The DREADED down/stay

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Lizzie

Boxer Insane
Dora has actually progressed to grade 3 obedience (I am as shcked at this as anyone!).

Does anyone have any advice as to how to get Dora to stay once she is down?

I use the word drop instead of down (as she seems to respond better to this) and she will go down, but I just cannot get her to stay down. I thought that it may be because of the grass at training and so I take a little mat that she drops onto, but she won't stay .....arrgggghhh.. Sometimes I will use food to get her to drop and other times she will drop on command. When I ask her to stay I am required to walk away and can't keep giving her food - besides which even if I can she puts the front of her body down and her ass end is hanging in the air :eek:

Weirdly a sit/stay is absolutely no problem - I ask her to sit, tell her to stay, walk away and she stays until I return to her.

Why is the down/stay so difficult for my dizzy Dora?! foolicon Arrgghhhh
 
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Kisaq

Super Boxer
There are probably as many ways to teach a down/stay as there are ways to bake an apple pie. But here's how I do it.

The trick is, you have to train only one thing at a time. Dont mix and match until everything is reliable individually.

Stage 1: teach a reliable down. It doesn't have to last long and you don't move away any distance, just so long as she drops when you ask her to with voice and hand signal. Treat praise. Etc.

Stage 2: add time (but not distance). Gradually increase the time she has to stay down right in front of you.

Keep your sessions short and always end on a good note. Three 10 minute sessions are better than one 30minute session.

If she breaks her down or stay at any point, just stop and replace her in the exact original spot. No treats. Start again at the previous level where she did NOT break.

If she does something especially good when you're trying something new then "JACKPOT" treat her with extra special treat/praise. It helps solidify the breakthroughs.

Stage 3: add distance (but not time). Take one step back for a second then forward again, treat/praise. Then take two steps back, immediately forward again, treat/praise. Until you can walk backward around a table, or obsticle of some kind without stopping, to return to her with a treat/praise if she holds (at this stage, you should always keep her within your sight, and you in her sight - don't loose sight of each other yet. That's stage four).

Stage 3.5: Once both time and distance are reliable in and of themselves, you can add them together. This is a great time to be prepared for a JACKPOT treat. If you're lucky she'll stay for the combination. But don't be discouraged if she doesn't. Just go back to what she knows and practice so more.

Stage 4: Out of HER sight (no time, no distance, and still with your eyes on her). Take a step to one side of her then return to the front. Treat/praise. Then step to the other side of her and return. Then walk a full circle around her. In step 4, stay close until she is reliable and doesn't get up or roll over to turn to look at you. It's a tough one for them. :) I also add the "step over" at this point. I cant count the number of times some stranger has stepped over my service dog without warning (he's still in training but doing public access) while he is in a down stay in a crowded area. He has to have a reliable stay down or things could get wild! Once someone carrying an infant in a car seat stepped over him. If he had gotten up she would have gone flying baby and all. He's not a small dog!

Anyway - I digress:
Stage 5: Out of YOUR sight but not hers (go back to no time or distance). You turn 360 degrees while standing in front of her. By this time, she should have this all pretty much down pat. But you never know when something will throw them as being different.

Stage 6: Mix and match again. ie: turn away from her and walk a short distance away.

Stage 7: distractions and new locations... Start right back at the beginning (stage 1) and move through just as you did at the start whenever you try these things (or any commands) in a new place or with new distractions. Add a friend with a dog walking by. Or go to a park. All of the stages above, idealy would initially be taught in the same location until they are all reliable. I start in my living room, then move everything to the yard, then I go to a public park, then somewhere with other dogs... etc. Gradually increasing the challenge.

Also, I do not add "come" from a distance to my down stays until the down stay itself is completely reliable - including stage 7. But that may just be a matter of preference. In my experience it is better (safer) to have an infalable down/stay, and suffer a small hesitation on "come", than to have a breakable down/stay and an instant sometimes anticipated come when I'm not ready.

Anyway ... that's my two cents worth. It's worked for me.
good luck!!
 

Jan

Reasonable Moderator
Staff member
You are probably asking for too much too soon.

I agree with Kisaq! Time before distance is very important. Another thing I would do is lose the treats. I was taught not to reward with treats when teaching the stay. The release is the reward. Treats can be too tempting and then they break the stay.
 

TwoDogs

Boxer Insane
I teach the stay as a progression very much like Kisaq describes with a couple of additional stages.

Stage 7: Step back from the dog and walk the hands of the clock (with the dog being the center of the clock). Start small and only work within the 3 o'clock position and the 9 o'clock position at first. Always return to the 6 o'clock position and walk back in to reward and release your dog. Gradually increase until you can walk to the 12 o'clock position behind your dog both counter clockwise and clockwise before returning to the front. Then add passing completely around your dog.

