The Long Down is one of the easiest exercises a person can do with your dog or pup 3 months or older. The Long down (LD) is also one of the most valuable exercises to get a dog to accept your dominance. It has numerous benefits for dogs and their owners.
- It teaches the dog that the human will reinforce their command for as long as it takes. It establishes leadership in a non-violent and non-confrontational manner.
- Teaches the dog to control himself.
- Builds confidence in dogs because it teaches them self-control.
- Establishes leadership over an overly confident dog because it teaches them that you are more stubborn than they are in getting what you want.
- It can stop a dog/dog and dog/human aggression.
- Very useful during dinner time to prevent begging at the table.
To initiate this lesson with your dog, begin with a time when you will be sitting down at the same spot for a half-hour period. Watching TV, reading a book etc.
- With the leash on, sit on the floor beside your dog in such a position that you can easily use your arms to put him down in the same place if he gets up.
- Gently place your dog in the down position as you say “Down”. If a puppy rolls on his back it is fine as long as he is down.
- Sit on the leash so that he can’t get far should he try to get up, but leave the leash loose so that he is not aware that you’re touching it.
- Do not touch your dog or let your dog touch you unless you have to put him or her back down.
- If your dog moves, gently replace him/her without saying a word. Smile as you do this and do not get frustrated. He must learn that you are inflexible and his leader.
- He can lie in any position he feels comfortable, so long as he does not move from the original spot.
- After 30 minutes, give your dog a release command such as “OK”, even if he has gone to sleep. Never just let him get up when you are doing the LD, he must know when you have released him.
- After a week or so of daily practice, your dog will have a better idea of who is in charge and if he is reliably doing the LD with you beside him, you are ready for Phase II. Do not move to Phase II until Phase I has been mastered.
- Do everything the same as in Phase I except now you sit in a chair or on the couch beside your dog with your dog on the floor.
- After your dog is reliably doing LD with you beside him/her, you are ready for Phase III. Do not move to Phase III until Phase II has been mastered.
- Do everything the same as in Phase II except you sit in a chair or on the couch with your dog on the floor across the room.
- You can try moving around the room, but remain in the room with your dog.
- After your dog is reliably doing the LD with you beside him, you are ready for Phase IV. Do not move to Phase IV until Phase III has been mastered.
- Do everything the same as in Phase III except you sit or stand with your back to your dog with your dog on the floor across the room.
- You do not have to keep your back turned the entire time but spend at least a few minutes not facing your dog. This can be uncomfortable for some dogs and therefore helps with learning self-reliance. It also helps to move on to the next phase, which is leaving the room.
At this point, you should be able to leave the room for a few minutes at a time and your dog will maintain the Down. Build up slowly, and eventually, you can leave the room for the entire 30 minutes but leave the door open. Please remember to build up slowly. If at any point your dog has trouble with a phase, returned to the previous phase and build up again.
Repeat the long down 3 to 5 times per week in the beginning, and then randomly later on to reinforce.
Soon it should be possible to do the LD outside the home and on the training field.
Practice the long down when:
- your dog is tired
- after he or she has been exercised
- when interruptions are unlikely
- when there are no distractions
- when you are not tired
Dogs that persist in inappropriately exerting their dominance should be put on a program of frequent daily downs. �