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Cute Dog Puppy

Cute Dog Puppy (Photo credit: epSos.de)

A down stay is when your dog is in the down position on the floor and they are required to remain in that position until you release them from it.  While you are teaching your dog to do a down stay it is imperative that you do not allow yourself to have unrealistic expectations.

This is a more difficult task and you must take time to increase the amount of time you intend to have your dog hold the position.  For your first experience, you will only require a few seconds.  Over the course of the week, you can raise it by a few seconds at the time.

To Get Started:

  • Get your treat bag and fill it with some yummy puppy treats.
  • Get your dog.
  • Get comfortable on the floor with your dog.

Now, you are ready.  Ask your dog to “down.”  If you haven’t taught the down position yet, stop here and teach that command now instead.

  • Assuming that your dog knows the down position and is reliable (at least 90 percent success when you tell him down) then you can continue to teach the down stay.
  • After your dog is in the down position count to two and give him a treat, count another two and give him another treat.  Then release him from the position with the word “ok.”
  • After dogs get used to this command they will try to hold the down position longer than you ask.  Don’t reward this behavior with treats.  Instead, pet your dog and get him excited enough to move towards you.
  • Wait a few minutes for your dog to come back down and repeat the exercise.
  • You need to practice this exercise at least twenty times per day.

I strongly recommend training down stay and making sure your dog is very consistent performing it.  I have found it most useful during dinner times, whether you have your dog stay beside the table to prevent them from begging or you have them down stay out of the room.  You can also use it while you are bringing in groceries or other shopping.

There are many uses but you must not expect your dog to hold the position for longer than you have taught your dog.  Right now, you are at about two seconds.  You can add one second every day, assuming you are practicing reliably.

If your dog breaks the down stay for any reason do not scold or punish your dog in any way.  Do not reward him by petting him.  Simply ignore him for about thirty seconds and try again.  In part two we will begin to use less treats and we will increase the amount of time your dog is able to perform a down stay for you.