Teaching Your Dog the “Down” Command

The Down CommandAfter you puppy masters the “sit” command it will be time to move onto the “down” command. The down command is another basic command that should be picked up easily by your dog. It is an important command and works as a building block for more difficult commands down the line.

The down command is going to help to enforce the master/dog relationship. Why? Because in this command your log is in the laying down position. This makes the dog weaker and more vulnerable. There is a great deal of trust shown with this command. Just imagine someone standing over you telling you what to do while you just lie there.

Although you may not use the down command as often as the sit command, it will be a useful command to know in conjunction with further training down the line. The most common times to use this command are when children are around your dog or when you enter into a quiet place, such as an outdoor play in the park.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Make sure that your dog is not on his leash
  2. Hold your puppy’s favorite doggie treat in front of his nose.
  3. Slowly move your hand down to the floor.
  4. Make sure that your dog follows the treat down.
    NOTE:
    If your dog does not follow it down, begin again from step 2.
  5. Once your dogs stomach touches the floor, with his legs out in front of him, reward him for his good efforts.
  6. Repeat this method over and over again at different times for several days.
  7. Once your dog has mastered the action, begin attaching the command word “down.” You will want to say “down” just before you move your hand and the treat to the floor.
  8. The next step is the elimination of the treat. Do the same actions and the same command word “down”, just without the treat this time.
  9. Finally, remove the action of your hand to the floor and simple state the command “down” as you and your dog go about your daily routine.

When your dog become a pro at home, you can begin taking them places and practicing the down command. Also, try and see how long you can get them to stay in the down position.

Tempting your dog will be the hardest of all. Try running around your dog in circles, throwing a toy in the air or other distracting actions. Make sure that he stays in the down position until you release him from this position.

There will be times that you will want your dog to perform the down command while on a leash. Here are the steps for the down command on a leash.

  1. Place your dogs leash and collar on him.
  2. Command your dog to sit.
  3. Stand or kneel next to your dog.
  4. Say “down” and gently pull the leash towards the floor. Be careful not to hurt your pup. If this action alone doesn’t work, gently guide your dog to the ground by pressing lightly on his shoulder blades.
    Another nudge you can give your dog is lifting his front legs and bringing them forward a little bit.
  5. Praise your dog once he is in the down position.
  6. As always, you will need to repeat this method many times. If you are able to first train your dog the down command off the leash, then they should be able to perform the command while on the leash.

Whichever method you chose to work with, you will want to teach your dog a release command, so they know when they are allowed to get up from the down position. Common release commands “let’s go, off you go, away.”

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