Breaking down the Moving Down in Rally

January 25, 2020

One sign that causes a lot of frustration in Excellent Rally is the Moving Down.  In this blog post I’ll show you how break down the skills needed for the moving down into manageable chunks.

Stationary Down

The first step in teaching a moving down is getting a stationary down from a distance. I use my front foot target to do this. Because I need this skill in obedience also, I go ahead and add my hand signal for down. Might as well start teaching that at the same time! Obviously the down signal will look different when you’re next to the dog in heel position.

Adding the Movement to the Moving Down

Once I have a nice stationary down at a distance, I’ll start to add the moving element.

I slowly add distance from the target for both the dog and handler.  Be sure you only add one distance element at a time. Distance from the dog to the target is harder because the dog will be moving more quickly.  You’ll need to cue your down a little sooner.

Put the Moving Down Heel Position

Once I have a good drop out of motion in front, I put it into heel. You can see that Excel needed a little help in the beginning. What I should have done more was down with me staying in heel, rewarding, then moving forward, and slowly turning that into down while I’m moving away. He did eventually figure it out, I just like to set the dog up for success as much as I can! What I ended up doing with Excel is added a wait cue, since he has a really good understanding of what that means. I cued down, then said wait as I walked away, and you can see that totally made sense to him. Once he’s doing well with this, I will stop saying wait.

Notice on the last rep I heeled Excel past the target because I want him to know it’s about the verbal cue, not the target!

When the dog understands the moving down, you can start circling the dog and going back to heel. The dog should not get up from the down until you either release the dog or cue heel and go forward.

Fading the Foot Target

Finally, I fade the target. Here’s the first steps of Excel working without the target.

Notice at the beginning I pause to help Excel be successful. I eventually fade out that pause. Despite never training this before, he caught on pretty fast.


Just like with the moving stand, be sure you do not stop or pause as you tell the dog to down. You can bend over to cue the down but you must keep moving forward.

After you’ve circled the dog and returned to heel, don’t forget to pause. The dog should remain in position until you cue heel.

The moving down can be difficult and frustrating to teach, but if you break it down it will make more sense to your dog. Be patient as you work through the steps and in no time at all, you’ll have a great moving down!

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