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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Dog Instructions Down

Teach "down" by starting first with a "sit".  Then use your "treat" hand to lure slowly down moving back and between the dogs legs.

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Luring the dog to lie down

The dog needs to reliably sit before you teach the "down" Instruction. Begin by asking the dog to "sit," and praise the "sit." Next, put the treat at the dog's nose and move it straight down between the dog's legs, SLOWLY. If the dog does not plop down, begin to slide the treat along the floor SLOWLY back between the dog's two front legs towards the dog's belly. The dog should curl as he or she keeps focused on the food treat. Soon it is more comfortable for the dog to lie down, at which time he or she is given the food treat and praised in a calm voice.

The most common mistake made during this process is to move the food too quickly resulting in the dog giving up. You may need to give the dog small pieces of treats for moving closer and closer into a "down" position. The food must be held directly at and in contact with the dog's nose and lips. A second common mistake is to try to get the dog to lie down from standing up. It is easier to teach "down" from a "sit" position.

A dog that is resistant to learning the "down" Instruction may need daily reminders of positive human leadership.

Tricks of the trade

If you find it difficult to lure the dog into a down position, work on leadership exercises. Your dog may be resisting your leadership. If your dog is simply confused the following techniques will be helpful.

Bridge or tunnel

Sit on the ground feet straight out in front of you. Bend your knees upward making a bridge. Lure the dog to crawl under your knees to get the treat. When the dog crawls, the belly will hit the ground. Give the treat and say, "Down, good!"

Back against the wall

Ask the dog to sit with his or her back in a corner or against a wall. Then try the luring technique. For some dogs, this barrier makes it more in their interest to lie down.

Hand Signals

Dog's are more tuned into body language than to verbal language. Your dog will often learn a hand signal before learning a verbal cue. To combine the verbal cue with a visual cue for down, turn an open palm facing down at waist height. Move the palm down toward your knee. This downward movement gives the dog a visual CLUE.

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