In addition to making new friends, Henry and I have been working on basic obedience behaviors, including sit, down, eye contact, come, go to bed (go into his crate), and more. Henry’s a fast learner and seems to enjoy the training!
This past week, we started working on down. This actually was very difficult for Henry! He figured out almost immediately how to lie down when asked on the couch, but could not figure out how to lie down on hard surfaces, such as on my hardwood floors.
So, this made teaching this behavior a bit more of a challenge! However, it’s not unusual for a dog to be able to do a behavior on one type of surface and have no idea how to do it somewhere else. When I taught my parent’s dog Ginger to bow, I taught the behavior originally on the linoleum floor in the kitchen. After she got good at this, we started practicing in other rooms of the house. At first, Ginger would not, could not bow on the carpet. She just couldn’t figure out how to do it and I had to reteach the behavior from step one in the living room on the carpet.
What you’ll see in the video below is actually one of the intermediate steps in our training plan. We started on the couch. Then I moved on to having Henry lie down on a thick, fluffy towel. First the towel was on the couch and then it was on the ground. Next, we graduated to a thin hand towel. At this point, we tried on the hardwood floor again, but with no success!
So, Henry then learned how to lie down on the living room rug (which you will see in the video), then the rug in the kitchen, and finally on my thin door mat. From there, we went back to the hardwood floor and Henry was able to pretty quickly figure out what to do.
This series of steps served two purposes. First, Henry started to learn that he could lie down when asked on a variety of different surfaces that varied based on color, texture, and hardness. Also, when we began, lying down on the couch was easy, but lying down on the hardwood floor was impossible. So, these steps gradually took Henry from “easier” surfaces to surfaces that were more and more similar to the hardwood floor. We added in enough steps so that each new step was fairly similar to the last one. This helped Henry succeed at each step.
Finally, in the video you will see the very beginning of teaching Henry to stay. When we started working on down, Henry would willingly go into the down position. However, he would then quickly pop back up into a stand. So, in the video you will see that I am feeding him several treats while he is in the down position, to encourage him to stay down for a longer duration of time. When I toss a treat to the side, this is his signal to get up.
Watch on YouTube: Henry practices lying down