“Down” – lies the alpha and omega of the dog’s entire training. Only the master of training can train the dog “down” at any time. How to Teach Hunting Dog the Down Command? This command requires a lot of invested time, work, and patience to master the dog well. This command has been a dog exercise all his life.
There are not many training dogs for hunting dogs. In part, they lack the skills but most often lack the effort and value. There is a lack of willpower to become a complete instructor and train a dog with understanding.
The dog’s subordination and obedience are essential for the successful training of hunting dogs.
The way a dog goes down on a “Down” command is a measure of his obedience. With this command, the hunter rules the dog and protects it from the mistakes it would make due to the hunting passion of the dog itself.
When the dog takes lying down position, the hunter has full control of the dog.
If this command is really very effective and the other commands almost go by themselves.
Certainly, this does not mean that any dog lying on the “Down” command will be good at aport and other hunting activities that are expected of him.
But we have achieved one thing forever: the dog is taught obedience – to submit to the will of the hunters.
We can easily break a dog’s confrontation with a hunter, which (often) can happen in disobedient dogs. The dog recognized the hunter as one he obeys.
Position of the dog at the command “Down”
While the dog is commanding this command, let the dog keep its head on the ground or on its front legs.
Already, this position alone creates a sense of submission and conquest and the dog loses the ability to withstand the hunter.
Therefore, in basic training, the dog must be taught with the utmost rigor and consistency, precisely, the execution of this command (action).
Care must be taken to carry out the command quickly and accurately to the extreme. Adjusted strength and damping should be used here.
For decades, I have not used a trumpeter, but in this exercise, in particularly stubborn dogs, I use a cane and barbed collar, if necessary, and in accordance with the dog’s disobedience with which I work.
Of particular importance in this exercise is the position in which the dog’s head is positioned. The dog must learn that in this exercise he not only has to execute the command quickly but also that he must keep his head firmly on the ground or on his feet.
A non-expert hunter does not believe how important this little thing is in terms of obedience.
Hunters’ inconsistency, training through play, and superficiality never shine as in this command. This is the shop where most hunters experience failure.
Not learning aport is the biggest problem for the average trainer, but the correct, uncompromising, safe bringing the dog to the ground. And this action is crucial for successful training.
Break down the action into simple exercises:
1. Lying without the application of painful compulsion (pressing the dog with his hand, lifting his head with a light blow with a thin stick)
2. Stuck with a barbed collar and leash
3. Lying in position with a stick (the goal is to execute the command as quickly as possible)
4. Lying in position at the sign of the hand and the sound of the whistle (with a whistle with a ball, energetically, one whistle, from a sitting posture, then from a standing posture and walking)
5. Dog lying in position but away (call a dog with double short whistle sound, part without the ball – thriller)
6. Lying in motion in front of hunters
7. The command, “Down”, “Drop” or “Halt”, if desired, is essential to be short, audible and commanding
8. The visual command sign is a raised right hand.
Exercise number one: Learning to lay down
The dog sits on a leash, with a barbed collar around its neck with the hunter’s left leg.
The hunter drops the leash, with his left hand he presses the dog’s neck with his collar down and at the same time pulls the dog’s front legs forward with his right hand and issues a vigorous “down” command!
We said that everyone chooses which command lies with him, I use “droop”, often use “down”, as well as the command “deep” – important that it is short, audible and does not resemble any other command).
In soft, timid dogs, we initially work without a barbed collar, just pressing the dog’s neck. The dog repeatedly tries to get on its hind legs.
We deny this by pressing our left hand with our fingers along the loin of the back, creating an unpleasant feeling and holding it in the lying position for 30-40 seconds, then praising it.
In the first exercises, the importance of correct execution is not important, but we are extremely rigorous in watching the position of the dog’s head, and at no cost allow the dog to raise his head.
Have the dog sneak to the ground with his head between or on his front legs.
Our task is for the dog to understand that if he holds his head firmly on the ground he will not experience any discomfort, but if he raises his head or stands up, he will experience pain.
With the command “come” let him stand up. In this way, we also practice and reinforce the appeal – coming to the call of the hunters, because the dog can hardly wait to get rid of an uncomfortable position for him and gladly comes to the hunters.
