I totally teach the down separate from the send out and rarely ever do the two together as the down will slow it down. I teach the down in heel position first, then the moving down from heel position.
After that I do downs when I'm playing with his ball. I throw the ball and wait for him to get almost all the way back to me before downing him. If he doesn't down, I mark it and take him back to the spot I told him, and correct him down. As he gets good at this, I down him further and further away from me. The closer to me, the easier it is.
Once he will down after picking up his ball and turning towards me, I start downing him on the way to the ball, again downing him close to me and gradually working him further and further away.
With the down on the way to the ball, if he downs, I mark it and immediately release him so he gets to run out and get the ball. This keeps him nice and straight.
Once he's solid on this and he's downing quite a ways away, I will begin to walk up to him once he's down and release him after I'm in heel position for the ball.
The next step is to heel him away and then release him for the ball.
I might put the send out and the down together once or twice just to make sure he will do it prior a trial, but that's about it.
I find this keeps his drive up and the incentive to down is high. Be sure to frequently toss the ball and let him just go and get it or he will start to slow down.
Elaine and the herd
Last edited by Elaine; 07-05-2012 at 02:02 PM.