How To Train Your Dog To “Drop On Recall”
The first time that you try a Drop on Recall with your dog, try to have the right attitude. If you have a negative attitude your dog will sense it, and you will probably show it when you give him the signal. Always expect your dog to do the work correctly. As you train each individual dog you will learn to read him so you can determine what his reactions will be to a given situation. For instance, a very sensitive dog will probably Drop fast the first time you give him the Down signal on a Recall, but he will turn so that he faces away from you. By giving this dog quick praise in a happy tone of voice, you will soon have him dropping fast and looking at you.
By communicating with your dog you will have a fast, happy, reliable, accurate worker. The handler who doesn't teach his dog this preliminary exercise before he trains his dog to Drop, either verbally or by signal, has to correct his dog dozens and dozens of time when he is responding to his call. This has a crushing effect on the dog, and his Recalls become slower and slower as he half-heartedly responds to his handler's call and anticipates being corrected on his way in.
Use a signal for the Drop because it teaches the dog to be more alert and attentive, and it is one more signal that the dog will use in the Utility work. The majority of people who shout "Down" at their dogs do so in a very loud, unpleasant tone of voice. If you decide to use your voice, make it firm but pleasant and just loud enough for the dog to hear you. A loud, intimidating tone of voice is as much an error as a hand signal held too long.
When your dog has mastered the first step have him Sit at Heel and give him the command to Stay. Go back about forty feet, turn and face your dog, wait a few seconds, and then call your dog to you saying, "Sparky, come." Remember to use your dogs name first in giving all commands except the Stay command. When he has covered two-thirds of the distance, give him the Drop signal and say "Down." The dog will Drop. Command him to Stay while you go up to him and praise him in a very pleased tone of voice. Again tell him to Stay, and leave him; go back to your first position, wait a few seconds, then call him in to you and have him Sit. Praise him, and then have him go to the Heel position and praise him again. If you do not intend to Drop him with the verbal command, just use the signal.
If the dog does not Drop, take a heavy step toward him and repeat the signal. Quickly walk up to him and pet and praise him if he Drops. A dog that stubbornly ignores the signal needs a different approach. Go up to the dog and stand in front of him. Give him the verbal command "Down" and the signal. He will obey you because you are standing in front of him, so have him Sit and Down twice in succession, and say "Good" each time he Drops. Now continue with his lesson. He should be left in a Down position, and the handler should go back forty feet, call her dog and Drop him when he is halfway in. If the dog Drops, the handler should quickly pet and praise him. This dog training methods should be practiced by doing three or four straight Recalls, then practicing a Drop on Recall. When your dog becomes proficient at dropping fast, a word of praise should be given instead of going up to the dog each time and petting and praising him. Even when he is fully trained, a word of praise for a good Drop will let your dog know that you appreciate his good work.