Stand-by: Reset from collecting reinforcement

by | Aug 8, 2022 | dog training

Stand-by? Stand and Wait? Base Position?

What is it?

You know when you see those dogs that offer everything, dancing feet, and never slow down enough to actually “listen”? You know the dogs that sniff their way back to you after eating the tossed treat?

Here is your solution. Train the wait and listen. Teach the dog what you expect after eating that treat. For me, I want an orientate to the handler, make eye contact and be still. This is for obedience, in tracking and in protection, where the emphasis is not on me, I want a different type of standby.


Stand by

Stand by is teaching the dog a stand and wait so that you are creating the space in time to add cues to shaped and offered behaviors, and adding value to stillness. By creating a “wait” behavior, you give meaning and relevance to the verbal or physical cues you are introducing to the dog.


Dog learns to “wait” in a stand stay for verbal cues

What is looks like:

Dog defaults to standing and looking at the handler, waiting for the next piece of info, whether that is verbal or physical.


  • Teach Stand by
  • Add cues

Have an idea of what you want as your “wait and focus” behavior. I want a stop right in front of me, looking at my eyes.


  • Throw re set treat to start the session, as dog comes back from it, click and feed immediately, stopping the dog’s forward motion. Click and feed a couple times, not waiting for eye contact.
  • Reset treat
  • Repeat

As soon as you think the dog will stay in position, and offer eye contact, start waiting for that. Dogs that are used to offering lots of behavior may find this part hard. You may need to refresh your dog with the skill of eye contact, which can be found in this blog post.

Continue this until the dog is stopping and looking at you immediately, giving you a chance to click our target behavior of stand and look at you.

If your dog has trouble stopping and looking at you off the tossed treat, try putting the treat on the ground to the side, and seeing if that less exciting reinforcement procedure is helpful.

Once the dog has the general skill, vary the position of the reset treats, whether placed on the ground or tossed, so that the dog is learning to come to the front of you (not formal or anything) and orientate with eye contact.

Here is Ones showing that skill:

What to do if the dog sits?

This is common, sit is often heavily reinforced, and dogs like to offer it, and humans like to reinforce it. I’m partial to the stand, mostly because the dog can do the majority of behaviors out of the stand (think spinning, etc… ) easier than a sit, but if sit fits your purposes, go for it.

If you don’t want the sit, don’t click it, but feed so the dog gets into a stand, then do a couple reps of stopping the dog in a stand BEFORE they sit to see if that communicates what you want.

Stand by-How do you use it?

  • To let your dog know to “listen” for cued behaviors and not to offer
  • To teach a new cue for a previously shaped behavior

Here is baby Talic demonstrating


And then later as a more experienced dog with more cues:


Try it!


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