This is useful because dogs are less likely to bark or get too excited in the drop/down position. It is also a position you can ask them to stay in if they are meeting small children for the first time.
Start by getting your dog into a “sit” position, which hopefully will be automatic by now. Next, lure them with a treat down below their chin and in between their front paws. Keep the treat very close to their nose so they are following it downwards – once you hit the ground with the treat you may want to move it slightly forward or even off to the sides.
We are aiming for the tummy and/or the front elbows to make contact with the ground. If their backside lifts off the ground at this time, we will remove the treat and start again.
Once they get into position we are going to pump treats into them like we did with the “sit” command. We are also going to try and move the treats ever so slightly away from their nose and praise them for not moving, and then bring the treats back in towards them.
Once they are reliably doing this, we can try two new things:
1. Getting them into the drop/down position without a treat in our hand … but pretending we do have one. We then open our hand for the pup to see we don’t have treats. However we then immediately reward them with treats either from the other hand or from wherever we have them stored.
2. Introducing the cue “drop”. Say this cue before doing any movements towards the ground to make sure your puppy is listening. Do a single repetition at the beginning of the session by luring your puppy into the drop position. Now pretend you have a treat in your hand and pretend to lure them, once they have dropped, show them your hand didn’t have a treat and then quickly back it up with a treat from your other hand that wasn’t cueing the behaviour.
Once your puppy is doing this without being lured too close to the ground, you can gradually (centimetre by centimetre) move your hand further away from the ground for each repetition until you are doing it from standing upright.