Obedience Training Teaching Your Dog The Down Command

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Obedience Training Teaching Your Dog The Down Command

by Ashley D Bigham

One of the most useful commands you can teach your dog is ?down.? A laying dog will not run across busy streets, jump up on people, or beg at the table. The command transcends even these uses by giving the utmost respect to the owner when the dog is in that position. A fearful dog can have anxiety lessoned with this calming maneuver, and a hyperactive or compulsive dog will learn to redirect their energy toward this mentally taxing command.

What you want is a fast reaction, the whole body on the ground as soon as you give the command. You do not want a slow, first one leg then the other, followed by the rump finally with the dog shooting right back up. Your dog should be relaxed and waiting for the next command after an immediate response.

To train your dog, get him to sit and stand in front of him. Have a small treat between your thumb and forefinger, small enough that the dog can?t get at it unless you let go of it. Get your dog?s interest with the food; he needs to know you have something he wants so he?ll hopefully follow your hand. With the dog?s attention, lower you hand toward the ground. The dog should follow the food with his nose. At this point, the dog may have gone down already. Praise him and give him the food. If not, still having the dog?s attention, pull the treat toward you, away from the dog in a straight line. With any luck the dog will reach out with its upper body and lay down. Give him the treat and lots of praise. You can add the word ?down? later when this movement has been repeated often enough with the desired response.

If drawing food away doesn?t work, have your dog sit. With one hand, pull one of the dog?s forelegs gently forward. Simultaneously with your other hand, push very gently sideways and slightly down. Push in the direction of the other leg so that the dog is forced (gently!) to lay down or fall over. This should not be done harshly or too unexpectedly. You don?t want to scare your dog. Some trainers oppose this method because they think you will always have to touch your dog to give the command. However, if you can teach that the word ?down? means for the dog to lay down, it shouldn?t matter which strategy you use to teach it.

Once your dog has gotten the initial point of the command, teach a Long Down. This means that when you say ?down? the dog doesn?t get up again until you give the counter-command, or release. This will take time, and practice, but eventually your dog will understand that you want him to stay put. Delay the treat for a couple seconds, gradually increasing the time, until you give the release.

Ashley writes on how to train your dog better and more efficiently. You can learn more by visiting Dog Training.

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