How to Teach Your Chihuahua the “Down” Command

One of the basic commands that every dog should be taught is the “down” command. Another one that they really must know is “sit”, and “stay”. Knowing these may very well be life-saving knowledge for your dog someday. For instance, when you are trying to cross a busy street, just as one example. There are many other commands that it is really necessary that they know, but trainers usually start with these three.shutterstock_two-chis-down-182621453

Before he learns “down” however, you should really start with “sit”. If your dog already knows the “sit” command and does it consistently, it will be easier for him to learn “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:

  • While he is sitting facing you hold a treat in front of his nose and slowly lower it to the floor. Ideally he will follow the treat to the floor and lie down. If he does, give him the treat and lots of praise. Timing is important here, so be sure he is in the right position before you give the treat and praise.
  • If he does not lay in the correct position, slide the treat toward him between his front paws or away from him. Remember, it may take several attempts before you get the exact behavior. Be patient.
  • If after you have made several attempts over a period of time (it may take more than one day), then try putting slight pressure on his shoulder blade and gently push down and to the side. Praise him when he drops to the ground. It is preferable that you not use physical manipulation if at all possible.
  • When he is giving you the correct behavior consistently start to delay giving him the treat. Tell him to “wait” give it a second or two, then give him the treat and the praise. This will keep your dog focused on you.

What if my dog won’t stay down?

If he stands up, don’t reward him. Stand on the leash and this should cause him to correct himself if he tries to get up.

What if my dog does it in one room, but not another?

Sometimes a short coated dog will resist laying down on a hard floor. Try doing it on a rug or a towel.

Another tip is Herding breeds, sedentary or very large breeds often go to the “down” position easier than long-legged, deep chested or very hyper dogs.

Tip: use a different command when your dog jumps on you or on the sofa or bed. Try “off” instead of “down”. Otherwise he may be confused as to what you want him to do.

I must stress again, it takes patience and consistency on your part. Have a “training” session twice a day for no longer than 5-10 minutes each. It may take several days or more before you get the correct behavior each and every time. Never, never scold or yell at your dog. And of course; NEVER hit your dog. This will teach him nothing except to fear you.

Be patient with yourself too. Your timing will continue to improve and you will become a better and better trainer with practice.

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