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Discussion Starter #1
as the old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat. What are some other methods to get a dog into the "down" position?

"Luring" doesn't seem to be helping Emmett understand when I want him to lay down. I've tried showing him the treat, he puts his nose to the floor without lying down. I've tried showing him the treat, taking it to the floor, then pulling it towards myself to guide him into the down. No dice!

The only other thing I know to do is to say "down." whenever I see him lie down on his own. Is there anything else?

... I don't want to squish him into a "down." it just seems mean...
 

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Do you clicker train? I would start by clicking/treating every time you see him lying down and then gradually add the command onto it :)
 

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You could try putting him on a chair of sofa or something with an edge and moving the treat down over the edge so he has to put his head lower.
Also, if he'll keep licking and nosing your hand while it has the treat in it, just hold it there and wait. Most dogs will get tired of standing and leaning down and will just lie down.

I help out doing beginner puppy training for toy breeds and down is a real challenge for some dogs.
 

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Choose a boring location (bathrooms work) and wait for him to get bored and lie down. Click the down and treat,. After about 3 reps, you'll see the lightbulb come on (OH! she pays for this!) you can start adding the cue (down) while he is in the process. An alternative is to step on the leash - not close enough that he can't stand but enough to limit his options to go other places. And then proceed the same way. He should understand the clicker before you try this. Another option is to sit on the floor and lure him under your crooked leg, enough bend so he has to down to get to the treat. However, if you are luring, be aware that if you don't get rid of the food in your hand, it becomes the cue,
 

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"Luring" doesn't seem to be helping Emmett understand when I want him to lay down. I've tried showing him the treat, he puts his nose to the floor without lying down. I've tried showing him the treat, taking it to the floor, then pulling it towards myself to guide him into the down. No dice!
Temporarily accepting the nose down could be a good starting point.

Starting from the stand position is usually easiest, and will produce a nice 'foldback' down. Move treat past nose in a continuous downward motion, pushing slightly IN towards dog's chest area. Release treat between front legs, close to chest.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Temporarily accepting the nose down could be a good starting point.

Starting from the stand position is usually easiest, and will produce a nice 'foldback' down. Move treat past nose in a continuous downward motion, pushing slightly IN towards dog's chest area. Release treat between front legs, close to chest.
hubby and I were chatting about this tonight, we don't usually see him go from sitting to lying down, it's usually standing into a "foldback" down. Emmett's part Border Collie, and I heard they have unusual shoulders for crouching. Maybe going from a sit to a down isn't natural for his body type, kwim...
 

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Seems like all the more reason to start from a stand, if you're trying to lure.

But from what I gathered, you were trying to lure from a sit, drawing the treat down and AWAY from Emmett ... no ? I'm asking this because drawing the treat away (and down) from the dog even while in a stand is likely to cause him to remain standing and move forward with his nose to the ground as you described. In either case, that's why I suggested starting from the stand position and moving the treat down and IN towards the dog.

If you're having troubles with the 'mechanics' of luring a down, the option of capturing one may be easier.
 

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Instead of pulling the treat towards yourself, move it back to push him back at an angle. Also, if he's not constantly licking the treat trying to taste it, it may not be reinforcing enough. The lure has to be a treat they want to maintain contact with so you can mold their position easier.

Shaping is excellent. Dedicate a good amount of time just clicking everytime he's in a down position (of course, you need to load the clicker so he knows that a click means he did something right and a treat is coming). You'll see it's successful as he goes into a down position more frequent. Now, say "down" and when he eventually goes into a down position, click and treat. Keep doing this until the time between the cue and the behaviour is shortened and becomes immediate.
 

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Holly goes for a sit to a down, she is a BC, i tried to teach Holly by holding a treat to the floor and moving the treat towards the floor, that did not work, now i have a toy in my hand, point to the floor and say lie down, and down she goes, although now i do not need to point, however if i am to close like right in front of her she will not do a lie down, move back a few steps and down she goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the thoughts, I'm going to keep trying. who knows, it could very well be stuck, somewhere in his little noggin' already, but I just haven't "found" it yet. Everyday he shows us a new facet of himself to us. Funny little guy.

in the interim, I may have to arm myself with peanut butter balls!
 

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Do you clicker train? I would start by clicking/treating every time you see him lying down and then gradually add the command onto it :)
This is what I did with both my dogs. When Obi was a puppy he was tiny and had stubby little legs and could reach the treat on the floor while sitting, so luring didn't work at all.

There is also guiding the dog into position, but most people don't like to do that, plus then you have to fade out the guiding and then build enthusiasm and speed as a separate exercise because the dog will hate the behaviour.
 

