Teaching "Down" command - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Question Teaching "Down" command

Question - how do you actually teach the down command?

What I have been doing with out much luck is I get down on my knees, have Emma "Sit" in front of me, then say "Down" while pointing to a spot on the floor directly in front of her - if no reaction I gently pull her front paws forward to get her in the down position while saying "down". However she usually immediately rolls to one side, or thinks it is a play game wanting a tummy rub.

Am I doing this correctly? I do usually have a treat buried and hidden in my hand too which I know she smells, but she does not get it unless she completes a task, or at least tries.

Any help would be appreciated
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 12:14 PM
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If she is in the sit position, point to the floor, tap the floor, and say down, do all of this with the treat in your closed fist. Do not repeat the command, but you can keep tapping the floor. Be prepared for a head rush if you have a stubborn dog...they eventually do it, but it might take a minute or two. She will paw your hand, smell your hand because of the treat, but don't cave in. You should be standing, don't get on your knees, this is where the head rush comes in You can do it.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 12:20 PM
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with a treat in your hand, place it under the dogs chin and move your hand down infront of her chest to inbetween her front paws, this will lure her into a "down" position


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 01:02 PM
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Smile Luring the down

OP, hubby and I took in a Dutchie mix foster about a month ago. I don't think he has had any OB training before. This video was done on day 12 of marker training him. I lured him into "down" a few times in the video.


I first taught him to push against my hand (treat in hand, mark and release treat if he pushed against it). As he pushes his nose into my hand, I push against him so he leans his body backwards.

For him, during the first few attempts, I marked and treated for just extending his front legs and touching the ground with his chest. Then as he puts his rear end down, I marked and treated.

Hope this helps
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 02:28 PM
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Luring as San demonstrates in the video is a very effective technique. You can do it from a stand or a sit, and I'd recommend both, or you'll have a dog that only understands it one way or the other. Keep the treat in your hand until she's dropped into a down, then immediately mark it and give her the treat. Release, repeat.

If you do use the lure method, make sure that you only have a treat in your hand as long as you actually need it. Once he's consistently following that hand into a down you should switch to doing the same motion but with an empty hand, and then treat from the other hand. I can usually get to this step in the first or second short training session. If he looks confused at first when you don't have a treat in your hand anymore, give him a few seconds to figure it out. From there I gradually fade the motion so it's much smaller, from a hand moving down to the floor to as little as just a finger pointing down. That is now my hand signal for the down.

Until the dog is consistently responding to my hand signal (lure motion with an empty hand), I'm not even worrying about a verbal command - there's no point in saying "down" until he's actually doing it. Once the behavior is consistent, you would say the command before you use the hand signal, not at the same time. If you say it first, it will become a predictor for the hand signal that follows, and become associated with the behavior. If you say it at the same time, he'll be paying attention to what he knows (the hand signal), and not what you're saying. Gradually I start waiting longer and longer before using the hand signal after giving the verbal command, letting the dog think about it and figure it out on their own, until I'm finally only using it as a reminder, if necessary, to let her know what I want.

I prefer not to physically manipulate the puppy into position, because as you have noticed, they may think it's an invitation to play. Another very effective method that I use in addition to luring is to "capture" the behavior as the puppy offers it, then marking and rewarding. Remember that you're not actually teaching her to lay down, she does that all by herself, probably dozens of times a day! But if you mark and reward her when she lays down, she's going to start laying down more often. You can mark it and toss the treat so she has to get up and get it. Wait for her to lay down again, mark and reward. Repeat.

Once she's consistently offering a down, you can say the word right before she does it - mark/reward. That will also help associate the word with the with behavior.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 03:00 PM
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Use a clicker to help them learn... Great tips on

https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...t-puppies.html

:-)




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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Great information - Ill give it a try tonight
Thanks very much
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 09:43 PM
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I put a treat in my hand..
Close hand (makes a fist with treat inside)
let your dog smell your hand
Keep fingers facing UP..
back of the hand facing down
He will begin to nudge his head in your hand trying to open it
when he is doing this...
Rotate your hand so that your fingers are facing down..
If he follows your hand but did not lay, rotate your hand a little more until he goes down.


while you are doing this say"DOWN" or "LAY" or "Platz" w.e your command is..
when he does it .FAST REWARD and say "good lay" or w.e your command is =]
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 10:04 PM
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Have her sit, put a treat in between your fingers, and in front of her face..and then lure her down. Slowly move your hand to the ground, and she should go into the position. Do some repetitions of that, so she knows that shes getting rewarded for going down, then add the command when she goes down. Then fade the luring part.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-24-2013, 12:15 AM
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Do use the command "DOWN" until he performs the behavior correctly; you'll be teaching the behavior before you put it on cue. Dogs don't understand language. Once he understands it by luring him in the position you name the behavior, just before he lies down and you know for sure he'll be successful. Also try to stand up straight yourself or he will only do it when you are sitting next to him (situational learning).
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