Like “sit,” you can start training your dog the “down” cue with a treat lure.
- Start with your dog sitting in front of you
- Hold a treat near her face.
- Move the treat straight down to the floor, and then slowly away from the dog. She will follow the treat by moving her front feet forward, eventually lying down.
- Be clear with your movements, and be patient! Once your dog lies down, say “yes!” and give her the treat.
Teaching your dog to “settle” on command is an awesome way to help an anxious or fearful dog manage emotional reactions. As with sitting, settling is something dogs do on their own. Your job here is to connect a cue to a familiar behavior.
To start training your dog to “settle,” leash her up and take a seat. Step on the leash so your dog has only enough room to sit, stand, and turn around, but not stray from your side. Then, wait. Your dog may be excited at first, and try to jump up on your lap or run around the room. Let her figure out that she can’t go anywhere. Once she settles down on her own, say “yes!” and give her a treat.
After your dog is settling on her own, it’s time to add in the cue. You’ll start by saying it after your dog is already settling, then gradually “back up” the cue to the beginning of the process.
The “settle” command helps anxious or fearful dogs manage their emotional reactions.
Laying a solid training foundation will make life with your dog easier and more fun. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for an in-person obedience class; there’s no better way to train your dog than to practice with an expert IRL. You can also follow any of the helpful links above, and check out our blog archives for additional tips and tricks.