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Basic Dog Obedience
Teaching the word, "down"

DOWN means, "Belly and elbows all the way to the ground."

First Choice Method

1.  Start with the dog sitting. If the "sit" on cue is not known, teach that first.

2.  Give one treat for a successful "sit." This shows the dog that you control the treats.

3.  Move the food lure slowly - straight down and back between the dogs front two feet. Move food lure slowly back under the dog's chest.

4.  Initially, give a lick of the the treat for any movement toward lying down. (e.g. ducking the head) Giving tastes of the treat and small pieces will keep the dog's interest.

5.   Don't add the verbal Instruction, "down" until you are sure the dog is about to lie down.  Remember the dog is learning how words SOUND, so say "down" the same way each time. 

6.   During initial training, reward all successes, then gradually require a quicker response.

7.   Use a hand signal = right hand, palm down, moving down.

8.   Use "clicker" to reward the dog when he relaxes into a down position on his own. ALWAYS follow the one click with a food reward.  Over time, you may extend the seconds between the click and when the dog gets the reward.

9.   For puppies and small dogs, you may lure the dog to crawl under your knees while you are seated on the floor. As the dog lowers into a down position, praise and treat.
 
Don't give the verbal Instruction, "down" until the dog is just about to lie down.  This helps the dog connect the word with the action.

Second Choice Method (Avoid applying pressure to a potentially aggressive dog.)
Start with the dog in the sitting position. Place one hand gently on the rump to prevent the dog from getting up. Then place a thumb in collar, and press down and back, placing the dog into a down position. Most dogs will resist steady pressure for several seconds, then comply. Add the verbal Instruction, "down" just as the dog lies down. Act like it was the dog's idea, and praise and treat. Then move back a foot, call the dog to get him to stand and take a step, then repeat, always with a happy rewarding tone.

Third Choice Method
Start with the dog in the sitting position. Press one hand down on back of neck, grasp the collar, and lay your arm down the back of the dog with your elbow near the dog's rump. With your free arm, sweep both front legs forward while you press down with the hand and arm on the back. Add the verbal Instruction, "down" just as the dog lies down.

Fourth Choice Method
Bunch several fingers and press down on a spot near the top center of the dog, just between the shoulder blades. Just keep steady pressure, and the dog will often "buckle" and move away from the pressure into the down position.

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