I gift you with my beautiful drawing of our DATC Game Plan.
Ranger’s Drop is lovely, but today I realized he thinks the cue is “hand in front of my nose”, not “hand pointing to floor”.
To help him learn to watch the latter cue, and to teach him what it looks like from all different perspectives, I played a little game with him that I dubbed “Drop Around the Clock”. I arranged myself so that he would be looking at me from all different angles, and started migrating his cue. To do this, I gave him the actual “Drop” cue, then quickly put my hand in front of his nose (wherever it was) to elicit the Drop behavior. After chaining these together several times from all angles, he really started to get it!
Here’s what Drop Around the Clock looked like after about 10 minutes. By this point he did not need the double signal.
We did have to maneuver a little due to the confines of the living room, so it’s not as pretty as the picture, but it still worked!
Besides sharpening his cue recognition, this lesson will help teach Ranger to drop instantly no matter where he is, the second I give him the cue. If he gets rewarded only for dropping in one specific spot relative to me, then he’ll start to put himself there instead of just lying down immediately. You can teach this on purpose, like for the Front cue, but it’s NOT what I want for his Drop. So, we’ll actively work against it with exercises like this. Next I’ll work with him while sitting in a chair, then at different distances from him, and then I’ll go back and make sure the verbal cue is generalized out as well. Then we may need to sharpen the speed and position of his behavior. If you have too many variables at once your dog will just get confused. It does take a while to run through all the different criteria that form a behavior, but if you organize your training and do it, you’ll get a more useful and fluent response from your dog.