Blog - Dog Training News & Tips

Training your Dog to STOP on command

5th June 2018

Training your dog or puppy to do an emergency STOP could be a life saver.

If you can drive you know that you have to do an emergency STOP in your test. Things can go wrong, accidents can happen & training your dog to do an emergency STOP is vital in your dog training.

Any command we teach our dogs needs to evoke an immediate response. Just one command, bang, do as you ask, & this is a very serious, possibly life-saving command.

Make your command have meaning. If you need to use it the urgency in your voice as much as anything will give the cue to your dog that he needs to respond.

When training your dog, make sure you have your dog’s full attention. Most dogs are keen to learn & spend time with their owners. Playing a few recall games will set the scene nicely for this training.

As with all dog training you need to train in lots of different environments so your dog truly understands the command. If you have got to step 2 in one place when you go to somewhere new you may need to start at step 1 a couple of times.

Step 1

• Have two treats – one of them quite large at the ready.
• Drop the smaller treat under your dog’s nose, giving him/her permission to eat it. As with long line recall this is simply to keep your dog occupied while you put some distance between you.
• So put some distance between you and your dog, a good 10 paces if you can.
• Be ready! As soon as your dog looks back at you or starts to head towards you, with a straight upwards arm, throw the larger treat, with an overarm movement at your dog.
• At the same time as throwing the treat give a good firm ‘STOP’ command.
• The treat needs to land with your dog or behind your dog.
• You are just trying to get your dog to understand he/she does not come any further forward at this stage.
• Your dog is free to wander around and look for the treat.
• Let him/her find the treat then repeat the whole process.
• Do this several times in one session but don’t let your dog get bored.

Things that might go wrong

1. If your dog does not automatically look at you or start coming after you once he/she has eaten the first treat you can encourage them by calling their name. DO NOT be tempted to use your recall command at this stage. Your recall means come right to me so don’t confuse your dog.

2. If your dog doesn’t see the treat and just comes running right up to you, praise him/her up but don’t reward then have another go but throw the treat under arm, almost under pups nose so he/she sees the treat arrive. Do this a couple of times then go back to trying the overarm movement.

3. Make sure the treat is thrown some distance from you. Don’t teach your dog STOP is right up close to you.

4. Stand up tall, get used to holding that hand up straight so your dog can see it at a distance. People often lean in to the dog, almost willing him/her to STOP. It’s the command that needs to be understood on this one, not the body language as your dog is most likely going to be running away from you if you ever need it in an emergency and he/she won’t necessarily be able to see you.

Always do some recall games after practising the STOP command.

Step 2

• When you have done step 1 several times you will probably find your dog is starting to hesitate when he hears the command or sees your arm go up.
• When this happens, stop throwing the treat as you give the command. Keep your hand up so pup knows the treat is coming and walk slowly towards him/her.
• When you get to your dog give the treat.
• You are now teaching your dog that STOP means stay on the spot and something good will happen for you when I arrive.
• Move this quickly on to the next stage by putting the treat over your dog’s nose as you arrive (just like when you taught sit), getting your dog to sit before giving the treat.
• Your dog is then learning that he/she not only stops on the spot but also sits while waiting for you to arrive.
• If you start to walk towards your dog and he/she moves, don’t tell them off but don’t give the treat either or you will be rewarding your dog for moving. If this happens revert to a bit more practice at step 1.
• Do this a few times, but as you progress give your dog chance to drop into a sit automatically before you start walking towards him to deliver the treat.

Step 3

• You now need to build up the time your dog will stay in the STOP.

• Building the time is simply a case of giving the command and waiting before you start walking towards your dog. Build this up slowly like you would your sit stay.

Step 4

• At some point you need to try out your command when your dog is moving away from you. Don’t attempt it initially when your dog is on the run, do it while your dog is just a short way from you.

• You may need to use your dog’s name at this stage to get their attention first. There is never any harm in adding your dog’s name in before the command.

Remember always do some recall practice after STOP practice. For junior dogs don’t use COME then STOP all in the same process. Keep your COME command sacred.

Take the steps above slowly and have fun with it. STOP is a great command to teach your dog. Train it well.

Remember your training principles. Don’t increase two things at the same time. If you teach your dog to sit to the STOP in the garden when you go to the park take it back a step because you’ve added in distractions.

If you try something at the next stage in the process and it doesn’t work just revert back to the earlier stage and try again.

Build on success and remember it must be just one command to save your dog’s life.

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