Lately I’ve been training LarryDog on his long down. Kelly and our Rottweiler Lola have a habit of going for a walk around the neighborhood and into the mountains behind us early most mornings. (And of course Lola sees no reason it shouldn’t be every morning!) When they would leave, Larry would complain loudly at the front gate, so I started dog training sessions with him at that time, complete with yummy tidbits, usually very small pieces of hot dog. Anyway, LarryDog now watches me eagerly when the others leave.
I am not necessarily very awake at that time, but we meander around our fenced yard and I put LarryDog into a down-stay someplace. Then, pedometer in my pocket, I begin the 3000 or more steps I like to take early in the morning. It’s a quiet time, and I plan my day and think about things as I walk. Periodically I stop by Larry and tell him what a good dog he is or give him one of those 1% treats.
The first time we were doing this when Kelly and Lola returned, Larry glanced at me, but my head was in the clouds, and it wasn’t till after he took off that I realized I hadn’t noticed. Oops.
With practice, we are both getting better!
As you can probably tell from the photo, LarryDog is not a young pup… he’s about 12. But you certainly can teach an old dog new tricks. He’s known the down for years, but I hadn’t really worked on getting a reliable long down. Then I watched the excellent Train Your Dog DVD… the link takes you to my review of it.
They trained the long down by giving a dog who was in the down position little treats to stay there. They commented that the older method of training the down was to call the dog to you at the end, and sure enough that is what I had always done. Giving these intermittent reinforcements seems to work very well. And if I forget to give him one for a long time, head in the clouds again, LarryDog stares intently at me or shifts his position slightly. Never doubt that dogs train humans too!
Original post May 19, 2008