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Teaching dog to lie down.

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Labradoodledoo, Nov 29, 2020.


  1. Labradoodledoo

    Labradoodledoo PetForums Junior

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    Hello all,
    I know this will be very simple to lots of you so I’m saving myself some time in asking you for help! Elsie is now nearly 10 months and doing well. She is at training classes and she is the model dog when we attend them!
    Elsie has a pretty good recall now I have the sacred, hidden in my pocket, only allowed at certain points of the walk, precious squeaky squirrel! She can stop, touch, sit, give paw, spin and is getting much better at walking to heel. I’m struggling with lie down, she will only do this if the treat is right under her nose and I do the down movement with it. I also usually have to be crouching down with her. How do I progress this? What I would like to be able to do is say ‘down’ from a standing position and her to do it but we feel light years away!
    Equally, how could I make my other commands not so treat driven? I have the treat in my hand usually or I pretend it’s in there to get her to do something. She is a clever dog so I know it’s owner error, I would like to get her oriented much ‘sharper’. She does love training so it is a case of me being better at it!
    Any ideas welcome!
     
  2. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Well she must lie down loads of times during the day so the easiest way is to say "down - good girl" when she's actually doing it.
     
  3. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Do you use a clicker or marker word? I find it so much easier that way.
    If you click/mark the down (wait until the elbows and butt are down) the dog gets a clearer picture of what the behavior is.
    Plus it's a lot easier with a marker to fade the treat lure without losing motivation.
    At 10 months you're no where near losing the food reward, I wouldn't even worry about that just yet, right now you're just building lots of value and motivation for working with you, and that means all sorts of wonderful rewards - like food.

    As for the cue for down, right now your cue is treat under the nose. So what you would need to do is what's called transferring the cue.
    Since dogs pick up body language faster and easier than verbal language, I would start by making a hand cue for down.
    The general rule for transferring a cue is new cue, wait a beat, old cue, mark, reward.
    So if I want to use a hand signal for down, I'll use the signal, wait a beat, give the usual (old) cue, mark, reward. Rinse and repeat - sometimes a lot.
    Dogs are great at anticipating us, and they will use this anticipation to predict that when you give the new cue the old one will follow, if they're sufficiently motivated to gain the treat, they'll simply skip waiting for the old cue and start responding to the new one. That's why I wouldn't be fading treats yet at all. You want lots of motivation during this process.

    For the verbal cue you'll just repeat the process. Say down, wait, signal down, mark, reward.
     
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  4. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel Banned

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    Cross posted in error.
     
    #4 tabelmabel, Nov 29, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
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  5. Labradoodledoo

    Labradoodledoo PetForums Junior

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    Thank you. Good advice. I did use a clicker but she would get so excited when I got it out and would show me every behaviour she has every learned! I also was worried I was using it at the wrong time and so not marking her behaviour properly. But I think I will try it again and practice things separately. So do you think I should just practice down with her a few minutes at a time, a few times a day and then move onto something else??
    I’m definitely using food as a lure not a reward. I do need to look at that. So again, do I use the food as a lure at first, to get her to perform the behaviour? But then train to a point that I’m saying the command and waiting until a second after she’s performed it to carry it out before rewarding?
    @O2.0 Good to know that I don’t need to worry about phasing food out yet! Phew!
     
  6. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Hrm... not sure exactly what you're asking here, I'll try to explain how I do it see if that helps.

    When I first teach a dog the marker system (click or a marker word) I teach them that it's behavior that earns the click and the click predicts the reward. There is always a reward if you click (even if you click by mistake). The click comes at the moment of the behavior to indicate yes, this is the behavior I want. Once a dog is familiar with the clicker system, they can wait several seconds after the click for the reward (or run up to you for the reward).

    The click also indicates the behavior is done, so depending on what I'm training, I may reward in position to further reinforce that this is the position I want you to be in.
    I also teach a release cue so that sit means sit until I tell you to do something else. Down means down until I tell you to do something else.
     
