Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Greyhound Downs 101

Class, today we learn about teaching greyhounds to lie down. First, let me introduce the student, Basso Profondo. I needed a greyhound subject who did not have a lot of training. Basso Profondo is a 6 year old coursing greyhound from England. He was the winner of the 2005 Waterloo Plate and 3 other stakes in his rookie year. Basso ran 16 courses that year and won 15 of them. That is big deal stuff! He came to the U.S. in 2006 - Greyhound Data Link.

Next, I have one anal rule for greyhound downs. I always teach greyhounds to lie down from a stand and for the rest of their lives, I only request downs from a stand. I never ever ask for a down from a sit position. Sits are already very difficult for many greyhounds and most of them would prefer to lie down. You can ruin a good sit by practicing and rewarding downs from the sit position. Your greyhound will forever be happy to melt into a down.

For those of you that compete in obedience and are wondering if I adhere to this rule for group stay exercises.... Yes. When the competitors line their dogs up in preparation for the long down stay, I am the only with a standing dog. Everyone else sits their dog before the judge cues us to down.

Let us get started. First, create a bridge for your greyhound to duck under. With Basso, I am down on one knee, but you can sit on a chair or a stool and bring both legs forward. Lure your greyhound with a treat under your leg(s), so he has to crouch. Be quiet! You are teaching a hand signal first. Chanting the word "down" over and over will not speed up the process.
I reward the greyhound for each step in the right direction he makes. First, I reward for ducking his head. Then I reward for elbows touching the ground and so on.Sometimes the rear end gets stuck in the air. I might place my hand on the greyhound's rump just to bring his attention to the area, but I never put pressure and try to force him down. Just let him get tired and he will eventually fold. This is a good time to jackpot and give the greyhound multiple treats so he knows that you really like this position.
Once your greyhound is down, get off of him. Move your leg(s) so he is not trapped if he decides to stand up.Lastly, I continue to reward the greyhound as long as he remains lying down. I want him to realize there is not rush to stand up and that I will keep rewarding if he holds his position.

When my greyhound is a super star at luring under my legs, I will try and lure him down with a treat while I squat down. Once he is a super star at that, I start ask for downs as I gradually move myself into a more upright position. The verbal cue is added much later.

Lastly, here are a few parting notes. This method generally does not work for greyhounds you never see lay in a sphinx position (see above picture). Some are just not comfortable. During training, if your greyhound lies down in any other position, rolled hip or flat out, awesome! Don't change a thing. Also, something like string cheese or a hot dog is a good treat for training the initial steps to down. The greyhound can nibble off bites as he ducks his head under you legs, another nibble for elbows down.... and so on.

50 comments:

KF-in-Georgia said...

Sam does a lovely "down," as did Oreo. Jacey is queen of the rolled-hip version: three and a half years in this house, and she's never gotten in the sphinx position, never roached. If she weren't such a dedicated sleeper, I'd wonder if she were really a greyhound. Her "sit" and "down" are always on one hip...and her "down" is always done from a standing position.

BrittBeah said...

I'm glad someone out there has spread the word about not teaching a down from a sit. The last obedience class I went to that is how they teach, it is a great way to ruin a perfect sit. Unfortunatly, I didn't find out till it was too late :( Live and learn.

KF-in-Georgia said...

When Jacey produced such a gosh-awful "sit," I decided to try teaching "down" in hopes I could work backwards--get her to do a decent sit out of a "down." Then she demonstrated an equally-awful "down"; in either maneuver, her hip hits the ground first. What's funny is that she has spontaneously offered a truly lovely sit on walks. I praised it to the skies, but she's never produced that sit when I asked for it.

Mielikki's Hunt said...

Unfortunately, in Rally, they have to know a down from both a sit and a stand. I like this idea tho, and if my knees hold up, I'm going to use it for my next OB dog. . .trying to figure out which one is going to start training next(I don't have the energy to do more than one LOL)

Life at Star's Rest said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is exactly what I needed and I am excited to head off and practice 'bridges' with Willie! Carmon

alex said...

Hero will do the sphinx down, but he will not hold it for very long. If we want him to stay down for any length of time we actually have to insist that he has that hip rolled under.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

M. Hunt, don't forget you can just sit on the edge of a chair with your legs in front of you.

For Rally folks, I would just suggest not practicing very many downs from a sit position. It is probably not something that would need a lot of practice if you have a good down from a stand.

Jen

Pam said...

I've always used this method for teaching Down, with great success.

Years ago, when I was taking lessons from Dee Zurburg, she had me avoid the down-from-sit until we had a really solid sit-stay and a solid drop-on-recall. Then, she had me add a "curl" command, which was taught by luring the dog from a stand into a curled-on-one-hip down. We only ever used it for the long down and it was never done except when the dog was in heel position. It was taught from a stand, but could easily be adapted for the Rally down-from-sit.

thebean said...

