Remember to follow the principles of “SAY IT – SHOW IT – PAY IT”.
1. Start by using treats to lure your dog into the “DOWN” position. For some dogs, its easier to start from the “SIT”, while others will go easier into a “folded” “DOWN” where they bent their body back from a standing position into a sphinx-like position. For some dogs, gently petting them along their side, will also encourage them to go into the “DOWN” position so they can roll on their back for petting. Experiment with your dog, to see whats easier for him. Once they can reliably go into the down position, you’ll want to make sure they can do it from both a “SIT” and a “STAND”.
2. From a “SIT”, bring a treat from your dog’s nose, downward along his chest all the way to the ground. If he lowers his head to follow the treat, praise and reward. He doesn’t have to go into the down yet, you want to ease them into it, be patient. Repeat this exercise, pulling the treat away further each time, so your dog must stretch down and forward to get it. Reward each increment. If your dog goes far enough down, that the elbows touch down on the ground, give him a handful of treats and praise lavishly to let him know this is what you really wanted. Repeat and praise several times.
2b. From a “STAND”, bring a treat from your dog’s nose, downward along the chest and back between the front legs toward the ground under the belly. If he lowers his head to follow the treat, praise and reward. Reward each increment and once the elbows touch the ground, praise and reward lavishly. Make sure the rear has lowered to the ground before you allow your dog to take the treat. Repeat and praise several times.
3. When your dog is offering to “DOWN” consistently when you lure with the treats, start naming the behavior. Say “DOWN”, then show the treat to help them into position. Praise and reward when they do. At this point, you want to introduce a release word like “OK” or “FREE” which will signify to your dog that they can get out of the position and move freely.
4. Now without the treats in hand, give your “DOWN” command. You can use similar hand motions to those you used when luring with the treat. When your dog goes into position, praise and reward, then give your “OK” before they move out of position.
5. Start teaching your dog to stay in position for longer and longer time, by giving more than one treat in succession before giving the “OK”. If your dog moves before the “OK”, help them back into position but wait a few seconds before your reward again or give your “OK” word. If your dog moves up, as you stand up, try to time your motion with them eating their treat, then bend back down and feed before he’s done eating. You want to teach your dog that your
standing up does not mean they should move out of position.
6. As your dog understands the game, wait longer between treats and move around and add distractions. Always make sure your dog is being successful and make the excercise easier if they are having trouble at some point. Pretty soon you’ll have a dog with a happy and reliable “Down-Stay”.
Copyright Dog Connection 2011