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Controlling Your Dog with the Sit and Down Commands

Part of the Dog Training For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you think of dog training or obedience, the first two commands that probably pop into your head are the Sit and the Down commands. These commands are essential to making a well-behaved dog out of Buddy. Practice a 30-minute Down and a 10-minute Sit, on alternate days, for four weeks. See the following sections for details.

When giving commands to your dog during training, be sure to give them in a firm, yet upbeat tone of voice. Don’t pose them as questions; otherwise, Buddy won’t obey. And be sure to use only one command at a time and say it only once. If he doesn’t respond, show him exactly what you expect from him by reinforcing the command.

Sit on command

The following steps show you how to teach your dog to sit on command. You start off teaching him to do so using a treat, and then you add the command. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Hold the treat slightly in front of your dog’s head, say “Sit,” and bring your hand slightly above his eyes.

    Give him the treat when he sits.

  2. For the next attempt, use a treat in one hand, and apply some upward pressure on the collar with the other as you say “Sit.”

    Give lots of praise when the dog sits.

  3. When he gets the hang of sitting, you can work on commanding him to sit. Without touching your dog or showing him a treat, say “Sit.”

    When he responds correctly, reward him with a treat. If he doesn’t respond correctly, review Step 2.

Down on command

When you’re ready to teach your dog the Down command, you first must teach him to lie down with a treat, and then you introduce pressure on his collar and the command. Here’s what to do:

  1. With your dog sitting at your left side, show him a treat, held in the right hand, and say “Down.” Lower the treat to the ground between his feet and slide it forward so he has to lie down to get it.

    When he’s in the Down position, give him the treat.

  2. For the next attempt, put the treat in your right hand, and then put your left hand through his collar under his chin and say “Down.” Lower the treat and apply slight downward pressure on the collar.

    Give your dog the treat and lots of praise when he lies down.

  3. When he’s familiar with the Down position, you’re ready to work on commanding him to lay down. Without touching your dog or showing him a treat, say “Down.”

    When he responds correctly, reward him with a treat. If he doesn’t respond correctly, review Step 2.

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