Canine Good Citizen

Week 3 

Review:  Sit; Down; Attention (‘watch me’); loose leash walking  

New:  Stay, Release word, Leave it, Positive Reinforcement, Variable Reinforcement, Grooming

Release Word:  A release word is the word your dog will be listening for to let them know they have finished the stay command.   Most people want to choose “Okay” but I caution against this, as it is so commonly used, it will easily confuse your dog.  Instead, use a word that only you and your dog knows is his release word. (It’s like a secret handshake!)

Some examples:





            -All done

            -vamoose (yes, I had a client use that one!)

 Teaching “Stay”

This position is taught initially in the sit position, but can be used in any position, including down, stand, paws-up, etc.

There are three stages of the Stay Command – Duration (how long can he ‘stay’?), Distance (how far away can you move?) and Distraction (can he stay in the middle of a soccer game?)

Do not try to teach a novice dog all three stages at once.  We will be working on the duration stage first.  

-          Standing in front of your dog, ask your dog for a sit.

-          Mark the sit with a verbal or treat marker*

-          Position your signal hand, like a cop asking for a stop, in front of your dog’s nose, and give the command:  “Stay”

-          Remove your signal hand and mark with a treat from your treat hand.

-          Immediately replace your signal hand and repeat the “stay” command.

-          Repeat this process 4 times, after the 4th treat marker, give the command ‘Stay’

-          Wait a few seconds and then use your release word and body language let your dog know they are now finished with the stay command.

 * Depending on your dog's proficiency with the sit you may choose to use a verbal rather than a treat marker.

Note** When you release your dog from a stay position, you should be close enough to remain in control of your dog, should they be off leash.  Your dog should learn you will come back to them to release them, should you walk away from them.  Do not call your dog to ‘COME’ to you, unless you release them first.

Continue working on this command, lessening the treat markers, GRADUALLY, and increasing the DURATION of the stay.  Do not move more than 1 – 1 ½ steps away from your dog at this stage.


Preparing your dog for test # 3 in the CGC exam is something many owners don’t think much about, but it is an important test.

In this test, the examiner will “groom” your dog, by running a brush down his back, lightly inspecting the dogs ears and lifting each front foot. Now, you may think this is not a big deal for your dog, since she allows YOU to do it, but that is the point, this will be a stranger who will be handling your dog. \So, how to get your dog ready for this exercise? 

Take a brush and a bag of treats on your next neighborhood walk. Anyone who asks to pet your dog – give them the brush, ask them to run a brush down your dog’s back and offer her a treat.  Explain your training for the CGC exam, and how much their help is appreciated.  

Don’t miss an opportunity to ask friends, neighbors and family to look in your dogs ears and pick up each foot.  Remember POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT and REWARD REWARD REWARD as you work through this step in your training!!

Handout:  Positive Reinforcement

Handout:  Variable Reinforcement








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