This is a story about two different dogs. Both dogs were taught how to stay. The first dog started her training as a young puppy. She was cued to stay, and rewarded after very short times until she gradually worked up to longer times.
She practiced her stays in a variety of locations, around the house, in the yard and away from home. She practiced her stays around distractions - stationary toys, toys thrown in the air and at training class.
The second dog was different than the first dog. If you could see a thought bubble over the head of the first dog, it would have said "I'm doing my JOB" (she took her job quite seriously). The thought bubble over the head of the second dog, however, would have said "Stays are Stupid". She would rather have been moving, doing, performing.
The second dog also started her training as a puppy. She also started with short stays, then gradually longer stays. But, the rate at which the duration of the stays increased was not at her pace. She was also practicing stays in a training class, and her owner was not good at going in to reward her before she got up. Feeling a little (self-imposed) pressure to keep up with the rest of the dogs in the class regardless of the fact that her dog wasn't ready for that yet.
Whether through less practice, less work in different places with different distractions or just the fact that the second dog's personality was different and staying still just didn't come as easily to her, the second dog was not as good at stays as the first dog.
And all the times the second dog got up out of her stay before the cue that she was done - all of those times she practiced not staying. That inconsistency in her ability to stay continued throughout her obedience career.
I would give a lot to be able to go back and do things differently with the second dog. Yes, she was my dog. So was the first dog. And I had them in that order. Did having a dog that learned stay so easily make me slack off in training the next one? Or had I not noticed the difference in the amount of distraction training I did with them? Or perhaps I just found stays boring to practice and subconsciously avoided doing it with the second dog. I certainly didn't make sure that the second dog was successful at the majority of her stay cues before increasing the difficulty. And I ended up with a dog that continued to randomly release herself from a stay.
I tell this story so that you can learn from my mistakes. So that you end up with a dog that responds to a stay cue more like dog one than dog two. So here are the keys points: