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Training Exercise of the Week: Moving Down (Rally)

I'll be on vacation next week and am SUPER EXCITED. I'm going on a little road trip with my mom to South Dakota. We'll see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and all the other sights. While I'm gone, why don't you give this "Moving Down" exercise a try?

"Moving Down" is part of the Rally Obedience series in the new Give a Dog a Job program. The rally version of "moving down" has the handler halt beside the dog after the dog lies down, while the competitive obedience has the handler keep moving forward while the dog remains down. This video shows the first part of the rally version. (The second part is, after the dog lies down, you heel forward with it. This morning me and 6-month-old Halo were drilling just the "down" portion of it.

Can you do the moving down?! Here's how to get started!

First, your dog needs to know how to lie down. 

Then he needs it on verbal cue so that you don't have to point or lure towards the ground.

Then you'll probably need some practice with just "down" in heel position. Usually dogs are trained "down" in front position (so they are facing you) or they trained "down" while you sit on a sofa (or at Starbucks LOL!) So lying down in heel position seems a little foreign to them and they need just a little bit of practice with reinforcement (treats!) in position. If they're trying to swing out in front of you when they lie down, you can practice it with your dog alongside a wall or something so it remains straight.

Now you can warm your dog up by doing a lot of halt-sit-down combos. If your dog has an automatic sit when you halt, then just cue down right after he sits. If he doesn't sit automatically, you can cue sit, then cue down.

Do several of these until he's doing it really quickly. You're working for precision here, so you should be using treat rewards.

After a few halt-sit-down combos, heel forward, skip the sit and just cue "down." I find that it helps to do a sort of half-halt type thing where you freeze mid-step for just a nano-second, without the official halt/feet together/shoulders back thing that usually cues sit. In fact I'll sometimes have my shoulders a bit forward.

The Yes-point (moment where you mark the behavior with "Yes" or click) is the dog's elbows touching the floor, and then the Treat Placement is between the front legs so that the dog remains down as it's eating the treat.

Give it a try! Good luck!

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