How To Sharpen Up The Down?


Well-Known Member
I've seen dogs (generally collies) who can hit the deck so fast in obedience videos and the like. How do you teach that? Diesel knows down, he has known that from the very beginning, but he always stretches his front legs out slowly, bum in the air, and then slowly lowers his bum to the ground. This is especially slow if he is distracted by something. He will get slightly faster if we do it a few times. So how do I get that "hit the deck at lightning speed"?


Honored Member
Staff member
What kind of dog is Diesel? Forgiveme, I remember seeing your introduction post, but I just woke up and my brain's a little sloshy, lol! :sleep:
The reason why I ask, if he is a GREAT DANE, then it is not likely that you will ever get him slamming himself down at lightning speeds. Danes just aren't physically capable of doing things at lightning speeds. You can get them fast--for Danes--but not Collie fast. Not that they won't try. Their bodies just won't let them.
A lot of people don't like to work their dogs at their peak of excitement. I personally disagree--you just have to work carefully with your dog to develop control even when they are their craziest. That being said, I do have a Border Collie and a BC/ACD mix, so they are both crazy dogs anyway. But, they work their absolute best when they are completely wired. So if I'm doing a demo or something, I get them super riled up and excited. I'm working with 4 dogs of various energy levels now for a coworker, but 3 of them I do a lot of training at their highest energy level.
You could try a couple of things. To get super fast sits, I work on spins. Once your dog has fast spins and can do 3 or 4 in succession, then I will cue 3 or 4 spins one right after another, and then immediately ask for a sit. They are already in "speed mode" so the sit right after the spins will also be fast. I also reward fast sits greatly and slow sits get really boring treats.
So, perhaps you could try getting him a little more excited. Okay, just checked out your intro post because it was driving me crazy, Diesel is a 14 month old Dobie. ^^

You could also go back as if you were re-teaching it. Do all the same things you did before, but make sure that you're clicking the second his butt hits the ground. The faster his butt hits the ground, the faster he gets the treat, so he should speed himself up. If you click too early you will be slowing him down and/or weakening the meaning of the command. So just make sure you're clicking only when his butt hits the ground.

From there you'll just give really great rewards for fast downs, and really boring ones for slow downs.

Hope this helps. Good luck!


Well-Known Member
Ahh ok thank you! Yes I think he may struggle because of his size, so I don't like to do it over and over, but in an ideal world I would just like it faster. And I have started to ask him for a down when we are playing ball and hes excited, but he is soo wired he just wants me to throw the ball! I was hoping that would quicken him up, using the throw as the reward, but he goes down in super slow motion, shaking the whole time. He just gets so excited, I'm trying to get him to contain his excitement and learn to control it by asking him to do something before I throw the ball.

So I will try using better rewards for faster downs. As for spins for a fast sit, we have only just got spin sorted, he's getting a bit quicker but he's very unaware of his body, I'll have to wait till he gets better.


Experienced Member
<---Oka is a GSDx She is pretty slow, i'm sure it's a size thing. I retaught her a down as she would do it "beginning lure" speed eg ultra sloooww, now she's quicker but i doubt she'll ever get that 'collie body slam' kind of speed.

I like the down explanation, Oka does it as; a sit, then stretches her front legs out. Sometimes she will do front legs down first but only if she's at a distance from me.


Experienced Member
When I'm working on tightening up criteria I only reward the best ones and interrupt the other ones. So for fast downs I look at what I'm currently getting, say 3seconds is your average, and count to 3. If the dog is down by the time I get to 3 I reward, if not I say "too bad!" and move forward so the dog can't finish the slow down. I think not letting them finish the slow ones is important. Soon you won't be getting any 4+ second downs so now your average might be 2.5seconds. Repeat but now only count to 2. I jazz this up by throwing treats as soon as the dog hits the deck. The dogs love it and the reward comes quick, not after they've been down for 2 or more seconds.

I then work on downs in motions, while I'm walking I cue down and again only reward the fastest, interrupt the slower ones. Eventually down while I am running, and then down while I keep on moving.

But keep in mind your dog's own ability. While you can always get faster downs then what they're currently offering, there's a big difference between a corgi already low to the ground and fast, and a mastiff.


New Member
Your dog could be doing a "sluggish" down for a variety of reasons --- behavioral or physical.

If you are watching lightning downs at obedience trials, chances are they are the result of "forced"down training. When used properly this technique causes those "hit the deck" quick response downs... in those dog's minds, down means down.

However, without knowing your dog's physical structure/breed, this method may not work.


Experienced Member
If you are watching lightning downs at obedience trials, chances are they are the result of "forced"down training. When used properly this technique causes those "hit the deck" quick response downs... in those dog's minds, down means down.
I really don't think that is the case. I compete with my dogs in obedience and they have very fast downs on their drop on recall and are not forced, in that exercise nor in any other. Really you can't force a down at a distance unless you use a collar. While most competitive obedience participants use more traditional methods which do involve compulsions, force really isn't happening in the drop part of the recall exercise. Instead they are teaching the foundations step by step. First downs in motion, then downs at distance, and then the combining of the two and many at this stage use props that they teach the dog to drop behind such as a pole. Compulsions doesn't equal speed, good training produces the speed. If there is an area compulsion is used in the DOR exercise it is usually when the dog starts to anticipate the drop so they force the recall, not the down...

Hayley Thompson

Well-Known Member
One technique that I have started to use with my border collie to get even faster downs and sits is to use going outside with me as a reward. I will stand by the door, ask for a down and if I dont get it in 3 seconds or however fast you want it I say too bad and walk out the door leaving her in the house. I wait about 10 seconds and come back in the house and ask for another down, she generally realizes she missed out the first time by being too lazy and will immediately quicken up her speed! Hope this helps!