My Dog Refuses to Get Up Out of the Down Command When I Release Him

Stubborn Dog


My dog does the Down command really well. However, when I clap and say ok to release him, he sometimes refuses to get up. He just stays laying down even though I’ve told him he can get up. Should I give him a Come command when he does this? Is he getting his way, saying “No, I’m good!”? What should I do?



When your dog doesn’t rise up when you give the release, he’s being resistant/stubborn. My specific “Step, Clap & Okay” release is actually a command that a dog always needs to obey. The dog doesn’t have a choice in the matter. To stay in position would be going against the handler’s instructions.

So, you need to deal with this situation as a case of disobedience, and in any case of disobedience there needs to be a consequence – a sufficiently motivating consequence that will discourage your dog from disobeying in the same way again. You should NOT give your dog a Come command in this situation. “Come” is a command that’s given when your dog is actually behaving (e.g. simply roaming around in the field/yard, obeying a Down/Stay position, in the middle of play with other dogs, etc.) and you want him to come into you by your side. It should NEVER be used as a means of trying to avert bad behavior (or more bad behavior).

I actually do demonstrate (in my Perfect Dog DVDs) the correction for the particular situation you’re experiencing, so I encourage you to review my training instruction.

As per my demonstration, you need to implement an outward, forward correction using the Command Collar and Freedom Training Line line to cause your dog get up out of the Down position and come to you (if you remain stationary after the release), or follow after you (if you continue to move away from him after giving the release command).

Some people miss critical points when they choose to watch only certain sections of my Perfect Dog DVDs. This is why my Quick Start Guide (which is labeled “Essential Reading” for a reason) tells people to watch both DVDs in their entirety before beginning any training.

Primarily in the initial training stages, a dog will use all kinds of ways to try to rebel against the owner’s authority, or maintain some level of control in the relationship. This “refusing the release command” is one of the common ways dogs try to do this.

So the answer is absolutely, yes, your dog is getting his way and harboring a rebellious attitude whenever you allow him to ignore your release command – even for a few seconds. This is important to realize. Sometimes a dog will refuse the release command for a few seconds until he sees his owner making a motion toward him. Then he’ll decide to get up and come to his owner. However, the dog’s obedience at this point is reluctant. He’s only getting up and coming so he can avoid being corrected.

If a dog does this, he still needs to be corrected in the same manner – and at the same level – as he would have been corrected had the owner been quicker off the mark. The owner needs to take the dog back to the location, put the dog in the same position he was in, and then correct him out of the position as a consequence for not immediately obeying the release command. This is done without a word other than repeating the “Okay!” as the owner implements the correction.

And remember, if your dog is still continuing the disobedient behavior even after you’ve corrected him on a few occasions, it tells you your corrections are not sufficiently motivating. Review my “Golden Rules” section on DVD #1 for the critical tips on increasing the level of consequence as needed for your particular dog.

– Don Sullivan, “The DogFather”

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