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When teaching your dog a "Down", is it bad to put them in a "Sit" first?

JJ and I went to our first training class night and while discussing the "Down" command, the trainer said that when you're starting out it's not good to put the dog in a "Sit" before teaching him "Down" cause he'll learn that whenever you tell him to "Sit", he'll eventually automatically lay down since that's what he think's he's suppose to do.

To teach "Down", the trainer had us show the dog a treat and then hold it on the ground between our fingers, only rewarding the dog with it once he dropped down. She didn't want use to say anything to the dog, just show him the treat and wait until he dropped. Is this the right way to teach a "Down"? When I did it with JJ, he just stood there with his head down and tried to eat the treat. He didn't drop once, but as soon as I told him "Down", he went down.

Shouldn't we be communicating with the dog and telling him and showing him what we want from him? Or should we be starting with no verbal communication what-so-ever?

I taught JJ to go "Down" by putting him in a "Sit" first, then taking a treat and holding it in front of him and bringing it down towards the ground, saying "Down" as he made the motion to drop for it. Did I go about this the wrong way? When I do what the trainer at class told me to do, he just puts his head down and tries to get the treat.

Initially, he would do what the trainer said - sit and then drop, thinking that's what I wanted. But I simply just didn't give the treat. Soon, he would go into a sit, look at me, begin to drop and then bounce back up real quick before hitting the ground, realizing I never said "down". Now I can put him into just a sit, or a sit followed by a down. I can't really do a straight "down" from a standing position since whenever he's near me and I say his name, he turns and sit's automatically.
 

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All of my dogs sit first and then go into the down postition at first. I think it is easier to teach that way. I put my dog in sit and then lower the treat to the floor and pull it away from the dog and as they drop down I say "down". I have not any trouble with my dogs getting confussed or laying down while I have them in a sit.
 

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Kate
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On the wall at our PuppyK class somebody scribbled something like:

Sit/down/stand/down/sit/stand

Which basically teaches your dogs the different position changes and how there are various ways to get there. And the dog learns to not change position until you give the command.
 

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Gosh, trying to remember down. All I can remember is that down is supposed to be a rear action first. They don't slide into the down forward, they fold up their hind end and drop into it that way. Kind of a scissor folding to the rear. We held the treat in front on the floor and then moved it back between the front legs until they went down.

I can see the confusion your trainer is talking about.

Penny had a really hard time with down. If she went down, she popped right back up after the treat. We did eventually get to long downs, and out of sight downs which she did beautifully. But down is still something she doesn't volunteer to do like the sit.
 

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Gosh, trying to remember down. All I can remember is that down is supposed to be a rear action first. They don't slide into the down forward, they fold up their hind end and drop into it that way. Kind of a scissor folding to the rear. We held the treat in front on the floor and then moved it back between the front legs until they went down.

I can see the confusion your trainer is talking about.

Penny had a really hard time with down. If she went down, she popped right back up after the treat. We did eventually get to long downs, and out of sight downs which she did beautifully. But down is still something she doesn't volunteer to do like the sit.
haha Pumba actually a lot of the time will actually got down front first. she's so silly, she lets her front paws just slide and just plops her butt down.

the only time in training Pumba that i found she gets confused was when i taught her to roll over.. i made the mistake of teaching her to first lay down, then roll over. now when i tell her to lay down she automatically rolls over.. but she's so smart i've been able break this habit by making sure she's in any position other than laying down before telling her to roll over
 

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For competition purposes, I teach my dogs to down from a stand. I want them to push and fold back and have their entire body hit the ground at once, insteand of rear hitting first then front going down.

For more general training purposes I don't think it really matters, there can be initial confusion no matter what way you train, but the dogs will figure it out without that much difficulty.
 

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Yes, like this. Penny is kind of funny with down: if she really wants something, a treat, she'll sit. If I keep holding it/don't give it to her, she figures I must want down. She's like Please Please Pretty Please, If I lay down, Please?? Then she pops right back up. Our 2 years of training is pretty corrupt now. :uhoh:

For competition purposes, I teach my dogs to down from a stand. I want them to push and fold back and have their entire body hit the ground at once, insteand of rear hitting first then front going down.

