Training your German Shepherd the “down” command can be challenging at first but it is worthwhile and this post will show you five ways that you can do it.
The first way to teach it the “down” command will involve luring it down with a treat. The second will be to lure it down in a number of smaller stages. The third will be to lure it down in even smaller stages. The fourth will involve waiting for your German Shepherd to go down naturally and then to build up from there. The fifth will be to use something for it to crawl under to go down.
Method 1: lure it down using a treat
This is the most common method and is the first one that you should try.
You can do it as follows:
- Get a treat that your German Shepherd likes and get your German Shepherd in front of you
- Stand or kneel in front of your German Shepherd that is either standing or sitting
- Say “down” then get it to go down by holding the treat below its head and luring it down to the floor. Your German Shepherd will likely go into the down position naturally by trying to get the treat from you.
- If it goes into the down position reward it with a treat. If it doesn’t try it again.
- Repeat the above until your German Shepherd naturally goes into the down position when you lower the treat.
- Start getting your German Shepherd to go down without needing to lower the treat. Do this by saying “down” and then gradually raise the height that you lower the treat to until you only need to show it the treat.
- Now stop showing it the treat all together and get it to go down by saying “down.” You might need to show it the treat after a few seconds on your first few attempts. When it does go down reward it with the treat.
You can watch the video below to see how it is done
The second method will be to lure it part of the way down first
Sometimes, you’ll find that your German Shepherd won’t go all the way into a laying position naturally but this is ok since you can teach it to it in stages instead.
You can do so as follows:
- Get your German Shepherd in front of you with some treats that it likes
- Say “down” and lure it part of the way into the down position. You’ll often find that they only naturally put their front elbows down at first and that’s ok.
- If it goes part of the way into the down position reward it with a treat.
- Continue to say “down” and to lure it into the down position but each time you do it require it to go further into the down position.
- Continue step 4 until you can naturally get it to go into the down position as soon as it sees the treat
- Start getting your German Shepherd to go down without lowering the treat. Do this by saying “down” and then gradually raising the height that you lower the treat to.
- Stop lowering the treat and get it to go down simply by saying “down” you might still need to show it the treat after a few seconds on the first few attempts.
If you can’t get your German Shepherd to go part of the way into the down position then you can do it in even smaller steps.
Do so as follows:
- Get it in front of you with some treats that it likes
- Say “down” and lure it part of the way into the down position by lowering the treat below its head.
- If it makes any movement down then reward it with the treat. For example, if it just lowers its head down then that’s ok for now.
- Repeat the above but each time require it to go down a bit further to get the treat
- Repeat the above until you can get it to go all of the way into the down position when you lower the treat
- Start getting your German Shepherd to go into the down position without lowering the treat. Do this by saying “down” and then gradually raising the height that you lower the treat to.
- Stop lowering the treat and get it to go down simply by saying “down” the first few times you’ll likely need to show it the treat after a few seconds
If the above hasn’t worked then you can simply start teaching it to go down simply by waiting for it to go down and rewarding it.
To do this go into a room with it and wait for it to go down naturally. When it does reward it with a treat and make a fuss of it and make sure that it stands up or sits up again. Then, when it lays down, reward it again. Eventually, your German Shepherd will realize that going into the down position gets it a treat. When this is the case try doing the first method again. It should go down naturally this time.
To do this method try implementing method one but, this time, get it to go into the down position by getting it to crawl under something like a chair. Once you’re able to get it to go into the down position by crawling under the chair remove the chair and go back to step one again.
Why teach your German Shepherd the “down” command
There are a number of benefits to teaching your German Shepherd the “down” command. Below I will mention a number of them.
You’ll be able to get it to be more responsive to you
By being able to get your German Shepherd to learn that responding to your commands is in its best interest you’ll be able to get it to be more willing to listen to you. Teaching it the down command is a good way to start this process. Other good options would be to teach it to sit and stay and to come on command.
Helps to teach it more difficult things
By teaching your German Shepherd the “down” command you’ll have an easier time teaching it other things. This is because having it in the down position can be used as a part of teaching it what to do. For example, when teaching it to stay you could get it to go down at first when getting it to do so.
Get it to behave more easily
By being able to get your German Shepherd to go down when you tell it to it will help you in getting it to behave. This is because, when it starts misbehaving, you can tell it to go down and then you’ll be able to control it more easily.
It uses its energy
The act of teaching your German Shepherd commands is beneficial in and of itself. This is because it uses up some of their mental energy and it helps to keep them happy since they were bred to work with us.
Things to keep in mind
When you’re teaching your German Shepherd the “down” command there are some things that you should keep in mind.
Avoid physical measures
when you’re teaching it to go down it might be tempting to make it do it by pushing it down with your hand. But, you should avoid doing this since it doesn’t teach it to think about what it’s doing and it can make it less responsive to you.
It can be quite difficult to teach your German Shepherd commands at times. With this being the case, it’s important to take a long-term approach to teaching it. If you can’t get it to learn the command on the first attempt then that’s ok just try again the next day.
Once you do teach it the down command make sure to continue to get it to go down when you tell it to. If you stop doing it then it will likely forget to do it after some time.
It’s also important to consider the age of your German Shepherd. If it’s still young then it will likely be more energetic but you can use that to your advantage by getting it to keep its focus on you by being interesting.
Give it exercise
Since German Shepherds are a breed that require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated giving some to your German Shepherd before training it will be helpful. The reason for this is that, by doing so, you’ll be able to get it to keep its focus on you more easily.
Start in easy environments
The number of distractions that there are around your German Shepherd can have a big impact on how easy it is to keep its focus on you. It would make things easier to teach it the down command inside before teaching it outside.
Teaching it to do the command in multiple locations will also help to get it to do it when you are in new locations.
Why won’t my German Shepherd go down outside? If you can’t get your German Shepherd to do the command when it’s outside then it’s likely to be due to the distractions that it has around it. Make sure to teach it the command inside first and then teach it to do it again outside by starting from the beginning.
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