    #6 O2.0, Nov 29, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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  7. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    This is a better explanation :)

     
    #7 O2.0, Nov 29, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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  9. Labradoodledoo

    Labradoodledoo PetForums Junior

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    :(Thank you @O2.0, that is helpful. I’m really grateful you took the time to upload it. How long would each session be? And would you do this a few times a day? And then do something else and come back to the sit/ lie down? Or would you do sit/lie down session and the next session say touch or something else?
    After watching you, I feel I’m going too quick in my sessions and need to slow down.
    I’ve been so focused on walking on the lead and recall I think other stuff I have let go a bit. ;)
    Treat wise, Elsie is raw fed so it is difficult to use her food for training, I think I will just have to cut her down a bit and then make it up with training treats!
     
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  10. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    I do short (5 minutes or less) sessions throughout the day, yes, several times a day. I'm not very organized in how I train so some days I focus on one thing, other days I focus on several things, then maybe for a couple of days I do nothing but easy stuff that she already knows. We're starting a class in December so that will give me something to focus on, I'm not good left to my own devices :rolleyes:

    Try not to compare too much, every dog is different, every handler is different, what I do can give you pointers and ideas, but at the end of the day I have a different dog and set-up than you do, so wherever we are is no indication of where you should be or vice versa.
    The way I'm doing sit and down is just *one* way of many effective ways to train that behavior. I'm familiar with clicker training and it works well for me, so I gravitate to that.
    At the end of the day you want a reliable behavior that the dog understands well and is excited to do. How you get there doesn't matter as much :)

    As for raw feeding, I had a dog who I used to bring a tub of raw ground beef to train with. If you don't mind the disgustingness of using your hands in it, you can definitely use raw minced, or freeze dried lung, heart, or liver chopped up small.

    I spend a good bit of time building drive for the treat so eventually the dogs happily work for pretty much anything. I just find food really convenient so I put time in to making it a high value reward.
     
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  11. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    I never phase food out when I'm training my dogs. Why would you as they need an incentive just the same as we do. As they learn and the exercises become more complex the rewards become more random but they never stop.
     
  12. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    And one biggie to take from this is drop the treat on the ground between the dogs front legs when in down.

    If you continue to give it from your hand then your dog will continue to follow your hand when you move it away.
     
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  13. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    There's also a few different kinds of downs, make sure you are being consistent with your criteria. For example are you asking them to come forward with the front feet into a down? Or are you asking for a fold of the bum to the floor? Or are you doing something else? Could be that they are just confused as to what you are asking.
    I start off luring with food, the remove the food and just use the hand with no food in it, then fade the hand lure to a point to the ground, then fade to just the voice (or hand signal, my dogs will respond to either).
     
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  14. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    Just to add another angle of thought in, but you may need to think about the surfaces you're asking your dog to lie down on. My dog has pointy sighthound-style elbows with limited fur, and he's really sensitive about what surfaces he lies down on. It took me bloody ages to teach him a down. Part of that was his learning style and which type of down I was asking for (@Sarah H's point, I switched to a different 'type' of down that he found easier), but part of that was that the surface I was teaching him on wasn't soft enough. One time we moved to the smart sitting room in the house I was living in which had previously had a 'no dogs' rule just for like new environment let's see what he does and he immediately nailed it - because soft plush carpet!

    He'll now lie down on harder floors too, but I do usually have to put a mat or a jumper or something down for him. I'm very careful about where I ask him for a down still, because I want it to always be a surface he's happy to lie down on vs risking that I'll ask and he won't because he's not comfortable with it.
     
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  15. Labradoodledoo

    Labradoodledoo PetForums Junior

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    You are right here with this, she hates wet grass and as we are going to training classes outside asking her to do a down there is always a bit of no go! She’s much better in the house but she’ll put her front legs down and her bum is still in the air!
    Work in progress! :rolleyes:
     
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