Stage 8: Stay at heel. Build up the duration just like you did in the beginning but with the dog in heel. Work it in a sit, down, and stand.

Stage 9: Leaving the dog in a stay from heel position. This one is a bit tougher because you aren't backing away from the dog. Instead you are cueing the stay and just walking away. This looks just like the same body language we give when we take that first step out when we are heeling so often times the dog will think it should follow. Work it a single step at a time--cue the stay, step forward one step, turn to face your dog and then return to the heel position. Gradually increase the number of steps you take from the heel position before you turn to face your dog.

Stage 10: Adding a recall from a stay. I only ever add the recall when the dog is rock solid on the earlier stages of the stay. In the beginning I don't want to build anticipation for leaving that location or position otherwise the dog will be more apt to break the stay in anticipation of the recall. I want a dog that is committed to that spot for however long it takes and no matter what I might be doing or where I might be going. I work a recall to front, recall to front and then finish left or right, or a call to heel where I ask the dog to stay in a heel, walk away and cue another heel without having turned to face the dog.

I add distractions to each of the stages as I think the dog is ready for them. So I could be working on adding distractions to a simple duration stay right in front of me long before I work on stay for distance or moving around the clock stays.

I do use food rewards when I teach a stay. I just make sure not to fiddle with the bait bag or reach my hand out too early so as to distract the dog or inadvertently cause them to break the stay early. Never food reward the release. Give the food reward first while the dog is still in position followed by the verbal release.

Jan is right, in real life application, the release is usually the reward, but when I am first teaching it, the stay is very much a training exercise and to be released to wander about the training room just isn't that rewarding. If you are doing things right, your dog should love training sessions and working with you so the funny thing is that for a dog that likes the game and really wants to keep working, a release to go do something else is almost like a punishment. Most of the dogs I work with during sessions will ignore the release and keep on staying, or temporarily release but then sit or down again, in an attempt to get the game to continue.
 
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Lizzie

Boxer Insane
Thanks everyone, much appreciated :D

Dora did better last night - actually stayed down for a whole 30 seconds with no treats appicon

What I didn't appreciate was the trainer, who up until now has been quite good, saying that "even though she may not pass on assessment night .... and she is a boxer ", and I thought to myself, actually she is no worse than some of the other dogs in the class and frankly Dora is a lot less reactive than the collie in the class that lunges and snarls at Dora and he appears to hate Dora on sight, but it seems that the trainer ignores this as of course the collie does everything required of it right on cue - mind you the owner is shovelling treats down its throat constantly :( Then I thought perhaps I was being a bit of an over sensitive boxer mummy, so decided to ignore the trainer's comment. Dora is the only boxer at training and this is right thoughout the grades and so I decided that they just don't get the goofiness and stubbornness of the breed.

We will keep at it and hopefully one day it will all come together for my dizzy Dora cool2icon
 

Jan

Reasonable Moderator
Staff member
What I didn't appreciate was the trainer, who up until now has been quite good, saying that "even though she may not pass on assessment night .... and she is a boxer "

That is a horrible thing to say! She has already failed you in her mind! That is just wrong!

Just keep working at it and you will prove her wrong.

I did obedience with Markus and he had a great stay. He did totally embarrass me once at an obedience trial. Their was someone walking there dog, way across the other side of a football field. For some reason he was fixated on this dog. The down stay was almost done and suddenly took off like a shot. One of my most embarrassing moments. :LOL: I was mad at the time, but I can laugh at it now. :)

Good luck!
 

RockyCody

Completely Boxer Crazy
Agree with the other posters - teach it as a progression FOR sure.

Rocky has the opposite problem. He will not hold a sit/stay. He sits and then his front legs start going forward, forward, forward until he's laying down.

So for our CGC and therapy dog testing - we used the down stay command because it was more reliable than our sit stay.

iF you ever do CGC or therapy - you can pick whether they stay in the sit or down - so hopefully that gives you peace of mind training wise. I agree though, it would be nice to have a reliable drop/stay.

Rocky has a weird thing with textures too. I have to bring a padded bathmat as he will not down on a lot of the surfaces where we have class..he's just ....weird. and sensitive. and I think his boney elbows do not feel nice on the agility table where he downs and on the floor.

Good luck with training! Stick with it!
 

Kisaq

Super Boxer
Rocky has the opposite problem. He will not hold a sit/stay. He sits and then his front legs start going forward, forward, forward until he's laying down.


Hehehehe
I would have a very hard time keep a straight face on that. :D
 

RockyCody

Completely Boxer Crazy
Hehehehe
I would have a very hard time keep a straight face on that. :D

Yea...it's actually hilarious. I should get it on video some time.....he's sooooo tall....like way taller than a normal boxer - and I don't know if that is why he has a hard time holding a sit stay or what...but it's funny. I'll try to capture that sometime soon and post it as a video. LOL
 
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