Trainer explains the secret to helping your dog master the 'down' command

Do laying on the floor in a subway carriage
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Most of us will teach our dog the ‘sit’ command, one of the most important commands for a dog to learn. However, it can also be a good idea to teach your pup the ‘down’ command, too, as the ‘down’ position can often be more stable than a ‘sit’ and can even help dogs to relax, too, which is ideal if your pup can get anxious at times!

Fortunately, doing so isn’t usually difficult, and involves just a few of the best dog treats. In a recent Instagram post, professional dog trainer and behavioral consultant Amelia Steele – or Amelia the Dog Trainer – has explained how to teach ‘down’. It’s more simple than you might think!

First of all, you might not want to go straight into the ‘down’ command from another training exercise. “It can be really nice to break up training with a little bit of play,” begins Steele. “It actually helps them to remember what you were doing even quicker next time.”

Steele explains that she won’t teach the ‘down’ command from a ‘sit.’ Rather, she gets the treat right on the dog’s nose and brings it in towards her chest slightly. This causes the dog to fold backward and lie down. Training dogs with treats is a method that often works, and for many pups, it’s no different here. 

“We’re going to do this a good few times,” says Steele, while continuing to demonstrate. “And, again, I’m going to be really patient. It’s all about finding that sweet spot where you can keep that treat right on her nose, and I want that treat to stay there. I’m going to push it in towards her chest.” 

When the dog lies down, she gets her treat. And once she’s done it a few times, Steele begins to add the word, simply saying “down” as she repeats the exercise and still marking the ‘down’ with a “yes.” 

As well as being good for anxious dogs, this command can help when it comes to grooming your pup, too. If you need to clean ears or trim nails, for example, having your dog lie down can make it easier – here’s how to groom a dog for more tips!

Why not incorporate this command into a broader training session – interspersed with plenty of play, of course? Take a look at these 32 quick and easy tricks to teach your dog for some more inspiration. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.