Dog training basics: The down command – Part 1

A well-trained dog should always know the Down command. Owners of larger and more aggressive breeds will find this command useful when attempting to socialize their dogs. In certain situations, such as the dog park brawls that many owners are familiar with, having your dog lie down on the floor immediately after you command it can help you control your pet in chaotic circumstances. The following tips will assist you in teaching your dog the Down command.

1. Start with your dog sitting next to you, as always, on your left side. For hyper-active dogs or small puppies with shorter attention spans, you may want to keep them on the leash so that your work is not continually interrupted by chasing them down.

2. Kneel and place your left hand on his shoulders just behind his forelegs and calmly, but firmly, command him, “Down!” Remember to avoid repeating the command. Reiterating your commands only leads to confusion on your dog’s part. Be patient and only command him once.

3. After your command, push down very gently with your right hand and use your left hand to scoop his front legs out until he is lying on the floor and be sure that he is relaxed.

4. When he is in the lying position, wait a few seconds, and then shower him with praise, or even a treat.

Remember to use a release word that you have previously taught your dog in order to let him know that he is free to break his lying position. Training your dog can be tedious and time-consuming work, so be sure that you set aside time for your dog to practice these exercises so that he can have long-term retention. Consistency is the key to achieving your desired results, so keep in mind that you will have to continually go over these exercises with your pet, and even after he has fully learned the behavior, refresh his or her memory from time to time.

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