Teach Your Dog To Sit, Down or Stand When You Are Twenty Feet Away

Do you want to teach your Dog to ‘Sit’/’Stand’/’Down’ when you are 20 feet or further away from your dog?
There is a difference between asking a dog to ‘down’ when you are standing next to it or having it ‘stay’, then walking away, waiting for ten seconds and then walking back to deliver a treat – and accomplishing these same behaviors when you are 20 feet away from your dog and asking them to ‘sit’ if they are standing, ‘stand’ if they are sitting or going into a down position if they are sitting or standing.
Most obedience training cues are given when the owner is next to the dog with the exception of the recall cue. Historically most of the dog training disciplines that use distance commands such as field trials have used shock collars to get the results they want. The premise of this learning is that the dog is told to do something at a distance and if they ignore the cue then the owner/handler applies an electric shock. The dog learns to do the behavior to escape or avoid an unpleasant if not painful stimulus.
There are far more pleasant ways to teach distance obedience behaviors. Last Saturday, at The DogSmith Training Center, in one 10 minute session two German Shepherds being handled by their owners had their dogs sitting and ‘downing’ with no food lures when they were 6 feet away from their dogs. Although the duration of the behavior was very short it did show that with guidance and a systematic approach most pet dog owners can effectively and efficiently teach their pet dogs a high level of distance obedience. The duration can be added later.
The behavior was built one step at a time. As the dogs became familiar with the rules of the game and understood that great reinforcement was available to them for getting “it right” their learning became faster and faster .
When starting this training with a pet dog with the goal of the dog sitting or ‘downing’ or standing from a distance, the first behavior criteria on the ladder must be 97% reliable. The dog must already be able to demonstrate the behavior without a food lure when the owner is standing by their side or in front of them. The behavior should be under the control of both a verbal and physical cue, not the physical cue created by the lure mechanics but the final finished product cue.
Example:
Goal – To have your dog go into a ‘down’ position when you are 20 feet away using a verbal cue ‘down’ or a simple hand signal for ’down’
The first behavior criteria is built on the premise that the dog will already respond to a verbal “down” and a simple hand cue “down” when the owner is in an upright position. This behavior should also have a built in duration of 30 seconds and be on a release cue of “okay”. The owner should not have to lure the dog down with food in their hand or use their entire body as a prompt to motivate the dog into a ‘down’ position. The dog should be comfortable sitting for duration of 30 seconds on an interval schedule of reinforcement no more than every 10 seconds.
Step 1
Take half a step away from the dog and ask the dog to ‘down’ using both the hand signal and the verbal signal.
As soon as the dog goes ‘down’ Click or say ‘Yes’ and step back to the dog and deliver reinforcement. The dog should not have the time to get up and break the behavior. The reinforcement should be delivered to the share this site dog in the ‘down’ position.
Repeat Step 1, 5 times
The dog should be successful on all five occasions. If they are not, then the likelihood is that the initial behavior criterion is not in place. Since the dog will already respond to a verbal “down” and a simple hand cue “down” when the owner is in an upright position the owner should not have to lure the dog down with food in their hand or use their entire body as a prompt. The dog should be comfortable sitting for duration of 30 seconds on an interval schedule of reinforcement no less than every 10 seconds.
Step 2
Take a full step away from the dog and ask the dog to ‘down’ using both the hand signal and the verbal signal.
As soon as the dog goes ‘down’ Click or say ‘Yes’ and step back to the dog and deliver reinforcement. The dog should not have the time to get up and break the behavior. The reinforcement should be delivered to the dog in the ‘down’ position.
Repeat this 5 times
Step 3
Take 2 full steps away from the dog and ask the dog to ‘down’ using both the hand signal and the verbal signal.
As soon as the dog goes down Click or say ‘Yes’ and step back to the dog and deliver reinforcement. The dog should not have the time to get up and break the behavior. The reinforcement should be delivered to the dog in the down position.
Repeat this 5 times. Do not progress from this stage until you have 5 correct behaviors out of 5 attempts. This is the important step and may prove to be the most difficult step to get past. A couple of things may happen.
1. The dog may be confused, you have now moved further away than ever before. This is a new behavior for the dog. The dog may try to get closer to you back into the normal position the dog is in when being asked to ‘down.’
2. At this stage you may have to reintroduce a more exaggerated physical cue to encourage the dog to go ‘down.’ Start off by just bending at the waist and using your hand to help motivate the dog into a ‘down’ position. This prompt can be faded later on.
3. If you have to use a full physical cue, your body bending over and knees bending over to get the dog to drop into the ‘down,’ the dog may pop forward thinking there is food in your hand. Be persistent, the dog will “get it.” Use a happy upbeat voice to encourage the dog into position.
4. If you cannot stop the dog coming towards you then go back and find a middle criteria Such as one and a half steps away from the dog.
When you are comfortably moving back a step at a time, doing sets of five behaviors at each step, you should work on fading all the prompts that you had to reintroduce at Step 3 when you reach a distance more information from your dog of 6 steps.
You will have to repeat this criterion for each new distance behavior you teach. When you have some solid distance behaviors for ‘sit’/’down’ and ‘stand’ then you can work on having the dog switch between behaviors with you at a distance. Do not expect that if mobile strike cheats hack tool you can have your dog ‘down’ from ten feet reliably that you will then at ten feet be able to put the dog back into a ‘sit’ from a ‘down.’ You will have to reduce your distance from your dog to develop this behavior.
Niki Tudge is the owner and founder of The DogSmith, America’s Dog Training, Dog Walking and Pet Care Franchise. To find your local DogSmith or learn more about joining the DogSmith visit