Teaching your dog the down command is essential. This is one of the most important commands for establishing leadership as well as keeping your dog safe. The down command is extremely useful for dogs that have a tendency to run into the street, display dominant behavior, and get over-excited. Believe it or not, “down” is helpful for shy or fearful dogs, as it teaches the dog to stay calm.
As soon as you’ve trained your dog to sit, you can move on to teaching the down command.
You need the following supplies to get started.
- Collar or harness and leash
- Quiet area with grass or a soft surface (exercise mat)
Training Your Dog To Obey the Down Command
Teaching your dog the down command can be done in a few simple steps:
- Place a collar or harness and a leash on your dog.
- Tell your dog to sit and when he obeys, give him a reward for obeying your command.
- Next, say “down” while guiding your dog into the correct position with treats and by slightly pulling down on the leash.
- If your dog needs extra encouragement, you can gently pull his or her front legs forward and place some pressure in the shoulder blade area. As soon as your dog is in the down position, give a treat and a lot of praise.
- Repeat the previous steps 10 to 15 times for the next 2 training sessions or so.
- At this point, you want your dog to understand that the command and action go hand in hand. Do this by saying “down” prior to moving the treat downwards. You may also want to practice giving the down command without a treat, but pretending that there is one in your hand. As time passes, you will not have to make use of as many treats and your dog should be able to easily obey the command.
- Last, try out the down command from other positions.
Other Training Tips for the Down Command
- When your dog is responding to the down command, it is time to test them by giving training lessons in a place with more distractions. For example, a park or pet store.
- Have your dog stay “down” for around 5 seconds, then progress to 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and so on.
- Give your pup the command and create distractions, such as playing with a ball, placing their meal close by, and opening up a bag of treats.