How to teach a dog to lie down
by Tamsin Durston
How to teach a dog to lie down
Why teach your dog to lie down?
One of the simplest commands to learn, teaching your dog to lie down, is a useful skill to keep your dog still whether you’re at home or out and about. Ideally, your dog or puppy will already know how to sit (if not, check out our guide, ‘How to Teach a Dog to Sit’) and from there it’s just a few simple movements and you’re on your way to learning a whole new command.
How to teach your dog to lie down
- Preparation makes perfect!
It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place such as your living room – without any distraction, interruption or temptation - and when both you and your dog are happy and relaxed! You’ll both be able to concentrate and be successful! You’ll also need rewards ready for your dog and these should be something they really enjoy! You’ll need lots of rewards to begin with, so small tasty treats might be a good idea.
- Making sure your dog knows they’re getting it right!
You can say “yes” (or use a clicker) at exactly the time when your dog is doing what you want and this tells them that their reward is coming right away! So make sure your timing is spot on and always follow up saying “yes” with giving your dog their reward.
- Using a lure
Luring means using your dog’s reward to guide them into a lying down position. This means they get it right from the start and doesn’t involve any pushing or pulling them into position – which might hurt and/or make them worried about us!
- Luring them into position
You don’t need to say anything – remember they have no idea what the word down means at this point! Starting with your dog in the sit position, hold a treat near your dog’s nose, and in a slow, smooth motion move the treat downwards right in front of their chest and in a straight line down their chest and between their front legs, until it reaches the floor. Your dog should naturally follow the treat and lower their back or even being to creep forwards with their front paws. As soon as your dog’s stomach touches the floor say “yes” and then quickly give them their well-deserved treat.
- Dogs learn by repeating things
Repeat this until your dog is reliably following the lure all the way into a lying down position. Repeat it several times so it becomes second nature to your dog to follow your lure until they are lying down, and they realise that the quicker they do lie down the quicker you will say “yes” and give them their tasty reward. If they’re struggling just have a break and come back to it – learning is not always as easy for them as we might think! If we take things gently and go at their pace they’ll be more likely to enjoy learning and remember what they’ve learned. Remember to say “yes” and then give the reward as soon as their stomach touches the floor and they’re lying down.
- Add in the word “down”
Start to say “down” as your dog gets into the correct position, so they will start to connect the word “down” with this very action. Remember to carry on saying “yes” when they lie down and always follow this with a reward. Repeat this stage several times so that your dog has lots of opportunity to connect the word “down” with the action of lying down!
- Try without a lure!
Simply say “down” as you move your hand exactly as you did before from your dog’s nose down to the floor, but this time without the treat in it. If your dog struggles without the treat in your hand you can use it for a little longer before trying again.
- Practice in different places
Your dog might find it harder to practice in busier, more distracting places, so you might need to choose locations carefully to make it easier, or use an extra tasty treat to reward their efforts! You might need to go right back to basics to begin with in a new place but your dog should soon work through the steps as long as you are calm, clear and consistent!
Enjoy your training sessions and have fun!
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