I'm glad that I saw that becaus I have been trying to teach my dogs down but they always get bored with it and walk away! I get so frustrated with them. I would have tried it tonight but it is getting late and its a school night so I have to go to bed soon.:)

thebean said...

Well I tried to get my dogs to do down but I had no luck! As usual they got bored and walked away! It really makes me mad when they don't listen to me! But you know like my mom said they are older dogs and the older the dog the harder to train. I was acually kind of looking forword to teaching them down and being able to say " Hay i'm the one that tought them how to do that" but you know I guess that just didn't work out. But you know my sister is going to have one possibly two puppies I can try and train!:)

Well have a great week!

-Hunter-

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Bean, what kind of treat are you using? It needs to be something your GH really really wants. Cheese, real meat (burger or roasted chicken, for example). You might even feed one of their meals an hour or 2 late so they are really hungry and do your training before feeding. Be patient...

Jen

Leigh Ann said...

Thanks for this really helpful info. I'm curious - Are you using a clicker to mark the steps each time you treat, or are you simply treating as they go along?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Leigh Ann, I use a clicker through the whole process, but didn't include that here because I did not want to overwhelm folks just getting started.

Leigh Ann said...

I'm having trouble getting our guy to bridge the gap between going under my legs and me moving to a squat. He is good about going under, but definitely still being lured by the food. Do I just need to give it more time? We've been at it for about a week.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Leigh Ann,

Have him do a few downs under your legs so he is thinking about it and in trainig mode. Then have him on leash so he can't walk away. You sit on the floor and hold a really great, smelly, awesome treat (tuna?) in your hand down low to the ground. Let him lick, sniff, and think about what it takes to get that awesome treat. If he gets bored, gives up, and tries to walk off... use the leash to keep him close. Don't let him walk around, look around, or do anything else, but stick close. You might even have him standing there on a couple of blankets while you just sit on the floor. And just stay there until it happens. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, ?? minutes. There is no way he's going to just stand there forever. Don't rush, just be nice and relaxed and just wait him out. And when he finally does down, give him a jackpot of treats. And then try to do it 2 more times before you go... jackpotting each one. You want him to have a big "light bulb" moment.

Jen

Lorena said...

Is there a fix if you've already ruined the good sit stays by teaching a down from a sit? I could teach her to down from a stand using this method, but how do i discourage her from laying down from a sit?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Lorena, you just have to insist that they remaining sitting. At the slightest hint that they are melting into a down.... I step into their space so they cannot lie down... in fact if the dog breaks the sit stay, I would so much rather they stand up than lie down. But stay close, so you can stop the melting.

Later on, when sit stays are decent, I'll proof by doing things like squat down in front of them, bend over, sort of hand signal a down, etc. But give them subtle, quiet down cues and I insist that they ignore them and remain sitting. So give a down hand signal and click & treat for remaining in sit.

Jen

Karol said...

Hi Jen, I am a new greyhound owner. My grey is wonderful, sweet, and kind. We adopted her a week ago. She is adjusting well to our home. She is already jumping and playing. She loves her crate and toys. I have a soft bed in the living room for her with toys, but she wont lay on it as she does in her crate. I was reading your technique for teaching how to lay down, and am wondering if I should try that now or let her continue to adjust. I was hoping she would just gradually plop on it as she does in her crate, but it hasn't happened yet. I want her to spend time w us in the living room. Any advice?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Karol,

Yes, of course. Feel free to start training as soon as you would like to. I think the idea of an adjustment period is silly (but unfortunately popular). Expectations should be stated early so the dog isn't confused later. All in all, the training method outlined here is positive and fun for the dogs. It helps to burn energy in a new dog that might be feeling some stress or is busy getting into everything. You can start as soon as you want to.

Jen

Karol said...

Thanks Jen! I didn't do it quite right the first time, but she enjoyed all the treats. Fortunately, the next day she went and laid down on the bed, all by herself! Yeah! I have another question for you. I leave pretty early for work on week days and so she eats early, about 6 a.m. I'm wondering if feeding her later on the weekends is possible. Will it hurt her? Or cause confusion with the week day schedule? Thanks for listening!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Karol,

Yes, you can alter the schedule. Mine eat at 5:15 AM on weekdays, but might not eat till 8 AM on weekends I sleep in. In the summer, we like to get out and train early, but I don't like to start out with full stomachs so I just feed them a small handful before we leave to satisfy the routine and then feed them much later when we return home.

Jen

jay said...

I came over from Greytalk, and was interested to see how you did this. Sadly, this is never going to work for us! Mine is a rear leg tripod and always, always lays down by balancing on his two front legs momentarily, while he tucks his leg under him, them lowers his front end.

I'll continue to work with the 'capture' method. LOL!

