Part of being a responsible dog owner is taking the time to train your four-legged friend. Not only is a well-trained dog a happy dog, training also keeps your pet safe in unexpected situations.

Now in its 26th year, the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training and certification program emphasizes the importance of responsible owners, well-mannered dogs and the bond they share. The program trains dogs to not only act politely in public, but also lifesaving commands like stay and coming when called. CGC training and testing is widely used in shelters across the country to help dogs find their forever homes. It can turn troubled pups into wonderful companions with time, patience and hard work.

Training your dog

It’s never too late to get started in training! Here are some tips to help teach your dog to stay in place.

  • Be prepared. Have your food rewards handy. Start with your dog sitting beside you on your left side. Put your hand with your palm facing your pup’s face and say, “Stay.” Make sure to reinforce the stay with praise, such as: “Good stay.”

  • Add in some movement. With your dog still sitting beside you, give the hand signal while saying stay, but pivot so you’re standing right in front of your dog. Again, make sure to praise your pup by saying, “Good stay.” Then pivot back so you’re again standing next to your dog. Praise her for staying and give her a treat.

  • Increase your distance. Once she has mastered the stay with you standing in front of her, take a step back for about five seconds. Praise your pup for staying and give her a treat.

  • Continue the process. Move farther and farther back each time—two steps, four steps, and so on. Return to your pooch each time, but do not call her to come to you after you have instructed her to stay.