For more general training purposes I don't think it really matters, there can be initial confusion no matter what way you train, but the dogs will figure it out without that much difficulty.
 

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I would teach down from a stand - I agree with Loisiana I didn't do that originally and I had to correct the "lazy" down. It won't make a difference if you don't plan to trial in Rally Obedience or Obedience. However, if you do, it will make a difference because the dog isn't supposed sit then down.
 

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where the tails wag
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If you are not planning on showing in the upper levels of obedience competition, teaching the dog to sit then down is fine. The accordian style down is best for obedience but obedience dogs also have to learn the sit / down sequence - and the stand/down, down/sit etc.

As mentioned, your dog is going to need to work through some confusion no matter how you train it - it is all part of the learning process :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
For competition purposes, I teach my dogs to down from a stand. I want them to push and fold back and have their entire body hit the ground at once, insteand of rear hitting first then front going down.

For more general training purposes I don't think it really matters, there can be initial confusion no matter what way you train, but the dogs will figure it out without that much difficulty.
I think this is where the trainer is coming from. She did mention that she's involved in competitions. She pretty much was trying to get the dogs to do what you said though - have them drop their from legs first from a stand position, as if they are bowing, and then drop their back legs. I guess I just thought my guy the other way, to sit first and then slide down.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
On the wall at our PuppyK class somebody scribbled something like:

Sit/down/stand/down/sit/stand

Which basically teaches your dogs the different position changes and how there are various ways to get there. And the dog learns to not change position until you give the command.
I like that technique - Sit/down/stand/down/sit/stand

I just have to teach my guy what "stand" means. We're working on that now.

I also gotta figure out how to get him from a "down" to a "sit". Once he goes down, I can't get him back up unless I hold a treat above his head or walk away.
 

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Kate
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You can use treats and your hands to guide your dog at this stage.

The treat gets your dog's attention on your hand + which should also be giving the hand signal for what you want your dog to do.

I'm retraining different signals now for advanced obedience (my instructor got after me), but back in puppy class and basic obedience anything works as long as you are consistent.

Sit = treat upward over the puppy's head. I usually paired with pointing my finger or an upward sweep of my hand.

Down = treat between the puppy's legs, whether your puppy is sitting or standing. Usually paired with a downward sweep of my hand.

Stand = treat held between my thumb and first two fingers in front of the puppy's nose, left hand brushing puppy's belly to guide him up into the stand. I wean off everything except the hand signal which is those three fingers in front of my guy's nose. And there are different and even better ways of teaching stand, but this worked for me.

Once your dog has a good solid understanding what the commands mean, you can start building distance. Right at the beginning you are in front or next to your dog and guiing him as much as he needs.
 

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When I was in 4-H, we trained with a sit first, then down. But for us, dogs should be in a sit when at a halt. So for myself, I teach down from a sit position.
 

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I taught Bayne to sit and then down in the beginning, now he understands both separately. He goes straight into a down position with non-verbal commands since I taught him both verbal and hand signals at the same time. Now I don't have to say a word for sit, down even roll over. We're working on wait or stay with the palm of the hand.... working pretty good.
 

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If you aren't going to do obedience competition then there really isn't a problem, but just from a good training standpoint it's valuable for your dog to know "down" from a standing position too. There are times when you don't have time to ask him to both sit, then down, you just want him to lay down!
I also see a lot of dogs whose owners cannot get them to lay down from a stand position, so they ask the dog to sit, then lay down. It's like the dog is ruling the roost here. "If I act dumb I will get more help and attention." Well hello. My dad does this with his dog....now I can get the dog to drop in a nanosecond, he has to tell his own dog to lay down four times before he gives up, tells him to sit, points at the ground multiple times begging him to lay down, before I get off the couch and push the dog into a down!
In other words, you can teach down from any position :)
 

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We have always taught the sit and then into the down - once the dog learns the different commands it has never been a problem to put the dog straight into the down.

Also when teaching the sit command we have always used Sit followed by either wait or stay depending on what they are going to do next and they know that they don't drop into the down position until told
 

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I teach my dogs the same way JJ is being taught. As Loisana and everyone else has said, for competition obedience, that is the way to go. It's quite handy to have the dog that can do the accordion down when you are teaching the drop on recall.
 
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