Teaching “Down” – Step 1
Dogs love to work for food. You don’t need to push a puppy to ground. Give the “Down” command as you use a treat, as a lure, to show that kid what you want. When Mick “follows the money” he earns the payoff. You’ll know when your dog is catching on because she’ll start dropping when she hears the command. Then give her the food when she’s completed the job. Take baby steps with the babies.
Teaching “Down” – Step 2
Mick is getting clear on the concept of “Down” on command but he still needs a little hint so he can succeed every time. There’s no point in putting an early skill to a test too soon. After a canine student of any age has the idea, the food lure can be a partial movement. After a dog gets that right, you can repeat with just a tiny movement of the treat toward the ground. His enthusiasm shows that he has no anxiety about this. Mick will be ready for the command without the food next. One baby step at-a-time, especially for a baby.
Teaching “Down” – Step 3
Mick now has the down command down cold. It takes patience and lots of repetition to get to this point. A dog needs to be set up to succeed every time. Even though Mick has gotten pretty good at this I gave him a “lure” the first time by bringing the treat down, in front of his face, toward the ground as I told him “Down”. That focused him on the task at hand. Then we did it for real, with me holding the food in front of my eyes, where his attention belongs. Without moving the treat I gave the command clearly – just once. And good Mick knew just what to do. He got the treat immediately after he performed and then, even more impactful for a dog who loves his person, petting.