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Teaching a down from a distance

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I'd like to teach my two to lie down when I say so from where ever I am. I have no clue how to attempt this.

 

Help?

 

Tim

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I gave Jin a down in front of me then walked away. When I was about 15 ft away I gave him a come and as he rose and started to move forward I would give him a "lie-down" and hand sig. He seemed to pick up on it fairly quickly.

 

The other thing I did was to use a ball to get him to focus. He knew what a down is so I gave him a down and would throw the ball as his reward.

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I taught "down" in the usual way, I think; but added my arm fully raised straight up over my head. I wanted something that a dog can see from a LONG distance (well, long in my neck o' the woods....not long in the herding/over the hill and out of sight sense!), and that is distinctive. If the dog is about to run across a road, or if I want that instant down for whatever reason, even if s/he can't hear me say "down,", if I can get the dog's attention, the upraised arm should be visible. I use it up close too, with a verbal for practice, but sometimes without the verbal too - in that awful event that I NEED it at a distance. Works for me. Your mileage may vary.

 

diane

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I also teach down with an upraised hand, but that comes later as a new cue.

 

First I teach a solid down next to me and in front of me. Once that is solid, meaning I can say "down" and/or just point ti the floor and the dog downs immediately, I'll toss a treat either directly in front or behind the dog. At this point, if so desired, I add the upraised hand signal before giving the verbal command and then, if needed, I'll give the old hand signal. The goal here is to have the dog anticipate the other two after the new signal. From there, I'll take a step away, while the dog is in a standing position, and give the signal to down. If the down is solid before this, the dog should drop to the floor immediately and I can toss a treat or other reward. Over the next couple of sessions, I'll increase the distance.

 

Troubleshooting:

 

Every once in a while, a dog will come to the owner and then drop. If this happens, the dog is not rewarded. It might be useful to either tether the dog to a tree so he can't come closer, or set up a "reward station" behind the dog. A reward station can be a lid or bowl with treats in it, and the dog must have a solid "leave" and "take" command for it to be effective, or else the dog will just reward himself. Sometimes having a person ready with treats standing some 5 feet or a little more from the station helps since they can put the treats in the station after you tell the dog he can "take."

 

In a nutshell, make sure you do not reward the dog from your hand when teaching a distance down. Either throw the reward to him or set up a reward station that sits behind him. Do not just reward the dog for downing, you want some distance between the two of you. Start with small distances and work your way up. Have a solid down before adding distance.

 

I'm teaching KZ her distance down right now. The way she's learning, because she wants to stay right next to me, is through use of an "away" command. Basically, I send her to a target, click, and toss the reward to her or behind her so she doesn't come back to me right away. Next, I withold the click for going to the target and give the "down" command. This isn't too difficult since her default command is down and is usually the first behavior she tries when she doesn't hear the click. What makes it more difficult for us is that I don't always want her down, sometimes I'll have her sit, stand, or spin/twist, but then we're working on a dance routine for the BSA Holiday Party....

 

Hope that helps.

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Down means down, no matter where the dog is in relation to the owner. Get a solid down (immediate drop) on your dog and it will lay down no matter how far away it is, as long as you practice enough.

 

With young dogs I take training walks through the hay fields. I randomly give the down command every few minutes. If the pup/dog obeys I will praise and give a release command ("ok"). If the dog does not obey it is put on a leash and I continue to give commands. Freedom can be earned again by responding instantly to every command. Border Collies are smart and learn quickly that to run loose they must be willing to obey.

 

I don't like using any sort of visual cue because while working sheep the dog is often unable to see the handler.

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A valuable way of looking at teaching (anything) is to remember the three D's - distance, duration, and distraction. First teach with the dog close to you, for very short periods of time, and with as little distraction as possible. Then, over time, build up the distance between you, the time of the down (or other "stay"), and the distractions going on during the exercise.

 

But do it in "baby steps" - just little increments of each of the D's. Also, for many applications, switch from a "pointing at the ground" sort of visual cue to a more visible cue, like a flat hand held high, as an additional cue (other than your verbal, or when you can't use a verbal).

 

Good luck!

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I've taught this a couple of different ways.

 

With Speedy I used a target box with a lid. I filled it with treats, put him in a "sit" put the box between his paws, walked a short distance away and cued the down. This was, of course, well after his down was fluent near me. He seemed to understand that the box meant for him to stay there, so he would lie down and end up with the box between his paws. I would click (from where I was), go to him to open the box and give him a reward from it. Gradually I increased the distance for the down. Once he knew it, I took the box out of the picture.

