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She learned to sit in about 5 minutes, but won't down. I've tried drawing the treat away from her chest in a sit (she just bows down with her front feet, rear end in the air) and a gentle push on the hindquarters, but she turns into a rock.

 

She's only 6 months old and hasn't had a person to call her own yet, so I know there's the adjustment period, but I can tell she has a strong personality, by that I mean if she feels she doesn't have to do it, she won't :rolleyes:

 

I've also tried attaching a leash and giving it a gentle yank downwards, but she practically laughs at me when I try that one :D

 

Thoughts?

 

Tim

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We first taught it to Shiloh by starting in a sit and doing the drag as you mentioned above. The second way was to capture it and name it and repeat the name a few times with a treat- good laydown..etc..etc.. and then try to do it again with the drag or to capture it. Both had good results but were not 100% consistent from a distance.

 

We also took obedience starting at 12 weeks on a sheep farm. Their approach was was a bit different than what I was used to and may or may not suit your style. The command was given and if it didn't look like the down was being offered the leash would be stepped on (with the trainers or my foot) quickly and right at the neck and the dog would go into a down by force. We would then repeat "lay down" and pet him... if he offered it we would be patient and give him a treat when he made it down. When I write it- it does sound a bit intense.. but it really wasn't and Shiloh got the hang of it very quickly and was quite happy. We only stepped on the leash a handful of times after that he would offer it on command and get a treat and a ton of praise.

 

I would say at 11 months he now has a 99.9% down- up close, with other dogs and from any distance that he can hear us.

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Their approach was was a bit different than what I was used to and may or may not suit your style. The command was given and if it didn't look like the down was being offered the leash would be stepped on (with the trainers or my foot) quickly and right at the neck and the dog would go into a down by force. We would then repeat "lay down" and pet him..

 

I taught a few dogs that way into the 80's and it works. Howevever, I now use a lure with a treat. My puppies have all learned down within a day or two at most that way. I helped a couple people train older dogs to go down with a lure and they all picked it up quickly as well. It's important not to give the treat until the dog is all the way down but most of the time they pick it up very quickly.

 

To the OP, I've found that my dogs all tend to have one or two commands that they resist, don't like or whatever. Especially in those cases, I prefer to make it something they find rewarding to do rather than getting into a power struggle. One of the dogs I taught the old way fought the down and after the first week of training, the instructor told us we needed to give a harsh correction for any refusal which I stupidly tried to do. It was a disaster and fortunately one of the assistant instructors took me aside and told me to give it another week. By the end of the second week, the dog stopped fighting the foot on the leash. He was a sharp, eager to learn dog who just didn't like down on command for some reason. I think he would have learned down in a day with luring but this was a few decades ago in the type of fear/intimidation based class that gives "traditional" trainers a bad name.

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Yea I'm not a fear/aggression type person. I'm stern when need to be, but everything around here is positive based training. I'll continue with the lure and see if we get some progress. She is EXTREMELY food motivated so I have that going for me :rolleyes:

 

Tim

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If you've used a clicker you can mark progress; for example, in a sit, drops head C/T; repeat

drops head, nothing, wait, drops shoulders a little, C/T

progress to a bend in the elbows,

elbows nearly on the ground

chest on the ground

 

Remember it isn't a learning straight line...it is a learning curve

 

cynthia

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I use a leash, and use my foot as the pulley. So basically, the leash goes from the dog's neck, under my foot (heel on the ground, toe in the air) and up into my hand. I say, "Lie down ..." nice and calmly, and slowly pull the leash tight. If the dog doesn't go down willingly, I continue the downward pull of the leash by just pressing my toes to the floor. The pup will usually fight it at first, and then quickly realize that the only comfortable place is in the down position. Once they are down, the pressure is immediately backed off and pup is praised.

 

A lot of times, the "tug" method doesn't work because the handler will tug, and if the dog doesn't go down, they either tug again or give up. I like the pulley system for a couple of reasons. I don't have to bend over the dog, and it's very clear to the dog what is expected. The command is given, gentle pressure is applied evenly until the dog lies down. They pick it up pretty quick.

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Yea I'm not a fear/aggression type person. I'm stern when need to be, but everything around here is positive based training. I'll continue with the lure and see if we get some progress. She is EXTREMELY food motivated so I have that going for me :rolleyes:

 

Maybe pull out the big guns, if you haven't already, some beyond great treats. Sometimes even when we think we have a fantastic treat, there really is something the dog is going to go much more nuts over. Give her a tiny taste. Do this before her supper when she is at her hungriest. In one of my classes, a hugely food motivated but highly resistant to the down Corgi caught on when we put him on a leash and held the treat just....ever...so...slightly...out of reach. He finally went down in his efforts to grab the treat and earned lots of praise and extra treats. Make learning this a big party.

