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How should I fix a sluggish down?
He's needed a lure this whole time and it takes five-ten seconds to get him down without it. I don't use any punishment. (I personally don't know how to punish a sluggish dog.) I just wait till he slowly slides down and praise when he does. It doesn't matter how much I praise, he just won't stop taking his time. I think he just plain dislikes down.
How should I address this?
Any comments or help will be appreciated!
 

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If you're been luring him for a long time, he's relying on the food lure as a cue. How old is he, and how long have you been luring? When I lure sit or down I get the food out of my hand very quickly, usually in the first couple of brief training sessions. I use the same lure motion but with an empty hand, rewarding from the other hand.

How many times a day does he lay down on his own? You can capture and reward that. I wouldn't use a verbal cue yet, yes a happy "yes!" and toss a treat so he has to get up to get it. Wait. When he lays down again, mark and reward. The more you do this, the more he should start offering the behavior. Make it a game, fast and fun. At that point I'd use the verbal cue right before you think he's going to lay down.
 

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First you needed to teach him to down from a stand. Was that done?

Then when you lure, it needs to be fast so he's following your hand. Once he is doing that, you then fade out your hand. I can't show you videos because you don't have facebook and I think they are on her personal page.
 

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You have likely taught him a slow down. You said you offer praise after he slowly downs, so he has learned that slow downs earn him praise. I would use food. I think you mentioned his food drive was low, but that can easily me manipulated. I agree with Jax about starting with a stand and the lure needs to be fast with your hand quickly going between his feet so he will kick his legs back. Something is only a reinforcer if it has value. A dog can go a long time without food with no ill effects. If he doesn't seem to be focused on the exercise, don't keep begging him, put him up and he'll have to wait until next time to earn some food. A toy can also be a lure if the dog has good prey drive. That is why, IMO, DDR dogs are often no fun to train.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If you're been luring him for a long time, he's relying on the food lure as a cue. How old is he, and how long have you been luring? When I lure sit or down I get the food out of my hand very quickly, usually in the first couple of brief training sessions. I use the same lure motion but with an empty hand, rewarding from the other hand.

How many times a day does he lay down on his own? You can capture and reward that. I wouldn't use a verbal cue yet, yes a happy "yes!" and toss a treat so he has to get up to get it. Wait. When he lays down again, mark and reward. The more you do this, the more he should start offering the behavior. Make it a game, fast and fun. At that point I'd use the verbal cue right before you think he's going to lay down.
I've been luring him partly, but mostly not. I just wait, and if he doesn't do it soon I use a lure. He's in his crate half of the day, so he lays down a ton. Not ever when he's playing or training with me, though he'll sit down and chew something for a few minutes if I've just finished a long tug of war game.
he's seven months.

First you needed to teach him to down from a stand. Was that done?

Then when you lure, it needs to be fast so he's following your hand. Once he is doing that, you then fade out your hand. I can't show you videos because you don't have facebook and I think they are on her personal page.
He knows down from every position. Stand, sit, walking, not running yet. But I have to be beside him actively watching and luring if he takes too long to go down. If he really wants something he'll do it faster.
The thing is, if I do the lure fast he just sits there. I have slowly lead him down.

You have likely taught him a slow down. You said you offer praise after he slowly downs, so he has learned that slow downs earn him praise. I would use food. I think you mentioned his food drive was low, but that can easily me manipulated. I agree with Jax about starting with a stand and the lure needs to be fast with your hand quickly going between his feet so he will kick his legs back. Something is only a reinforcer if it has value. A dog can go a long time without food with no ill effects. If he doesn't seem to be focused on the exercise, don't keep begging him, put him up and he'll have to wait until next time to earn some food. A toy can also be a lure if the dog has good prey drive. That is why, IMO, DDR dogs are often no fun to train.
I do use food. Right now I really can't down him without food.
 

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If you slowly lead/lure him down and then reinforce the behavior with food, you have taught him a slow down. Genetics play a role regarding drive for food or a toy, but as I said, when he gets really hungry and you are using high value food, his downs will get faster. Don't reward slow downs. You have to quickly drop your hand under his chest and back a little so he has to down to be able to bite the food. You can also pair compulsion with food if eventually after using the food correctly and increasing his food drive, you are not seeing progress. You would use a slip collar and pull slightly up and back while luring with your hand. The up and back movement creates opposition reflex which will cause him to move down, the opposite direction of the correction. The correction doesn't have to be strong, just enough to trigger opposition reflex. The problem is that reading this without seeing it done correctly is very limiting. here is a link to the slip collar I am referring to.
 

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Does he move faster when he is engaged?

For example, when my dog is retrieving his drive level is very high. If I give him commands when the switch is on, he is very very fast.

If we are training, I have food, and he is locked in, same story.
If he is wandering around the family room in the evening and out of the blue I ask for a down, it is markedly slower.

Michael Ellis - Increasing Your Dog's Speed in Performing Exercises
 

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He's in his crate half of the day, so he lays down a ton. Not ever when he's playing or training with me, though he'll sit down and chew something for a few minutes if I've just finished a long tug of war game.
He literally never lays down when he's not in his crate? He doesn't get tired if you play ball or tug with him? What if you tired him out and then just sat down on the floor near him, would he lay down then?

That seems weird. If I sit on the floor, Cava flings herself into a down near me because she knows (or thinks!) that we're going to do something fun that will probably involve treats.
 

