Proper obedience training is important for any working dog. Sit, heel and down are standard exercises which any well trained dog will know, but for trained protection dogs, obedience doesn’t stop at basic exercises. Many intermediate and advanced obedience exercises are a combination of two or more basic exercises. Two examples of this are the “sit in motion” and “down in motion”, which are essentially a combination of either heel and sit, or heel and down.
The “down in motion” exercise essentially goes as follows: the dog is instructed to heel by the handler. As they move together, the handler instructs the dog to down. The dog immediately stops heeling and enters a down stay, as the handler continues walking. While this may sound fairly simple, untrained dogs will often be confused between the down command and the heel command, and won’t be sure which action to take. Obedience is about having your dog consistently and confidently performing the expected actions, time and time again. The “sit in motion” exercise is identical, except for it uses sit in place of down.
Training for this exercise, like training for most things, should be down in small steps. It is very important that your dog know both the hell and the down command separately before you try to combine them into a down in motion. Start by only taking a couple of steps before and after the down, and gradually work your way up to longer distances. As you do the training, consider having someone nearby to aid you. Many dogs will want to continue heeling after the down command, and clever dogs may even sneak in a few steps while your back is turned after the down. Having someone nearby will help you to ensure that the dog is acting as instructed while your back is turned.
The “down in motion” exercise is commonly included in dog sports such as Schutzhund. The obedience exercises in many dog sports offer excellent examples of the basic obedience requirements of protection dogs or guard dogs as well. However, it’s important to remember that dog sports are only sport. While obedience exercises are useful in a wide number of scenarios, advanced protection training for personal protection dogs should never be done in the context of sport. If you want a true protection dog, it has to be trained for real protection, in the real world.