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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2 year old lab that I got a couple weeks ago and she will not lay down unless I bait her w/ a treat. I have been trying this every day for the past 2 weeks and she is just not picking up on it. I tought her to sit in 15 minutes, and stay in less than an hour. I just cant understand how she is not picking up on "down". If I have a treat and lure her into laying down while saying "Down" she will do it every time, but if i tell her to "down" using the verbal command only she will just look at me, whether I am holding a treat or not. If I try to bait her to "down" without really having a treat she will also just look at me. I understand it takes time but after over 1,000 repetitions (serious) of this i figured she would pick up on it especially considering how fast she picked up on sit and stay. Please give me some tips
 

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Maybe she is just holding out for the treat? Zoey used to do that.. I got her to do her tricks with out treats by asking her to do the trick with the treat, and then instead of giving her the treat, throwing a party and patting her and telling her she's a good girl in a real excited kind of way..She caught on right away and now does her tricks just for the "Good girl!" You can always try using something else she likes too like play fetch with her.. and when she brings it back, as for a down before you throw it again, and the throw is the reward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If i tell her "down" and she does not do it how long do I wait before issuing the command again. She is my 1st dog so I really dont know a lot yet. She wont fetch yet either when I throw the ball she chases it, picks it up, drops it then comes back to me. I really havent started "fetch" with her yet because I want her to lay 1st and want to take it one command at a time so I dont overwhelm myself.
 

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Start with sit, easier than Lie down, and it will make teaching ''Lie'' alot easier.

My Husky also wouldn't do it without a treat too, but now he obeys hand commands, and the ocasional treat.
 

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I'll quote something I said from another thread lol. *Lazy*
Cheetah said:
That's pretty easy to solve, you just have to slowly phase out the treats for that command. In the beginning, I show the treat in order to lure the dog, but once they are reliably performing the command and know what "sit" means, I'll start hiding the treat in my fist. Then in my OTHER hand while I'm asking fo the sit with the first hand. Then I'll hide it in my pocket, but still ACT like I'm holding a treat. After that, I'll hide the treats on a bowl off to the side.

Once I'm no longer having to be holding a treat to get my dog to sit for me, I'll start praising and petting in place of the treat every now and then, and I'll slowly increase the frequency of praise-petting while I'm slowly phasing out the treats. Works for me!

Every dog is different though, just like people. =3
 

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If she won't "down" without a lure it means she has not made the connection yet between the MOVEMENT of down and the reinforcement..she is simply "following her nose".

Are you using a marker or clicker? If you don't have a clicker use the word "YESSS" to mark the behaviour..which means the yes happens as soon as she is down, using the lure at first, since she obviously is still at that step in the learning process. Don't use the cue "down" yet. Just use the lure.

After using the lure for ten reps (where you are consistently getting the down) Let her sniff the treat, hold it in your fist tightly and use the exact same motion you were using with it "showing", making sure the yesss happens and the treat "opens" as soon as she hits the floor. Do another ten times successfully before moving to the next step. Use only the fist then, empty of treat (treats in your back pocket or other hand.) Deliver the treat as soon as she goes down (timing is EVERYTHING). Do ten times successfully. Take a break..do something fun and easy, like your sits or shake a paw if she knows it.
Then do the down again, empty handed, rewarding each time but tossing the treat a few feet away so she has to go over and get it and come back to you. Ten repeats. Then WAIT. See if she will come back and immediately lie down on her own. If she does, and you do this a couple of times then she understands what you want her to offer. As she offers the behaviour, add the cue.

It is much more effective in training (IMO) to add the cue ONLY after the behaviour is occurring consistently..this means the dog can learn WHAT to do before she has to learn the 'english'.

Give it a try and see how it goes. Fading the lure takes timing and practice and any time you don't get a consistent response it means the dog does not understand the next step yet and you need to take one step back, keep the reinforcement rate as high as possible, set her up to succeed (and YOU to succeed).

This should be broken up into mini sessions and try not to use the word until you are getting a consistent offering of the behaviour.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks for the replies, i will try to gradually do a build up to no treat with her.

