Laying and Staying....why wont he do it? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
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Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

I've been to 3 obedience classes with Ranger (6 months) so far. He is coming along well. First class he barked his head off, but the last 2 he did wonderfully. He does great with all the commands, except what they call a "down stay"...although I use lay as my down command....which our trainer said was fine...just be consistent. He fights it. He will lay on command....but to get him to stay, I have to step on the leash to hold him down. I might get 5 seconds of a stay with him relaxed befored he takes to rolling and trying to get up. He will stay in a sit just fine though.....even if I get out of sight he will stay in a sit until released.

Why wont he "stay" in the laying position? I cant figure it out, and we are just still practicing but cant more than 5 seconds on a relaxed stay.

I'm not that worried about it....he is a family pet and as long as he stays in a sit.....the stay with a lay is not that big of a deal with me. But I would like him to eventually get it.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 08:56 AM
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Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

Does he do better at home? Some dogs don't like to lay down in strange environment because it's a submissive gesture.

But who knows what is going on in the brain of a 6 month old pup. He may just wake up one day and do a perfect 2 minute down stay for you. They're weird. I say if he is having problem beyond 5 sec, then don't push it. Work the down stay around his threshold. Do some at 3 sec, some at 7 sec, some at 4 sec. and go from there. Set him up to succeed, build his confidence, and let him know that it is an exercise he can do.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 08:56 AM
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Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

Because he is 6 months old. Down is a submissive position and he may not like it.

Jax is terrible. She is just now getting to the point where she will relax and stay where I put her for an extended period of time.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 09:04 AM
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Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

I think this is difficult for most young dogs. I know I always have a problem teaching it until they mature a bit more. But, I don't do any serious training until the pup is a year old. They're just puppies, after all.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 09:30 AM
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Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

Even my big dogs who can do a 20 minute down stay on a field do not like to stay down in places like PetsMart. They will do it, but they fidget and I can tell they would rather be up. Like everyone else said...down is a submissive posture and is an uncomfortable position for a dog when he wants to be alert in his environment. By stepping on the leash, he feels confined and will be more apt to fight to get up. Some dogs fight restraint.

The other option is that he is anticipating a reward. Depending on how your reward schedule is going, he may feel that as soon as he does the command he can get up and get rewarded. I would go back to just working on "Lay" and rewarding it every time, with him laying down. Don't release him to get up. Put the treat down between his paws and Praise him, then another treat between his paws...maybe if you reward him when he's down he will stay there for his next treat.

I would take take baby steps. Don't try and leave him...just extend out the time that you ask him to lay. If he gets up verbally correct him and put him back. If you don't have a release word I would start using one. And don't expect miracles just yet. Puppies are distracted and forget what they're doing...At 6 months I would be happy with 10-30 seconds.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 09:59 AM
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Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

How have you tried teaching Ranger to stay?

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Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 10:43 AM
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Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

Go back to the beginning and work with baby steps.

Down/stay for a few seconds while standing beside him. Move out in front, almost touching his paws with your foot. Proof each of these first by increasing the time them gradually move further back.

Watch how you are stepping away from your dog. Are you leading with your left foot (typical heel start off). Could be he is picking up on very small body hints from you.

Go back and work on the down command.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2009, 11:51 AM
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Re: Laying and Staying....why wont he do it?

In Halo's last class she was referred to as the "stay star" by one of the other people in the class. Her sit stay is good, but her down stay is even better. She's rock solid no matter what I do. I can run circles around her, jump up and down, doesn't matter. In fact sometimes she won't even get up when I release her! Maybe the single biggest factor in her down stay is that from the time I brought her home I used a clicker to mark any time she laid down on her own and tossed her a treat. In the evening while we were watching TV if she was laying on the floor looking at me, I'd reward it. So that built a good foundation of "down is GOOD!" long before I tried putting it on cue. I didn't tell her what to do, I simply caught her in the act of doing something I liked and wanted to reinforce and rewarded her for it.

Then I used what is sometimes referred to as the bungee method to teach stay. Put the dog in a down and step back with one foot and immediately step forward again to deliver a treat. Either deliver it right to his mouth, or put it on the floor between his paws so he doesn't have to move to get it. Mark it when you treat, or use praise. Then take two steps back and return to reward. If he breaks the stay use a verbal correction ("oops!" or "ah ah", or whatever you're already using) and return him to the position. Don't reward him for going back into the down after he breaks. Work up to being able to take several steps back, always returning immediately to reward, then take a few steps to the side and return/reward. It won't take him long to realize that if he stays put he gets treats, if he gets up, he doesn't. Release him from the stay after a few minutes, and only after success. If he breaks at 3 steps, only take 2 steps so you can reward it and then release him. Do not reward the release.

I start this facing the dog because you can see right away if he's even thinking about breaking, and you can use your verbal correction and shift your weight towards him. Often this is enough to get him to relax back into the down. I think it's more challenging for the dog if you walk away with your back to him because not only can you not see and hopefully prevent him from breaking, he's also more likely to want to follow you. When he will remain in a down while you walk in circles around him (always rewarding when you're right in front) or back away the length of the room, try jumping up and down or clapping (stay close at first, don't try this for the first time when you're 10 feet away), and then start to work on walking away from him with your back turned. Any time you make it more difficult, go back to square one and just take a step or two away before returning to reward, and work back up to longer distance. Try ducking out of sight for just a second before returing to reward. Try it with him at your side in heel position instead of in front of you.

To work on duration you're again going to stay close at first. By now he's got the general idea that he needs to stay in place until released, and should be able to do that for at least 5 or 10 seconds. Start working up to longer stays, mark and reward while he's in position, then release him. Make down stays the default behavior for stuff he wants - do it with his food bowl on the floor until you release him to eat, before going for a walk, before coming in the house or getting out of the car. If he likes balls, toss one up in the air a few times, and if he holds the stay, release him and throw the ball as a reward. Work up to being able to bounce it on the ground a few times while he's in a stay and then release him and throw it. Think of ways you can use a down stay in daily life and you'll find that in no time he'll be a stay star too!

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Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
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