Purpose of the Down position

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  • #4634
    Sharon JenningsSharon Jennings
    Participant

    Hi Shaun,

    I posted it in the general discussion area as I felt it wasn’t a specific question to just me and maybe of help to others, even though I used my dog as an example.  You’ve done a great job in teaching me what it is I need to know about my dogs and how to read them.  There’s been significant progress with them both despite their very different personalities.  The Down position is something I will start to add in more often when I am out as I really appreciate the need by those who are ‘fearful’ of dogs and who could appreciate the act of the dog being obedient in their presence by the owner.  I just have to get them to do the Down position without me having to squat at the same time with a cocktail sausage at my fingertips :D.

    #4628

    An interesting question. Please note that you have posted this in a public area so let me know if you did not intend to, only public to TWOTD clients. Of course you may be interested in their thoughts and they are welcome to comment should we leave it here.

    The down position has multiple uses and for many different reasons. There is no hard and fast rule about what control positions you should use. I like to teach down, sit, stand, as the three core static positions. Once established you could call upon these positions for any reason at anytime. I am not sure that it is any more important than a sit or a stand? It depends on where yu are getting your information from in relation to answering that matter. It’s only an important position if its important to the owner as far as I am concerned.

    The down position is about ensuring that your dog has full contact with the ground and the dog should be taught not to break this position without permission. Outside of the training area I use down when I am on the moors and people are passing me or at feeding time. When on the moors I find that perception from non dog owners is that the dog is under control, I receive many comments to that effect. Perhaps there is a psychological element on that person’s part in that they believe that the dog won’t move. You might say that the down is the easiest for the dog to hold for a period of time as it can relax. a prolonged stand requires concentration, where a dog that is relaxed when in the sit might drop to the down.

    In relation to your second question yes you should insist on a down being a down. In terms of instinct a dog might feel more vulnerable in the down position because it has a lowered position and may feel that it is not able to take flight quickly enough should a situation demand or present a threat to the other dog by enlarging its own posture. However, take this into consideration recent studies have identified the down position as a potential tactical edge for some dogs in that they are in an ideal position to launch an attack at the oncoming dog’s neck. In respect of Meg she might be struggling to hold the down because she is just not comfortable with what is going on around her and that is what requires focus not necessarily the down.

    It is the case that you have take your own dogs personality profile in to consideration and work out what is best for her. In respect of my own dog’s I use all three positions interchangeably and without any predictability on the dog’s part as I want them to listen and adopt the position that I ask or tell them to take for whatever reason that I choose.


    Shaun Hesmondhalgh MCFBA, MBIPDT, MEWI

    #4616
    Sharon JenningsSharon Jennings
    Participant

    Further to our Behaviour Modification Training, I have persisted with teaching the Down position to a reasonable success – indoors.  I understand the Down position can be used if the dog is across the street and you don’t want it to run toward you, but why else or where else could this, very often quoted as important position, be used.

    Also, does the Down position affect any other aspects of a dog’s behaviour?  For example, Meg is territorial and barks when she is approached by persons and dogs unknown.  She can approach but has a lot to say if they approach her, if she is in the Down position during an outdoor training session should I insist that she stay there despite it may be going against her instincts to put herself into a different position? She could be smarter than me and more observant than me, and whilst I understand obedience training is important is there a point where it could be detrimental to the dog?

    Hope you can help. Thanks, Sharon.

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