 

With Dean I used the "splat down" method of training (with the mat) that I described in a recent thread in the general section. Once he knew the "splat" solidly, I taught him distance in the context of ball. I would have him back out away from me (also taught solidly before incorporated into the game) and then cue the "splat". He got it pretty quickly.

 

I did need to do a bit of extra training to help him understand "down from a sit" at a distance. I had to be very clear that he was to "stay" and down. At first he did creep. I could have gone back to putting the mat where he was, or tried the target box, like I did with Speedy, but he picked up on it before I felt the need to do either.

 

I've known others that have used gates to teach the down at a distance, but I've never done that.

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We used the 3 Ds like Sue describes, because Odin really did think being right in front of me facing me was part of the down command at first. Once I was able to get him to realize it meant anywhere (using the clicker and a bit of capturing), I drilled and increased Ds. I think there should be some other letter in there though - maybe C for "context", because we had to change that up too. For example, down means down whether the dog is

 

-coming towards me on a recall

-walking away from me

-in an active training session

-just sniffing around

-on grass, sidewalk, carpet, lineoleum, etc.

-when I'm seated or standing

 

you get the picture! Down has always been his most solid command, but we drill it daily even still - along with sit, stay, stop (a standing stop), and recall. It has paid off; his down on stock is awesome for such a young, keen, excitable dog, and I know I can down him immediately in real life if ever a safety issue or emergency arises.

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I have used many of the techniques suggested above and have also used a tie back, or hold method also. For this I either have a person hold the dog, or tie the dog onto something solid with quite a bit of slack, make sure the tie is not too high off the ground so that the tension on the leash encourages the dog to drop. This is obviously done after the dog has a reliable down when working close to me. I start right outside of the leashed area the dog has, give down command that I've been using, and treat the dog on the ground when it downs. Then I take a step back and repeat. I continue stepping back until I am as far away as I want to be, I also make sure to mix it up, sometimes down and othertimes ask for a sit.

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I taught both of mine a solid down first and then just started randomly using it when ever and where ever. Gradually add the distance and harder distraction situations.

 

Lucia will always stop, but not nessessarilly down. She'll stop and crouch/lower her head.This if fine for me since I use down as more of a stop command than anything else. Grady will drop like a rock, even when I'm not talking to him directly.

 

Grady has been interesting to train. It's a little tricky since he learns better from shaping than anything else, but once he has it, it's soooooo solid :rolleyes:

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Hi,

 

Something else you might want to think about is where are 'you' looking? Eye contact can really influence some dogs....For example, if I'm working on the group sits and downs and I make sustained direct eye contact with one of my dogs it makes him very uncomfortable and he might break the stay and want to come to me. Another of my dogs I would use the direct eye contact and that would be effective in keeping her in position. On recalls, if you shift your eyes to where you want the dog to end up sitting(front position), it's amazing how many of them will come in nice and close trying to meet your gaze. Very cool!

 

Happy Training~

 

Janet

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Great question. I do look at my dog and guess he hates that. We struggle with downs all the time even at close range. He is a Aussie.

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I've taught this by using a rug as the lie-down spot.

I first teach the dog to lie down on the rug;

I then teach the dog to go to the rug from increasing distances and from different directions. I then fade the use of the rug.

 

This was actually an easy train for Freeman compared to my other dogs. This lying down in motion and lying down at a distance from me seemed to be very natural to him. I've wondered if this is true for Border collies in general?

Down in motion is an important skill for Freeman since he is a recovering car chaser ;>).

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This lying down in motion and lying down at a distance from me seemed to be natural to him. I've wondered if this is true for Border collies in general?

 

I can't speak for all Border Collies, but for Dean this is very natural. He does this spontaneously when playing ball and Speedy happens to have a ball and Dean doesn't. He will circle behind Speedy and - thunk! - plop down on the ground. And he does it at other times. It's definitely very natural for him.

 

Still, he doesn't naturally link that with a down in motion at a distance on cue.

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Still, he doesn't naturally link that with a down in motion at a distance on cue.

------------

LOL! That's why the rug is helpful because the rug is specific to the down verses your body location, etc.

 

It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to teach my other dogs distance downs and downs in motion, and they don't normally drop down as you described that your own dogs do, but they are not Border collies (Standard poodle and Lab).

 

For teaching any behavior I think it's much easier if the behavior is naturally in the dog's repetoire.

 

Speaking of rugs, I noticed in another post where you recommended the book "Control Unleashed". I just ordered it today, since I've seen a lot of positive comments about it. I have "Clicking to Calm" and I've heard the 2 books are very similar.

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