View Full Version : Need input

1st December 2006, 07:05 PM
Hi Everyone

Think back to teaching down. This was our topic at training class this week and Libby wants no part of it.

The instructor explained by placing a treat out in front and letting them follow it from a sit. No go, Libby just stands and tries for the treat. Then they said, get her in a sit and grab gently at her elbows and lower her to the ground. NO go.

The instructor last night told me that I need to work submissive downs then. That seems a little extreme to me.

What do you all think? With our lab we just did a sit and then moved the treat down her right side to her rear. She had to down.

What has worked for you all?

1st December 2006, 09:02 PM
What are submissive downs? I don't even like the idea of grabbing elbows... a lot of dogs don't like that kind of intervention though I know some trainers use it. I'd be looking for a different class if submissive downs involve corrections or forcing the dog into positions.

My Lily is mad about food and tries to lunge as well and easily gets overexcited by the bait. Hence I like to tire her a little by having her do some easy things she knows for a bit til she gets calmer, which might help you too. It seems the real issue for you is Libby won;t stay calmly in a sit so that you can try the down -- so maybe working a lot more with her on her sit would be the start, so that she is really reliable with her sit, then try working on 'down'.

Tara and Lisa teach down by having the dog in a sit then *luring* into a down by slowly lowering the bait to the ground then away from the dog so it stretches out flat. If she can too easily grab the lure from your hand, contain it in your fist so only a hint is visible and she cannot get it. If you keep that fist and bait on the ground before her she is eventually going to go into a down position to get at it. Reward then for ANY down as you can start to shape the response once she has the general idea.

Here's one way of doing it:

The L- or “magnet” method: Start with your dog sitting. Then pinch a morsel of delicious food between your thumb and forefinger. Show the food treat to your dog to bait his interest and then lower your hand slowly toward the ground. The dog will follow the semi-concealed food item with his nose until your hand touches the ground.

At this point he may have already gone down but, if not, will be hunched over, banana-shaped, with his head and rear-end close to or touching the ground. Now draw the food treat away from the dog so that he follows your fingers as you move the treat progressively further away. With luck, the dog will stretch out toward the disappearing food and will slump to the ground … in a Down position.

Note that your fingers will have described an L-shape with the horizontal section of the L- pointing away from the dog. Once the dog has adopted the desired position, you release the food and praise the dog lavishly. The word Down! can be added later and the form fine-tuned at leisure. Soon you will be able to have your dog perform the Down even when you don't have food. You just say the word Down! as your hand describes the L-pattern in front of the dog. The hand movement becomes a signal.

Of course, you still reward the dog with praise, petting, or food as appropriate. The hand signal can “morph” into a downward sweep of the hand without you even stooping or bending yourself. At this point, the down is trained – but to have it performed reliably needs more work … and you need to understand the training strategy.

More generally, why people shouldn't use corrections: http://www.deesdogs.com/documents/dontriskpunishing.pdf

1st December 2006, 10:53 PM
Do you have stairs that you can go down in your house? I would put Kosmo in a sit at the top of the stairs and then go down about 4 stairs so my head was level with his body and then I would give him treats on the ground from there.. I don't know how to explain it but if you can kind of imagine it - that's the only way I was able to teach him that.. also, are you using a clicker? That can help dramatically .. If you are I would carry the clicker around with me and whenever you see her do it, even if unconsciously, click and treat..

Good luck! :flwr:

2nd December 2006, 12:06 AM
I think I read somewhere that this is actually difficult to teach because it isn't a natural position for dogs.

I find that I get Amber to sit, but like you she lunges for the treat. I get her to sit again, and then gently keep my hand on her bum to prevent her from standing up. She goes into a down easily then, and she's now starting to get the idea. I like the stair suggestion though!

I'd try it with Amber, but that dog thinks she's a cat, and I wouldn't trust her not to leap for the sweetie anyway.

Honestly, how DO you keep a puppy that thinks it can fly from jumping? She has no fear at all and I live in terror of her breaking something. Thankfully, she seems to bounce, but still..

2nd December 2006, 12:18 AM
Good suggestion. I taught Riley the down exactly like the L. Sara, thanks for the stair idea. That's a good suggestion. I also like the reward for her just doing it naturally. I think she just had no idea what I wanted. It's too early and not necessary for a submissive technique. I just do see this breed needing it.

2nd December 2006, 02:03 AM
Are you sure there is nothing wrong with her hips, kness, back?? this may be a painful position for her ?

If not good luck with your little miss, lots of positive encourgement will do the trick eventually no matter what the method. :D

2nd December 2006, 02:48 AM
Are you sure there is nothing wrong with her hips, kness, back?? this may be a painful position for her ?

If not good luck with your little miss, lots of positive encourgement will do the trick eventually no matter what the method. :D

Thanks for the suggestion. No problems with those areas. I have gotten alot of good hints, so I am anxious to get working with her. She is very attentive in class, so I am sure with lots of treats she will get it. :)

2nd December 2006, 04:53 PM
I've taught mine to go down by:

In the sit first and then holding the treat near to the ground and move it in between their legs - I found moving the treat away (as in the L technique) made mine stand up and move cos they wated to get the treat. I'm still working on it with Oakley as I believe he has jumping bean syndrome! :lol:

3rd December 2006, 08:21 PM
Down is a very submissive posture for a dog. Not always but often, if you have a very confident even cocky dog with ideas above their station, they can find it very difficult to go into a down as it is submissive. Equally a dog really lacking in confidence can go too much the other way and end up rolling about on its back with its legs in the air. :|
If you suspect it might be due to an over confident dog, then a few additional exercises such as only allowing the dog on to furniture if you give the command, asking for a wait before they go to their food bowl etc can improve their willingness to go into a down. However, no matter what the cause, down needs to be taught considerately and I'm not really happy with trying to force a dog into any position. There have been some good suggestions on how to teach the down by others - I think you just have to be prepared to take your time, be patient, and be sure the dog understands what you want - and you'll get there in the end :D

4th December 2006, 01:58 AM
With my shih tzu, it took two eight week sessions of one on one training with an excellent personal trainer to get him to "down" :lol: . He is such a stubborn a** that it really was all about the dominance/submission relationship. We had to do a major overhaul in our lifestyle because he really was the king of the house and did as he pleased. This doesn't seem like an issue with an 11 pound shih tzu and it was almost humorous, but if Stewie had been an 80 pound shepherd, he would have been a REAL problem.
It was just little things that needed changing, and it was all about being consistant with him. Things like when he would whine for food, not giving it to him or giving him affection and attention on our schedule, not his (he used to growl at us if we tried to pet him when he wasn't asking for it). He also had the potential to be really aggressive (he had bitten my nephew which was what drove us to do the behaviorist training).

Needless to say, when we got him to lie down on command, it was a symbol of much greater change than just completing a cute trick. I don't know if any of this applies to your situation, as cavaliers are TOTALLY different than pissy shih tzus, but maybe it will help :flwr:

Barbara Nixon
4th December 2006, 06:24 PM
I would use a combination of Sara's and Kirsty's. ie work on the landing and move a concealed treat down and under the chest. Moving th etreat forwards could lead to creeping; undesirable if you do competative obedience.