Wait is very similar to “Stay”. Some trainers will teach “Wait” for barriers like doorways and some will teach it like a less permanent version of “Stay”. Either way, “Wait” is a command that teaches your dog impulse control until you give them the “Ok” to get good things, like food, treats, going outside, or even petting!
Wait should be used when you’re going to release your dog with “Ok” at a distance. Think of doing a “Wait” before your dog gets to get their dinner, “Wait” to go say hi to a dog or person, etc. “Stay” should be saved for long-term situations where your dog has to stay there until you come back to release them.
Wait is the command you want to use when you have to walk away from your dog and it’s very easy for them to understand where to not go, like across the doorway, out of the crate, et.
This first stage of training wait will require you to have quick reflexes and total control of the barrier, which will be a door. So the easiest door to use will be the one on your dog’s crate because it’s light and easy to move quickly.
Go to let your dog out of the crate. Keep one hand on the door and say “Wait” one time and give the “stop” hand signal. Slowly start opening the door and when you’ve opened it a bit, give them a treat with the other hand. Your dog won’t know what “Wait” or the hand signal means, but if you are consistent with what happens after you give those commands, they will quickly make the connection.
Repeat the command “Wait” as you continue to open the door a bit more. Your dog won’t know what “Wait” means at this stage, so if they move, you have to quickly move the door to block them. Think of it like an electronic door that magically moves when you get too close to it.
After you’ve opened the door all the way, give your dog a few treats while they wait in the crate…
Once you’re happy with how long they’ve held their “Wait” (maybe 5-10 seconds), say the release word “Ok!” and back away so they can come out of the crate. If they don’t know what “Ok” means yet, you’ll have to playfully get them to come out of the crate and get treats and petting, so they know that “Ok” means now is the right time to move
Proofing is what trainers call it when you train your dog in all the different situations where they might mess up. One of the toughest situations for “Wait” is at the front door, maybe when you’re getting groceries. If it’s safe to do so (if you have a gate in front of your home, or long leash on your dog), practice at the front door, slowly adding more and more movement. Make sure to treat after each “repetition” and give the ”Wait” command to start over.
Your ultimate goal with training is to stop using treats all the time. You can do this by turning the distraction itself into the reward! If your dog already knows how to do “Wait” from practicing at home, you can use “Wait” before having them go say hi to friends and even other dogs.
Once you’ve taught your dog “Wait” at home, use it to teach manners when approaching other dogs for a greeting. First make sure to ask the other owner if it’s ok for the dogs to greet, then ask for a moment while you tell your dog what to do. Stand in front of them and ask for a sit then give the “Wait” command. Once they are calm and looking at you, you can give them the “Ok” and turn to let them go see the other dog. Make sure to keep the leash loose and let them circle around and sniff butts!