It's OK, he's learned the 'down' part fairly easily anyway. I'll still working on 'stay' in a standing position, but we'll get there!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Jay,

If you email me at jensjkt@yahoo.com, I'll send you my notes on Plan B that would probably work for your greyhound with 3 legs.

Karol said...

Hi Jen, I've had my grey for almost four months. She is awesome and teaching us more and more each day. Suddenly though, she does not want to walk on the tile floor. There have been no changes to the floor, its not wet and she has not fallen. She has walked on the same floor from day one. Yet now the minute her paws hit the tile, her feet start to scramble and it looks like she is skating on ice. I don't want her to hurt herself . How can I help her?
Thanks, Karol

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Karol, Unfortunately, some dogs have a real problem with slick floors. Make sure her nails are kept short. Do not quick her, but I find that most greyhound nails are too long. I would probably dremel them back at least once if not twice a week. I would put out the cheap runners to see if that can help her manuever around and then you might start to trim back the runners after a few weeks if you notice her getting more comfortable. Gradually make the runners disappear so she doesn't notice they are gone.

Jen

Karol said...

Hi Jen, thanks for all your advice. I want to pick your wisdom one more time. My greyhound has been with us for 5 months. Overall, it has been a pretty smooth transition. I've noticed that some days she has great appetite and will eat 4 cups a day. And then there are other days when she will barely eat 2 cups. Is this typical? Vet reports that she is a healthy dog. She eats nutro for sensitive stomachs mixed in with turkey or pedigree. Any advice?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Karol, you can email me via my website at www.neversaynevergreyhounds.net. That would be a better place to talk about food. But it just depends on the size of the dog, calories per cup, activity level. I think 4 cups sounds like a lot and it sounds like she does too.

Jen

Roo said...

I know this is an older post, but I found your blog on Greytalk while looking up ways to teach my new boy anything at all! He's 2 years and has been here only a little over 2 months, so everything's new to him. I've tried luring into a sit before, but, without fail, he just continues backing up and backing up until he gets so flustered that he tucks his tail and gives up. I'll try to find a decent hill for our next attempt. I've seen him sit voluntarily, both in his crate, in the middle of the room, and on a hill outside (and he has such a pretty sit!), but I can't seem to get him to do it for a treat. No matter how low I keep the treat, when he has to tip his head back a certain distance, he gives up.

I tried teaching him "down" this morning after reading your methods (very helpful instructions!) but he got under my leg to about his shoulders and wouldn't go any further. He almost went down on his front legs, but changed his mind and backed up. I've seen him sphinx before, so it's not that he can't sphinx (occasionally at first, though it's becoming more common - but he folds one front leg underneath his chest when he does it). I'm determined to teach Eli something, but any time I attempt anything new with him, his initial reaction is to tuck his tail under and act unsure. He's already put together that the doorknob leads to outside - if someone leaves, he'll go up to the closed door and tap the knob with his nose. He loves hot dog (haven't tried cheese yet, though that's next on the list). And he's curious about things, but I must be doing something wrong. What do I do when he won't lower his front legs?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Roo,

Make sure you are rewarding all the steps and not just waiting for his butt on the ground. He should be getting treats for pointing his nose to the sky, for rocking back, for flexing joints, and then jackpot when butt hits ground. But he should be getting feedback in the form of treats for step 1, 2, 3, and the final sit. Same principle applies to downs.

On downs, you might put the food on the ground... they sometimes feel encouraged to dive for it if they can see it. Also when you present the treat under your leg, do NOT pull it away. If he moves towards it, let him have it. But pulling away and asking for more is such a demotivator. So set your hand, if he reaches for it, let him have, then move your hand back a few inches to ask for more, if he reaches further, let him have it. Just make sure you let him have it before moving your hand back when luring into a down.

Try Tyson grilled chicken strips from frozen section (thaw them out). He'll like that too.

Email me know if he doesn't get the down and I'll send you message two.

Cathica said...

What do you do when the dog keeps walking AROUND your leg instead of UNDER your leg?

Thanks!
-Cathy

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Cathica, you can use a leash to prevent the walking around, but I suspect that you are not giving enough reward and feedback for staying on the correct side. He should get a treat for just poking his nose under your leg, then another for putting his neck under there, and then shoulders, etc. If he tries to go around, you ignore it. No reward for going around. But lots of reward for effort on the correct side. Don't be stingy.

MaryA said...

Hi Jen! Fabulous website, really! Thx for taking the time to share everything. Got a new big boy couple months ago. Definitely your typical grey, unlike my 1st girl who sits pretty on her own & is a breeze to train. My boy, Chance, does not sphinx, which might explain why I have had zero luck luring him into a down under my legs. I use clicker training, so he knows that, but cannot get him past the initial looongg neck under my leg. He ends up pushing my leg and I either lose balance or move with him if I'm sitting on something (I must have really short legs!). If it wasn't so frustrating it would be quite funny. Really want this "down" thing so I can move onto more obedience training in the home...any words of wisdom that you haven't already imparted? Thx so much, Mary.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Mary A, can you just email me (jensjkt@yahoo.com) so I can send you something already typed up. Remind me why you are emailing when you do.