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I think Ellis'es comments area little contradictory regarding a dog not knowing the difference of being rewarded for a medium fast sit and a very fast sit. He says the reason has more to do with the dog's drive state and that is influenced by the handler. So learning is a factor.
 

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I have also found that when running the dog through positions, the handler can speed up rate of request, and often the dog will go along with you.
 

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I do use food. Right now I really can't down him without food.
From my perspective, this is the problem. Training is about communication, not bribery. Treats help with motivation for sure.

But so can making a fun game out of training. I think often people just get too serious about training, and it takes the fun out of it for the dog.

More animation, more variation, more laughter and praise will help, as will chaining behaviors to make things more fun and challenging. Simply laying down over and over and over is boring.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Does he move faster when he is engaged?

For example, when my dog is retrieving his drive level is very high. If I give him commands when the switch is on, he is very very fast.

If we are training, I have food, and he is locked in, same story.
If he is wandering around the family room in the evening and out of the blue I ask for a down, it is markedly slower.

Michael Ellis - Increasing Your Dog's Speed in Performing Exercises
He does. I got a nice jerky treat at the store and he moves pretty fast for that, but on a normal training session, it's not fast. I have never done any downs out of the blue. I haven't even got a fast one in the blue, never mind out.

I have about a minute or so of perfect engagement when I'm training. That's when he's fast.

Thanks for the video! I'll watch it.

He literally never lays down when he's not in his crate? He doesn't get tired if you play ball or tug with him? What if you tired him out and then just sat down on the floor near him, would he lay down then?

That seems weird. If I sit on the floor, Cava flings herself into a down near me because she knows (or thinks!) that we're going to do something fun that will probably involve treats.
Kias is not out around the house a lot. Usually he's out for twenty minute stretches 2 times a week. This is when my little brother is not around. So when he's not in his crate he is walking around the house and following me or playing games, training, etc. When I'm done training in the mornings I have to start school immediately and he is put away. That's when he lies down for a rest. (or lays. Improper grammar)


From my perspective, this is the problem. Training is about communication, not bribery. Treats help with motivation for sure.

But so can making a fun game out of training. I think often people just get too serious about training, and it takes the fun out of it for the dog.

More animation, more variation, more laughter and praise will help, as will chaining behaviors to make things more fun and challenging. Simply laying down over and over and over is boring.
I totally agree. I make my training with him " do a trick" then "play for a minute"; repeat. It's always as exciting and fun as I can make it. I don't bribe for anything at all unless he's just learning it or...well... sluggish lying down.
Thanks for the suggestion though. I bet if I try, I can make it even more exciting.
 

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tim_s_adams,
The use of food has nothing to do with bribery or operant learning. A bribe occurs before a behavior is displayed. A reinforcer is presented after a behavior occurs and is only a reinforcer if it increases the frequency of the behavior. Correct timing of delivery of a reinforcer is all about communication and through operant learning, indirect learning and self discovery, a pup learns how to learn which is also very much about communication. I assume you have a job. Would you go to your job just for the fun of it or would you expect to get paid? Whenever an example uses anthropomorphism, something is lost in translation, but you should get my point. The animation, praise, etc. you mentioned is all part of good training. Being serious about training in terms of having high expectations for your dog is not inconsistent with your dog having fun. That is why it is so much more enjoyable to train a dog with good prey and food drive.
 

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A bribe occurs before a behavior is displayed.
Chip, this is a 7 month old dog! You did see the statement I quoted?

Right now I really can't down him without food.
How is Katheryn's statement about her dog not bribery?

Being serious about training in terms of having high expectations for your dog is not inconsistent with your dog having fun.
Obviously! I never said it does! But I have yet to meet a dog that can't learn to down pretty reliably in a single afternoon, so I guess I don't see where "high expectations" comes into play here?!

I do see many people who think training is a "session" however. When in reality it's virtually everything you do with your dog.

And not to be critical of anyone or their training efforts, but whenever I hear someone say X is a work in progress with a pup that is several months or more in age, X being a command like down or recall or whatever, I can't help but think it's past time to look closely at the "training" methodology. And IME, as I said, many people forget to have fun with their training - hence the reminder.
 

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Bribery would be if she gave her dog some food and then told him to down, which makes no sense and teaches the dog nothing. Luring is not bribery. I agree that everything you do with your dogs is training, but a "session" is more focused and usually involves training a specific exercise or the foundation for exercises in preparing for competition. I don't think a dog learns a reliable down after one "session." What you will see is a dog throwing different behaviors at you the next session and getting the down correct at times. A reliable down is a fast, precise down that is correct 100% of the time. Training is not much fun when a dog doesn't have the drive to engage in training.
 

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In my opinion having a 7 m.o pup as well it’s really not a big deal.. Lex is a very smart dog, she’ll do a bunch of commands...but our family’s life is not concentrated on how many seconds it will take her to sit or lay down she is a family member just like the rest of our pets. Thank goodness that I work from home and we have a fenced yard and 15 acres next to a game refuge so you can walk for hours without driving anywhere and she would walk on bridges, step into brooks, get all muddy at least when my 12 y.o walks her. Our Border Collie gets tired easily so we have to bring her back. But Lex can sleep for hours after half an hour hike in the woods. I am more concerned about bears now that it’s close to 70oF here in CT.
 
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