Breaking it down
Learning is a very individual thing. Each canine has their strengths and weaknesses like us. One dog may excel learning quickly with lots of cheering on while others might learn by example or very slowly. All are different and this is why a trainer which can be an actual trainer or you, the trainer of your dog must be flexible. I remember many times going through the process with different dogs and every once in a while get thrown for a loop. Sure they all are different but some are extremely different in how they will best gain the knowledge.
Going through the down behavior with Elsa this morning it quickly became evident that she was one who needed a behavior broken down. She very rapidly grew frustrated and stopped offering anything. This meant that she was not being rewarded quickly enough for her efforts. We then went to treating for moving her head down. From there she had to put her head to the ground for a treat. The next step is the one leg out request or leaning back depending on how a dog actually lays down. Elsa does the lean back, front legs stretched out in front. And then finally the complete down position is required to get the reward. Once they hit the final destination then you do not go backwards; they must continue to complete the desired behavior for a reward.
She is getting pretty reliable with her down already. We moved from the carpeted area to the tile floor where she surprised me with a quick down. Now we will work it into the daily routine where she will be required to down for anything that she would like; manners in the making. The base behaviors are so important. Once a dog starts to learn it is so much easier to teach them other behaviors. The whole concept of learning can be lost on a dog who never receives any type of training.
Some dogs are not the type to offer up new behaviors, Luke is one of those. He gets very goofy when we start new behaviors; he very much likes to get everything correct so he is not a fan of not knowing what he is doing. For him a cheer leading session helps him to get over any apprehensive obstacles that arise. Watching closely as a dog is in the learning process is essential. They will display a great deal of information that is important in their further learning.