Teach your Dog to Lie Down – in 10 Easy Steps
Teaching your dog to lie down is the next command to master after teaching your dog to sit, and its almost just as easy to teach. It is an important basic command, one that you should teach soon after getting your puppy. Teaching your dog to lie down is helpful when you want your dog to settle down at home, to help them calm down when there are a lot of distractions, and helps them to stay for longer periods of time. It is also a base action used in other commands or tricks (such as “roll-over”).
In this tutorial you will learn how to teach your dog to lie down, and the normal correct lying down position. After learning this command, we can move on to the “stay” command, which will be covered in a separate article.
How do I Teach my Dog to Lie Down – What’s Involved?
Difficulty: 1/5 Very easy
Time: 5-10 minutes
Number of training sessions needed to master: Several times a day over a couple of days.
As always, regular training is needed to help re-enforce good behaviour.
Tools Needed: Yummy dog treats (and a clicker if you use one)
Teaching your dog to lie down it usually quite easy, but you will first want to teach your dog to sit (click here for the lesson). If your dog is too hyper to lie down, try the training after they have burnt off some energy first.
To start off, have a pouch full of healthy training treats, and make sure your dog knows you have them, so that you have their attention. If needed, give them one “free” treat to get their attention.
If you use clicker training with your dog, have this ready too. If not, pick a word to use as a marker to let your dog has done the correct behaviour, such as “good!”.
Tips before we start
- In the correct lying down position, your dog’s chest/stomach, elbows and hocks should be on the floor. Watch out for “cheat” lying down where their body doesn’t quite touch the ground!
- Never reward bad behaviour, such as jumping up. Ignore it.
- Go back a step if your dog isn’t quite getting the idea. Repeat more time than stated if needed.
- Keep training sessions short, under 10 minutes. You want your do to love training, not get board.
- End training on a success.
- Never get mad. Remember training is fun! Stop before the fun stops.
- Click here for our full training guide (its free!)
How to Teach Your Dog to Lie Down – 10 Steps:
- Get your dog’s attention so they know you have a treat.
- Tell your dog to sit. Your dogs hocks will now already be on the floor. Now we just need his chest and elbows to be there too! Keep the treat in your hand, palm down, with index finger out (ie pointing).
- Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose.
- Slowly move the treat, straight down towards the floor. Don’t move the treat away from your dog as you move it down, otherwise your dog will probably stand up to follow it, which is obviously the opposite of what we want to achieve!
- Your dog’s head, followed by body should follow it down, until his chest and elbows are on the floor. When they are in the correct position, (you should do this immediately), click or use your marker word. Say this in an upbeat, enthusiast tone.
- Give your dog the treat and follow by lots of praise and attention.
- Repeat this around 5 times until your dog lies down every time.
- Your dog is currently following the treat, but should also lie down without following a treat. Get a treat in both hands ready, and repeat steps 2 to 7. Do everything exactly the same, but this time, every time your dog lies down, give them the treat from your other hand. Repeat around 5 times.
- Next, we will repeat the process, but the time without the treat in your original hand, and only in your second hand. Repeat steps 2 to 7 around 5 times, moving your original hand in the same way you did at the beginning, but slightly further away, so your dog can fully see your hand. This is now setting your dog up to watch this hand as a visual cue to lie down. Teaching your dog a visual and audio cue is always sensible (great in loud environments, when your dog gets older, etc).
- Now, finally, comes the “lie down” command. Again, repeat steps 2 to 7, this time saying the command “lie down”, or “down”. Try and phase out the visual cue here, to make sure your dog understands the verbal command, not just the visual. Repeat this several time.
Other Great Treating Tips
- If your dog is having trouble with “down”, you can ‘mark’ the behaviour with a clicker. Your dog will lie down on their own quite often. So observe him until he lies down, then immediately click, say “lie down” or “down” and treat. (Click here for more information on dog clicker marking).
- Once your dog will lie down on command, keep up the training over the next few days, and then keep training on regular occasions after that.
- Refresh the training by using the verbal command, the visual command, and the verbal and visual together.
- After your dog knows the command well, train your dog in various locations, such as in the garden, in the park, etc. Start off with places with less distractions, and work up to more distracting locations. This is called proofing.
- Use the lie down command to teach your dog to stop in mid-flow and to then stay. This can be great to keep your dog on control, at a distance, when off the lead.
- Next, use the lie down command to teach your dog to stay and roll over.