This video features trainer, Carrie Seay of PHX Animal Behavior Center, walking through all of the steps to help teach your dog “Down”.
Step 1. Lure your dog into a down by putting the treat up to their nose and slowly moving the treat down to the ground. Keep the treat close to your dog’s nose—if you move your hand down too quickly and too far away from their mouth he may give up and lose interest. You may also start with your dog in a sit and then lure then down.
Step 2. As soon as your dog’s knees and elbows hit the ground, click/mark and place a treat on the ground in front of your dog between their paws.
Step 3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 many times. When your dog gets into the down quickly, it is time to add the verbal cue “Down” – say the cue, pause for one second and then lure the dog into the down. Practice 10-20 times before taking the treat out of your hand and using the verbal cue alone. If your dog doesn’t do the behavior with the verbal cue, first try luring without the treat. If this doesn’t work, put the treat back in your hand to lure again.
Will your dog not drop? Consider, is the ground cold or wet? Can they not relax because they are stimulated by their surroundings? Practice at home in a safe environment and use a carpeted surface or a mat, if necessary, so your dog is more comfortable.