Teaching Your Dog the "Down" Command

Teaching Your Dog the "Down" Command

After properly teaching the "stop" command, one of the next important steps in training your dog is to teach the down command. The down command is basically a laying position in which your dog has his abdomen on the ground and front legs out front. This command is a foundational step that teaches your dog a submissive attitude which can make all other obedience training much easier. The down command is especially useful if you have a friendly dog who enjoys “greeting” people by jumping up on them. It is also useful for the sporting dog who needs to “lay low” during a hunt. It is important to teach the down command early in your dog’s life so that he will be well adjusted for other training out in the field or around other dogs.

Persistence is key, and it's best to start off slow.

As with all training, it is important to start slowly and don’t over do the training. It is best to make sure your dog is never overwhelmed during training. It’s also important that you don’t give up too early or that you get overwhelmed and your dog senses your frustration. Commands have different purposes and should be approached differently. For example the stop command was an authoritative, life saving command but, the down command is different, it can be spoken soft and sweet because it isn’t a command usually used in an emergency situation.

The only tools necessary for teaching the down command are you, your dog and possibly some treats to begin with. If needed a leash can be used to confine your dog to the area if he hasn’t yet learned to be off leash in that environment.

Find a good place to train with little distractions.

The best place to begin training is in a quiet safe environment where there are few distractions. You can work up to busier more populated areas once your dog understands the command and is able to restrain from jumping up. After he learns in one environment it is important to continue to train him in other situations that might be more distracted or is harder for him to restrain so that you can trust his training under all conditions.

As with most training commands, there are several proven methods but, the key is to stick to one method and be consistent. No one knows their dog better than you and if you feel that something will work then by all means, try it. However, if you need a place to begin you can start by gently placing your dog into the down position, while announcing the command, down. Once he submits, praise him verbally and if you choose to reward him with a treat, now is the time. Once this routine has been repeated a few times just use your hand and move it down for your dog to follow, either while holding a treat or not. It is possible to just verbally praise while he is going down in order to encourage him to go all the way and stay until you are ready for him to come out of the position. Saying down the whole time will help your dog to understand the relationship of his body going down to the word down.

It is important that you repeat the training over and over. Always stick to the basics and after awhile your dog should follow the command without any reward. A properly behaved dog can be much more enjoyable for you and others to be around.

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