Words of Woofdom – Teaching New Behaviors
When teaching new behaviors to your pup such as “down”, to get better, faster results, label the behavior when your pup is in the position you are trying to teach. For example, when you are teaching your pup to lay down by luring your pup from a sit to a down, label the position as soon as your pup is in it and not before. If you say “down” when your pup is still in the sit being lured, he may confuse the cues “down” and “sit” making it harder for your pup to understand the difference. Once your pup knows what the new word means, then you can ask him for it. To really ramp up your training, you can then try to get your pup from a stand to a down. For this, you should start over with the labeling of the behavior and not just ask for the “down” from a stand.
Dogs do not generalize well so a down from a stand feels different from a sit to a down. If you begin asking for the “down” and your pup does not respond immediately, you should continue luring and labeling to ensure success. If you follow these tips, you can go from teaching your dog to get into a down to learning to “fly,” like Mercy, a Dock Diving Champion!