A chihuahua lays down in the grass at a park.

Down is the next command in our round up of basic obedience. Just like sit and come, down has plenty of useful applications in real life. Many dog sports require or benefit from a solid down command. A reliable down can help get your dog out of the way as guests come in or give you a few minutes on the trail to help someone.

Unfortunately, teaching chihuahuas to down on command can be a bit of a challenge. This is partly because of their small size. Even a child is huge compared to a chihuahua. When you’re already the size of someone’s shoe, making yourself even smaller can be quite frightening.

Luckily, this post is geared specifically towards chihuahuas, and has a few tricks to help them get the hang of lying down on command.

Prerequisites:

Clicker training

Sit (aids in reaching down)

Required equipment:

Treats or favorite toy

Clicker

A distraction free room

Something to sit on (hey, we’re old over here.)

Step one:

If you are able to make it, sit down on the floor yourself. If you can’t, try sitting on a couch or bed and putting the dog up with you. This adds height to your pet and will help them feel more confident in working with you. It also has a secondary benefit of allowing the dog to see your face better. When you are seated, you are much less intimidating to your dog, so they’ll be more likely to give it a try.

Step two:

Ask your pet to sit. With your dog in sit, show him a treat but bring it straight down from his nose to the ground and hold it on the ground.

Many dogs simply flop right down to work out how to get the treat from under your hand. If they do, click and reward!

Almost…

If not, step three:

“Many” dogs doesn’t mean “all” dogs. If your dog doesn’t lie down like magic, it’s okay! Click any downward motion your pet offers, especially any bend at the elbow. It should just take 5 or 6 repeats before your dog is offering that lowered behavior.

When your pup is consistently offering lowered elbows, start getting pickier. Look for the deepest bends out of 10 and click only those deep bends.

By getting gradually pickier about how low they have to go get a reward, you can get them to down this way.

If not, step four:

You can also help speed the process by luring the behavior under your leg, a chair, or anything low enough your pet will have to crawl to get under and get the snacks. That’s pretty low for a chihuahua—just a few inches.

If you lure them under the bar or your leg to get a snack, they’ll have to assume the down position to sneak under. Click as soon as they are in down position.

Between these options, you should be able to get your pet low enough to start capturing a down posture. If you’re patient, you may even be able to capture a down when your pet naturally offers it.

We’ll talk about how to lengthen and strengthen the down position in a later article. Please check back soon!

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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