The Little-Known Command That Will Make You Look Like a Pro Dog Trainer

how to teach dog down

Dog Obedience Training – How to Teach Down From a Distance

So you’ve got your dog responding to a down command on a regular basis, consistently. You may notice that when you try to get the dog to do the down command from a distance the dog always wants to come to you first.  He walks across the yard and comes to you before he will lie down.

You can addsress this by putting your dog on your training line and then tying the rope to an object that he can’t pull away from.  Stand by the dog and walk slowly away from the object so the dog takes up the slack in the lead line gradually.

Once the line is taut, move away from the dog maybe an extra ten feet.  Lean toward whichever hand of yours the dog is facing, and give the command “down” as you give the down hand motion.  Stay in this position for a couple of seconds.  You should be in an exaggerated lean toward one side with your hand pointing down.  If the dog doesn’t respond after a few seconds, quickly move to him and take the lead in your hands.


Even if the dog lies down as you approach, do not repeat the command, but take the lead and give them a couple of corrections toward the ground like we learned in the lesson on “Down”.  Even if they go down when we approach, we must administer the correction because they didn’t do it on command.

Pro Tip:  Remember you must give correction with enough force that the dog understands it.  My Labrador Gunner is 85 pounds, he takes quite a jerk on the lead to get it.  A Pomeranian wouldn’t take nearly the same correction.  Also, don’t shout or show anger with the dog.  They don’t understand emotion like that.  If you lose your cool, they see a leader who’s lost composure.  It makes them nervous.

After correcting your dog, wait a couple of seconds, then call him up to stand by you.  Pet him and give him a little affection so he knows you’re not angry with him. 

Repeat the above process.  Slowly walk away until the dog takes up slack in the lead, move 10 or so more feet and turn.  Make the down signal with whatever hand is facing more towards the dog, and give the ‘down’ command.

When the dog finally does go down, wait a second (Patience is critical here!) and slowly walk back to the dog.  It should remain in down, and stand beside him for a couple of seconds giving him time.  After a second or two, pet him and give him a “good boy”.  HE SHOULD REMAIN DOWN.  If not repeat the process.  Correct and redo the entire exercise.  If he remains down after a slight praise, wait a few seconds and give him the release command (in my case it’s “ok”).

Second level dog training with Down

Once they perform the down from a distance successfully 4 or 5 times, it’s time to go to the next level.

Untie them from the anchor.  Walk with them a few feet, wait till the dog is 10 or so feet in front of you and give them the down from a distance command.  If they don’t do it, quickly move towards them to make the correction.

If he moves toward you as you approach, take the lead and move the dog back to where he SHOULD have performed the command.  Make your correction there.

After correcting them, wait for a second and release him.  Stroll some more, and repeat the process.  Give him a few minutes in between commands, though.  Don’t just repeatedly give the command.  Let him relax a bit!  If they miss it twice, it’s time to take him back to the anchor.  Time him to the stake and repeat from there.  He needs more practice.

Do this back and forth, if you find your dog just doesn’t respond, you will have to increase the level of correction.

Once your dog learns this, he can be running full-bore toward you with a toy in his mouth, and if he sees you give the command he’ll stop immediately and lie down.

Remember, consistency and patience are key.  Do NOT fly off the handle.  If you find yourself losing patience, stop the training and maybe both you AND the dog need a break!

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