Pat table and call the dog on it. Entice with toy or goodie on the table. As dog begins to understand handler should then begin to back away and run up to the table. As soon as the dog shows an understanding of this, downing on the table should be introduced. Handlers who have a dog that resists downing on the table should be advised to work on downs in various places on various surfaces away from the table so that it doesn't become an issue in the dog's mind. (Katie Greer)
Try teaching the dog to do a "u-turn" ON the table (to turn back towards you) as he is in the process of jumping up and lying down. This very efficiently checks the dogs forward momentum but still allows an extremely quick down on the table.
From the beginning, teach that the Table command means jump up and lie down. With a very enthusiastic dog, this can result in a dog that hits the table at top speed, actually lies down while he is in the air, and then promptly slides off the other side of the table on his belly. Given that it is often counter-productive to teach a dog to slow down for any obstacle, the U-turn method is an excellent alternative.
As the dog is jumping up on the table, use a food lure to swing him immediately back towards you as he is lying down. Most dogs will get the hang of this very quickly and learned to always turn back towards you as they go up on the table. Basically, it became all one fluid motion--he should jump up for the table, start putting on the brakes to turn back to you, and lie down ALL AT THE SAME TIME--no waste of time and no sliding off the back of the table.
As the dog gets good at the game, you--the handler--can work on positioning yourself in the correct place (as you're sending the dog to the table) so that the dog will turn in the direction you want to go next.
You can use a table to teach the "go ahead" command. Why? Because it's easy to set up -- the dog has to get up on it to get the reward, and because quite frequently the table is the final obstacle in the gamble. If nothing else, it teaches a willing "table". You begin by putting the target (food, toy, etc.) on the table, showing it to the dog, then taking him back 20 feet or so away, and saying "GO get it!" You do NOT ask the dog to down on the table.
Gradually increase distance until the dog will run happily to the table from 50 or 60 feet away. Then begin putting one jump in the path. Then two. Then maybe adding a tunnel. Unless your dog has impeccable contacts, don't use a contact obstacle. To wean the dog off of the rewards, vary the timing. Sometimes the reward is on the table, sometimes not.(Jo Ann Mather)
To teach a quick fold on the table, first teach the fold on the ground:
With your dog standing in front of you, treats in your right fist, left hand empty and at the ready.... put your right fist on the ground between your dogs front toes. He will put his nose on your fist. When he does he will be presenting the front of his shoulders to you. Gently place the palm of your left hand on the front of the shoulders and gently guide the dog backwards towards the tail. Do not push straight DOWN! Gently guide towards the tail. Dog will relax and fold backwards, without moving the feet. When the dog hits the ground, your fist magically opens to reveal the treat. Dog learns that to get the treat all he has to do is fold. (Do not say down! Give no command at this time!)
Do this several times until your dog starts to anticipate and fold before you touch his shoulders. For most dogs this takes only a few minutes. Then take your act to the table. (If dog has never been on table, have him get on table a few times first) Tell the dog "Table" and then as dog is leaping onto the table, put your fist on the table edge opposite to the one the dog is jumping onto. Have dog fold like you did on the ground. Help him with your left hand the first few times. When dog folds, hand opens to reveal the treat. Do this several times. There is no other command except "Table". Resist the urge to tell the dog to Down! Table = Down on it. No other command necessary!!!!
After several repetitions the dog will be anticipating and folding without you. If not, do this. Hold your fist on the table and just wait, test to see if the dog "gets it". Most dogs will go down eventually, If not take dog off and do several reps and test again. Don't worry about how fast dog downs at first. Dog will realize that the faster the down the faster the hand opens.
So now the dog, with the command "Table", will jump up and fold down with your fist on the table. Now gradually fade your hand (over the next few reps) horizontally away from the table edge. Your dog should now be folding with your fist level with the table but several inches away, without your help.
Next is to try to assume an upright posture. First, gradually (over the next few reps) fade your fist to your leg. You should still be in a stooped position but now your fist is against your leg. If dog folds with this, start fading body posture to an upright position.
You can generally go from folding on the ground, to folding on the table (without help) in about 15 minutes or less.
The problem is with dogs and old habits. Once you have taught the dog to fold, don't accept anything less than that on the table, It will take longer for a crossover dog to do it reliably. Be patient and the only correction is no cookie, then try again and help if necessary. The dog needs to succeed.
After this first session or two, gradually require more and more from your dog. Cookies only for faster folds. Folds with you at a greater distance from the table. Sending to the table to require dog to turn and fold, etc.
Bait on the pause table can be quite useful. It does a great job of getting the dogs to like the table, and also encourages them to run ahead of the handler and jump on independently and stay there. Of course, one does have to go on to teach a quick down on the table, but the baiting method provides a good basis from which to build. Also since some dogs tend to jump onto the table too fast and skid off the far side, it is necessary to teach them to get on and stay on before worrying about the down.
Once getting the dog on the table is solid, teaching the dog to down automatically is really easy. Just clicker train it. Click and treat if the dog does down without being told to. If the dog is too slow, just say "wrong" and start over. Gradually raise the criteria for what is quick enough. After a few sessions of that, you should get automatic downs every time.
You might wish to use a temporary command, like "up", until you have a solid automatic down on the table, and then attach the real command (i.e.,. "table"), which would mean to get on the table and down automatically.
If you show in AKC, and the table is supposed to be a sit, just wait until the dog is down on the table and then bring her up to a sit. This does not lose much time. The sit is more solid if you bring the dog up from a down into the sit. If you take the dog from a stand down to a sit, she may be tempted to continue all the way down.
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