Saturday, October 15, 2011

Training Downs 201

Here is another look at training ex-racing greyhounds to down and down stay.  Of course, this method would work on most large dogs.  I always teach ex-racers to down from a stand since they may or may not have a good sit... although I think it is really silly to have to sit your dog first and then down.  They should all down from a stand. 

One of the big differences in training an ex-racer versus any other dog is that they rarely respond to pressure.  If you try to pull or push them into a down, greyhounds resist and lock up.  It rarely works.

I also think they have to "learn to learn".  Their entire lives have been about routines and good habits (which is why they are often better pets than those raised by Joe Average dog owner, in my opinion).   Racing greyhounds are not really asked to do anything so responding to a cue is completely foreign.

I start teaching down by luring my greyhound under one or both legs.  Depending on the height of the dog, I may sit on the ground, on a bucket, or a chair without arms (you need to be able to swivel).  This is Sahara's 2nd session.  He had already worked for a few minutes on a prior day so you are going to see him lie down faster than your own greyhound might.  Just remember he has had a few extra minutes of practice.  I am also clicker training which you do not have to do, but it does make your training more precise.  My goal here is to get Sahara to lie down and then to continue to reward him for staying down for as long as he offers.
Notice that I am mostly quiet.  I am not giving him any verbal cues and not distracting him with chatter.  He will be taught a hand signal first anyway.  Remember to reward your greyhounds for poking his head under your leg and for putting his elbows on the ground.  You want to reward all of his steps in the correct direction and not just focus on the full position initially.  Let me know if you have any questions.

19 comments:

Nibs said...

Wow! Sahara is so clever! You are so patient, too! I'm a hound who loves patient people! Some do seem to forget that we lived such different lives on-track. When Mummie adopted me I didn't know what windows, mirrors or stairs were! So how could I have known what 'sit' means? Heehee!

I think you have a lovely way with us hounds!

What Remains Now said...

Wonderful instructions and the video is super helpful.

Declan said...

Mum says can I come and stay with you for a while?!! Deccy x

Elizabeth said...

You may think this trick is just good for big dogs, But it's ironically good for dachshunds too who are difficult/impossible to lure into a down (they are already there, at ground level I mean) and shouldn't have pressure applied to their backs.

Though sit is relatively simple to train for them, down can be a struggle (Not just with me I've heard several owners say this). I literally captured my down (took forever, I'd never do that again). If I got another I'd do this instead. If I could get my leg low enough to the ground.

Tucker The Crestie said...

Wow, Sahara is absolutely gorgeous! And his downs are coming along nicely!

I must say, I also spent quite a bit of time on your blog this morning going through some of your raw feeding posts. I don't know why I hadn't seen them before. I so love to see other raw feeders in the Blogosphere, because it's such a hotly debated topic in forum discussions and mailing lists, which gets really old. I don't do veggies anymore (I used to years ago but have since gone to raw green tripe - or canned when I run out of the raw stuff I get from Hare Today).

Anyway - love your dogs, love your blog, and now that I know you're a raw feeder, I love it even more! :)

Andreja said...

Wow, Sahara looks gorgeous and has amazing attention outside! I remember it took forever for Ruby to be able to think outside so I would never dream of training in the backyard with a new sighthound so soon.

IHeartDogs said...

Thank you for the detailed instructions. I have tried the leg method, but did not click/treat the head/elbow on ground, so we were not able to move forward due to my lack of communication/jumping to the next step too soon... I'll be trying it with my new foster next week.

He is such a handsome boy <3 Hope he finds his forever loving home soon.

houndstooth said...

Bunny and Blueberry both know down, but I like the idea of teaching it the way you have. Fortunately, they both lured down pretty quickly and it wasn't too hard, but I'm tempted to give it a go the way you've done it and see if they'd pick it up that way, just for fun!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Beryl has quite a good down, it's the staying down part she has trouble with. She hasn't grasped the 'stay' concept at all. Which is my fault for not persisting. For some unknown reason I've never liked teaching my dogs to stay!

A question ... do you use 'stay' and 'wait' for different actions or non-actions I guess? Or one command for everything e.g. recalls and sit/down stays.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

GHcanSit, "freeze" is my formal stay which means stay until told otherwise. But I do not use a verbal until I can force my dog to stay... I don't want to ask for something I cannot make happen. "Wait" is an informal stay. Mostly means don't follow me, I'm coming right back. Or you are too far ahead, let me catch up.

IHeart, definitely reward the small steps. Also it sometimes helps if you actually put the food on the ground. We humans have a bad habit of pulling the food away as the dog reaches for it... so they lose interest. If you put the food on the ground under your leg and just create a little trail, they feel like they can dive for it.

Declan, I think you are too far away. :-)

Makes good sense, Elizabeth! Never thought about it. :-)

Andreja, its funny cause I never train in my house and rarely indoors so when I do end up asking my dogs for something in the house they routinely do outside... they are sometimes totally confused.

IHeart, definitely reward the small steps. Also it sometimes helps if you actually put the food on the ground. We humans have a bad habit of pulling the food away as the dog reaches for it... so they lose interest. If you put the food on the ground under your leg and just create a little trail, they feel like they can dive for it.

Susan McKeon said...

Great post Jennifer (as always). I'm in the process of teaching Jasper, one of my greys, the down and we're making slow, but steady progress. Fabulous video, which shows how trainable ex-racing greyhounds are...once you know how to motivate them.

Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

Great post!

I don't think my comment saved about your last one (with the issue of the other woman and her off-leash dogs) but I can tell you that it wouldn't be polite to type the first words that came to mind. What a total ____ and it's unbe____inglievable that she'd get mad at YOU for it. You handled it very calmly and didn't snap - that's very commendable!

Also, I can't find which post it was, but what was it that you were saying you put in the dogs Kongs? I'm taking Layla to the Malamute National and she'll be with me almost all the time, but for the little bit that she'll be alone in the room (dinners, etc) I'd like to give her her Kong. I also don't like peanut butter for the high fat content and I remember liking one of your ideas...but I can't remember what. Sorry!

Thanks for this post :)

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

I've gone back and re-read your other 'down training' posts and watched the videos and hopefully now I've got my head around how to go about teaching Beryl a down stay. It's all she needs to learn to go for her bronze CGC!

I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into doing these training posts and videos, thank you.

Maria Peters said...

Always excellent. Thank you!

Kristin G. said...

Nice work. Dog training is so fascinating to me. I've been to obedience classes with a whippet and a greyhound (different trainers,) but hadn't seen this approach before. Thanks for sharing!

drfrosty said...

Really interesting. I'm hoping to get a greyhound next year so it's good to see one learning the basics from scratch. Thanks.

Mary Schannen said...

Those videos are inspiring - thank you for taking the time to do this! I just found this blog and am adding it to my reader. We have two Greys - One ex racer since June, and the second one came to us in August (Just because you can't just have ONE grey! haha) I'm off to read more on your blog!

Jenny said...

I have a new adopted racer and just found your blog, and it's so inspiring to see how well trained greyhounds can be (with excellent trainers, anyway! of which I am not sure I can be one). I tried this method today with my Lola, and I got her to go down on her shoulders through my leg, but I couldn't get her to go all the way down. I tried placing my hand on her rear end without pushing, but if just confused her. I hope when I try again tomorrow it will, but do you have any tips for how to make it happen?
Thanks for the helpful video!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Jenny, take your time. He doesn't have to lie down the first time you try it. Make sure you are on a confortable floor your greyhound would want to lie on. Once your greyhound is under you leg just keep him there on his elbows until she gets tired and lies down.