Exercise number two: Down command and stay on the ground
When the dog is not trying to get up, which usually happens after 5-10 exercises, the hunter reduces the pressure on the dog’s neck, but if the dog tries to get up, immediately press the dog’s neck and the collar on it.
It needs to be repeated until the dog remains in place when we fold our hands.
Finish each exercise with the “Come” command and when the dog comes those few steps to the hunters praise him.
Let not praise be excessively generous.
Generally, during the learning of the “down” command, there is a somewhat strict atmosphere. More generous praise only follows if the dog is scared, or is not already responding to the old – shy praise.
The hunter is standing next to the dog, then above the dog (stepping over it) with a threatening rod in his hand (a thin stick) for about 1 minute.
If the dog tries to lift its head, react with a gentle or heavy blow to the head as needed.
It takes at least 20-30 repetitions within 2-3 days for the dog to understand that he must lie down on the ground with his head firmly on the “down” command and must remain so.
Exercise number three: Down command and self-restraint
The dog sits next to the hunter. The hunter holds a stick in his hand. The dog is on a leash and there is a barbed collar around his neck.
The hunter pulls the leash under his left foot, commands “Down!” And raises his hand with the stick upwards, while tightening the leash on the left to force the dog to lie down.
In case of stronger resistance to lying down or attempting to stand up immediately with the right hand and stick, punish the dog according to the dog’s hardness.
If the dog understands the command “Down!” We reduce coercion.
Some stronger impact immediately after the command has a positive effect on the speed of execution of this command.
From the beginning, we strive to teach the dog the quick execution of this command. Lest it occurs to him that looseness is possible. He must always experience that any delay and default is impossible.
From now on, we are making sure that the dog is properly brought into the recumbent position. Keep the dog resting on the hind legs, with the front legs extended forward and keeping the head glued to the ground or front legs.
Every little thing is important, and by no means insignificant and secondary. Most important is always the lightning-fast execution of the command. A dog that holds its head firmly on the ground will not try to get up.
Since later, in the field, at greater distances, the sound command (word) and hand sign cannot achieve the desired effect.
The dog does not hear the command or is not facing us to see the sign of the hand, we need another successful means of issuing the command – the sound of the whistle.
We use a bead whistle for this. It is heard from afar, acts as a shock, and is better than any other sound.
In two days, the dog will understand the essence of the sound of the whistle as follows: as soon as he learns to attach to the sign of the hand, the hunter no longer issues the command “Down” with the word but uses the whistle along with raising the hand.
If after 3 and 4 exercises the sound of the whistle is connected by a slight blow with the stick, the dog will already understand correctly what we want from it.
When the dog realizes what we want, we’re not done yet.
It should be practiced until the dog’s command becomes a habit. From that moment on, a lot of exercises and the insistence on correct execution is decisive.
Exercise number four: The hunter moves away from the dog
The dog is now in a reclining position. In the left hand of the hunter is a leash, in the right stick. He holds the stick over the dog’s head and steps two away from the dog. We punish any attempt to reach with a momentary command “Down!” And a measured blow with a stick.
If the dog is safely and properly rested, we stand behind him. Most likely he will now try to at least raise his head to see the hunter.
In the beginning, we stand behind him so that the stick reaches his head. Knowing the “power” of the threatening stick, he will most likely stay put. With his head on the ground.
Gradually increase the distance from the dog, go around it, exceed it, with the helper disturb him (call, throwing objects).
But the dog should always be on the leash when we continue to use a long leash, and remove any attempt to reach the command “Down!” Using a stick and collar.
If he would get up and try to escape, let him go, then vigorously stop – tear the long leash so that its prickly necklace would hurt him, bring him to where the dog lay and put him back down again.
Give the dog five minutes to lie still, whether the hunter is closer or farther away. The hunter does not allow the dog to distract him.
Later, when exercising, he has to stay much longer lying down, though not in such a rigorous pose, this is another task – postponement, that is, staying in the command post.
The speed of executing the “Down!” Command, almost instantaneously, is far more important than lying.