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The method I used to teach Daisy involves bending one knee so that it forms sort of a tunnel under your leg. Then lure her under your leg with a high value treat so that she basically has to crawl to get it. Click and reward the second her whole body hits the floor.

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I do a similar thing as eclare. I put a kitchen chair in the middle of the room and put the dog in a sit facing the chair. Once he's sitting I'll put a cookie on the floor on the other side of the chair. Usually the dog will lower its head to be able to see the cookie. Then I start slowly edging the cookie in the dog's direction with my foot, and say "Dooooooowwwwnnn," using a falling inflection. The dog will usually drop to it's elbows at the approach of the cookie, at which point I kick the cookie right between his front paws and say, "GOOD DOWN!" and his release command. If he tries to grab the cookie without downing, I put my foot on it and repeat the down command. As soon as he drops, I take my foot off the cookie, praise and give the release.

 

The falling inflection is really important. I have found with training dog after dog, that if the handler uses a rising inflection or a flat inflection, the dog will often not go down. But as soon as I get them to use a drawn-out falling inflection the dog goes down like a lamb. A rising or upbeat command seems to have the effect of lifting the dog up. And it seems to work best if you say it softly.

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Maybe pull out the big guns, if you haven't already, some beyond great treats. Sometimes even when we think we have a fantastic treat, there really is something the dog is going to go much more nuts over. Give her a tiny taste. Do this before her supper when she is at her hungriest. In one of my classes, a hugely food motivated but highly resistant to the down Corgi caught on when we put him on a leash and held the treat just....ever...so...slightly...out of reach. He finally went down in his efforts to grab the treat and earned lots of praise and extra treats. Make learning this a big party.

 

I actually like to do things a bit opposite. Use a medium value treat and wait for the dog to relax on their own, then mark and reward. For my dogs sometimes the "big guns" would get them so excited they couldn't lay down. I would keep a few treats with me while watching TV or using the computer. The dog knows I have them and will stare at me a eventually relax and go down, then I mark and reward. A couple times of this and my dogs have seemed to get it.

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A bit of a different approach, but this is now my method of choice.

 

I start with a mat - any kind of mat will do, but make sure it doesn't slide on the surface on which you are working. I get a bunch of treats that throw well (so cheese on a fuzzy carpet might not be the best choice! I like kibble on a hard floor so the dog can hear it clatter). If you try this and you use a clicker, have it ready. If you don't, use a distinct marker word like "x".

 

Toss a treat to send your dog away from you and then sit on the floor in front of the mat. That's important.

 

Once your dog has gotten the treat, wait for him or her to return to your locale. At first click (or mark) and reward her just for returning to where you are. Toss another treat and repeat this a few times.

 

After doing that a few times wait, after your dog has returned, until the dog makes some contact with the mat. Any contact is fine - a single paw, multiple paws, or maybe you'll get lucky and get a down right away. I did this with all four of my dogs and all four were different. Dean gave me the instant down, Sammie just one paw. Click (or mark) that contact, give your dog one treat and then release and toss another to send the dog away.

 

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

 

If your dog is not already offering a down on the mat, do this for a few days and then lengthen the time that you wait after your dog returns to you. As long as the dog does not get frustrated, wait for a sit or a down. If you get a sit or down, click (or mark), jackpot, and then toss a treat. Repeat, repeat.

 

Now, if you aren't getting a down already, after a few days of rewarding the sit, wait your dog out once you have the sit. For some dogs, this can take a bit of thought process. Others will get it almost instantly. The fact that you are still sitting next to the mat helps.

 

Once the dog has chosen to lie down on his or her own (it doesn't matter if the dog is straight, crooked, all the way on the mat, or mostly off), click (or mark), jackpot, and toss.

 

At this point, you will only reward the down. Once the dog is offering a down every single time, repeat the process, sitting in a chair. It will go much faster this time. Once the dog is offering a down every single time, stand and repeat the process. Again, it will go much faster.

 

Once it has become a strong default in the context of this game, you can name it. I use "splat" as a fast, "splat down" behavior. I found that once my dog knew it on the mat, I simply started to cue it in new situations, without the mat, and the dog understood. I later add distance to this.

 

A bit unconventional, but I've found it extremely effective, and very enjoyable. I wish you the best with your training.

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I start with a sit and then lure with the food. If the dogs butt is popping up I will figure out what works 1. doing this against a wall so they can't slide backwards 2. lure under something like the knee method or chair 3. if the dog is just being hard headed I will take the front legs and pull them out and make the dog do a down (this is usually reserved for a more stubborn dog like the acd rescue we now have).

