Teaching the Down Command
The Down command comes in handy in so many situations and should be taught in many different environments so that your dog will lie down anywhere you ask him to. A dog that knows how to lie down will be a joy to take anywhere, even if he is very active and bouncy. The better he knows Down, the more self-control he will have in new situations and the more pleasant a companion he will be.
The shaping steps for teaching Down are:
Start with your dog in a Sit and, using a treat, lure his head halfway to the floor; click and treat.
If his rear pops up, it means you lured him too far, so try again.
Click and treat only if he lowers his head while keeping his rear on the floor.
Gradually try to lure him lower to the ground with a treat held in your fingers or fist, and click and treat any attempts to be lower than before.
Eventually your puppy will flop to the ground; click and treat.
Repeat this exercise until your dog will flop to the ground on a regular basis on the first try; click and treat.
Remove the treat from your hand and tap the ground. Click and treat your pup for lying down without the treat in your hand as a lure.
When he has mastered that step, phase out the tapping by pointing first without touching the floor and wait a second:if he makes any attempt to lie down, click and treat.
Phase out all tapping until your dog will lie down with a pointed finger signal; click and treat.
When he's lying down regularly, label the behavior “Down” as he begins to lie down.
Go to new places and practice around new distractions.
If at any point he falls apart, go back to an easier step for a few repetitions before moving forward.
Though most dogs may be able to sit when there are no distractions, this doesn't mean your Golden will be able to sit when a kid with a hot dog approaches him or when he sees his favorite person. Dogs need to be taught by degrees around gradually more stimulating distractions, they don't automatically generalize their behavior to all environments.