Are my two boxers too old to learn these commands? They are 6 and 5. With a fenced in back yard we never needed these commands, but their lack of obedience to come and stay limits whatwe can do with them.
How do you go about teaching these commands?
I just thought since nobody had written you back yet, I would tell you how we've been teaching our puppy these things (this is how the trainer wants them taught anyway and it seems to be working). I can't imagine why an older boxer couldn't learn them also. To teach stay, we simply put a hand in front of their face and say "stay". At first, keep a hold on their collar...to prevent them from failing. After just a few seconds, reward them, then do it longer and longer, many times a day. With Abby, we just started letting go and saying it, always with the hand briefly in front of her face. Then we slowly started walking away from her and saying it the whole time. Now she's at the point that we can have her stay in one room of the house and go to a different room. This doesn't work so well in the real world where dogs and bikes and children abound. Yet... :D Come has been one of the easiest things for her to learn. Once again, keep your dog on a leash so he/she cannot fail. Walk a small bit away, then get down low, say their name and "come" and hold your arms out. Reward them with a treat and lots of love when they come. If they don't seem to understand what you want, tug on the leash and make them come. Once again, we just have repeated it over and over and over and over...you get the point. :p We have started doing this one behind the tennis courts at the park. Tennis balls are just about her favorite things in the world, so my husband goes to one end, about 15 feet away from the fence, and I go to the other. We get really tasty treats and call her back and forth between the two of us over and over. She usually does kind of an arch towards the courts, but always ends up coming to us (the fence is a very important instrument in this). If those things don't work, then I'm really sorry. I don't have much experience teaching and old dog new tricks, so somebody else may have a better idea, I just thought I'd share how we have been trying it with our puppy. Good luck!
Some people train so that the dog comes to you when you say his name, instead of a separate word, using "The Name Game" (standing next to dog, say dog's name, it looks at you, click/treat/repeat. After a few correct repetitions (80% success), move away from the dog, say name, click, *wait* and make the dog come to you to get the treat, repeat, gradually changing the criteria so that when you say the dog's name, it comes to you *before* you click/treat. Eventually you add distance, distractions, etc.)
Really, there is no reason to train a "stay" command. Any command you give has a built-in stay - "sit" really means "put your rump on the floor and keep it there until I release you." Granted, it will take time to work up to this - first you need to train the sit, and you c/t as soon as the rump hits the floor. Even if they stand up right after you click, that's OK - the click ends the behavior. You keep upping your criteria so that after the rump hits the floor, you wait 1 second to click, then 2, then 5, etc.
I do think it's useful to have a "hold that position and don't move a muscle until I say so" command for emergencies - but if you train a solid Down, Stand, and Wait, one of those should meet your needs.