This way of training the stay incorporates many wonderful concepts into the training process:
1-By click as distractions happen you are using classical conditioning to change your dog’s emotional response to being calm and relaxed around those distractions. Lowering a dogs stress levels when asked to stay, which in turn will make the behavior more reliable. The distractions become conditioned secondary reinforcers.
2- By teaching the release cue first, you are using ‘back chaining’ by working on the end of the behavior of the stay first. Back chaining creates strong behaviors.
3- You are using the Premack Principle: the higher probability behavior predicts a lower probability behavior. Staying predicts getting up and getting to do what the dog wanted to do. Meaning the behavior will be stronger.
4- By clicking the release as a behavior it becomes a secondary reinforcer. So every time you release your dog from a stay, you are actually rewarding him for staying.
A popular concern new dog owners have is “where to start” when they bring their puppy/dog home. The best place to begin is usually with something relatively simple so the dog-parent can learn to work together as a team and understand the principles of positive reinforcement.