Master the Moving Down!

The moving down is incorporated into both obedience and rally exercises. Having a prompt response to the down cue, even in motion, is important but sometimes difficult to achieve.

Let's talk through some games that you can use to teach or improve your dog's moving downs!

PreReq - Stationary Down at a Distance

In order to do a moving down, your dog needs to understand how to do a stationary down at a distance, without any forward movement. You can use a target to get this initially, but you'll have to fade the target at some point. Until the dog understands this skill, you should not proceed with the following games.

Add the "Moving" Down Part

Once you have a stationary down without any forward movement, you can start working on the moving part. There are SO many ways to train the moving part of the down. One way is to work with the front foot target.

I slowly add distance from the target for both the dog and handler. Be sure you only add one distance element at a time. Distance from the dog to the target is harder because the dog will be moving more quickly. You'll need to cue the down a little sooner.

Another way you can work on this concept is to have the dog behind a barrier. First, I just work on the down behind the barrier, but then I start adding a tiny bit of movement and distance by tossing the treat behind the dog. As the dog does well, I start moving away from the barrier. This was Excel's first time working with this method.

If you'd rather not use props, there are a couple ways you can work on this. The first is by tossing a treat. Cue down as soon as the dog gets the treat, before he can move. As the dog gets better, start waiting for him to move toward you. As you toss further away and cue later, the dog will be adding speed.

Another way you can add motion is with a lure/treat distraction. First, teach your dog to down with a treat distraction. Then you can start adding motion. In the beginning, pause while you cue down. When your dog gets good at that, you can keep moving slowly as you say down. If the dog is doing a nice job, add more speed.

This video shows me adding more speed and energy, and also how I react if the dog doesn't lay down.

When your dog is doing really well with at least one and maybe more of these games, put the moving down into a recall. As your dog is coming toward you, cue down. If the dog responds promptly, be sure to reward! I often will reward from behind for the drop on recall. You can do this by pre-placing a treat or toy or have someone hold a reward that can be tossed out as you release the dog. By rewarding behind the dog, you are putting more value into the dog staying out away from you, rather than always coming into you to receive the reward.

Putting the Moving Down into Heel

Once I have a good drop out of motion in front, I put it into heel. If the dog really understands, it shouldn't be too difficult. At first I will pause as I cue down, but eventually I fade out that pause.

From here, you can practice circling your dog without a pause in preparation for the rally exercises. The dog should remain in the down position until you return to heel and cue the dog to heel.

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