More send away work

You posted some good questions about the go out and below are  some of the things I have tried.
1)Do you teach the down early on or late?
I teach the down as a separate exercise, it is taught early, in fact, it is one  of the first things I teach a dog. It goes right along with the sit, stand, stay,  and come.

2)Do you take away the visual cue or lure gradually or replace it with something else?
I leave the lure there and introduce the down at different places. Gradually, I  take the lure (in my case I use a ball) and when I get the down I throw the  ball to the dog. That way my dog never really knows for sure where the  reward is. Sometimes it is at the end of the go out, sometimes it is thrown by  me when the down is done. Sometimes after getting the down I will send the
dog to 'get it' by having them run farther than the place where they downed.  In other words, I vary the distance, the down spot and the method of reward.  But ONLY after I have a dog willing to go until I tell them to stop either by  'getting it' or by downing!

3)What are your experiences with the slowing down problems?
Usually that means the dog isn't solid with the command. The target has been  moved or changed too soon.

4)How do you help the dog to not anticipate the down?
Vary the distance and the times you ask for the down. If the down is solid, then  you can afford to send the dog, on occasion, without a down at all!

5)How do you enforce the down at a distance?
Make sure it is solid up close. Or, you could use a helper (the target) and once  the down has been done the target throws the ball.

6)How do you prepare a dog for a straight go out on a field without visual cues?
I send from a correct heel position. My dog does not know that the ball will be   there but they DO know they will get the reward if they go and down when I   tell them to. It boils down to many repetitions, varying the distance and the   method of giving the reward. I will even go to my dog in the down, as I do  in a trial, and give the ball from heel position. BUT only if they
continue to hold  the down! Otherwise, I shorten the distance from the starting point and down  them in the same place repeatedly, until they know they are to down at that   spot. Then I can reward and the dog wins.

7)Can someone fill in the "blanks" for me?
Hope this fills in some of the blanks. Just for your information...I do NOT use  an e-collar for this exercise. Some people do but I don't.

permission obtained 11/1/99
Thanks in advance!!
You're welcome!
Paulette Bethel