Discard the 'Down' Command: You don't need it and neither does your pup

I was faintly appalled -- before I clicked off -- by a YouTube video in which the dog owner (I hate that word, but in his case it seems appropriate enough) makes his young dog go through a number of performances like a seal or dolphin at one of those aquatic parks, for the show-off value on a video. (I describe --and deride -- such a dog owner as The Show-Off, in my book, How To Train Your Human.) Anyway, I felt sorry for the dog. I noticed that the man had to reward with treats because the good feeling between him and the dog isn't enough, and also because there is no purpose to the commands. When I have ever given my darling commands -- and I rarely have to, these days, except for her own protection -- they have always had some sensible purpose or meaning behind them. I have never ordered her about just because I can. And that's what bothered me about this man's video. He wasn't respecting the dog and that dog's needs or the dog's perspective. It was all about him and his need to be Big Man On Campus. Oh, I feel sorry for dogs that must spend their whole lives in the shadow of shallow, vain people like that!

This is why I say: don't teach your pup the 'Down' command, as this man did. I don't know why 'Down' is even suggested to new dog owners: it is utterly useless. There is no reason ever to put a dog in a position where it is vulnerable -- lying on its belly like a sphinx -- instead of sitting prettily. Everything you need, in terms of attentiveness, restraint, and reassurance of strangers, can be accomplished with 'Sit'. I started to teach my girl 'Down' as an inexperienced dog mum, and abandoned it quickly because a) I could see that she didn't like it and wasn't taking to it, and b) I was suspicious about its utility anyway. It was a good judgement call on my part, and she and I have never looked back.

Now: 'Down' as a command to mean 'Get off' is an entirely different matter....