Teaching "Down" command - German Shepherd Dog Forums
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 283
Question Teaching "Down" command

Question - how do you actually teach the down command?

What I have been doing with out much luck is I get down on my knees, have Emma "Sit" in front of me, then say "Down" while pointing to a spot on the floor directly in front of her - if no reaction I gently pull her front paws forward to get her in the down position while saying "down". However she usually immediately rolls to one side, or thinks it is a play game wanting a tummy rub.

Am I doing this correctly? I do usually have a treat buried and hidden in my hand too which I know she smells, but she does not get it unless she completes a task, or at least tries.

Any help would be appreciated
POWERSCOL is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 12:14 PM
Crowned Member
llombardo's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Illinois
Posts: 14,021
If she is in the sit position, point to the floor, tap the floor, and say down, do all of this with the treat in your closed fist. Do not repeat the command, but you can keep tapping the floor. Be prepared for a head rush if you have a stubborn dog...they eventually do it, but it might take a minute or two. She will paw your hand, smell your hand because of the treat, but don't cave in. You should be standing, don't get on your knees, this is where the head rush comes in You can do it.

Misty- Samoyed Mix, Tannor- Golden Retriever CGC
Robyn- GSD CGC, TC, Midnite-GSD CGC,TC, Brennan-Golden Retriever CGC, Batman-Husky/Greyhound , Apollo-GSD
llombardo is offline  
post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 12:20 PM
Elite Member
mandiah89's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Posts: 1,297
with a treat in your hand, place it under the dogs chin and move your hand down infront of her chest to inbetween her front paws, this will lure her into a "down" position

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Penny - GSD - 11/11/2012
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Diesel - GSD - 03/15/2010 - 11/05/2012
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
mandiah89 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 01:02 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: DFW, TX
Posts: 269
Smile Luring the down

OP, hubby and I took in a Dutchie mix foster about a month ago. I don't think he has had any OB training before. This video was done on day 12 of marker training him. I lured him into "down" a few times in the video.

I first taught him to push against my hand (treat in hand, mark and release treat if he pushed against it). As he pushes his nose into my hand, I push against him so he leans his body backwards.

For him, during the first few attempts, I marked and treated for just extending his front legs and touching the ground with his chest. Then as he puts his rear end down, I marked and treated.

Hope this helps
San is offline  
post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 02:28 PM
No Stinkin' Leashes Moderator
Cassidy's Mom's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 31,984
Luring as San demonstrates in the video is a very effective technique. You can do it from a stand or a sit, and I'd recommend both, or you'll have a dog that only understands it one way or the other. Keep the treat in your hand until she's dropped into a down, then immediately mark it and give her the treat. Release, repeat.

If you do use the lure method, make sure that you only have a treat in your hand as long as you actually need it. Once he's consistently following that hand into a down you should switch to doing the same motion but with an empty hand, and then treat from the other hand. I can usually get to this step in the first or second short training session. If he looks confused at first when you don't have a treat in your hand anymore, give him a few seconds to figure it out. From there I gradually fade the motion so it's much smaller, from a hand moving down to the floor to as little as just a finger pointing down. That is now my hand signal for the down.

Until the dog is consistently responding to my hand signal (lure motion with an empty hand), I'm not even worrying about a verbal command - there's no point in saying "down" until he's actually doing it. Once the behavior is consistent, you would say the command before you use the hand signal, not at the same time. If you say it first, it will become a predictor for the hand signal that follows, and become associated with the behavior. If you say it at the same time, he'll be paying attention to what he knows (the hand signal), and not what you're saying. Gradually I start waiting longer and longer before using the hand signal after giving the verbal command, letting the dog think about it and figure it out on their own, until I'm finally only using it as a reminder, if necessary, to let her know what I want.

I prefer not to physically manipulate the puppy into position, because as you have noticed, they may think it's an invitation to play. Another very effective method that I use in addition to luring is to "capture" the behavior as the puppy offers it, then marking and rewarding. Remember that you're not actually teaching her to lay down, she does that all by herself, probably dozens of times a day! But if you mark and reward her when she lays down, she's going to start laying down more often. You can mark it and toss the treat so she has to get up and get it. Wait for her to lay down again, mark and reward. Repeat.

Once she's consistently offering a down, you can say the word right before she does it - mark/reward. That will also help associate the word with the with behavior.

Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
Cassidy's Mom is offline  
post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 03:00 PM
The Agility Rocks! Moderator
MaggieRoseLee's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Bushkill, PA (The Poconos!)
Posts: 27,461
Use a clicker to help them learn... Great tips on




Miss Osin Blue Wildhaus NA NAJ NF

"Nothing new can come into your life unless you are grateful for what you already have. ~ "--- Michael Bernhard, gratitude
MaggieRoseLee is online now  
post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 283
Great information - Ill give it a try tonight
Thanks very much
POWERSCOL is offline  
post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 09:43 PM
Anita11811's Avatar
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Michigan
Posts: 124
I put a treat in my hand..
Close hand (makes a fist with treat inside)
let your dog smell your hand
Keep fingers facing UP..
back of the hand facing down
He will begin to nudge his head in your hand trying to open it
when he is doing this...
Rotate your hand so that your fingers are facing down..
If he follows your hand but did not lay, rotate your hand a little more until he goes down.

while you are doing this say"DOWN" or "LAY" or "Platz" w.e your command is..
when he does it .FAST REWARD and say "good lay" or w.e your command is =]
Anita11811 is offline  
post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 10:04 PM
Elite Member
gsdlover91's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 1,994
Have her sit, put a treat in between your fingers, and in front of her face..and then lure her down. Slowly move your hand to the ground, and she should go into the position. Do some repetitions of that, so she knows that shes getting rewarded for going down, then add the command when she goes down. Then fade the luring part.

SG1 Valco 'Berlin' Hokschhaus CGCA BA-1 UNJCH HIT TKA TC

(2x) SG1 Rogue 'Tesla' v Huerta Hof AD UNJ HIC TKA TC
gsdlover91 is offline  
post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-24-2013, 12:15 AM
Crowned Member
wolfy dog's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 9,702
Do use the command "DOWN" until he performs the behavior correctly; you'll be teaching the behavior before you put it on cue. Dogs don't understand language. Once he understands it by luring him in the position you name the behavior, just before he lies down and you know for sure he'll be successful. Also try to stand up straight yourself or he will only do it when you are sitting next to him (situational learning).
wolfy dog is offline  
Sponsored Links

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the German Shepherd Dog Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome