What's the Difference Between Stay, Wait, and Place

As one of the most recommended dog training services in Austin and San Antonio, we get lots of questions from local dog owners about the difference between common commands. One of the most common questions is What’s the difference between STAY, WAIT and PLACE often followed by, Does it really matter which word I use?

The truth is, word choice matters much more than you think. Being clear about what you want your dog to do is one of the first steps to getting the behavior you want from your dog. 

What It Means to “STAY”

STAY is a positional behavior. This means that if a dog is instructed to STAY in a seated position and they get up, stretch, or lie down, they’re technically “doing it wrong” and their behavior needs to change. STAY is an effective command for use in public spaces, where you don’t want your dog movements to attract attention from other dogs or people. By instructing them to STAY, you can get your dog to stand still, lay down or sit (without changing positions) in the event that you need to leave them temporarily—such as when instructed to STAY in front of a store until you return.

Keep in mind: STAY should last as long as your dog is instructed without changing positions, even for an extended period.


What It Means to “WAIT”

In contrast to STAY, both WAIT and PLACE are geographic behaviors. This means that your dog can technically shift positions as much as they want, just as long as they remain in the same location and do not break the defined location threshold. With WAIT, it doesn’t matter if your dog gets up, sits, or lies down, just as long as they continue to remain in the same spot. WAIT is usually used at thresholds, like doorways, stairwells, getting out of vehicles, etc. 


What “PLACE” Means

PLACE is the command that is commonly used when training dogs to go and relax on a specific target, such as a bed, deck, ramp, or platform. By teaching your dog the PLACE command, you can get them to relax on cue, and settle down in a specific spot, in almost every situation. This can be a great tool in their repertoire of skills, especially if your dog tends to wander or move around a lot. It is great for engaging their mind, keeping them out of trouble and as a target, it can be helpful in teaching a myriad of behaviors from recall to posing for pictures!  We have a full protocol on the PLACE command and will do a deeper dive into this, as this is the foundational behavior for all of our training.  More to come on that!

Just like WAIT,  PLACE is a geographic behavior. That means it’s important that they remain in the same location until they are released from the command. Moreover, the duration of the command shouldn’t matter; whether your dog has to hold their spot for 5 minutes or several hours, they should still remain in place.  The location should not matter.  The distractions do not matter.  The distance away from you does not matter.  


In our next post we will go over the principles of proofing!

Teach Your Dog The Difference Between STAY, WAIT, and PLACE Today!

Want to teach your dog the differences between STAY, WAIT and PLACE and other common commands? Want a dog that behaves as well on the go as they do at home?

Contact Total Dog! today to learn more about our professional dog training programs in Austin and San Antonio, Texas! We can’t wait to help your dog realize their true potential, and enhance your relationship with your dog because of it!

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