It took all of the training class. And many unsuccessful attempts… but my baby finally learned to lay down! LOL During the lesson she'd put her head down, throw her front paw at me, and dance around the idea of laying down. We had to try a few different ways of urging her to the position (holding the behind down and finally bringing the treat under my leg while I was sitting down). Ofcourse she only does it once or twice then I'm forced to do the tricky learning process all over again to remind her what to do. I'm just so proud of her! Now if only she'd act like she wanted to come to me from a distance while I had yummy treats for her...
I think sometimes they resist the idea of going "down" for us. Although Shaye learned the lesson very well, she still sort of throws herself down from a sit position, with her paws slamming the floor as if to say "Oh for Heaven's sake this is so unnecessary!" when asked to lay down.
I find down to be one of the hardest things for my basenjis in class. What I have taken to doing in order to increase the chance of my puppies offering a down in class is when I see them laying down around the house I feed them. Once they start to realize that down is a position that pays, it seems to make much more sense to them to offer the behavior. If they stand up the food goes away.
i had sucess teaching my boy down by putting him in a sit having a treat in my hand right in front of his nose. I then moved my hand down to the floor and slightly away so his natural inclination is stretch out and down for the treat. Once in the down position I would say the word "down" and give him the treat. It only took me 2 or 3 times for my boy to learn what I wanted him to do. I then progress to no treat and just the word down. 9yrs later he still does this command sucessfully.