 

Just remember not to keep repeating the command because they will learn the command really means nothing. I don't use the command until the dog is getting the idea. Since I do not clicker train I use a verbal cue (yes), I will say yes when they are in the position I want.

 

Down can be very frustrating. Sometimes stepping away for a day or 2 actually helps. My borderjack picked up numerous commands in a very short time but down kept eluding us. We finally stopped for a couple days and came back later and he picked it right up.

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Dear Doggers,

 

I'm not sure this will work with owners committed to clicks and treats. They understand dogs differently than I do and may not have the physical presence or dog-dance skills but . . .

 

When young (6 mo-1 yr) dogs are working sheep some will lie down readily, most will not. The lie down is a submission which may seem irrelevant or distasteful to the dog, it makes him much less powerful and takes him out of the action.

 

Most sheepdoggers force the issue by looming. First they block the dog from the sheep (or escape) step toward the dog and loom over him until the dog goes off his/her feet - at which point they instantly release the dog to chase the sheep again.

 

Some dogs hate the down. The "Lie-down" is NOT another meaningless dog trick.It is a powerful reminder of who the leader is.

 

In sheepdog work, if getting the down is a real wrestling match, I'll leave the novice dog on his feet provided he is stopped, dead still and only insist on it later in training. I've never known a top open dog that didn't have a down, however reluctant or infrequent.

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Doggers,

 

I'm not sure this will work with owners committed to clicks and treats. They understand dogs differently than I do and may not have the physical presence or dog-dance skills but . . .

 

When young (6 mo-1 yr) dogs are working sheep some will lie down readily, most will not. The lie down is a submission which may seem irrelevant or distasteful to the dog, it makes him much less powerful and takes him out of the action.

 

Most sheepdoggers force the issue by looming. First they block the dog from the sheep (or escape) step toward the dog and loom over him until the dog goes off his/her feet - at which point they instantly release the dog to chase the sheep again.

 

Some dogs hate the down. The "Lie-down" is NOT another meaningless dog trick.It is a powerful reminder of who the leader is.

 

In sheepdog work, if getting the down is a real wrestling match, I'll leave the novice dog on his feet provided he is stopped, dead still and only insist on it later in training. I've never known a top open dog that didn't have a down, however reluctant or infrequent.

 

Donald McCaig

 

Your comment regarding the connection between lie down and leadership is interesting to me. I had quite a tussle with Robin to get him to lie down over the period of a couple of months when he was 4 months old. Finally one day, he began to lie down, with this -- oh, is THAT what you wanted??? guess that means, I won :rolleyes:.

 

Brodie seems to lie down naturally especially out in the field. He has a way of disappearing just over the knoll at the top of the yard, lying down so that all you see is the tips of his ears and his nose...he looks like a woodchuck peeking out of his hole. We are so looking forward to starting on sheep next month.

 

Liz

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I used the treat/lure/knee method with Vala after weeks of trying, and she got it almost instantly. (Her problem was simply a case of not understanding what I wanted--she is a very eager to please, goody two shoes type, submissive dog.) Now her down is great and treats are not needed anymore--all her commands she does for fun, in order to please--the treats were just teaching tools. In the rare situations where she is too riled up (like for instance if she is nervous or if she sees a squirrel), all I have to do is touch her on the tip of the nose--I think it just serves to remind her oh right, she just said down, I'm supposed to down. And she does.

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Your comment regarding the connection between lie down and leadership is interesting to me.

 

Me as well. Odin learned to down in about 5 minutes at 11 weeks old with luring and c/t, and it has been one of his favorite, easiest, and often a default behavior since. While he didn't listen at all to anything for about the first 30 minutes he was on sheep, he also was able to take a down his very first time, by the end of the lesson.

 

In general he is not a dominant dog, but especially seems to think of me as "leader". On sheep, he downs for me better than anyone, and prefers to work with me (although overall he works better -- as in more effectively and learns faster -- for experienced trainers because they know what they are doing and thus he doesn't have to deal with the confusion I can cause). I will admit he doesn't always stay down without a fight when he is scared of losing the sheep. He submits to me when I ask it on and off sheep, even getting in the bathtub, his most hated place. I can call him off a deer or squirrel in full chase. In daily life if I get mad he does anything to make me pleased again, and when given a command by someone else, looks to me for confirmation.

