Down Command can be taught in two ways: On-Leash and Off-Leash. This chapter talks mainly about how to guide on-leash your German Shepherd Dog down into the lying position, with his belly touching the floor and front legs stretched out in the front. The first step is to choose the perfect leash for your GSD. While many recommend the check/choke chain with a long lead, others recommend a leather buckle collar with a long lead. It is assumed that you know how to correctly use a check chain. Misuse of the check chain can end up with detrimental consequences – especially if your GSD is still a puppy. A leather buckle collar is much safer here.
- Step 1: Put the collar or the chain tied to the lead.
- Step 2: Let your dog sit quietly. (It is assumed that your dog already responds well to two basic commends “COME” and “SIT”)
- Step 3: You Kneel down right beside him, and allow him to cool down. Remember you are trying to teach him how to lie down on the command “DOWN”. Your way of teaching the dog the command “DOWN” depends mainly on the size of your dog and how much your dog is cooperating with you. If you dog is quite grown up you can do it easily by standing beside him.
- Step 4: Guide your dog down into the lying position by gently pull the lead down at simultaneously saying “DOWN” firmly yet softly. At the same time gently press your German Shepherd down between his shoulder blades with your palm. If this doesn’t seem to work properly, then guiding him to lie down may also include lifting up his front legs and stretch them out in his front. Praise and encourage him during the action of lying down. Once he lies down the way desired, offer him his tidbits and let him know that you are happy when he lies down when the command “DOWN” is delivered. Also make it clear that you are annoyed if he doesn’t lies down or he rises immediately after lying down.
- Step 5: Repeat the exercise over and over again. It is only after an incredible number of repetition that your German Shepherd will act on verbal command only.
- Step 6: Do not allow him to stand up until you give the next command “STAND” or “UP”. After making him sit on the down position for a few minutes, release him by delivering the command “STAND” or “UP”. Once he stands up, praise him and offer him his tidbits again.
- Step 7: Repeat the entire cycle again and again
Remember that here we have discussed two distinctive methods:
- Method 1: By gently pressing GSD puppy between his shoulder blade, while holding the lead and pulling his head down softly, simultaneously delivering the command “DOWN”.
- Method 2: By lifting his front legs and outstretching them in the front, while holding the lead and pulling his head down softly, simultaneously delivering the command “DOWN”.
Whatever the method you follow, you need to be extremely consistent and need to carry on with it continuously.
Read out our chapter on teaching your GSD down command off-leash