Training the down command is quite similar to the training exercise for the sit command.
We start with a food lure and as the dogs nose follows the treat, his belly touches the floor, back legs tuck in and front legs extended.
We then progress the obedience training to hand and verbal commands.
An obedient "down" is also the foundation for more advanced tricks like "roll-over" and "play dead" so it's allot of fun too.
Start out training for success in a quiet room with minimal distractions to get the idea of a down firmly ingrained in your dog's mind.
As before, positive dog performance is rewarded and praised. Mistakes are not rewarded, but, we can back up and break the command into smaller success steps which are rewarded.
Try not to use the down command for other actions, (eg: getting off the couch) as this will confuse the dog. Use the off command instead.
Use treats as a lure first during training, then progress to using a tasty treat as a reward after success along with praise.
Dogs that are shy or fearful may take longer to comply with the down command training. Lying down is a submissive posture to a dog, and may require more time to gain the trust and confidence between dog and owner.
Starting with your dog in a sit position in front of you, hold the treat a few inches your dogs nose.
Say the down command, and lower the treat to the floor. Encourage your dog to follow, and as his tummy touches the floor, his front legs will extend toward you.
Immediately praise and reward for excellent behavior!
If your dog doesnt get his belly down, you may have to lure him more by moving the treat along the floor. When his abdomen hits the floor, praise and reward.
Repeat several times until your dog consistently follows the lure to the down position, front legs forward, hind legs tucked in under his body.
If the your dog doesnt respond in a fluid motion to the down, break it up into smaller goals. Head down, shoulders down, front legs extended, back legs tucked.
Dog training the down command.
Introduce a hand signal into the lesson. The common hand signal for down is holding your hand flat, palm facing down and your forearm lowering toward the floor.
Stand in front of your dog and place a treat in your signal hand.Use the verbal and hand signals to lure the dog into a down position.
Once your dog obediently responds to the hand and vocal commands, treats need not be used as a lure, but as a reward for positive performance. Later practice using only a verbal or only the hand signal.
Praise is never out of style though, and becomes reward enough for most dogs. My Goldie will go into the down quite happily because theres a belly rub just around the corner for proper obedience. :)
Use this exercise often during the day, and challenge the dog training by introducing some distractions. Youll find yourself using the down command regularly and often during the day, and your dog will have developed some proper social manners as well.