Teaching Your Dog The Command "Down"

>> 8/28/09

Have you ever heard the saying, "Nature to be commanded, must be obeyed?" This quote is attributed to Francis Bacon and it's never been more relevant than when training a puppy or dog. Dogs inherently know and recognize a hierarchy structure. They relate to different levels of authority within their pack-which now that dogs have been domesticated relates to their family of people, as well. The alpha is the leader at the top of the pack, while the one with least authority is known as the omega. When you have a dog, you want him to recognize that you are the alpha or leader in your family or pack.

Functionally, it is good for your dog to know and obey the down command. This can save your furniture from getting battered about and small children from getting knocked down. It's also a good start for your dog to learn additional commands such as "crawl" or "roll over" or even tricks.

It is a good thing that such behavior is by and large quite uncomplicated to train. That is why it is paramount to avail oneself of such voluntary behavior anytime it's possible. You can do this through keeping an eye on the dog and reacting when there is a clear-cut change from standing to a sitting posture or from a sitting position to a down posture.

When this happens, you want to speak a specific command and use a unique hand gesture simultaneously. This gesture should be something you would not normally do, so you must make a special effort to do it. Every single time the dog goes into this position, you should clearly issue the command and make that hand gesture. Always use the same tone of voice.

After you make the command and gesture combination, and as soon as the desired behavior occurs, give the dog lots of praise. Initially, the dog won't really understand why he's getting praised. But this is actually irrelevant. As you repeat this consistently, the dog will learn to associate the praise with his action following your command. And this desired behavior will be the link to that praise.

Nearly all dogs will not accomplish the asked for behavior on a command the first few times it is tried. So, always be even-tempered and clear and - first and foremost - be consistent. As with any other type of teaching, it is essential to eliminate noise and movement types of interruptions during the teaching period. Seek being alone with the dog and as far away from other people and animals as possible.

Always encourage correct behavior through taking a treat or favorite toy and placing the dog in a sitting position while placing the toy on the ground near to the front of the dog's nose.

You can also try using a "wave down" motion with your hand, palm down, directing the dog toward the down position on the floor by the treat or toy. But be sure you don't reward the dog with the treat or praise until he correctly complies and lies down. This may take a while, though, so don't get discouraged or angry if the dog doesn't comply at first.

For a slow to learn or assertive dog, it becomes important to complement training by using a collar and leash in the effort. It's recommended to use a short nylon or leather lead that is, most favorably, about two to four feet. Put your dog in a sitting position and kneel down facing him.

Make the distinct hand gesture signaling the command, while at the same time giving the verbal command and moving a treat or toy by the dog's chin and to the ground while slowly and smoothly pulling on the lead. The purpose is to encourage the dog and not to chastise the dog in any fashion.

In those rare cases where your dog seems to have difficulty learning, try this. Face the dog at a bit of an angle and, while you are kneeling down, slip the loop of the leash under one or your feet and also slide the loop under the knee of the dog's opposite leg. Now try issuing the command again, only this time, gently pull the leash loop with your foot and pull both of the dog's front legs toward you gently, so he slides down into the down position.

Even if you had to initiate the movement to get the dog in the correct position, give the dog lots of praise and attention. The key here is that you want the dog to always associate good and positive feelings-both his and yours-with this position.

Teaching Your Dog The Command "Down" by Ryan Rivollier

Author Resource:

Get important information, tips, and techniques about Dog Training and Care. Also Learn about finding the most comfortable Dog Bedding for your dog.

Related Training Help:

New Dog Obedience Training Guide

Technorati Tags:



Blog Syndication


  © Blogger templates Palm by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP