Teaching a Dog the Down Command
When teaching a dog the down command be aware that not all dogs are eager to comply and some can be willfully resistant. For a dog, being placed into a down can be a very vulnerable and submissive position. So be patient, stay positive and upbeat during the training process.
Training your dog takes focus, patience and a positive attitude. If you are distracted the dog will also be distracted and unmotivated to work with you. If you are going to use physical praise be sure you are able to give your dog honest and sincere praise. On days that you’ve had a tough time at work or you’re distracted by other things it may be better to wait until you are in a better frame of mind to train your dog.
As with the “Sit” command, you need to have good equipment on your dog. That means a good leash and a snug fitting collar, so your dog won’t be able to wiggle out of its lesson. Also, if you are using treats as rewards purchase a “hip bag” (also know as a “bait bag”) it will make it easier to dispense the treats without loosing momentum.
Since your dog won’t know what to do when you give it a “Down” command you will start the process by showing him what you want by physically placing him into a down position. Kneel down beside your dog and put firm steady pressure downward on the dog’s leash and collar. While doing this give the command “Down” repeatedly in a calm voice. If your dog lies down at this time then praise him appropriately, “Good Down” or “Good Dog”. It is not always that easy, so you may need to work some more on getting your pooch down. While still keeping pressure on the collar place your other hand on the top of your dog’s shoulder blades. While pulling the leash downward put steady and slow pressure on the dog’s shoulders until your dog goes down. Praise and pet your dog appropriately when he is in the down position. If you are using treats you want to present it at floor level so our dog is encouraged to remain on the floor. If we are using praise then be sincere and calm at the same time. You don’t want to get your dog too excited with over the top enthusiastic praise. With repeated practice sessions your dog will soon be able to do the “Down” without your physical assistance.