“Down”

Teaching your BC to lie down not only helps to keep him in one spot, but also offers a calming timeout, in addition, it is a useful intervention to curtail, or even prevent barking. When paired with the stay command, you can keep your dog comfortably in one place for long periods. Down not only protects your dog in potentially hazardous situations, but it also provides you with peace of mind that your dog will remain in the place where you commanded him to stay. This is yet another essential command that you will utilize daily, throughout the lifetime of your dog.

Basics

– Begin training in a quiet place with few distractions, and bring plenty of treats. Wait for your dog to lie down of his own will, and then click and treat while he is in the lying down position. Toss a treat to get him up again. Repeat this until he begins to lie down immediately after he gets the treat. His compliance means that he is starting to understand that good things come to him when he lies down, so in anticipation of this, he lays right back down.

– Now, augment the training with the addition of the verbal command, “down.” As soon as your dog starts to lie down, say “down,” and click and treat. From here on, only click and treat your dog when he lies down after your command.

– Next, practice this in a variety of areas and in situations of various distraction. Begin the practice indoors, then take it outside into your yard, and then wander into the neighborhood, and beyond. Remain patient in the more distracting locations. Situations to command your dog to lie down could be times when there are strangers present, when there is food nearby, or when the stereo or television is on. Anytime you are outdoors barbequing, having a party, in the park, or during your walks together are also excellent opportunities to practice this command. Maintain diligence with this training, and attempt to find situations of increasing levels of distraction where you might need to use the command “down.” Remember that consistent compliance is what you are looking for.

The power and importance of the command “down” will prove to be one of the most useful of all to train and maintain during the life of your dog. After your success with the training of “down,” you can then move to the combination command of “down-stay,” which should be trained in order to keep your dog in place until you release him. Imagine the ease and joy when your pooch accompanies you to the local café, and he lays quietly, as well as obediently, at your feet while you drink your morning coffee, or when you eat your meal. Having an obedient companion is a very attractive and respected attribute of any responsible dog owner.

It is important to monitor and track your partner’s progress by taking notes during his training, especially as you increase the distractions, highlighting where and when he needs more work, or attention.

– Gradually phase out clicking and treating your dog every time that he obeys the “down” command. Reduce the treats to one time out of two compliances, followed by one out of three, then one out of four, five, six, and finally stop altogether. Do not decrease the treats too rapidly and be sure to observe closely, your dog’s abilities and pace. The goal of the training is to have your dog obey all commands with only a vocal or physical cue, without a reward.

PROBLEMS SOLVED

– If your dog will not comply with the down command, you need to return the training to a low distraction area, such as a bathroom. Unless your dog likes decorative bath soaps or vanity mirrors, and he may, there is not much to distract him in the bathroom. Continue the training there.

– If your dog does lie down, but pops right back up, be sure that you are only treating him when in the lying down position. In this way, your dog will sooner understand the correlation between the command, action, and the subsequent treat.

~ Paws On – Paws Off ~