Train Down (Lay Down)
Follow these steps to train your dog to lay down:
1. With yummy treats in your hand, let pup smell and get interested.
2. Lure - While pup is standing, move the food in toward his chest and down toward the floor right between his front paw, then WAIT. Pup should lower elbows and/or rear down to floor; C/T any movement of lowering the body. You may find it easier to start training Down from a Sit as well. The process is the same, with dog in a Sit, lower the treat down and hold it right between his front paws.
3. To encourage the dog to lower his body, wait for incrementally longer intervals before releasing the treat to him. He should begin to tire and relax onto the ground into the Down position.
4. C/T only for closer approximations to a full down (chest and rear on the floor) - this is shaping. Be sure to hold the treat close to the dog, between his front paws. Otherwise, the dog may be inclined to move forward to get to the treats.
5. Fade the lure. Do this by turning the lure into a hand signal for Down. With no food in your hand, point to the ground in front of the dog, between his paws. Since this actions looks just like the lure, the dog should respond by laying down. As soon as his chest hits the ground, C/T.
6. Add distance incrementally by pointing to the floor from three inches above the floor, then six, then twelve, only increasing difficulty after success at the previous level. Remember to give him plenty of time to think and figure out each new level/challenge—resist urge to repeat cue or immediately “help” him. The goal is to be able to stand tall, point toward the floor and the dog respond by laying down.
7. Add the verbal cue once the dog is consistently laying down with the hand signal (9/10 times). Give the hand signal (the known cue) followed by the verbal signal "Down." Practice with 10-20 treats then take a break.
8. Build duration in the Down by feeding several treats in rapid succession at floor level between his feet as he remains in the down. Then release (“OK!”).
9. Begin to generalize by practicing in many different locations.
10. Add distance by asking for a Down (verbal cue and/or hand signal) from farther and farther away from the dog. Be sure to lower the criteria for distraction and duration while adding distance.