Tip of the Month

7/25/2008 Capture the Behavior – The “Down” Cue

How To Teach A Dog To Lay DownDog Laying Down - Arthritis

Start With A Lure

Most dog owners will agree that a calm, obedient dog lying quietly next to them as they watch TV, read a book, or have dinner with the family is far preferable to an in-your-face dog who just won’t relax. Getting your dog to lie down is usually a simple dog training/obedience cue to master; ABC’s method of teaching a dog the “down” cue is to food-lure the dog into position using yummy, potent-smelling treats and praising her when she gets in position accurately and in a timely manner. However, what if your dog will not allow you to lure her into the down position? What if she just does not seem to be catching on? Many dog owners would consult a dog trainer in this instance, though it’s relatively simple to train dogs (especially your own) on your own or with simple guidance from a professional animal trainer.

Capture The Behavior

The best way to go about mending this dog training issue is to capture the dog’s behavior on a regular basis, whenever you “catch” her lying down quietly. ABC deems this the “opportunistic” or “natural” down. Capturing the behavior involves praising and treating the dog whenever you observe her lying in the down position. Since your dog trainer doesn’t live with you 24-7, it’s your responsibility to reinforce dog training cues such as the down behavior. Some owners will find that treats, toys, or praise – whatever the dog finds most rewarding – are sufficient for capturing the behavior. Some owners may choose to also use a clicker to capture the natural down.

To capture the down behavior, place a handful of food treats between your dog’s front paws whenever she is calmly resting in the down position. If she does not find food treats rewarding, try giving her a favorite chew toy or verbal praise (“Good!”). Remember to do this every time you find her in the down position. She will soon learn that lying in the down position is beneficial to her and will offer the behavior more often. After repeated captures and rewards for her good down behavior, you will be able to associate a cue, i.e. the word “down,” with the behavior. Your dog will soon become much easier to coax into the down position.

Get A Dog Trainer's Help If You Need It

If you have any questions or problems, always contact your animal trainer or dog trainer for advice and tips. Frequent brush-up dog training sessions can be helpful to your dog’s level of obedience. If you do not have a dog trainer to provide advanced assistance with your pooch’s dog training, contact an ABC Certified Dog Trainer in your area by visiting ABC’s Online Dog Trainer Directory. See ABC’s homepage for more information.

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