Why is it sometimes so hard to get little dogs to down?

I never see a problem with the big guys, just the little tykes. There's usually at least one in every class who takes weeks to get into a down and doesn't pop back up into a standing position when he's almost down there.

Other than physically manipulating them into the position, do you have any suggestions for how to coerce these little stinkers into a down? I've tried luring under an upraised leg, using different surfaces (i.e., a dog bed instead of the cold floor), using power treats to lure while backing them up against a wall (they normally skitter backwards also). Some will get it, some won't.

I've yet to have one who wouldn't down at all ever, but one didn't get it until the last week of class.
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Why is it sometimes so hard to get little dogs to down? I never see a problem with the big ... power treats to lure while backing them upagainst a wall (they normally skitter backwards also). Some will get it, somewon't.

We have experienced the same phenonmenon.
Either I think they are closer to the ground and the difference between stand and lie down isn't understandable, or down is just too threatening to a little dog in a new place.
A technique i used that i read online somewhere involved luring the dog under your leg with a treat. Leg should be low enough to the ground that dog must lie down to get the treat.
worked quite well.
We have experienced the same phenonmenon. Either I think they are closer to the ground and the difference between stand ... Leg should be low enough to the ground that dog must lie down to get the treat. worked quite well.

Beth I know I mentioned to you that Reznor took much longer to "down". But one day he just did it. All along that little stinker knew exactly what I was asking him to do. But I do think it has to do with they are already so low to the ground that a "down" just doesn't seem like the right request.

I really am not sure of this, since I am not a trainer and would love to hear others opinions on this
manner. Like Janet's, LynnK's and Diane B.
He knows it very well now. And just falls to the ground when asked. Now to get him to stay in that position. But I admit I haven't worked hard enough with that yet.
Gwen
A technique i used that i read online somewhere involved luring the dog under your leg with a treat. Leg should be low enough to the ground that dog must lie down to get the treat. worked quite well.

For, say, a husky-sized dog, kneel on one leg and form a right angle to the floor with the other, then lure the dog through. I actually haven't found it to be more effective than a plain old lure to the ground.

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Other than physically manipulating them into the position, do you have any suggestions for how to coerce these little stinkers into a down?

Erm... first, drop the idea that you're going to "coerce" them into anything. :-)
I've tried luring under an upraised leg, using different surfaces (i.e., a dog bedinstead of the cold floor), using power treats to lure while backing them upagainst a wall (they normally skitter backwards also).

What worked with Rocsi was getting her to pounce at my fingers, then gradually shaping it into a full drop into a down. What did NOT work was any form of trying to physically manipulate her.
She thinks "down" is a trick, and therefore fun. Then again, that's how I approach most of my training with her; with a JRT, it's most effective to get them to think it's their idea. ;-D
Oh yes- I sat, and sometimes lay, on the floor with her while doing this. The floor in the training room at K-pup is carpet over fairly well-sprung boards; it's a nice flat surface which is neither slippery, cold, or overly soft (dog bed is going to confuse the issue, because the motion to lie down in it is going to be different).
If the surface is an issue for your little'uns, might work better if their owners were to get them a piece of carpet. If they're thinking of training a "place" or "go to bed" command, the carpet could become "place". Don't know if PetsMart's regimen allows for that, though.

Going back to sitting down on her level- for a small dog, having the human looming/bending over them while trying to teach anything, especially down, can be counterproductive. And as I think you already know, down is a vulnerable position, and a mini dog in the middle of a class of large ones may be reluctant to make itself vulnerable.
This is probably especially true in the tight space you've got to work in, unfortunately.
Why is it sometimes so hard to get little dogs to down?

One thing that's worked for me albeit I've never done real work with a small dog is this:
Take a good, stinky treat in your hand. Kneel or sit on the ground. Put the treat in your fist, and put the fist against your knee on the ground. Your hand needs to touch the ground. Eventually the dog will crouch down with the front. Usually if you gently push the rear down, that will go down too (with the other hand, of course, not the one with the treat). As their rear hits, say "down" and give them the treat. Get them back up by tossing another treat out, then repeat for a few minutes.
~Emily
Why is it sometimes so hard to get little dogs to down?

Other's have had good suggestions. I've been working on bow with Bonnie (BC mix) by taking a treat and pushing it into her chest. This usually gets me a down.
I've seen the under the leg thing work, but you have to be sitting on the ground and make a smallish opening for them to go through.
Otherwise, I'd probably try to catch them when they go to lie down themselves and capture that with
a clicker. Owner would have to be observant and
really patient.
Mary
Otherwise, I'd probably try to catch them when they
go to lie down themselves and capture that with a clicker. Owner would have to be observant and really patient. Mary

That is precisely how I went about it with Reznor. It worked but it did seem to take much longer then I would have expected.
Gwen
Why is it sometimes so hard to get little dogs to down?

Very common. It's a big scary world for the little guys. I usually have a small table in my class for the little ones- put them on that to work on the down. But the owner needs to work on it at home in the quiet of the home when others aren't around. Also get them to capture it at home and reinforce, although pretty unrealistic expectations for most owners.
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