Teaching “Down” in dog training is an extremely important training skill to teach your dog. It is one of those six basic things you must teach your dog, to keep them safe from potential danger. Not only is it helpful in preventing unwanted behaviors like door-charging, it is also a good way to raise more settled, calm behavior in your pet. By teaching your dog how to lay down, you establish yourself as the leader of your pack, which is always good for your dog and you! If you don’t teach them how to lie down, your dog will run off every time you try to take a nap or a walk.
When learning how to teach your dog to lie down, there are a few steps you can follow to help your dog enjoy more of this valuable dog training aid. First off, practice letting him know he has done the right thing by lying down. If you are not consistent in practicing this, he may get the wrong idea and start thinking that he is doing something wrong.
Teach him to lie down by touching his elbows at the base of his tail, about two feet in front of him, with his paws down by his sides. You should be able to see his elbows by his side, not his back. This is his cue to let you know that he has done the correct thing. Do not try to pull his legs up too high, because this will teach him to jump up on people, which could possibly cause injury.
Next, use the capture method by putting your finger (with the clicker training method) into his open mouth, about four inches from his head. Then give him your palm and say “lie down.” Give him several trials, and after each trial, give him his hand. When he shows great obedience by laying down on your hand, you can end the clicking session by saying the word “no” and putting your hand in his mouth, making sure to say the word again as he lies down.
To teach your dog how to eat food lure, put some treats in a shallow bowl on the floor next to your dog’s bedding. When he gets down on his hands and knees to eat his treat, make sure to reward him. Use a command like “eat” when he does. He should immediately begin to associate eating with getting rewarded with a “good job.” After a couple of weeks, he will begin to associate the command with what he is doing, and will eagerly anticipate getting his food lure of choice when the time is right.
For more detailed information on practicing this clicker method, you’ll need to practice it until you master it. Once you have mastered the sitting down and standing up behavior, begin practicing the other behaviors, such as lying down and jumping up, using the same treats as before. Make sure to always start with small treats and to always make sure that you are using the proper clicker and treat for the behavior you are trying to teach. For example, if you are wanting to teach him how to sit on command, use the whistle clicker instead of the traditional treat clicker.
In order to teach your dog how to lie down with his elbows facing you, begin by sitting down next to your dog, face him with your elbow resting against his hip. Slowly move your arm back and forth until your dog is lying perfectly still. You can begin by holding both his elbows out in front of you and then move in a circular motion around his elbows, clicking your heels together as you move in a circular pattern in the beginning. Continue practicing this until your dog has perfect control over both his legs and his elbows. Now, start to move your arm back and forth again, this time placing your palm on his stomach to gently guide him toward a sitting position. Click the whistle and treat to him, and continue with the repetitions.
The final step in how to teach your dog to lie down is to step one into the command itself. Begin by simply saying “lie down”, and as you do, guide your dog through the proper motions. Use this verbal cue several times, and be patient with him. He will eventually start to understand the concept, and you will not need to use the verbal cue anymore. For dogs who are stubborn, be prepared for them to continue to rebel during this process. But be patient, and with consistent practice, you will notice a remarkable change in your pet’s behavior.