Train The "Stay" and
"Down-Stay" Commands

Train the down-stay command because it's excellent discipline for your dog to learn. The “down” position is useful when your dog gets too rambunctious, jumps up on people or in any way is behaving badly.

A dog in the “down” position can't get into trouble like running into streets or getting into fights. A tip: It is also good to reinforce the alpha dog positioning you might need now and then.

Use your CLICKER as reinforcement when the dog is doing well when you train a down-stay command with her.

In the beginning, you will have to give some CLICKS for less than perfect performances. Dogs have a way of testing you. They will give you a half-hearted performance sometimes, and sometimes it may be good enough for a CLICK and treat. Just be sure the performance gets better! You want the dog down flat on her belly, muzzle to tail. She’ll try all sorts of variations of that.

When a dog is in the down position, it is most vulnerable because she is flat on her stomach. Some dogs find that position psychologically difficult to accept.

Incidentally, “down” is not to be confused with “off.” “Off” means get off the couch. “Down” means lie down on your stomach.

There are a few different ways to teach down stay this but we will use only one. Bring your clicker and some treats.

  • To train down stay, put your dog on your left and have her “sit.”

  • With a tasty treat in your right hand, put it in front of her nose but not so she can reach it and slowly lower it to the ground. Her head should follow. Say, “Amy, DOWN”

  • From the floor, move the treat out towards the front of the dog so she has to stretch forwards for it, putting her in a lying position. Say, “Amy DOWN”

  • As quickly as she is DOWN, CLICK AND TREAT. Say “GOOD DOWN.” (All at once)

  • Repeat until she will do this without the clicker and treats.

  • You’ll reach a point where just moving your hand in a downward and outward motion will get your dog to lie down, like a hand signal, and of course the word DOWN should also get the dog to lie down.

Teaching Down-Stay

Once you get the dog to give you a reliable “down” performance, train a down-stay command to prolong the "stay" time.

  • Keep a leash on the dog so if she tries to jump and run you can control the situation. It’s been known to happen.

  • When the dog is in the “down” position, show her the palm of your hand and say “STAY” in a firm but pleasant voice. She may wag her tail and squirm a bit but that’s acceptable, as long as she stays in one place.

  • Keep her there a few seconds and if she doesn't move, give her a CLICK and treat. Tell her GOOD STAY.

  • If she starts to move or get up, give her a sharp ACK! or NO! correction to startle her. If you even THINK she is about to move, correct her.

  • Now, back off one short step with your hand and palm still out there in front. Repeat STAY. If the dog starts to get up, tell her DOWN and start over.

  • A few repetitions and the dog should get the idea. Keep in mind, she has to remember two things. She must lie down AND stay in one place.

  • This is a good command to use the clicker to advantage. As soon as a couple of seconds go by and the dog doesn’t move, click her for good behavior. When you start backing up a foot or two, click again if she stays in place because that’s terrific! She’s coming along nicely. You wouldn’t believe some I’ve worked with. I’ve wanted to throw the clicker away and become an auto mechanic. Teaching the down-stay requires a fresh and relaxed mind.

  • Slowly move back in small increments, each time telling her to STAY and giving her a CLICK when she does. (For a high-energy, nervous dog, you may have to start this over a number of times.)

Continue to repeat this exercise over and over in all sorts of distracting places so when you really need the command, it will work for you. This command is almost as important as “come” and you want it to be reliable and effective when needed.

The goal is for the dog to “stay” down for at least 15 minutes or more if you want.

Remember to RELEASE HER! Don't leave her there. Tell her “OK, good girl, let’s go.”

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