 

However, with a common test of dominance - alpha rolling, he fails miserably. He absolutely won't take it without a big fight. I was told by a stock trainer sort of heavy on the dominance theory side that he really needed to be put on his side randomly and often so as to be reminded who was in charge. She did it for me to show me how, and said he would bite her - and he did. That is the only time he has ever bitten anyone, and I don't doubt if I tried to roll him he might bite me too - what most dominance theory people would say proves he doesn't see me as the leader. But by not pushing this issue with him, which I just see as him expressing a preference to not be physically handled that way, I don't ever have to worry about it. I asked that trainer to not do that again to him, and as she's grown to know the both of us more and gotten more gentle with him, and as he's grown up and learned to curb his excitement around farms, he is actually way less defiant and works much better for her to the point that she now thinks of him as a soft dog.

 

Sorry for the tangent, but that is an interesting comment!

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Dear Doggers,

 

I've known one pet dog trainer, Wendy Volhard, who claims her "down" is not submission. It's a lure down and may not be.

When the sheepdog is outrunning, hundreds and hundreds of yards it is alone, a (mostly) genetic missile. When it finally gets behind the sheep, most handlers will most of the time "down" it, so it is reminded that (a) this is a joint enterprise and (:rolleyes: the handler's in charge.

 

Dominance is so befouled by "alpha roll" dopes, dopes who misread wolves (and dogs) and those who spurn all corrections it is hard to discuss w/o raising a zillion distractions. I prefer "pack leader" but, the sheepdogger's down is a "submission".

 

Somebody's got to run the show and it's better if the someone is not the dog.

 

Donald McCaig

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The submission angle is an interesting one and one that makes a lot of sense.

 

Kipp took forever to "down" at first. I've thought that was due to his insecurity and therefore reluctance to putting himself into a submissive position. Two things that really helped him were letting him relax before asking for it, and him learning to trust me as a leader. He is a dog that seems to ask "why" a lot. But underneath that he really does crave direction and boundaries.

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She learned to sit in about 5 minutes, but won't down. I've tried drawing the treat away from her chest in a sit (she just bows down with her front feet, rear end in the air) and a gentle push on the hindquarters, but she turns into a rock.
What happens if you push the treat (protected in a closed fist) between the front feet behind the end of its snout? It seems to me, that from a stand (or bow) position the dog must shift its body backwards to lower its butt; while from a sit the motion is forward into a down.
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Me as well. Odin learned to down in about 5 minutes at 11 weeks old with luring and c/t, and it has been one of his favorite, easiest, and often a default behavior since. While he didn't listen at all to anything for about the first 30 minutes he was on sheep, he also was able to take a down his very first time, by the end of the lesson.

 

In general he is not a dominant dog, but especially seems to think of me as "leader". On sheep, he downs for me better than anyone, and prefers to work with me (although overall he works better -- as in more effectively and learns faster -- for experienced trainers because they know what they are doing and thus he doesn't have to deal with the confusion I can cause). I will admit he doesn't always stay down without a fight when he is scared of losing the sheep. He submits to me when I ask it on and off sheep, even getting in the bathtub, his most hated place. I can call him off a deer or squirrel in full chase. In daily life if I get mad he does anything to make me pleased again, and when given a command by someone else, looks to me for confirmation.

 

However, with a common test of dominance - alpha rolling, he fails miserably. He absolutely won't take it without a big fight. I was told by a stock trainer sort of heavy on the dominance theory side that he really needed to be put on his side randomly and often so as to be reminded who was in charge. She did it for me to show me how, and said he would bite her - and he did. That is the only time he has ever bitten anyone, and I don't doubt if I tried to roll him he might bite me too - what most dominance theory people would say proves he doesn't see me as the leader. But by not pushing this issue with him, which I just see as him expressing a preference to not be physically handled that way, I don't ever have to worry about it. I asked that trainer to not do that again to him, and as she's grown to know the both of us more and gotten more gentle with him, and as he's grown up and learned to curb his excitement around farms, he is actually way less defiant and works much better for her to the point that she now thinks of him as a soft dog.

 

Sorry for the tangent, but that is an interesting comment!

 

Again on the tangent...I'm not sure I understand this alpa roll thing as dominance ...though I've seen rolling as punishment (I think), having witnessed Robin being rolled like a bowling ball by his mother and then by Ladybug when he was a pup for some real or perceived sin. It seemed like the doggie version of "knock it off; you're out of line."

 

Why get in a big fight with your dog? I once saw a 100 pound girl fighting to roll over a German Shepherd who probably weighed just about as much as she did. Didn't prove a thing because she lost. If Odin bit the trainer and she allowed him to get away with that bite, then according to dominance theory, he won, right?

