Part 9, How to teach “down”
One of the basic commands that every dog should be taught is the “down” command. Before he learns “down” however, you should really start with “sit” (See Part VI in our series). If your dog already knows the “sit” command and does it consistently, it will be easier for him to learn “down”.
How to Teach Down
It can be very frustrating to teach any dog the basic commands if you have never done it before. The behavior you are looking for is when your dog lies flat on his chest and belly or cocked a little on his hip. Here’s how to teach down:
- As your dog is sitting facing you, hold the treat in front of his nose and slowly lower it to the ground.
- Ideally, your dog will follow the treat in your hand and lie down. That is the time your praise him and give him the treat. Remember, not unless he is in a perfect “down” do you want to release the treat to him. If it’s just his nose that follows the treat to the floor, slowly slide it a little away from him. Hopefully, he will then lie down to better reach it. Be patient, eventually, he will lie down. It may take several 5 or 10-minute sessions before he is successful.
- If he doesn’t respond at all, put slight pressure on his shoulder blade. Slightly, and gently push him down. However, use this as a last resort. It is always best to let your dog figure out what you want him to do on his own.
- When he is consistently lying down, begin to gradually take a little longer to give him the treat. Tell him “wait” and then “good” and release the treat to him. When you vary the time before giving him the treat will keep him focused. He should not move until he is given the release word (usually, “OK”).
Your Chihuahua can learn this skill at any age. It may be more difficult for a Chihuahua than a heavier, deep-chested, or very hyper dog breeds.
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