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Training The "down" Command


Guest AimeeBee
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Guest AimeeBee

I'm in the process of taking a basic obedience class with my boy and we're having some issues with the "down" command (and "sit", but I'm not sure if I'm ready to conquer that one just yet). Obedience gurus -- any advice??

 

I have tried sitting on the floor by his bed with treats held so that George can only nibble at them with the hope that eventually he will lay down on his own. That usually results in him splaying his legs awkwardly and crouching to get the treats, but never laying down. When he gets to the point where it seems like he's going to just lay down, he'll straighten up and go for the full treat bag rather than the one in my hand -- he's no fool :-P. I found Never Say Never Greyhounds blog showing where you kneel with one leg up and lure the dog under your leg but if he even tries (and I am rewarding for every step he makes in the right direction) he seems to lose interest very quickly. I have been keeping training sessions very short (5 minutes max) and using a treat he loves to no avail. If it helps any, he's a very tall dog (about 30" at the shoulder) and rarely goes into a sphinx-type down on his own at home, mostly he flops onto his side -- perhaps it's uncomfortable for him?

 

It's ok with me if he never "gets it", but he seems to enjoy everything else we've worked on so far so I don't want to just give up.

 

Thanks!

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I've always taught 'down' by putting treats in my closed fist, then lowering my hand to the floor. Show him the treats, let him sniff, but but keep the fist closed. It also helps if you're working on his bed, where he's more inclined to lie down naturally. If he's too interested in the treats and doesn't understand what you're asking him to do, sometimes it's easier to wait the dog out until he lies down on his own. Pair it with your verbal cue, then click and treat.

Edited by a_daerr
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Okay, this sounds crazy, but I had a trainer show it to me and it worked. No matter what we did, Patrick could not understand that we wanted him to lie down. So we used a chair, and he had to crawl progressively further under it to get the treat. He pretty quickly realized what we wanted when we made the down motion after that.

Beth, Petey (8 September 2018- ), and Faith (22 March 2019). Godspeed Patrick (28 April 1999 - 5 August 2012), Murphy (23 June 2004 - 27 July 2013), Leo (1 May 2009 - 27 January 2020), and Henry (10 August 2010 - 7 August 2020), you were loved more than you can know.

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Make sure you're asking him to do it where he might do it on his own. Monty for the longest time wouldn't do it unless he was on his nice cushy bed, then rugs would work, then a blanket or towel on the floor, and now he's a star and will do it anywhere (outside, linoleum, tile floors in stores, you name it). It was just getting the action where he was comfortable that was the hard part. Now he even does it without the hand gesture at all, and offers it when he wants something and we don't ask!

 

And I'd have the treats in your hand being the only thing attractive to him. Take some treats out of the bag, put the bag away in the cupboard, and then try to get him to do it in an area more conducive to the act of lying down for him.

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For Sailor, I captured his down (and sit). I'd sit on the couch and wait until he laid down. As he was getting into position I'd click and treat. After awhile he started offering the behavior for food.

 

For Bu, I captured "bow" first. That's when they stretch with their heads down and butt up. Once he was reliable with that, I'd delay giving the treat until he moved his back legs a bit. Then he figured out how to lay down. He will only lie down on command by lowering the front end first.

 

Neither of my dogs would go under things. Bu is too lazy and would go tale a nap if it got too difficult. Sailor seems to have claustrophobia.

 

I also taught Sailor to sit by capturing. It's all about timing. He plops his butt down as he's laying down, so I'd click just as his butt hit the floor.

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Okay, this sounds crazy, but I had a trainer show it to me and it worked. No matter what we did, Patrick could not understand that we wanted him to lie down. So we used a chair, and he had to crawl progressively further under it to get the treat. He pretty quickly realized what we wanted when we made the down motion after that.

that's how i ended up teaching annie. it takes some coordination but once your pup is comfortable crawling under then lean over with food in your hand and lower it- closed fisted, slight opening in your fist so the pup can nibble on the treat and place the hand under the pup so he has to tuck his head under. this helps him go into a down position.

 

from the down position one can then lure them into a sit and back to a down- puppy push-ups is what we call it.

 

btw- annie now loves going under and in-between legs, she just scoots there and hangs.

Edited by cleptogrey
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Guest Lillypad

My Maya was very hard to train to a down. Someone referenced this method for me, and it took some time, but it worked well for her:

 

http://neversaynevergreyhounds.blogspot.com/search/label/Downs

 

 

 

 

 

Had great success with the methods used by Never say Never. Also I did not use the chair method, but I saw it work. Just concerned dog would get caught up some how and be spooked. Good luck!

Edited by Lillypad
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My Maya was very hard to train to a down. Someone referenced this method for me, and it took some time, but it worked well for her:

 

http://neversaynevergreyhounds.blogspot.com/search/label/Downs

Thanks so much for the link to this page. I've heard about Never Say Never but had not had an opportunity to check it out. I've book marked it and as soon as my guest dog goes home and things are a bit calmer I'll begin training both Nova and myself about clicker training. Nova is very shy and timid and I absolutely have been reinforcing every forward move she makes. She has made progress but there are still times when I'll call her and she will get "that look" and walk away afraid so I don't want to introduce anything negative into her training.

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