Skill #3: ‘Down’ When Asked

Goal: To have your dog happily lie down when you ask it to. We don’t teach our dogs how to lie down since they already know how. Our goal is to have verbal control over the ‘down’ behavior.

Resources: You will need to have some small yummy treats (about the size of your small fingernail) and a toy.


Training Steps

  • Hold a treat just under your dog’s nose.  Slowly move your hand straight down to a spot between your dog’s front paws letting your dog’s nose follow your hand down. Where the nose goes the body should follow. As your dog’s stomach hits the ground, say ‘down’.  When it is completely down say ‘yes’ and give it a treat.  Repeat this process 10 times.
  • Now, without a treat in your hand use the same hand motion to guide your dog’s nose to the floor.  As you move your hand say  ‘down’ to your dog. When its stomach hits the ground say ‘yes’ and give your dog a treat.  Repeat 10 times.
  • Next, say ‘down’ to your dog while using just your hand signal.  When its stomach hits the ground say ‘yes’ and stroke them (no treat). As you practice, give your dog a treat every other time it goes down.
  • To increase the duration of the ‘down’ behavior, ask your dog to ‘down’ then count to 4 before you say ‘yes’ and give it a treat. Continue to increase the delay before giving it a treat.  With practice you will soon be up to 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Practice the ‘down’ behavior in the evening when your dog is quiet. Put it into a ‘down’ next to your chair. Every few seconds give it a small treat or stroke if it remains in the ‘down’ position.

DogSmith Tips – To generalize the ‘down’ behavior, have your dog ‘sit’ & ‘down’ before you open doors, give it its food bowl or put on its leash.  Another good exercise is to do doggy ‘sit ups’ as follows; have your dog go from ‘sit’ to ‘down’ and then back to ‘sit’ four times and then give it a treat.  Always give your dog the treat when it is in the correct position, ‘down’ or sit’.