Training the Down in Motion
The process of getting a fast DOWN IN MOTION begins on the first day of training the Down. In this article I will only talk about training in drive here.
I assume that those reading this post understand what training in drive means
When the time comes to train the DOWN the handler puts the dog in high drive for his toy, the dog is given a DEEP STRONG Down command that is accompanied with a strong jerk to the ground, if it is necessary to slam the dog between the shoulder blades with with the palm of the hand to get him to go down this must be done. The INSTANT the dog goes Down the toy is tossed on the ground in front of the dog.
How to deliver the toy is important. The toy is not just dropped - it needs to go to the ground very quickly. It should bounce about a foot in front of the dog. Delivering the toy quickly builds drive.
If you have watched my training videos you will be aware of the concept of “Drive-Compulsion-Drive” Simply put here, the dog is put in drive with the ball or tug, it receives some level of compulsion with the voice command, jerk or slam between the shoulder blade, then it is immediately put back into drive by throwing the ball in front of the dog.
When the Down is trained this way it takes 2 or 3 days for a dog to learn. Dogs go down quickly and when he does go down his ears are up and forward. The Down becomes a drive exercise.
From there the training is then taken off the training field. The dog is worked in random down situations. If the e-collar needs to be used on a NICK situation to reinforce the command it can be used. The dog is again rewarded the INSTANT it goes down. This training exercise is not designed to train a dog to down for a long period of time, but rather the goal is a quick down.
When the dog is solid on random downs it can be brought back to the training field. If there is even the slightest question on the speed issue the e-collar should be on the back of the neck of the dogs and only used ON THE NICK setting.
In the beginning when the handler gives the Down while heeling he rewards with the toy, which is hanging from a cloths pin on a line around his neck, after 2 steps. He does not look back at the dog he simply gives the down command and takes two steps and THROWS THE BALL DOWN ON THE GROUND as he continues to walk away from the dog. This keeps the dog in drive (ears up and forward)
This is repeated and the dog is rewarded after 5 steps then 2 steps then 3 steps then 10 steps then 2 steps until after two weeks of training the handler is going 50 steps (differential reinforcement). The key is that the dog never knows when the toy comes. The further the handler gets from the dog the higher in drive it goes.
Thats how you get really fast recalls out of the down. The further you get from the dog the more he loads and expects the ball.
I am not a fan of the many ways to train the down by only using compulsion. I am familiar with most of them. Most of these methods have a negative effect on the speed of the recall and the relationship between the dog and handler.