The down behaviour is another great “off-switch” for your dog. This is a naturally relaxed position your dog can adopt when you want him to be quiet in the house. Of course, you can use this behaviour anywhere you might need it!  The process of teaching a down is very similar to the sit. It is just a different hand signal.  I find that it is easiest to introduce the down from the sit position (as your dog’s rear end is already on the ground).

Start by asking your dog to sit. If your dog does not yet understand the word “sit” then simply use your visual cue as taught in the previous unit. Hold your right hand (with food in it) very close to your dog’s nose and lower your hand towards the ground between his front paws. He should naturally drop his body in order to get the food.  As he lies down, say “YES!” and reward.

If he continues to sit try sliding the treat under him or away from him very slowly. When he eventually gets the correct position, mark the moment with the “YES” and release the treat.   If your dog stands up instead, repeat the visual cue for the sit and try the down visual cue again.   If you hold the treat too far away from his nose, he is likely to stand up and come towards the treat. Be patient.  Be quiet.

It is OK if your dog makes mistakes when being taught this (or any) new behaviour.  Making mistakes is part of the learning process.  It is important to know just what works as well as what DOES NOT work!