 

I've always thought, from working with horses, that you can't get into a physical argument with a critter, because they're either bigger or have more teeth and claws, and the more you restrain them, they are instinctively going to fight so I always look for ways to gently guide them, with a positive reward for the action for everyday handling and care - i,e. clipping claws, checking teeth, that kind of thing. In a situation where the animal is in pain/distress and is already frightened needs medical treatment, restraint is might be necessary but for the everyday treatment, vet exams, shots, etc, my critters sit quite patiently.

 

 

Because I'd had contact with Robin since he was about two days old, I could do just about anything I wanted with Robin -- handle any part of his body, pull, push, etc, He hops in and out of the bathtub upon request, sits for his nails to be clipped, lets me check his teeth, but he heartily disliked being on his back (even as a tiny puppy) until he learned the joys of a tummy rub. I didn't force him. I'd catch him lying on his side, and I'd say "tummy rub" and rub his tummy and the more he liked it, the further he rolled over on his back...it took a few weeks, but no fighting, no wrestling. He flops right over now just as soon as I say "tummy rub" but he's not a dog that naturally flops over on his back while he's sleeping, like some do. I'm not sure that this has more to do with personal preference than with any "alpha" positions. If you control access to food, water, fun etc., then aren't you the alpha by default?

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Why get in a big fight with your dog? I once saw a 100 pound girl fighting to roll over a German Shepherd who probably weighed just about as much as she did. Didn't prove a thing because she lost. If Odin bit the trainer and she allowed him to get away with that bite, then according to dominance theory, he won, right?

 

Supposedly she wasn't using it as punishment - he wasn't even doing anything at the time, but she was trying to teach me how to be the leader. And he didn't win - she pulled on large leather gloves as she said "And you watch - he thinks he runs this show so he's going to bite me." I laughed, I think, because I couldn't imagine it happening. But he sure did. She didn't let up and stayed on him until after about 10 minutes he finally relaxed with his head on the ground like the dogs do for Cesar Milan. I let her do it because I didn't see him actually getting hurt, and being new to stockdog training didn't know what to expect. But as she was telling me I needed to do this at least once a day, randomly, I was thinking NO WAY. Then the next time I saw her I asked her not to do it - working very hard on out-of-pen manners in my own way in between (what she had objected to in the first place - he was pulling on the leash and trying to get at the sheep).

 

I've always thought, from working with horses, that you can't get into a physical argument with a critter, because they're either bigger or have more teeth and claws, and the more you restrain them, they are instinctively going to fight so I always look for ways to gently guide them, with a positive reward for the action for everyday handling and care - i,e. clipping claws, checking teeth, that kind of thing.

 

My basic feeling too, although I do use physical corrections on rare occasion (scruff shakes). But alpha rolling is not my cup of tea. Odin will let me do whatever I need to, including bathing, brushing, and wound tending, all of which he hates. So, as far as I can see we're good without the roll.

 

I agree the dog and the person are happiest when the person is in charge! It is sad how many people I see at the park who simply aren't in charge, and clearly have no clue how to be. They express amazement when he lays down on command, and then ask me if I trained him myself as if you need a professional to teach this. Then they tell their dog to lay down, he/she doesn't, and they don't enforce (and probably the poor dog doesn't know the command in the first place), and just say, "he's impossible!" while the dog keeps doing whatever it was doing. I thank this board for helping me learn this stuff, and how to do it effectively as he was growing up.

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Dear Doggers,

I get cranky when someone equates being the pack leader with an alpha roll (either because they employ it or because they hate those who do). It's irrelevant folks! In more than 25 years I have never done it and touch my dogs rarely - probably too rarely.

 

People who equate pack leadership with the alpha roll would argue that policemen don't have authority unless they draw their gun. Phooey.

 

Donald McCaig

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Most sheepdoggers force the issue by looming. First they block the dog from the sheep (or escape) step toward the dog and loom over him until the dog goes off his/her feet - at which point they instantly release the dog to chase the sheep again.

 

I've found -- counterintuitively, I suppose -- that backing up is a better way to get a beginning sheepdog to go down than looming. Once the dog is at balance, he is usually willing to lie down, because it feels right to him then. That's the phenomenon most trainers who say they don't train a down til the dog is on sheep are using. If the dog won't lie down at first in those circumstances, stepping backwards (away from him) generally makes him feel that the sheep are more under control -- because they are under less pressure and thus less likely to pass the handler or squirt off to the sides -- and therefore it feels righter to him to lie down. I think a number of well-regarded trainers use this method.

 

Teaching a down off sheep, I've found that most pups will follow your hand even without a treat in it. And then they like it when you're happy and tell them they were right. But if they didn't go down that way, I'd push a little or tug a little to show them how to get there, but taking care not to make it a dominance-submission thing.

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