How to teach your dog to lie down on command

As you work your way down your pup’s trick to-do list, teaching your pooch to lie down is one of the essentials that leads the way to more advanced moves.

It’s been a few weeks now since you started teaching your dog how to sit down on command, and it’s looking like they’ve finally gotten the hang of things. With one trick in the bag, it’s time to reach back into your bag of aspirational tricks and move on to a new move. Next up on our list: “lie down.” Like getting your dog to sit, teaching your pooch to lie down on command is another basic skill that can easily pave the way for other tricks, like rolling over or playing possum.

As with any round of training, you’ll want to block off about 10–15 minutes for continuous practice, and you’ll want to keep some treats nearby for positive reinforcement. (Pro tip: Finn’s nutritional soft chews do the same trick as a treat when it comes to incentivizing your pup, but they add some health benefits in the process.) You can also opt for the clicker training method to start, and slowly work your way from there.

Ready to get training? Follow these easy tips to have your pup lying down on command in no time!

  1. With your dog in a proper seated position, grab a treat and hold it in front of your dog. (If your pup starts coming after the treat, simply use the “sit” command to get them back in place.)
  2. Holding the treat out in front of your dog, begin moving it down towards the floor. As you slowly move the treat down, your dog will begin to follow it.
  3. Continue until your dog is fully lying down, with their elbows and hocks touching the ground. Once your pooch is in the right position, give them the treat, along with plenty of positive affirmations — “good boy!” or “good girl!” — in a cheery, upbeat tone. (If you’re using the clicker training method, this is when you’ll make a click to let your pup know they’ve accomplished the task at hand.)
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until your dog has no trouble lying down and holding that position in exchange for a treat. Once you’ve reached that point, it’s time to start introducing verbal cues. Repeat steps 1-3, but this time add the command “down.” Repeat several times.
  5. Once you’ve practiced adding the verbal cue, it’s time to take treat-guiding out of the equation. Start using only the command and hand gesture to get your dog to lie down, then offer a treat and some praise once they’ve done it properly. Voila!
  6. Make it a point to practice lying down in different locations and at different points in the day. This way, your dog gets used to lying down on command regardless of the environment or distractions around them. You want to make sure that you always reinforce the basics and remain consistent with practice and repetition, even as you continue expanding your dog’s repertoire of tricks and commands.

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