Have you ever wondered how to teach a dog to lay down? Teaching your dog to lie down is a useful command that can keep your dog safe in certain situations. It’s a relatively easy command to teach, and it can come in handy when crossing streets, at the vet, or at the dog groomer.
A dog must master “sit” before considering how to teach a dog to “lay down.” You can easily instruct your dog to lie down once you have something he likes, such as a toy or a treat. Treats should be given sparingly and should be age-appropriate for your dog.
Begin training your dog to lie down when he is in the sitting position. Consider the following steps in teaching your dog to lay down:
How To Teach A Dog To Lay Down: Step-By-Step
Step 1: Make Sure Your Dog Is Seated
Bring a treat close to your dog’s nose while he is sitting. If he gets overly excited, step back. When he returns to a steady seating position, squat down closer to his level.
Step 2: Say The Word ‘Down’
It would help if you said the word “down” every time, as eventually, your dog must learn to lie down without treats.
Step 3: Bring Your Dog Into A Lying Position
While you’re still kneeling, move the treat to the floor, bringing it in front of his legs. This entices him to follow the treat with his nose along the floor.
If your dog gets too excited and pops up when you’re drawing him down, quickly take the treat away. Immediately, ask him to sit down again and begin this step all over again.
Step 4: Place Your Hand On His Shoulder
This should stop him from getting back up to get at the treat. As you slowly move the treat along the floor, he should naturally glide down to it too. This luring motion with your hand should make an “L” shape.
Step 5: What To Do If He Is Reluctant
Sit down in front of him, putting your legs out on the floor, raising them like a tent. While he is sniffing the treat, slowly move it down to the floor and under your legs.Move the treat out from under your legs so that he has to lower himself to get it.
Do not allow him to have the treat until he lays down. You want to avoid any confusion about what you’re asking of him.
Step 6: What To Do If He Is Extremely Reluctant
If your dog isn’t responding well to the luring method, you can reward him whenever he lies down on his own. This technique involves waiting in a room with your dog and waiting for him to lie down.
The second your dog’s body hits the ground, say “down,” then use your clicker to put a treat a few feet in front of him. He must stand to get the treat, so wait for him to lie down once again.
Repeat this technique until your dog connects “down” with what you expect him to do.
Step 7: Offer Lots Of Praise
Let your dog know that you’re satisfied with his behaviour; you can say something like “good dog” and let him eat his treat when he lies down, not before.
Step 8: Teach The Release Command
You can say “up” or “ok,” then clap your hands to get him to stand up.
Reinforcing The Lie Down Command
Make sure you practice the steps outlined above at least twice a day. Keep training sessions short; ten minutes at a time will suffice. When your dog understands this command quickly, gradually start removing the treats. The process of eliminating treats could take time, so you must be patient and consistent.
Begin with an empty hand but continue offering treats. Practice saying ‘down’ to lure him down to the floor. Use the same L motion, but this time, without a teat in your hand.
Keep treats close by and give your dog one when he lies down and stays down. Be sure to praise him. If he doesn’t lie down without spotting a treat, offer him treats a few times in a row quickly.
Then without any treats, lure him down to the floor, and when he expects a treat, open your hand to show that it’s empty and highly praise him. You can give him a few surprise treats afterward.
This method will take a bit of practice, but your dog should get used to laying down without treats.
If you would like to teach your dog other tricks, please check out my 30 easy tricks to teach your dog.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
- Dog Doesn’t Understand the Command: If your dog is not laying down when given the command, they may not understand what you are asking. Try guiding them into the position gently with a treat. Be patient and make sure to reward them as soon as they lay down.
- Dog Only Responds When Treats are Present: This is a common issue that arises in training. To rectify it, gradually reduce the frequency of treats. Start to replace treats with praise and affection so your dog doesn’t become reliant on food rewards.
- Dog Gets Up Immediately After Laying Down: This can be a sign of excitement or confusion. Teach the “stay” command alongside the “lay down” command. This will help your dog understand that they should remain in a lying position until given another command.
- Dog is Distracted or Unresponsive: If your dog is not paying attention or responding to commands, it could be that the training environment is too distracting. Try moving to a quieter location or training at a time when your dog is more focused.
Remember, every dog learns at their own pace. Patience, persistence, and consistency are key. If you’re experiencing ongoing issues, you might want to consider consulting a professional dog trainer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it typically take to teach a dog to lay down?
Every dog is different, so the time it takes can vary. On average, it could take a few days to a few weeks of consistent practice.
What if my dog doesn’t respond to treats?
Not all dogs are food motivated. You can try using their favorite toy, praise, or petting as a form of reward instead.
Should I use a specific word for the command?
The specific word is not as important as consistency. Whether you use “lay down”, “down”, or another phrase, the key is to use it consistently each time.
My dog lays down but doesn’t stay, what can I do?
You can incorporate the “stay” command in your training. This can teach your dog to remain in a position until you give them another command.
What do I do if my dog lays down but keeps getting up?
This can be addressed by rewarding your dog the longer they stay in the down position, and by incorporating the “stay” command.
My dog is older. Can they still learn to lay down on command?
Absolutely! While training an older dog may require a bit more patience, they are certainly capable of learning new commands.
How many times a day should I practice this command with my dog?
Short, frequent training sessions are more effective than longer, infrequent ones. Try practicing for a few minutes at a time, several times a day.
What should I do if my dog seems stressed during training?
If your dog seems stressed, it’s best to take a break and try again later. Training should be a positive experience for your dog.
Why does my dog only obey the command when I have a treat?
This is a common issue in training. You can address it by gradually reducing the frequency of treats, and replacing it with praise and petting.
What if my dog isn’t getting it, despite consistent practice?
It might be helpful to consult a professional dog trainer. They can provide valuable insight and tailored strategies to help your dog understand the command.
Teaching your dog to lay down on command is an important aspect of dog training that promotes discipline and mutual understanding between you and your furry friend. It’s a process that requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Remember that every dog is unique and may learn at their own pace, so don’t get discouraged if progress seems slow. With time, your dog will not only master the “lay down” command, but also strengthen its bond with you. After all, a well-trained dog is a happy dog!