OK, this one is a pretty common question from my students/clients, but it really seems to confuse folks. When you really get down to it, this makes total sense. Ask yourself the question “What is the most submissive position a dog can give”? Is it the tail between the legs, is it maybe ears being laid back or is laying down and showing his or her belly? For my money it is the position (or from our point of view command) DOWN… Let me explain,


What does a dog do when he is fearful of being attacked or hurt? In many cases they do what many dog trainers call a “Tap Out” or flipping over on their back trying to convince the threat they are not a threat and to please not hurt them. Now fast forward to training class the first night of trying to teach your dog to lay down on command and wonder why Fido all of the sudden seems hesitant to just lay down and see what happens. To this point there has been no track record of reward for this behavior only the dogs built in genetics that this position is a position of last resort.

So you sit in class or in your living room attempting this command and wondering what course to take and how to handle your dog… in my opinion you have two options:

  1. Force the dog into a down position and try to make up for this insult with a dog biscuit.
  2. Be patient, work slowly and allow the dog to gain confidence letting the command come naturally
If you have not heard me make this speech before… then listen close and I hope to teach a vital piece of dog training knowledge. NEVER push a dog into fear, rather only reward being brave! If it takes a month to get a reliable down command what is the big deal? You plan spending the next 8-10 years at least with this dog, so what is your hurry? Take your time and gain the trust and respect you and Fido deserve not to mention the possibility that if pushed into a position the dog feels threatened he might even end up never trusting you or even the chance of biting? Hey in the end it is up to you but at least now you something to think about! Good luck., Good training and always remember to Keep it Simple Stupid 🙂
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