Exercise number five: “Down” from a standing position and walking
After safely performing the exercises from 1st to 4th, we are practicing standing and walking exercises.
Difficulties rarely occur, but some dogs in a new situation may avoid escaping. At no cost do we allow this kind of dog behavior! Immediately respond by pulling the leash or stick.
Exercise number six: Standing away from the hunter and from any harassment
When the dog on the raised hand and the whistle sign comes naturally and safely to the recumbent position, it means that the command is executed immediately and quickly and the command “come” reacts with pleasure we begin the practice of lying down. The dog is now away from the hunters.
Has the dog already advanced so much in training that he does not consider lying to be an unpleasant burden?
Then it does not seem overwhelmed after the command “Down!”, But acts liberated as if working quickly out of habit, with joy and naturally this action.
The hunter recognizes this condition by the fact that the dog quickly performs this action on command and with joy, quickly comes to the call to his hunters after it.
The dog sits, stands or moves on a long leash 2-4 meters away from the hunters.
At the moment when he does not expect that command, we issue an energetic “Down!” With his hand raised and a stick in it.
Usually, the dog commands immediately if we do not tear the leash and swing with the bar.
Make sure that the dog correctly enters the recumbent position. If we have done the exercises correctly and consistently so far, this one will not be a problem.
Gradually increase the distance, until the end of the length of our long leash, practice in the hunting area, and with disturbance factors.
We always command when the dog is not watching us but is busy with something else.
Compound conscious influences that distract the dog – crying rabbit (not to see the helper blowing in the invitation), bring the poultry close to the dog,. Or a foreign dog, put it in front of him, etc.
The bottom line is we always command “Down!” When the dog doesn’t expect it.
This exercise is very helpful with a fishing rod with a favorite object for aport at its end.
When he is chasing that object with passion, the mere sight of it excites the dog. This urge to grasp objects and excitement is even desirable when practicing and fixing long-distance slings.
One assistant runs a fishing rod. The dog moves past the hunter-gatherer with a barbed collar.
The assistant tosses the object at the end of the stalk to the ground.
It is almost certain that the dog would throw himself at the object so that we do not override it with the energetic “Down!” Command.
Let’s be sharp to get it right. It is very important for the dog to lie down without a mistake.
The assistant gently picks up the object and pulls it, the hunter making sure the dog stays in place.
Lifting the head here we can tolerate that it can keep the eye on the movement of the object. Most likely, the dog will excitedly, tremblingly follow the eye of the object being pulled by the helper.
If the dog stays in place and when the object is pulled faster, we move on to the second stage: we disconnect the dog from the leash with a whistle in the left and a stick in the other hand, next to the helper who moves the object with a fishing rod.
If it is repeated without a leash, we move on to chasing an object: the hunter urges the dog to catch – chasing the object on a fishing rod.
The dog starts to catch, and during chasing the command whistle “Down!”, The dog immediately lies down, then again send the dog to catch and in the chase again command the whistle and hand up.
If the first exercises were good we would have no difficulty. Here, where all the attention and effort of the dog are directed to the object we are occupying with his attention and moving there is no fear of escaping.
Let’s change: chase-down-chase-down-chase after an item and let it catch the item and bring it to the hunter. A dog who does this with joy will reflexively lie down on the command.
We always pay attention to the correct and prompt execution of the command, to punish every mistake immediately, if properly praised.
The dog should gain the experience of lying down, not uncomfortable for him, and therefore not experience discomfort.
If this exercise goes smoothly in one larger enclosure, garden or yard, we continue to exercise without a fishing rod.
But only when, after many, many repetitions, it fades without error, exactly as we wish.
Let’s not rush forward. The next step only follows if the previous one works flawlessly.
The exercise of the command “Down” can be considered complete when the execution is absolutely reflex.
Since this is not an inherited reflex but an acquired (conditioned reflex), exercise lasts for the entire life of the dog, but with a slightly lower intensity.
Finally, the “Down” command should be worked with disturbance in the field and forest (hunting ground) until, at about 150 meters, a lightning bolt on the command becomes natural for the dog.