Down Versus Off

©2020 by Jerry D. Patillo
Phoenix Behavior Consulting

Click here to watch this short video (6:47 m:s)

Down Vs. Off Outdoors (1:09)


We’re going to define the word DOWN to mean “Put your elbows on the surface below you.” OFF will mean “Put your feet back on the floor.” Why is there this distinction? Because we try to make one word — for example, DOWN, mean two or more different things. No wonder our dog is confused. It doesn’t know what we want.

For example, let’s say our dog is standing on the couch. Properly applied, DOWN means “Put your elbows on top of the couch.” In other words, lie DOWN on top of the couch. Proper applied, OFF means “Take your feet OFF the couch, and put them back onto the floor.” That is, get OFF the couch.



You will teach DOWN by first luring your dog into a SIT position. Hold a treat between your thumb and index finger, palm facing the floor, in front of its nose. Slowly lower your hand with the food lure to the floor behind you puppy’s right paw, then toward its rear. Make sure to lower the food on angle to the floor, keeping it very close to the puppy’s body. To follow the lure, your puppy will lie DOWN on its hip. This teaches it to lie in what is called a relaxed DOWN, which is a more stable position than a Sphinx DOWN. Do not say your dog’s name or the word DOWN just yet — just watch it follow the lure. As soon as it is all the way DOWN, click! and then treat. Praise your puppy while it is still in a DOWN position, and then release your puppy.

Once your puppy is reliably (80% of the time) lying DOWN by following the food lure, you can at its name followed by “DOWN.” Say DOWN once — only one time — right before you begin to lure your puppy. The instant your dog lies DOWN, click! and then treat.

Your hand signal for DOWN will become moving your index (pointing) finger downward and pointing toward the floor.