UPDATE:
well I have her up to going down w/out holding a treat and only giving praise by phasing out the treat. she picked it up after 3 cycles. She still wont go down by verbal cue only but atleast she is going down just by the "bait motion" w/ no treat, so I feel like she's getting closer. I'll work w/ it for a few days, with the weekend coming up i'll get a lot of time to work w/ her.
 

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That's awesome, congrats! What a smart girl. >^_^<
 

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That's good progress! Good for you.

Just to clarify though, fading the lure and going to variable rewards are two different things. Even though you do want to get to a point of not using food all the time, the learning stage is not the place to try it. The behaviour should be fluent and proofed in different places and under distractions.

The "down" is only considered fluent when you are getting it consistently with the word and/or hand signal only. If she's really praise happy than you may still make progress not rewarding with a treat, but I think you are risking hitting a plateau if you fade the TREAT too soon. What I would do is keep the rewards hidden, keep rewarding the down until you are fluent and then start replacing the food with praise, a chance to play tug, a chance to go outside etc, whatever your dog finds rewarding. But for actually learning the behaviour, losing the food reward too soon can stall the whole process.

If you are concerned about overfeeding, use part of her dinner kibble for sessions and make sure your other food rewards are about the size of your pinkie fingernail.
 

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That's good progress! Good for you.

Just to clarify though, fading the lure and going to variable rewards are two different things. Even though you do want to get to a point of not using food all the time, the learning stage is not the place to try it. The behaviour should be fluent and proofed in different places and under distractions.

The "down" is only considered fluent when you are getting it consistently with the word and/or hand signal only. If she's really praise happy than you may still make progress not rewarding with a treat, but I think you are risking hitting a plateau if you fade the TREAT too soon. What I would do is keep the rewards hidden, keep rewarding the down until you are fluent and then start replacing the food with praise, a chance to play tug, a chance to go outside etc, whatever your dog finds rewarding. But for actually learning the behaviour, losing the food reward too soon can stall the whole process.

If you are concerned about overfeeding, use part of her dinner kibble for sessions and make sure your other food rewards are about the size of your pinkie fingernail.
I was going to say pretty much the same thing. Wait until she has the behaviour down pat before you start the variable reinforcement. Until you are getting a good "every time" with only the verbal cue or only the hand signal, you should be rewarding with a treat every time.

In the meantime, it sounds like you're making great progress! Keep practicing with her until she goes down every time you provide the bait motion. When she can do that, start adding the verbal cue in between your hand signal and her response. The timing may be tricky but you'll get the hang of it pretty soon. It goes like this: your hand does the bait motion; as she starts to lie down, you say "down" and when she is in lying down position you deliver the treat.
 

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UPDATE:
She still wont go down by verbal cue only but atleast she is going down just by the "bait motion" w/ no treat, so I feel like she's getting closer.
Think of it this way, you'll have a built-in hand signal.

I still use the bait motion as the hand signal for "lie down" to Wally. In fact, for a while, he would only do it with any kind of speed with the hand signal, especially when I had to re-teach the down behavior.

Good job - keep going!
 

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Dogs are all about body language, so not following the verbal at this stage is completely normal.

Once you start fading the lure, your hand is going to become the new lure, and from there you fade the hand to a verbal.

I use both hand signals and verbal commands with my dogs
 

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If i tell her "down" and she does not do it how long do I wait before issuing the command again. She is my 1st dog so I really dont know a lot yet. She wont fetch yet either when I throw the ball she chases it, picks it up, drops it then comes back to me. I really havent started "fetch" with her yet because I want her to lay 1st and want to take it one command at a time so I dont overwhelm myself.
You give the command once only. Wait no longer than 2 seconds and if she does not obey, place her in the position asked for. Click/Praise, wait a second or two, then give the treat. It sounds as if you've been inadvertently bribing her instead of rewarding her for doing the behavior. By waiting between the time the dog does the behavior and giving the treat, the treat becomes a reward for successfully doing the behavior. You mark the behavior itself with a clicker or your voice.
 
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