Train & Teach Dog The Down Command

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Key Takeaways

  • The luring method is the best way to train a dog to lie in the down position.
  • Dog owners can also use the capturing or shaping method to train and teach their dogs the down command.  
  • When your dog lies down on command, use positive reinforcement to reward their behavior.
  • It’s ideal to start training a puppy as early as eight weeks old.

Training your dog is an essential part of having a well-behaved pet. We’ll explain how to train and teach a dog the useful "Down" command.

The luring method is the best way to teach a dog the “down” command. Hold a treat in front of the dog’s nose and slowly move it downward towards the ground. The dog should follow the treat and lower their body. Repeat this until the down is in a down position and reward them with the treat.

Using positive reinforcement and patience, you'll be able to communicate with your furry friend effectively while strengthening the bond between you two. This guide includes proven dog training strategies for dogs of all ages. Follow this guide and watch your dog become a pro at the down command.

In this article

How To Train & Teach Dog The Down Command: (Step By- Step)

Teaching your pup the “Down” command is one of the most important commands to know. It has multiple uses and can be a great way to get some control over your dog when it gets too excited or out of hand.

The Down command is also very helpful if you are trying to prevent jumping up on people or furniture. When teaching a new command, it is best to ensure you have plenty of treats and positive reinforcement handy.

Before jumping into our top training methods, we recommend focusing on house training first. When dogs learn the easier things first, they gain confidence for more advanced commands.

We also recommend finding ways to get your dog’s attention and establishing a release cue. This will be extremely helpful while teaching this command and many others.

Using the Luring Method

I have found that the luring method is quite effective. To get started, I grab a tasty treat and hold it in front of my dog's nose. Keeping the treat close, I slowly move it downward, guiding my dog into a lying position.

Once they're down, I reward them with the treat and praise. The luring method is one of the easiest ways to get your dog into the down position. This method can be used to teach a dog all of the basic commands too.

Start by showing your dog a treat and holding it in front of them. As you move the treat slowly downwards, use the word “down” to indicate what you want them to do. When they have successfully laid down on their own, give them the treat as a reward.

You will likely need to repeat this several times until your dog understands what you want from them. If your pup does not lay down after several attempts, try moving the treat further away.

Then gradually bring it back towards them while saying “down”. This should work better than trying to encourage or push your pup into position with your hands or body language. You can also try to lure the puppy with an empty hand when they show progress.

Using the Capturing Method

Sometimes, I prefer the capturing method. I observe my dog and wait for them to lie on their own. When they do, I click my clicker or say "yes" and give them a treat.

This captures the behavior, teaching them that lying down earns rewards. This means you wait for your dog to lie down naturally without prompting or cueing them.

As soon as they do, you immediately reward them. Over time and with consistent repetition, your dog will learn that lying down is rewarded.

This increases the likelihood of them doing it again when prompted by the “down” command. This method is the opposite of a verbal cue and also incorporates some positive reinforcement

Using the Shaping Method

Lastly, I sometimes use the shaping method. This involves breaking the down command into smaller steps. This will take multiple training sessions to see results, but I’ve learned it works well.

  1. Hold a treat in front of my dog's nose while they’re in a sitting position
  2. Lower the treat, guiding their head down
  3. Move the treat slightly back, encouraging them to lower their front legs
  4. Continue luring until the dogs lying down completely
  5. Reward them with the treat and praise

When your dog lies down, use positive words like “good dog” to encourage that behavior. I gradually work on shaping their behavior until they can perform the entire down command without assistance.

Understanding the Down Command & Why It's Important

Before you begin training, you should learn a little more about the down command. This training usually starts when the dog is in a standing position too.

Never rush the training session either. Teaching a dog to lie takes time. So consider these benefits and other key facts before getting started.

Benefits of Teaching

Teaching your dog the Down command is an essential component in obedience training. It's not only useful during formal sessions but also in everyday life situations with your furry friend.

Mastering this command helps establish a strong bond between you and your dog and ensures their safety. Some benefits of teaching the Down command include:

  • Creating a well-behaved and obedient dog
  • Instilling a sense of calm and relaxation in your pet
  • Enhancing your dog's focus and attentiveness to you
  • Preventing impulsive and disruptive behaviors

Appropriate Age to Start Training

Age plays a vital role in how quickly a puppy or adult dog can learn new commands like the down command. Generally, you can start training a puppy as early as 8 weeks old.

At this stage, they're more eager to learn and can quickly grasp basic commands. You can still teach older dogs this command, but it might take a little more patience and persistence on your part.

The most important thing is consistency in training, regardless of your dog's age. Remember, having a positive and engaging attitude during training sessions is essential.

This will make the process enjoyable and encourage faster learning for your furry companion. Making your dog lie down at a young age is possible but requires patience.

Getting Started With Training Sessions

Choosing the Training Spot

When teaching my dog the "down" command, I first selected the perfect spot for training. I looked for a quiet space with minimal distractions, like our backyard or living room.

A familiar environment will make it easier for my dog to focus on learning the new command. It’s ideal to do all the training at home. Many dogs find this to be a comfortable place that they trust.

Gather Training Supplies

Before starting the training session, I made sure to gather all the necessary supplies. This included:

  • A leash and collar for controlling my dog during training
  • Treats or favorite toys to use as rewards and motivation
  • A clicker (optional), which can help mark correct responses during training

With the ideal training spot and supplies ready, my dog and I were prepared to begin learning the "down" command together. In using this approach, I found the training process to be both effective and enjoyable for both me and my furry friend.

Common Dog Training Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Here are some common mistakes we see dog owners make and what you can do to avoid them in your household.

Being Inconsistent

One common mistake I've noticed when teaching a dog the down command is being inconsistent with the cues and rewards. Consistency is key in training, as it helps the dog understand what is expected of them.

To avoid this issue, always use the same verbal command and hand gestures every time. Additionally, reward your dog with praise or a treat as soon as they follow through with the command.

Rushing the Process

Another mistake I've encountered is rushing the process. Training takes time and patience. It's important to remember that each dog learns at their own pace.

To avoid rushing, follow these steps:

  • Break down the command into smaller steps
  • Work on each step individually, gradually building up to the full command
  • Be patient and calm when training

Using these strategies, I've noticed a significant improvement in my dog's ability to learn and execute the down command. Remember always to be patient, consistent, and understanding when teaching your dog any new command.

Reinforcing the Down Command For Long Term Success

Dogs are smart creatures and they learn through habit. Typically, this is enough for them to remember commands. So follow these tips to ensure long-term success.

Integrating it into Daily Activities

To make the "Down" command second nature for your dog, integrate it into your daily activities. I like to practice this command during mealtimes, as it encourages my dog to be calm and patient.

For example, have your dog perform the "Down" command before serving their meal. Incorporate the command into fun activities like playtime and walks to make it more enjoyable for you and your dog.

Practicing in Different Environments

Dogs often need to practice commands in various settings to grasp them fully. To help my dog master the "Down" command, I practice with them in different environments like parks, backyards, and even indoors.

We suggest using positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, to ensure your dog successfully understands and follows the command. By practicing in various environments, your dog will become more confident and responsive when you ask them to lie down.


Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson