Drop in Motion / Drop on Recall is a common exercise in many obedience competitions but it’s also an invaluable safety net for the family pet owner as well where anything that helps us with control at a distance is a marvellous thing!
This is a great exercise, not least because as it forces you to practice the Down first (you can’t train the drop-in-motion unless you have the drop in place!).
Step 1. Stationary Down
The first step in teaching a moving down is getting a stationary down from a distance. If you haven’t trained this before a front foot target is very helpful for teaching this, something fairly flat that serves as a positional aid for your dog as shown in the video.
Place your foot target on the ground and click & treat when your dog puts his front paws on it. You can free shape this or use a lure to help your dog understand.
With your dog standing with his front paws on the target cue him to lie down and click/treat when he does.
Gradually build up your distance away from your dog when you give the cue and soon you’ll have a stationary down at a distance.
Step 2. Adding the Movement
Once you have a nice stationary down at a distance, you can start to add the moving element.
Move your dog back away from the target by tossing a treat behind him and as he comes forward cue him to lie down when he reaches the target. If you did last week’s shaping exercise with the towel you and your dog should find this easy.
Slowly add distance from the target for both the dog and you but be sure to only add one distance element at a time. Distance from the dog to the target is harder because the dog will be moving more quickly. You may need to cue your down a little sooner.
Step 3. Transfer the Moving Down to Heel Position
Once you have a good drop out of motion in front, you can put it into heel position.
Your dog may need a bit of extra help with this.
You can do some Down practice with you staying in heel position first, rewarding, then moving forward, and slowly turning that into down while you move away.
You can also cue the down and then pivot in front of the dog to help his understanding and use an additional cue like ‘Wait’ if you need to. Once he understands you can stop saying your additional cue.
Do heel past the target too because you want him to know it’s about you asking for the down, not a case of just heading for the target!
When you feel he understands the moving down, you can start circling the dog and going back to heel. He shouldn’t get up from the down until you either release him or cue heel and go forward.
Step 4. Fading the Foot Target
Finally, you fade the use of the foot target. You may need to pause a little to help your dog be successful at first but eventually you’ll be able to fade out the pause too.
Step 5. Practice Outside
Once you’ve faded out the aids you’ll be ready to train in a different area and ultimately train outside on your walks.
As you move to practice outside on your daily walks, remember you have two primary reinforcers with this behaviour: the treat, and the game of your dog jumping up on cue and running to or after you (Recall to Heel which we looked at last week). This exercise therefore allows for a lot of play - take advantage of it!
When you are running back to your dog to give him the treat for dropping you’re clicking the down but when you add in the element of dropping and then coming running to you afterward always click and reward the secondary recall.
Be patient as you work through the steps with your dog and in no time at all, you’ll have a great moving down / drop in motion behaviour.