Teaching Your Dog the “Down” Command

A well-behaved dog makes for a happy owner as well as a happy and well-adjusted pet. Basic obedience training makes your dog a good neighbor and a better companion.

One of the basic commands is the “down” command. This command should be taught after your dog has mastered the “sit” command; you can start to teach the “down” command, as you need to use it to get started.

Down Command Techniques

When you teach a dog to go “down” you will be using both a verbal command and a hand signal command in combination. First, have your dog get into a sit position. Praise him for sitting and then show him another treat you have in your hand.

Make sure that he is watching and say the word “down” at the same time as you lower the hand with the treat in it in one smooth movement towards the ground. The idea is that he will go down into a lying down position because he is following the treat and your hand.

Speed Of Learning The Command

Depending on how smart your dog is will determine the speed in which he learns the “down” command. You need to practice the move for training it for about 15 minutes a day until your pet gets the idea and will go down in one smooth move when you say “down” and make the downward hand signal.

Be sure to give him lots of praise and a treat every time he does it correctly. Eventually you should be able to have him go down just with a hand signal and the word “down” and no treat, but you should always give verbal praise when he does it correctly.

If for some reason your dog doesn’t seem to be catching on to the “down” command, then take a deep breath and stop for a while. You can always try again the next day. You don’t want to confuse your furry companion or he will just be as frustrated as you are and may refuse to try at all.

Just take it slowly, as some dogs may take just a bit longer to get the idea and by much praise and patience and practice, he is bound to catch on eventually. As always in any training situation, patience and consistency is the key to success in training your dog to follow the “down” command.

Ways Not To Train

One of the things you should not do when teaching your pet to go “down” is to yank or pull him into the down position. Not only will this confuse or frighten him, he may even react aggressively and bite if you try to force him into doing something he doesn’t understand or want to do.

As the saying goes, you can catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar, and if you train a dog to respond to any sort of command, it’s much easier to use treats and praise, than frighten your pet by trying to do it with force.

Remember, patience and commitment to regular sessions is key to training any behavior.

Advantages of the “Down” position

Having a dog that is reliable in going down on command can be very practical in certain situations. For instance, if you want him to lay down so he won’t be in the way of guests or so that he calms down and doesn’t try to jump up on anyone, then being able to go down on command can come in handy and make your guests happy too.

It is also a good “stepping stone” toward teaching fun tricks like roll over, crawl, or similar feats.

The “down” command could also end up saving your dog’s life if he is in a potentially dangerous situation and you are able to get him to go down on command and stop him from getting hurt. A dog that reliably goes down each and every time he is asked will be sure to do it by reflex even if he is in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation.

When all’s said and done, having a dog that obeys the “down” command means having a well-behaved pet that is a joy to


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