How To Teach a Dog To Lie Down
Having a well-behaved dog only comes from having a well-trained dog. If your dog has already learned to sit, this is the way to teach him how to lie down. Make sure to have your dogs favourite treat before beginning.
1. Let the dog know you have a treat in your hand
Have a treat ready. Any treat your dog loves will do. Put the treat in front of your dog’s snout, making it obvious to him what’s in your hand. Don’t let him eat it, just make sure he knows it’s there.
2. Get the dog to sit down
This step is easy. Tell your dog to sit. Once he does, you’re ready to move on to the next step. If he doesn’t, work on perfecting the sit command.
3. Cue the dog to lie down by saying “down”
It’s important to use the same phrase over and over again. Some people want to say ‘lie down’ but the shorter the phrase, the better. Sticking to “down” is a simple, easy to remember command for both you and your dog.
4. Draw the dog down into a lying down position
As soon as you say “down” show the dog what you expect him to do. Squat down and convince him to lie down. Move the treat down by the dog’s chest. As he gets lower to try and get it, continue lowering your hand to the floor between his paws. As he gets lower, draw the treat gently away from him, closer to you. He will naturally follow it and lie down.
5. Put your hand gently on your dog’s shoulder
If your dog tries to pop up for the treat, this is a surefire way to keep him down low. Don’t force him down, but gently put your hand on him to show him he needs to remain down. If he sits up, begin again.
6. Here’s a trick if your dog is struggling
Some dogs are willful, or slow to understand what you want. If the above steps are a struggle for your dog, sit next to him. Raise your knees up so that a tent is formed under your legs and bring the treat beneath your knees. Your dog will have to crawl to get to the treat. Don’t let him have the treat until he lies down.
7. Reward your dog for lying down
The most important part of reinforcing any new command is the positive reinforcement. Every time your dog is successful, give him a treat. At the same time, praise your dog. He needs to know immediately after lying down that he has done exactly what you want.
8. Give a release command
Decide what you want to be the release command. “Ok” and “up” are popular. Whatever it is, make sure you say it every time.
9. Practice, practice, practice
The only way to make sure a behavior sticks is to do it again and again. Practice the lie down command and continue to reward your dog every time he lies down.
10. Start using less treats
As your dog gets more successful at the command, give less treats. Start giving treats two out of three times. Start giving treats every other time. Treats should occur less and less as time goes on.
11. Practice in new places!
When your dog has mastered “lie down” in your home, it’s time to practice elsewhere. He needs to generalize the “lie down” command to wherever you may be.
12. Start reinforcing with other fun behaviours
As you stop giving out treats, give your dog other fun things. After he lies down, play fetch. Let him outside. Whatever your dog likes, make sure that he knows fun things come after the “lie down” command.
As a final note: Keep training sessions short and sweet. If your dog is too stressed or tired, he won’t be as receptive to practicing the command. Make sure to practice each day for short, fifteen-minute sessions.