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  • Writer's pictureKari Bastyr, MS, CDBC, CPCN

Dog Training: Working on Down Stay for Impulse Control

Luna and I have been working together since she was 8 weeks old. For a doodle, she is actually fairly calm, but sometimes, she has what I call ‘Doodle Brain’. She gets over-the-top excited when people come to the door, and is so amped up, it’s difficult for her to calm down so she can focus on what she should be doing.  Of course this is common for many puppies, not just Doodles.

Last week we started working on Down Stays with reward intervals.  Sit stays are much easier for her, while down stays have been challenging for prolonged periods of time.  She does very well if there are no distractions, but add in a door knock, or someone talking in the other room, and she goes form zero to 60 immediately. I started with a 3 second interval and rewarded her DURING her stay. A couple things to note:

1- I am down on the floor with her, so she doesn’t have the inclination to jump up on me.

2- I am rewarding her between her paws on the ground. If I were standing, or she were sitting, the reward would be going in to her mouth at a high angle, which may cause her to jump. This way, she learns to look at the ground, causing the opposite of jumping.

3- I am praising her with ‘Good Stay’ during the stay. While I don’t want to talk too much, this is important because I want to mark the behavior I want (Stay). AS I increase the interval, the reward markers will become less and less, because the intervals will become longer. i.e, I will increase to 5 seconds, then 6, then 7, etc.

4- I lured her to her ‘Place’ to start, which she is very good at already.

5- I also used her ‘Settle’ command, so she relaxed on her side. She wasn’t in a ‘pounce’ position with her back legs, but a more relaxed down with her back legs laying to the side.

For this exercise, my focus was working on a 30-second Down Stay with 3-second intervals. Then release at the end.

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