Last month we started taking an in depth look at the seven basic commands you should to teach to your dog starting with the sit command

Next, let’s continue teaching your dog these seven basic commands with the “down” command

three labrador retreivers

Teaching your dog the down command

Down is the second command you should teach your dog. The down command is a useful basic command that not only keeps your dog out of trouble, it helps them calm down and helps you establish good dog manners.

Just like with sit, down can be taught through lure training using treats or toys to “lure” your dog into following your directions. While lure training works great, it’s important that you pay attention to when your dog is ready to follow your commands without the incentive so they begin to follow your commands without reward.

To teach your dog the down command:

  1. While your dog is standing hold a treat or toy by their nose.
  2. Slowly lower the treat or toy down to your dog’s front paws – the dog should respond by lowering its head to follow the treat or toy.
  3. With your dog’s head lowered to the ground, slowly move the treat or toy away from them. Moving the treat or toy further from the dog’s nose should cause it to lay down.
  4. As soon as your dog is laying down verbally encourage them by saying “good dog” and give them the treat or toy as a reward.
  5. When your dog is responding to the treat or toy after multiple successful attempts, use a treat from your opposite hand so the first treat or toy is no longer eaten or given to the dog.
  6. With your dog responding to your commands with treats from the opposite hand, it’s now time to command them with an empty hand. By signaling with an empty hand you have taught your dog the down command hand signal by lowering your hand to the ground.
  7. When your dog responds well to the hand signal, begin saying “down” before giving the hand signal to teach them the verbal down command.

It’s important to reward good behavior, but never force your dog to lay down. Present your treats when the dog lies down to reinforce the behavior, but don’t encourage the dog to stand or sit too quickly to gain another reward or treat.