3 Tips To Help Perfect Your Puppy’s Down-Stay

Good Down Stay

Good Down Stay

Yep, it takes time to teach your puppy a good down-stay.  Your puppy is not born knowing how to perform a “down” or a “stay” let alone both at the same time. Sorry, we’re not going to teach you how to train your puppy to down-stay today.  Instead here are some more advanced tips on how to perfect that down-stay.

3 Tips To Help Perfect Your Puppy’s Down-Stay

1. DISTANCE

See the picture above.  Can you guess the order of age in the picture?  If you said the closest puppy (yellow Lab) is Adelle 1 year old, Stetson in the middle is 7 years old and Linus in the back is 9 years old then I’d say you’re either my mother or you’ve been following the blog very closely, thank you!

  • Adelle is the youngest and least experienced so I keep the distance shortest in her down-stay.
  • Stetson is second because he’s older and more experienced.
  • Linus is our old timer and most experienced pup so we trust him from a far distance.

Tip: When you first start working on your down-stays keep the distance between you and your puppy very short (we are directly in front of our puppy not more than a few inches when we first start down-stays with our 7-8 week old pups).  Start increasing the distance as your puppy gets older and more experienced.

2. TIME

If you look at the above picture can you imagine how it was shot?  If you said I put Linus in a down-stay then put Stetson in a down-stay then put Adelle in a down-stay and finally took a few steps back and snapped a picture then you’re 2 for 2…get out of my head! :)

Tip: The second big component when working on down-stay is time.  Again it’s just like distance.  You want to start off with a very short period of time.  As your puppy gets more experienced start increasing the time.  We start training our puppies when they are 7-8 weeks old.  Needless to say when our puppies are this young we only expect maybe a 5-10 second down-stay and increase from there.

3. DISTANCE + TIME

Once you get the basic down-stay working I’m sure if you’re like me you want to jump ahead and have your puppy in a down-stay for 5 minutes from a distance of 20 yards!  Not a good idea…

Tip: When working on your distance and time I’d suggest you work on increasing either one or the other, but don’t try to jump ahead and increase both distance and time in one training session.  Your puppy might very well be a superstar and be successful every time on his first try, but if your pup happens to fail it could set you back on your training.  Be patient and work on one thing at a time.

That’s it!  I hope those few tips help you perfect your puppy’s down-stay.  I’m sure there are tons of other things we can do to help our puppies with their training.  Do you have any tips on how to perfect a puppy’s down-stay?  If so, tell us your tips in the comment section below.  Thanks for stopping by!

Comments

  1. says

    We’re currently working on this with our 4H kids and I’ve told them the same thing. I also tell them to be inconsistent with the time, so that they don’t learn that one minute means “Oh, I’m done and I’m getting a treat right now!” Sometimes a little longer and sometimes a little shorter than your target time helps to keep their focus on you.

    And it’s always nice to see you posting! :)

    • says

      That’s a great tip! Puppies are so smart they can often times anticipate what we want them to do. It is definitely a good idea to vary your times when working on down-stays!

  2. says

    I find movement is another factor to work on. After all, we don’t need our dogs to down/stay only when we’re still. Sometimes we need them to do it when there’s a lot of activity around them. And activity is very stimulating to dogs.

    When Honey was a puppy, I’d have her down/stay while I moved very slowly. We built up over time to walking around her and then jumping around her.

    • says

      That’s a great tip Pamela and very important for our guide dog puppies! One of our trainers has several items up her sleeve during our pup’s down-stays: a remote control car, tennis balls, plush dog toys, french fries, and all sorts of other distractions she puts right in front of our puppies. Of course she also brings out strangers walking through the park and asks them to be distractions as well. Different kinds of movement, different people, and different objects can all be distracting during a down-stay.

      One other tip that I just thought of after reading your comment we do during down-stays and recalls. We put our pups in a down-stay, walk away from our pup then instead of saying “Come” or “Fido” we say something like “Banana” or “Apple” in an excited tone. Of course saying those words should mean nothing and our pup should remain in a down-stay. We do this to enforce that the recall word is only our pup’s name, “Come”, or whatever word you are using for recall.

      Thanks for the great tip!

  3. Allison says

    These are great reminders! I always get excited when my puppy learns a new command and think that now that they have done it once….they know it! I have to remember to practice and to not get too ahead of myself with their training.

  4. says

    Such important tips. I think the number one mistake people make is too much distance too quickly. The dog just ends up getting up and then the owner says “he just doesn’t get it.” Well, you need to work on the basics first.

    Another mistake many people make is to keep repeating the command. “Stay … stay … stay.” I’m probably guilty of that too at times.

    Question for you: When you tell a dog “down” does this imply “stay”? Or do you only add “stay” when you will be walking away? This is an area where I could be more consistent for my dog.

    • says

      Great tips, Lindsay! Another good one is not to use your puppy’s name when using “stay”. For instance, “Fido, Stay” Your pup’s name should be synonymous with “come”. If you end up using your pup’s name with “stay” he will get confused and it will take him longer to learn.

      When you tell a dog “down” does this imply “stay”? Yes, but only when they get older. When we work on “down” and “sit” our pup’s eventually understand that the stay is implied. One of the exercises we do is walk in a straight line, say “sit”, drop the leash, and keep walking. We don’t say “stay”, but like you mentioned our older pup’s at this point understand that it is implied.

      • says

        Oh I see! Also, good point about the name. I am aware that it’s best only to use their name if you want them to come or follow you, but I’m pretty sure I make the mistake of using “Ace, stay” quite often.

        • says

          I know these rules and I still make the same mistakes. “Stetson, Stay” and “No, Stetson”. Those are the two no-no’s in our puppy raiser manual.

  5. says

    thanks for these great tips Colby. We’re working on it at the moment to train Chomp to sit like yours in the pic above. Love them!

  6. says

    I am always curious when it comes to training techniques, personally our team has a similar strategy. Consistency and rewarding the dogs for doing the right thing and ONLY when they do the right thing (otherwise they get confused and start doing all sorts of things) worked best for us but I guess it is also like Cesar Millan says, keeping the calm and assertive energy and not losing patience :)
    Kind regards from Tiersitting Wien

    • says

      Yes! However, timing is everything. If you’re timing is off you may inadvertently be rewarding your dog for the wrong behaviors. Thanks for stopping by.

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