When I lived in New England, I got a new dog and though he was over two years old, his training was so minimal that I was basically starting from scratch. In other words, he knew how to sit on cue in some situations, some of the time. I began working with him on sit, down, wait, heel, come, and stay. The stay command soon became one of my top priorities, though my reason may seem self-serving.
I wanted to be able to cue him to stay so that I could go inside the local Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop. This goal involved a high level stay since he had to deal with distractions and with me being away from him, though still in sight through the store window. It took me a couple of months, but I got to the point where I could tell him to sit and to stay, then go inside, buy my ice cream and come back outside to a dog who was staying without stress just outside the door where he could see me.
This occurred in Hanover New Hampshire, which is a small and very friendly dog town. Most places I have lived, I would not leave my dog outside a store even in my sight because I would be worried that someone would either harass my dog or take him away. Hanover is ridiculously safe so that the risk of any harm coming to my dog was miniscule.
Just to give you some idea of how dog friendly a town Hanover is, here are two examples from Dartmouth College within the town. A big benefactor to the school bequeathed a fortune to the school with one major set of strings attached: Dogs must be allowed to roam free (off leash) throughout the campus. And roam they did—big packs of high energy, powerful dogs were regularly observed on campus and in the surrounding town. In the library at Dartmouth, instead of the usual sign on the door forbidding dogs from entering, there was a sign at the water fountain saying, “Please don’t allow dogs to drink from the water fountain.”
In such a town as this where dogs are allowed to be in so many places, a good stay is just part of what a dog needs to be able to do. They also need to walk politely either on or off leash and they need to come when they are called. These are the minimum core skills that dogs must be able to perform in order for them to be polite members of society. And in my case, my dog’s stay was the most important because I need my regular doses of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in order for me to be a polite member of society.