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I am starting to teach Jester the down-on-recall. He knows "down" and he does go down very reliably when I tell him to, at a distance as well as up close, with hand signals as well as voice command. However, he is running so fast toward me on the recall (*I love his recall!) that he travels many feet before doing down, and I have to repeat the command two or three times, by which time he is almost to my feet. I want to teach this very gently because I do not want to do the slightest damage to his beautiful and rock-solid recall. I am going at this slowly and carefully, because I do not want to mess up. But I want him to drop right away when I say down. Any suggestions would be welcome.

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I don't know if it's what your looking for but I'll tell you what I do.


When my dog reaches the point where it will down from a distance reliably I move on to a moving down with the dog downing as I walk with her on a loose leash (not in a heel command). I understand you to mean that your dog is already doing this well.


I then ask for faster downs while the dog is up close. I do use corrections but they are mostly a reminder to try harder more than anything. For instance, when Darcy would down too slow or hesitate I would simply reach out quickly and place two fingers on her forhead, not hitting her with them just touching her. The action of my hand coming in and down was enough to make her drop faster, then I could praise her. Once she understood I needed a faster down we added a game where only the fastest downs earned the toy.


Once the speed of her drop was attained, the down could be added to the recall. I wouldn't ask for the down the first time until the dog is fairly close to me, this way they have no place to go and they learn the idea that down means now, the first time I ask. The first few times I make myself huge and looming (but not cranky), stand on your toes if you have to, I do . The pressure of my body seeming so big combined with the command the dog already knows is often enough to cause it to drop fast. Praise like crazy and make a big game out of it without calling the dog in the rest of the way. If you want to throw a toy from a recall always throw it behind you and never back over the dogs head - but I'm sure you already know this Mix recalls without downs with recalls with downs and finished recalls after downs. You should be spending most of your time on recalls without downs and shouldn't use unfinished recalls very many times before quitting using them altogether.


As you ask for downs at further distances you would use the same idea. Make yourself huge when you ask for the down the first time at a new distance. Jump towards the dog if you have to. This doesn't have to be an aggressive action, just your body movement alone should help the dog to down fast.


If you do several recalls between your down on recalls and keep practicing fast downs in other situations you should be able to have him drop fast without ever compromising his speed.


Also you can have him down when you are playing fetch. On his way back have him down, only tell him once then go and place him where he should have dropped if he doesn't with the first command - never tell him twice. Then go back to where you were and call him again. When he comes in with the toy throw it immediately. Try not to use a down more than once for every four or five throws. This way it's still a game and the reward comes faster when he listens the first time.


Darcy has one of those blazing recalls that leaves you breathless. It is beautiful isn't it.

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I've actually changed my recall command. I use "here" for the portion before the drop and our old recall command "front" for after the drop. This way - I'm hoping - Buddy will learn that if I say "here" there will be a drop coming...if I say "front" it means - run like crazy to me.


Seems to help. He's a little slower on the "here," but his speed is maintained on the "front."



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