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— January 7, 2014 —

This week’s Tail is brought to you by Doggie Manners with Patience. Patience apprenticed at Bark Avenue Playcare, Inc and learned about the “Long Down” as part of our program. Many trainers use the Long Down, or a Place command. I happen to use my famous green boxes at Bark Avenue. Here is part of the reason why.

The Long Down
by Doggie Manners with Ms. Manners
(Patience Hayes)

What is a Long Down and What is it Good For?

I can see it my client’s eyes; they are watching me and they are kind of listening, but they have questions. “Why are we doing this?!” While I am working with their dog and explaining, I can see that they’ve already tuned out, not hearing my explanations…not that I worry, mind you; the dogs always learn the task, owners generally include this exercise in their training homework, but many remain slightly puzzled about its benefits.

The short answer is, “Try this at home on rainy days and see if you can tell the difference.” The results, however, may be too subtle to tell in one afternoon. I can relate this to a doctor’s anecdote: Dr. Smith prescribes pill-x to Mr. Grubbs; Mr. Grubbs calls Dr. Smith two days later to tell him that the medicine is not working…

Mr. Grubbs: “This pill is not doing anything!”
Dr. Smith: “Well, how are your symptoms, Mr. Grubbs?”
Mr. Grubbs: “Oh, them, why, they’re about gone. That’s not the problem; it’s this medicine; it’s not doing anything.”

Pill-x works without any noticeable side effects, so the patient assumes that pill isn’t working. In the meantime, his illness clears up!

Now, I’m not going to promise you that regularly practicing “long downs” with your dog will fix all ills, but I will tell you that such practice will improve the life of your dog and help to curb unwanted behaviors. Huh?!

First, let me explain what a “long down” is: It is otherwise known as a “down-stay”, but generally, I will have your dog perform this for longer periods — a half hour minimum. Yes, an hour or more. At this point, some of you might be thinking that my “long downs” are just too much for your sweet doggie, but, trust me. They are not!

There are two major benefits to the long down. One is that your dog learns restraint. He learns to hold himself back. That is a big deal! If a new person or a new dog walks in the room, your dog is likely to be up and investigating. If a ball rolls in front of him, or a cat runs through the yard, dogs are up and on their feet, checking things out, or chasing, whichever the situation requires. Once your dog learns to maintain his position in a down, until your release command, he must hold himself back through whatever happens. This is no easy task for most dogs! If you stepped into my parlor on any given day, you might see a “newby” to the practice, practically trembling in his long down! He may look scared, if you didn’t know any better, but, actually he is working harder than he’s ever worked before, which brings me to the second major benefit…

Long downs make good dogs. That’s right! A favorite saying of dog-trainers is, “A worn out dog is a good dog!” It might surprise you to hear that staying in one place can wear a dog out more than a brisk walk, but it’s true. Most dog behavior is based on instinct, but the long down tires them out, because it makes them use their brains! Today, I put my dogs in a long down, while I cooked. It was a rainy day, and they hate rain, so there wasn’t much exercise, but as soon as dinner was over, they passed out as if we’d walked for miles! Every time you take advantage of a long down, your dog’s obedience will get a boost! Practicing long downs is also practicing restraint. Practicing long downs gives your dog an “activity”. He may not look active, but he sure is doing something! Every time you give your dog a job, he has an activity. With every activity, the chance of your Jimmy Choo’s survival is increased! Now do you see the benefits? :-)

Happy training,
“Miss Manners”

For more info about training in the Augusta, Georgia area please contact Patience at Doggie Manners with Patience. In Chicago contact Daniel at Bark Avenue Playcare.

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