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    17 - Give lessons in "down"

    17 - Give lessons in

    As well as being a useful exercise to teach your dog in terms of obedience, ‘down’ is also important as it is the basis for asking your dog to settle after an exciting game, when visitors come to your home or when you take him into a new environment. It is also useful for teaching dogs to lie down when travelling in a car crate, as they will often feel safer and will be less aroused by outside stimuli when lying down.

    Begin in sit

    1. Most dogs find it easier to learn the down from a sit position (see way 16). Hold a small tasty treat near your dog’s nose, with curved fingers pointing downwards; this will form the basis of the hand signal.
    2. Slowly lower the treat in a straight line towards the floor.
    3. As your dog begins to follow your hand with his nose, click and after a few seconds drop the treat between his paws. This will encourage him to get into the habit of looking to the floor for the treat, which will diminish the chances of him learning to do ‘doggy press-ups’ and following your hand back up in search of another treat.
    4. Again from the ‘sit’ position, take the treat lower so that this time the dog’s nose is close to the floor and his front legs begin to bend. Click and after a few seconds drop the treat.
    5. Still from the sit, lower the treat from nose to floor and then slowly push it back towards his chest.
    6. Wait until he drops his whole body into the ‘down’ position then click and after a few seconds drop the treat between his paws.
    7. Repeat this a few times until the dog gets the idea. Then try lowering your hand, giving the same hand signal towards the floor.
    8. Click when he takes the down position and after a few seconds drop a treat.

    Lower the hand with the treat in it to the fl oor in a straight line

    When your dog follows your hand with his nose, click and put the food on the floor

    Push the food slowy back towards his chest to encourage ‘down’

    When he drops his whole body down, click and drop the treat between his paws

    Once your dog has understood the exercise and takes up the down position from the sit, lure him from ‘stand’ to ‘down’. Click and drop the treat as before. When your dog is consistently offering down from sit and stand, say ‘down’ as you begin to give the hand signal. When he understands the verbal cue, the clicker has done it’s job and is no longer needed for the down. An alternative is to sit on the floor. Bend one leg so that there is just enough room for your dog to lie down and lure him underneath so he takes up the down position.


    If your dog remains standing remember that he does not automatically know what you want him to do. It is natural for some dogs to stand as they follow the food down. Lure him back to a sit and try again. If this still does not work try lowering the food to the floor and slowly draw it forward.

    Still not working?

    He may have poor awareness of his hind legs and/or be carrying a lot of tension in that area. Doing some TTouches along the back, around the base of the tail and hind legs can really help to bring awareness to those areas and make it easier for your dog to consciously move into the ‘down’.

    Lure your dog underneath your bent knee so he has to take up the down position

    From 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog, Copyright by Sarah Fisher, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with D & C

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