White terrier mix dog standing in a green field with a red collar on

Down, Verbal Cue

Now we are going to practice with our verbal cue for “down.” This exercise will be done on the mat. As was noted when discussing hand signals it will be very important to vary the pattern of your reinforcement, and cues. Don’t become too predictable, or you will find that your dog will offer behaviors because they are anticipating a behavior chain, and not because they are learning to discriminate between various cues. Lead your dog to place and provide somewhere between 2 – 5 rewards, now stand with a straight back and issue a verbal cue for “down” and then prompt your dog to follow through on the cue by lowering your torso, arm and hand toward the mat. If your dog drops into a down position you are going to immediately mark “good” and then deliver reinforcement. After delivering your reward you are going to draw your hands back to your belly, stand straight, mark “good” and then bend down to deliver another reward. Repeat this 3, 4 or 5 times. Once you have decided to deliver the final reward you are going to issue a release cue and lead your dog off the mat. Do 2 or 3 sets.

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