Teaching your dog the down command

After your dog has learned to sit, you can build on his newfound knowledge to teach him to lay down on command. The down command is a great way to settle your dog if he gets too rambunctious. It can also keep him in place while you eat, clean the house, or do other things that don’t require the special brand of assistance that dog’s love to give.

Directions

Your dog should be in a sitting position before you begin.

Use food or a toy as a lure

Just like you did when teaching your dog how to sit, you’ll use a toy or food to lure your dog to lay down in the proper position.

Give the command “Spot, down”

Use your dog’s name to make sure you have his attention followed by the down command.

Lower the lure down to the ground and forward

Hold your chosen lure, either a toy or food, at your dog’s nose level. Once his attention is focused on it, bring the lure down to the ground between his paws and then move it out away from him. The movement of the lure should form the letter “L”.

As your dog follows the lure he may lower his chest to the ground and keep his hind quarters in the air. If this happens, move the lure forward a little or back between his front paws to get your dog to lay down completely.

Reward your dog as soon as he lays down in the proper position

The instant your dog’s belly touches the ground and he’s in the correct down position, pet him and give generous praise along with the lure as a reward. You want your dog to associate the feeling of his belly touching the ground with the reward so you can connect that movement to the down command.

Other ways to teach a dog to lay down

If your dog doesn’t respond well to the method outlined above, here are two other ways to teach him to lay down on command.

Use stairs/steps when luring your dog into the down position

Have your dog sit on the top step. Follow the directions given previously, but bring the lure quickly down to the step below the one your dog is on. Moving the lure below your dog should help him to lay down in the proper position.

Sit with your dog and lure him under your leg

Sit on the ground in front of your dog. Place the foot of the leg closest to him flat on the floor. Your leg should make an arch in front of your dog. Hold the lure under your leg and, after you give the down command, pull the lure forward. Your dog should lower into the down position to get under your leg and reach the lure.

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