Teaching down - odd issue - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching down - odd issue

Hi there!

I'm currently working on "down" with my adorable GSD puppy, but have trouble attaching a que to the command.

I've tried capturing the behaviour, but he will rarely down without sitting first (and since I want a direct down I can't use that), so I started luring with a piece of kibble, which went great. I proceeded to remove the kibble from my hand and reward after (still sort of touching his nose with my hand).

My problem is attaching a verbal que to the command. I've tried saying "down" while he's performing the down from the signal (as well as before doing the signal), but no matter how many repetitions I do, he just doesn't seem to make a connection between the verbal cue and the action.

I've trained dogs in obedience before but never had this problem - any suggestions?

Kind regards,
Dolus


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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:12 AM
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Keep trying it may take more time. When he downs for you say good down and treat. Using a clicker may really help too but depending on the age of the puppy this doesn't sound all that abnormal to me
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:23 AM Thread Starter
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I'm already using a clicker, but you might be right about the age - I guess I'll just have to be patient

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Dolus


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:30 AM
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I like your name 'dolus'- are you using the Latin meaning of the word? As far as your puppy goes, Uschi was a natural downer but we started from a sit. Once I wanted the direct down, I used a light prong collar and gave it a gentle quick tug and she picked it up right away. But I didn't use the prong collar before 6 mos. So you might just have to wait a while!
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Actually the name "Dolus" has a double meaning. One is the name of the greek god of mischief (not really sure of the translation) the other is part of the latin legal term (in danish law) for intent. Our other dog is named "Culpa", which is the latin legal term for negligence :-)

As for the down, I'm training without aversives, so the prong collar isn't an option, but your post did give me an idea - perhaps I could fade the que (at the moment it's me touching his nose) to make it a hand signal and then transfer from that instead.

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Dolus


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:43 AM
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I work in canon law and dolus means a fraudulent intent. Didn't know about the Greek god. Glad I gave you a hint! Hope it works.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:54 AM
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I start it from a sitting position and then work with just "down". Minna started with doing down when I snapped my fingers and touched the floor, and slowly (okay, over the past 4-5 days, seems slow sometimes lol) she has gotten to where she understands that when I say 'lay down' or 'lay' it means all the way down. Sometimes I still have to snap and point to the floor, but for the most part she understands lay means lay all the way down.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by VChurch View Post
I start it from a sitting position and then work with just "down". Minna started with doing down when I snapped my fingers and touched the floor, and slowly (okay, over the past 4-5 days, seems slow sometimes lol) she has gotten to where she understands that when I say 'lay down' or 'lay' it means all the way down. Sometimes I still have to snap and point to the floor, but for the most part she understands lay means lay all the way down.
Well, the thing about that is that for the dog, the motion is different when doing a direct down, that from a sitdown (even if the down is directly after the sit). With a direct down, the front paws are in the exact same place before and after the down, while the front paws move forward when doing a sit-down. For the most part the difference is minor, but it's a factor when considering obedience trials - also, teaching the dropdown from a forward-send (not sure of the english term, sorry), is a lot easier if a dog is doing a direct down, since the motion of the direct-down is backwards, so doing the direct down will automatically cause the dog to stop, whereas the sitdown is forward oriented and can cause the dog to "slide" before downing.

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Dolus


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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 10:05 AM
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Do it while moving. I had to reteach Jax down because she always sat first. So teach him a moving down by luring with a treat. If he drops to a down, click and treat. If he sits first, ignore the behavior. You may have to use a new word if he continues to down from a sit. I had to use platz for a drop to a down.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-06-2010, 10:15 AM
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Fading your current cue (touching the nose) to a hand signal is a good idea. To add the vocal command, say the command BEFORE giving the hand signal instead. This way the vocal command becomes a predictor for the action she knows. The more often she hears that word, "down" or "platz," before you give the hand signal, she'll associate it with the action. Then you can fade the hand signal by increasing the amount of time between the verbal cue and the hand signal. You could also fade directly from your current cue in the same way, but I would still add a different hand signal that you won't have to touch the dog.

Kristin

Tara NW1 CGC - GSD 2008
Suli - DSH 2006
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