Courtney said...

Love this method! Have had my Grey for two years without much training and just recently started working with him as we'll be heading out to an apartment next year - really wanting to enforce down and quiet for excessive barking. Tried this method tonight and took him no time at all to learn that lying down was what I wanted! Can't wait to keep working with him using this, thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just got a greyhound yesterday! He is a 1.5 year old rescued racer that did not even reace because he could only run straight. We are working on him learning his name right now, (by george I think he's got it.) Heres my problem, I have never owned a grey before and I am a little bit afraid about how much to push him. He growled when touched two times yesterday, and was corrected. He did let me brush his teeth tonight and I did brush him. I want to train him, but am really confused as they are so different to train than all my other mixed breed dogs. I read the greyhounds for dummies book and frankly it scared the bejeebers out of me. I don't want to get bit or startle him. What can I do to foster trust between us other than spending time with him and trying to work with him. He does not like to be hugged, we found, just patted. Thanks, Eileen

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Eileen, email me. jensjkt@yahoo.com

Very concerning he is already growling. You should get a honeymoon period before that starts unless you really are doing everything wrong.... which I will say that I definitely don't hug dogs that I just got yesterday. You worry me cause you sound like you are tip toeing around him and he probably is thinking you are very unstable.act like you own the place. He needs to be minding his manners, crossing his Ts and dotting his Is. But email me more details.

Anonymous said...

Just had a hilarious first attempt at a down where he barged straight through without ducking down and up-ended me. I ended up rolling round on the floor and he was wearing his collar like an alice-band. We will try again tomorrow!

Elle said...

My hound preacher just goes far enough to get a few bites and then quits. He wont bend his legs to go down. He just reaches his neck down and out.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Elle, email me. jensjkt@yahoo.com

Lisa J said...

This is an awesome way to teach down! I tried following the down method from "greyhounds for dummies" and the most Dyno would do was walk over to the rug and lay down eventually. I tried your method and it worked great! Although he almost bowled me over getting to the treats.

Anonymous said...

Hi, how long are your training sessions with each dog? I am just beginning with training my greyhounds. They picked up on association with food and clicker easily. They are rock stars at that. :-) Now we have started the down training. A bit more tricky. I really like your website because you show us how you and your dogs achieved success.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a follow up question. is there anything in particular I should do to be sure the environment is good for training. For example, is it ok to one listen to the other's training? (it is hard for me to separate them especially since our training in this weather is confined to indoors). thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

...and maybe even any insight on timing. I wonder if I am doing the training too late in the day and too close to their dinner. I really appreciate any thoughts you might have. I might be over thinking it.... :-)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Yes, its fine for the other dog to hear training going on. As long as second dog is gated, crated, or out of the way, it is fine for them to watch and listen.

Right before a meal is usually a good time to train. Train when they are hungry.

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Best rgs

Anonymous said...

Hi! How do you end your training sessions. My greyhound is usually all riled up after 5-10 minutes of practice and repeating behaviors we just did in training in hopes for more rewards, perhaps?

Does this mean I should train longer? Do you have tips for ending the session. Thanks!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Play! Play after training sessions. I usually bring out a toy and let my hounds run around. Zooming around with a toy is often a good reward after training.

Baton Rouge Dog Trainers said...

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?
_____________________________
Dog training Baton Rouge

Hermione Wald said...

Hey!
My greyhound has a very different personality and doesn't seem to value treats, praise or toys at all. Even high value treats such a cheese and meat. Like he likes them but he just won't work for it and either walks away or just ignores it.

Just wondering how you can encourage a dog that doesn't care about food?

Thanks!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Hermione,

Keep him close to race weight. I would mix his meals with something high value (reduce the amt of kibble to account for the extra treat calories). So mix a cup of kibble with cut up hot dogs or cheese. And then just make him do super easy things following small handfuls of his meals + treats. 1 step forward, reward. Reach up, reward. Reach down close to the floor, reward. Just have him follow the small handfuls of food. Turn left, reward. Turn right, reward. If he gets bored, walks off, or stops participating, his meal stops. Put it away. If he is not fearful and likes the food, he probably just does not realize he can earn it. You are probably asking for too much (which might not seem like much at all) and he just doesn't realize a little effort earns the food. So have him follow you around the house, follow your hand of food, and to really easy things. Even just holding a fist full of reward and opening your hand when he noses/licks/chews at your hand.... reward him for being pushy. But get him really comfortable following, nosing, and eating out of your hand.

Jen