Why teach down?

Down is a great behavior to foster attention and calmness in your dog, and is on the curriculum of all basic obedience classes. When lying down, both a dog’s front and back legs are tucked underneath him and in contact with the floor. In advanced obedience, dogs are taught to lie down with their legs well-tucked squarely under them, but to start it is OK to have your dog roll on one side or the other when they lie down. The dog is stationary and asked to remain in the same position until released or asked to do something else.

Working on down is a great way to prevent jumping as it takes your dog a greater effort and longer time to jump up from a down, and thus you have more time to intervene. A dog who quietly lies down is also less intimidating and well tolerated whether you are hosting friends for dinner, or taking your dog out to a restaurant’s terrace. Down is also the starting point for great tricks like rolling over or puppy push ups. Finally, you can practice down in most of the same situations as sit, to form a stronger bond with your dog and foster calmness through their daily life. 

Your dog may or may not have learned down so far. Whatever their current level of proficiency, Companion training will work on making this behavior second nature for your dog, and on forming a strong association in your dog’s mind between the word “down” and the behavior.

How does Companion teach down?

Companion teaches down in three distinctive phases that reflect the best practice in dog training: acquisition, pairing, and stimulus control.

Acquisition

is the first step of Companion’s down lesson. In this introductory step, Companion will remain silent and wait for your dog to naturally lie down. At this point, because your dog is familiar with Companion training, he should feel comfortable enough to lie down after a while of not receiving a treat. As soon as your dog lies down, Companion will say “yes”, and reward your dog with a treat. After a few repetitions, your dog will start understanding the relationship between lying down and getting a treat, and will repeat that behavior more and more. By then, he is ready to start hearing the verbal cue.

Pairing

 is the next step in learning “lie down”. By now, your dog understands that lying down will get him a treat, but we want him to understand the word “down”. Companion, using state of the art sensors and measurements, predicts when your dog will offer the behavior. Right before your dog lies down, Companion will say “down”, and as soon as your dog lies down, Companion will say “yes” and reward your dog with a treat.

Stimulus Control

is the last step in this lesson. Now that your dog has learned to associate the word “down” with lying down, we want to make sure your dog can respond to the command, and lie down when you ask him to. At this point in training, Companion will say the command “down” when your dog is standing. If your dog responds within a few seconds, Companion will say “yes” and reward your dog with a treat. Companion will then reward your dog for responding faster and in a more precise manner to the command. Your dog will be ready to graduate when he consistently responds to “down”.

How to practice at home?

You can improve your dog performance by practicing at home

1. Set up

Take a small handful of treats in your pocket or your treat pouch. 

Sit down with your dog in a quiet, familiar room with your dog and make sure he doesn’t need to go potty

2. Give the cue

Get your dog’s attention by calling his name or make a noise, then say “down”, and wait up to 2 seconds for your dog to perform the behavior.

3. Use in daily life

In your daily life, use “yes” to communicate to your dog that they are doing the right thing.

It is important to use “yes” to mark exactly the behavior you are looking for. For example, when your dog sits, you want to say “yes” right as your dog’s butt touches the floor.

3. Use in daily life

In your daily life, use “yes” to communicate to your dog that they are doing the right thing.

It is important to use “yes” to mark exactly the behavior you are looking for. For example, when your dog sits, you want to say “yes” right as your dog’s butt touches the floor.

Tips

Need more pointers to practice down at home? Explore our tips!

Down for the door

Going on a walk or for a play session in the backyard is very exciting and rewarding for your dog....

Down for food

A lot of dogs are asked to sit before getting their food bowl, but you can switch it up by...

Down for the ball

When your dog has a good command of down, up the difficulty by asking him to lie down for the...

Puppy Push Ups

Practice “Puppy Push Ups” to work on sit and down proficiency in one exercise. Most dogs are used to practicing...

Down on different surfaces

Most dogs are comfortable lying down in their bed or on soft carpets but can get more touchy on other...

Capture down

For some active dogs, working on down is difficult at first. Instead of structuring training sessions that might excite your...

Down at dinner time

Dinner time is ideal to practice down: The smell of food might make your dog curious about what is going...

Down on bed

To ease into training down, ask your dog to lie down on his bed. A comfy bed is a good...

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