a reminder, a corrective marker is used as means to let your dog know that his actions or behavior is unacceptable and that he should try again. We have personally found that the second option tends to work better; but you’ll have to try for yourself to determine which one suits your dog(s). Eventually, your dog will get to a point as that he’ll seem to understand the command “okay.” At this point, it is really important to challenge your dog by making the training more difficult. You can often do this by waiting for a longer period of time when your dog is in the sitting or down position before your release him via the command “okay.” Similar to teaching your dog other commands, you can also make it more challenging by changing the environment (from house to dog park) and by adding some distractions.

Another tip is to stand on your dog’s leash after he lies down, with about 3 to 4 inches of slack. This works because if your dog tries to get up before you execute the command “okay,” he will realize and learn that it does not work. We must note however, that this does not mean that you should stand on your dog’s leash as a way to train your dog to be “down.” This could not only injure your dog, but could also impose fear in your dog, which will certainly make German Shepherd training not only more challenging for you, but also less enjoyable!

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