OK, so we are making little to no progress on the long downs with Ruby.
Today I had a revelation though and want to know what everyone thinks.
Ruby does not ever break the sits, ever, she will hold them for 10+ minutes, even out of sight.
Downs, she didn't have a problem with when I assume something happened that I don't know about, something I didn't notice. She won't break if I am close within 5ft. She NEVER breaks when there is someone behind her to correct her and put her back down.
She only breaks when I am accross the ring. This is a dog with a good degree (not a whole lot, but a bit) of separation anxiety, and she is a momma's girl, so my theory is this: She is breaking because she gets to come to me, and that is her reward. She never goes to other dogs, it is right to me and I bring her back to the same spot she left. I figure, her coming to me is the reward, it is worth the mean sounding voice and she lays right back down. She only breaks once.
So I came up with this. If I never let her get to me, that will stop the self rewarding behaviour? She knows the drop hand signal, so tonight I tied her to a tie at class and when she went to come to me, she corrected herself, and went HEY. I gave her the drop signal and she did and stayed there the rest of the five minutes. I released her and praised her like she won the lottery but I wonder what she will do tomorrow???
This technique was recently posted on another forum I frequent. It works for sit or down. It is for open but could be modified to work for novice.
Place your dog on a sit-stay....go out of sight, but return in 30
seconds. If your dog is still sitting, praise and give the little devil a
"cookie"...then leave right away for another 30 seconds. If at any
time you return and the dog is down, or up as the case may be, say nothing...no
correction....simply sit them back up, or place them in a down which
ever you're are working on. Remember to keep returning every 30 seconds until you've done
this for the full 3 1/2 or 5 1/2 minutes. Increase to 60 seconds once you have
your dog sitting every time you return, then to 90 seconds, I think you get
the picture. Your praise should always be...."good sit, or good down"
reinforcing what the dog should be thinking about. It's a really fun way to
train, and produces a dog that is constantly looking in the direction you left,
waiting for you to come back with a cookie. Make sure you take this on the
road a whole lot, and do it during training , randomly, even when your dog is
always in a sit or down. It reinforces it.
The thing that worked for Murray was having someone else correct him. We wasn't stressing because I was gone though, he was just lazy and wanted to lay down. For a dog that has SA, that technique might do more damage than good. You have to figure out what works with your dog.
What if she breaks, comes to you, and you quietly (don't say anything good or bad) take her back to the down/stay position and leave her there. Give her 20-30 seconds, then come back, release and praise, praise, praise. That way, she'll get to hear your voice only when she holds the stay.
Another thought is if she breaks, comes to you, you stand there like a statue and let someone else take her back into the down/stay position and leave her there. Again, if she's after your voice or interaction, she does not get it if she breaks. Give hear a little time to do what she's asked, then go to her, release and praise and pet. Again, she only gets to interact with you when she holds.
Also, is it possible that you're giving her a cue to come to you somehow? Do you usually look at her the whole time she's doing her stays? For example, if you don't take your eyes from her during a sit/stay (which is shorter), but take your eyes off of her during a down, she might interpret that as a cue to come to you. It could even be something like shifting your weight from one hip to the other. Maybe you can record yourself and see if there is anything resembling a cue that Ruby can see during the down stays.
I have had my obedience instructor correct and return her, then she started to be aloof of the 'judges' and really kept an eye on whomever was playing judge.
I can tell when Ruby is going to break, her tail starts to wag, slow at first. I taught her a "relax" instead of down, kinda on one side, but that proved futile. She only gets praise when she stays there. So we'll see...she'll be the death of me!
On the otherhand, apart from the out of site down, she's got open pretty well licked! She is in awe of her dumbell and jumps with so much enthusiasm it makes me proud!
Whether we ever get to test it out in the real ring we'll see, we have to get through Novice downs first! LOL