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Training Your Dog To Drop At A Distance

Aug 17, 2007
Before you attempt to make your dog drop at a distance, teach her first to drop directly in front of you on the first command and on the first signal.

With the dog on leash, facing you, hold the leash in your left hand (it is presumed, of course, that your dog already knows how to lie down as outlined in The Complete Novice Obedience Course). without moving your body, command "Down!"

Use a quiet tone of voice and follow the command with "Good Girl!" The praise is important! It encourages the dog to obey without leash correction. If one is necessary, it will be more favorably received.

If your dog obeys the first command to lie down, go to your right, circle around in back, and while she is in the down position, pat her. If the command is ignored, quickly stamp on the leash with your right foot to get her down, giving extra praise.

Circle around, pat her, but don't let her get up until you give her permission. With a small dog, or one that is extra sensitive, tap the leash more gently.

After your dog lies down on voice command, tell her "Sit!" This time raise your right hand (this is the signal used by right-handed people to make the dog lie down) and follow the signal with "Good Girl!" If your dog isn't down by the time your hand is raised with fingers pointing UP, stamp on the leash or bump the palm of the raised hand against the dog's nose, with extra praise.

Say "down!" at the same time, then circle around to heel position and pat her while she is lying down. The important things to remember are these: Give the command without body motion; when you use the signal, raise your hand, wait, then make the correction; and whether you use your hand or your foot to get your dog down, give praise!

The way you give the signal is also important. Lift your hand quickly, then lower it slowly while the dog is in the process of going down. If you drop the hand too fast, it will look like the signal to come and your dog could be confused.

When your dog will lie down immediately on a single command, and will do the same when you give the signal, try it without the leash, but stay close to your dog. Give the command or signal once, then follow with praise. The praise can be dropped after the dog has learned to react immediately, but during the teaching, praise should accompany the voice and the hand gesture.

When the leash is off, and the command or signal is ignored, the bump on the nose is an effective correction. Return to heel position each time your dog goes down; pat her or give her a tasty morsel so she will associate something pleasant with the prone position.

Gradually increase the distance you stand away, but only if your dog will drop immediately, on a single command or signal, a distance equal to the length of the leash. With the dog some distance away, the voice now becomes the correction. When the command or signal is ignored, give the second command demandingly.

The ultimate goal for the drop in the distance should be twenty-five to thirty feet, to prepare your dog for drop on recall.

If you still have trouble making your dog lie down at a distance, fasten a long line to her collar and run the line through a ring in the floor, or one placed in the ground. Ask an assistant to hold the end of the line at a distance (or hold the line yourself). Tell your dog "Stay!" Face her, then give the signal or the command to lie down. If she remains sitting, the pull on the line will put her down. Return, make her sit, and give her praise.
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