Help with down - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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Help with down

Ok, if anyone has followed my posts, the dog i'm currently mainly training is my daschund until my shep gets old enough to start seriously working with. I've been working with the weenie dog daily, several times a day, and the thing I'm having the most trouble with is down. I can get him to sit, have done threshold work, can get him to stay until I say free, and have also been getting great success with having him find things. Down though is killing me. He will go down if I have a treat. Or if I have no treats, but my hand still smells like it. He has to be lured though. I get him into a sit, and with my treat hand, or the hand holding the clicker, I put it to the ground and tell him down, and he does it. But if I have no treats, he will not go into the down. I had assumed it was my hand going to the ground that was most effective, so I have tried to make my hand gesture down to the ground less and less pronounced, but if my hand does not touch the ground, he won't move. I've tried moving my hand down to within an inch of the ground, and if it doesn't touch, he just keeps sitting. Any thoughts? I know with most training, you are supposed to fade out the hand signal, but even a 1% fade out doesn't work with this one. I could record a video tomorrow and post it to youtube or somewhere if that would help.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 01:36 AM
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You might be trying to fade the lure too soon, or you might not be giving him time to figure it out. A video would be helpful to see where you guys are getting stuck.

Another way that I have seen done, but have not used myself, is with leash pressure. I'll try to explain it. Have the dog onleash, standing to either side of you. Hold the leash with the opposite hand, let the leash touch the floor and put your foot closest to the dog on the leash. Gently pull up on the leash, guiding the dog down. It's not a tug, it's gentle steady pressure until he goes down.

If you can get a video, it would help us to help you better. Good luck, and keep it fun!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 01:52 AM
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How do you do it? Sit/crouch down first, then give command and then put the hand down? Timing is everything.

With mine I always had some space between me and him, like 0.5-1 step to begin with, and slowly extending distance over time and changing it depending on what we are training.

In your case since you already have some response to down command, try this, but try to get the timing perfect. Make him sit, praise. Come/step away to be within 1 step (should be ok) within him and while standing, make your right hand gesture 1-2 inches down with the palm parallel to the floor facing down around your waste area (so it's not too high but so you don't kneel just yet). You may also try in the beginning to hold a treat in right hand while doing it.
They are amazing readers of body language because that's one of the main ways they communicate with each other. Show him clearly what you want him to do. Voice is supplementary that becomes primary or equal to the body language the more you use it.
So you give command down together with the hand gesture, just a small/short movement is enough, they will see it), and only then you kneel and touch treat to the ground before him. As he is laying down, praise and release. Rinse and repeat starting with Sit and ending with release.
Also, give the command once and don't talk until he follows it. Help with other means like hand gestures, sounds/noises and etc.
Once he reliably goes down after each command, you could notice that he starts moving down right after the hand gesture/command. If he does that every time, then skip touching the treat to the ground and give it straight to him as soon as he gets down kind of thing. They also can count) If he went down on his own the first time without touching treat to the ground, give him 2-3 treats, show him that that's exactly what you want him to do.
When I do it with mine, he usually touches either my hand or leg with his nose really quick, I think he lets me know that he really appreciates the the increased reward. Often he remembers what he did to earn that. More complicated or brand new stuff it may take 2-3 increased rewards for him to remember the desired outcome.
Also try sneaking it in throughout the day. Try down with his hopefully favorite toy or something he is really excited about. For mine it was marrow bones in the beginning. He would go nuts for them as soon as I gestured down with voice command, he would drop down like a sack because the reward is really big.


Lots of text))


Hopefully some of it helps
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 02:00 AM
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^ collar pressure is what I was thinking, I've never trained a dog so small, not that it's so drastically different, but being fairly tall I feel like I'd inadvertainly add all sorts of extra cues with my body which may be the case for you too.

are you using a voice marker or a clicker?

you can also use the leash and collar to bring from a sit to down to sit etc... creating the muscle memory and moving your hand farther away from the collar each time until he begins to anticipate going down without the collar cue.... at this point mark the moment that he gets there on his own and reward that. this is all done without a verbal cue. when progessing towards a verbal... say down once he's there, then while he's in motion, then before to initiate motion - if it doesn't initiate movement, merely go back a step. don't allow him to practice non compliance - if he doesn't do it, cue him, otherwise you weaken the command.

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Last edited by Fodder; 04-10-2016 at 02:05 AM.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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I think body language is part of it. This is the first small dog I've ever had, and I'm 6'1. I typically crouch down when doing the "down". I can be standing up and he will sit no problem, but as I said, for him to do down, I have to put my hand to the ground for him to obey. I also have done it with the mini tennis balls that he loves, and he will go down, as long as I do the hand gesture all the way to the ground. I have read about that leash technique before, so I may have to try that tomorrow. I haven't been working with him on leash, just because as long as I have treats it's fairly easy to keep his attention. Irregardless, I'll have my wife record a video tomorrow, and maybe that will give a better view about what I'm doing right or wrong. I've had a clicker for a couple years now, but just recently started using it with him over the last few days. Prior to that I was just using a verbal marker. I may have confused him along the way, but he generally nails everything else besides the down. It is for sure a process, but I feel just within the last couple weeks that I have been really focusing on training that he has made huge strides in everything I've been working on except for down. He's the first dog I had ever taught "find it" to, and I assumed it would be very difficult, but that was honestly easier than just a simple sit. He's by no means a military search dog, but for a couple weeks worth of training, I'd consider fairly good. I'll try and get like a 5 or 10 minute video just covering the basics on everything I've been working on and hopefully can get some good feedback. Thanks for all the responses.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 03:43 AM
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this is one of the downsides of luring... of course it varies between behaviors but if using a lure at all, I strive to phase it out in the first session. when shaping a behavior, spending too much time on any step, in the dogs mind, that step becomes the final product. think of the direction and placement of the food when teaching sit... it's above the dogs head, aside from jumping up, the dogs position allows it to be as close as possible to the food all while your body remains erect for the most part. in using a lure for the down position, during the fade, you're asking to dog to move away from the food which is much harder since the game up to this point has been to follow the food. you know? so for now, I'd get rid of the lure and the verbal cue.... and re teach the behavior from square one.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 11:59 AM
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My trainer told me the best way is to shape it. Start by clicking when the nose goes down...

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Joy of shaping through clicker training - Smart Animal Training
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-10-2016, 02:20 PM
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There are multiple ways to get this "down" no pun intended.

A direct approach "using leash pressure" would look like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaVvwbT7iYw

Do that 25 times a day for a week and most likely you'd be good to go ...or "Flank the Dog" train a behaviour you want indirectly.

You can accomplish "Down" and more by training "The Place Command" train the dog to "Place" and use leash pressure to get the "Down" if needed.

I'm pretty sure it's explained and shown in here:

Fearful, Anxious or Flat Crazy "The Place CommanD - Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums


As always ask questions.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2016, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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I went the leash pressure route today, and sure enough it clicked. Also worked on place and he picked that up surprisingly easy.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2016, 11:03 PM
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Hmm sounds,like someones "expectations" were perhaps to low, good job!
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