One thing I’ve noticed from being a member of several Yahoo! and Facebook groups, as well as attending training classes, is that many people seem to get confused between the cues (or commands, if you prefer) ‘stay’ and ‘wait’.
Many people think they’re one and the same, or that there’s only a difference in competition obedience; but to me, even for dogs who are “just pet dogs”, they’re different exercises, and the distinction could one day make the difference between a healthy dog, and one who’s run out in traffic and gotten injured, or is about to get shot for worrying sheep.
Below are my definitions of each exercise, though this is for fully trained & proofed waits and stays, training must occur so your dog knows what you want, and of course until training is complete/complete up to the current level of distance, distractions, and duration you’d do well not to ask your dog for too much.
Stay – for me, asking a dog to “stay” means that you expect them to keep both the the position and location they’re currently in, not getting up, moving around, and/or creeping forward, until you go back to them and release them from the stay.
Inka doesn’t yet have a good enough ‘stay’ to use in the real world, but if he did I might use it to keep him behind me while trying to fend off a friendly dog (think a MDIF); or perhaps if I needed him back on the lead, I might call him and ask for a stay rather than a recall.
Wait –a wait, is more of a loose stay; the dog can stay in the general area, and can change position, but cannot move forward from the area where they were put in the wait; the handler can either return to the dog and release them from the wait, or they can call them out of it, or ask the dog to perform another cue. For example I ask Inka to ‘wait’ at the bedroom door, open it, then tell him he can go through.