the one in which we taught her how to down-stay

Is it possible to teach a dog how to down-stay in just one evening, you might ask?

Yes, we would tell you, it is possible. As long as that dog is Lollie the foster wonderdog.

On the recommendation of Vicktory dog Handsome Dan’s mom, I have been reading an incredible dog behavior book, Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. I don’t want to overstate the importance of this book to my perceived understanding of dog learning and behavior, so let’s just say it’s rocking my face off in a big way.

Inspired by yesterday’s segment, I decided it was time for Lollie to learn to not be under foot while I’m cooking dinner (a pit bull drooling over dinner prep in a vegan kitchen? seriously?). I had been avoiding the down-stay since the beginning because although Lollie is a total genius, she is also somewhat distractable (I have heard that this is very common in dogs who were understimulated early in life). But, I resolved, tonight is the night we begin. So I armed myself with a bowl of kibble and set to work. Within a couple of minutes, she was calmly laying down as long as I kept the treats coming. Over the course of 15 minutes, I was able to progress to 30 second intervals with the treats. After a few more minutes, I was able to briefly leave the kitchen and come back, and she would still be on the designated rug. I dropped a piece of kibble on the  floor, out of reach. No movement. I jumped up and down. Nothing. Incredible. The work is not done and hurdles lay ahead, but this is a much more solid start than I could have even hoped for.

Of course, we already knew that Lollie was a wicked-fast learner, and I’m sure that many, many other dogs are able to learn as quickly as her. But I really get blown away when I think about the larger context, and how in November when she came to us, she was full of fear, suspicion, and a complete inability to concentrate. We think her “wonderdog” title is very well deserved.

A few more photos of the wonderdog in her new down-stay are below.

For more info on adopting Lollie, contact us at or 301-520-7123.

11 responses

  1. That last photo is perfect. Could any expression be better for an “adopt me” caption. I mean, really. Shiva lays just like that all the time we are making something in the kitchen. She knows how to work it. Obviously Lollie does too. Smart girl, indeed.

  2. So exciting! Down-stay is a huge deal. When Miss M learned down-stay it was life-changing; I didn’t have to be constantly monitoring her at all times. And seeing what a quick learner Lollie is, I know she will make her forever family so happy. I am really interested in this book now, I think I might have to go get a copy…

  3. Lollie, you ARE a genius! I just can’t believes how far you’ve come in such a short amount of time. I bet you must be really, really proud of yourself, huh? And I didn’t know that abouts understimulated-in-early-life dogs being distracti…hey, what’s that…was that a …do you have cheese? Wait. What was I saying?

    Anywho, I also wanted to tell your mom how Most Utterly and Completely BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL those pictures of Handsome Dan and his family were. My favoritest one was of the baby and Dan both smiling at the camera. It made me smile right back!

    Wiggles & Wags,

  4. Sigh… Lollie is just beautiful… and you are like the best photographer I have ever met. Once you get Lollie adopted would you consider fostering Ziggy and using some of your awesome photography magic on him? Please? 🙂

    • gosh, thanks for the sweet compliments! if you are interested in taking beter photos of ziggy yourself, stay tuned for an upcoming post with tips on how to photograph your dog (should be next week probably). it takes practice and gear to get really brilliant photos consistently, but you can get pretty close with just a few simple tips!

      out of curiosity, what do you think makes ziggy challenging to adopt out (other than the obvious breed stigma / deafness issues)?

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