Teach Your Dog to Lie Down: A pro trainer’s guide

how to teach your dog to lie down

Today, I’m going to share with you two training techniques to help you teach your dog to lie down. All you need is some tasty treats and a willing training participant. 

Having your dog be able to lie down on cue is useful in a variety of situations. Once you’ve mastered it, you can use it when guests come over, to encourage calm, and when out in cafes, pubs and restaurants with your dog.

Watch the video below, or read on for step by step instructions. 

Teaching your dog to lie down from standing

Step 1: Start with your dog in a stand position

Step 2: Hold a treat under their nose and move your hand back and in a downwards motion, luring your dog backwards into a bow

Step 3: When your dog’s bum hits the floor, reward with a few treats between their feet

The above training method doesn’t work with all dogs. If your dog just walks backwards or stays in a bow with their bum in the air, try method number 2 to teach your dog to lie down. 

Teaching your dog to lie down from a sit position

For this one, you need to be aware of how your dog would naturally settle into a down position, so you can adjust your lure direction accordingly.

teach dog to lie down from a sit

Step 1: Start with your dog in a sit position

Step 2: Hold a treat at your dog’s nose, and move your hand to mimic the direction your dog would naturally lie down

Step 3: When your dog settles into a down position, reward with a few treats between their feet

teaching dog to lie down from a sit

Introducing your down cue

Once your dog is successfully following the treat and moving into a down position, you’re ready to name the behaviour. 

Think about what cue word you use for your down. If you naturally ask your dog to get ‘down’ when you want them off of furniture or to stop jumping up, then use a different cue such as lie flat or lie so they don’t get confused. 

Step 4: Continue to lure your dog with a treat into position and say your cue when your dog is in the down position. Make sure not to say your cue before your dog’s bum hits the floor, then treat! 

Progressing your down cue

Once your dog is reliably and quickly lying down with the lure method and cue, you’re ready to progress to slowly dropping the lure. 

Step 5: Hold your treats in the other hand and lure your dog down with your treat-free hand. Then reward with a treat once your dog is in position. 

Rapid fire rewards

Next, we want to be able to stand up straight whilst our dog stays in the down position. Grab yourself a handful of tasty treats for step 6.

Step 6: Rapid fire treats between your dog’s paws while they remain in a down, whilst you return to standing upright. 

Rewarding your dog for holding their down position can help you to build the duration you dog can stay lying down. 

Gradually space the rewards as your dog develops the ability to stay in a down until they’re released. 

how to teach your dog to lie down

Final top tips

  • Start in a quiet, distraction free environment
  • Keep training sessions to 2-3 minutes at a time
  • Slowly progress to the garden and then more distracting environments as your dog grows in skill

Once you’ve got this mastered, you can progress to teach your dog how to play dead.

Happy Training! 

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Becky Milne East Coast Dog Training with Border Terrier

Hi, I’m Becky

I’m an ethical and positive dog trainer who wants to help you create a fantastic relationship with your dog.

I offer fun and effective dog training that makes you WANT to train.