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1. Luring: Take the treat and lure to the ground. If the butt doesn't go down, try pushing the treat between the front legs towards the back. If the front doesn't go down, pull the treat forward.... or try the reverse, but the point is to adjust where you lure with the treat... It is not intuitive, but amazing how it works.

2. Capture: What Pawzk9 said. A little more detail. If you take a pup into a 'boring' kitchen with no other distractions, first he will sniff, then he will get bored and sit. Then, he'll get more bored and slip into a down, and finally he'll fall asleep... He may bark, also. THis can be useful info for getting predictable behaviors that you can capture and train on cue.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
2. Capture: What Pawzk9 said. A little more detail. If you take a pup into a 'boring' kitchen with no other distractions, first he will sniff, then he will get bored and sit. Then, he'll get more bored and slip into a down, and finally he'll fall asleep... He may bark, also. THis can be useful info for getting predictable behaviors that you can capture and train on cue.
Today I was listening to For the Love of the Dog on my way home from work, the author mentioned something about "sit" being an action but "down" is a position, and for some reason there's some sort of inherent difficulty teaching the two... (sorry, SO adhd I tend to only pick up snippets of info at a time) ANYWAY, the author mentioned that many dogs if told to "sit" a second time will lie down, b/c of the association with downward action. This got me thinking... Zoey will lay down if I have to tell Emmett to sit twice, so I wonder if asking Emmett to sit twice will produce a "down" position? and this is where my thought stops. Not sure what to do if I finally got the "down" I want from a "sit sit."

Do you think I could use the "sit sit" to capture the position, then change the cue?


like I said, I have adhd, so it's easy for me to focus too intently on a goal and make a bigger mess. I don't want smoke rolling out of poor Emmett's ears!
 

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Today I was listening to For the Love of the Dog on my way home from work, the author mentioned something about "sit" being an action but "down" is a position, and for some reason there's some sort of inherent difficulty teaching the two... (sorry, SO adhd I tend to only pick up snippets of info at a time) ANYWAY, the author mentioned that many dogs if told to "sit" a second time will lie down, b/c of the association with downward action. This got me thinking... Zoey will lay down if I have to tell Emmett to sit twice, so I wonder if asking Emmett to sit twice will produce a "down" position? and this is where my thought stops. Not sure what to do if I finally got the "down" I want from a "sit sit."

Do you think I could use the "sit sit" to capture the position, then change the cue?


like I said, I have adhd, so it's easy for me to focus too intently on a goal and make a bigger mess. I don't want smoke rolling out of poor Emmett's ears!
You can always change the cue, but I wouldn't be using a cue for another behavior (sit). I make it a point to not repeat myself. If the dog doesn't know the behavior well enough to respond to the cue consistently, I help the dog find the behavior I am looking for and go back to using the cue word when the dog is in the process of giving me the behavior. As to the radio show that said sit is a behavior and down is a position. They are both a position (once the dog is sitting or lying down) and a behavior (when the dog is in the process of giving you the position). Speaking of TV and radio shows - I did a short demo (go to your bed) for a local access TV show at my school yesterday, and will be filming at the studio on May3. Will probably not air until June.
 

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Ditto.... me, too:)

However, the dog may look at you like you're no longer the greatest thing on Earth. When I was teaching my dog to Stay (Obedience), I'd screw up every once in a while and say "Sit!" (instead of Stay), while he was still sitting. And, He'd look at with ... a face... and stick out his tongue. (Calming signal, he really did lick his lips, b/c he didn't understand what I wanted... He knew Sit and he was doing it.)

@Pawzk9 - Pls try to get a video and post it on Youtube after it airs...and remind us in June !!!
 

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i used to sit on the edge of a chair get the dog into a sit, then with my right hand and arm under my leg slowly withdraw my arm while saying down. it took ages for branston to get 'down' but he got it eventually.
 

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My Newfie Ozzy would not follow the treat to the floor. Luring just didn't work. Teaching him "sit" took less than 1 minute, but "down" was eluding me. After a few days of scratching my head, I was making another attempt by pointing at the floor with a treat, and started tapping the floor. He immediately laid down, and I was stunned. So, for a week or so I tapped the floor until I was able to fade that part, and now his "down" is solid.
 

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Another option is to sit on the floor and lure him under your crooked leg, enough bend so he has to down to get to the treat. However, if you are luring, be aware that if you don't get rid of the food in your hand, it becomes the cue,
This is how I taught Buffy. She was pretty small as a pup, so regular luring didn't work. She has a pretty reliable down now (though sometiemes downs when I say sit; I don't mind).
 
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