wikiHow to Teach Your Puppy to Lie Down

Three Parts:Preparing Your Puppy for TrainingIntroducing the “Lie Down” CommandPracticing the “Lie Down” Command

Teaching your puppy to lie down can be a useful skill in many situations, from visiting a new home to waiting in the vet’s office to staying calm when meeting another dog. A dog who can lie down on command is a controlled and calm dog, as he cannot jump up or run away without his owner’s permission. Once you teach your puppy the “lie down” command, you can move on to other advanced commands like “play dead” and “roll over”.[1]

Part 1
Preparing Your Puppy for Training

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    Ensure your puppy knows the “sit” command. Before your puppy can tackle the “lie down” command, he will need to be comfortable with sitting on command. Once you teach your dog to sit, you can move on to the “lie down” command.[2]
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    Choose a quiet, open area. Conduct the training session in a spot that is free of distractions or noises that could interfere with your dog’s concentration. You want to ensure your dog’s focus remains on only you for the duration of the training session. If you usually use one area in your yard or home to train your dog, begin teaching him to lie down there.[3]
    • Some smaller dogs can be picky about lying down on a cold or hard floor. If possible, choose an area that has a carpeted floor or a surface that is soft, like a couch or a dog bed.[4]
    • The best time for training sessions is right when your puppy starts to get hungry, as this will motivate him to earn his rewards, or treats. Try to schedule training sessions right before dinner time.[5]
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    Keep several of your puppy’s favorite treats on you. You can place several treats in your pockets before the training session if you tend to keep treats in your pockets while training your dog. You may keep the dog treats in a pouch attached to your belt or in your back pocket.[6]
    • It’s important that you place the treats in a spot where they cannot be seen by your puppy. You want your puppy to learn to respond to your command, not to a treat. You should keep the treats out of sight in a pocket or a pouch until your dog completes the command and earns his reward. However, in the early stages of training it is acceptable to use a treat as a lure.

Part 2
Introducing the “Lie Down” Command

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    Command your pup to “sit”. Once he is in the sitting position, say the cue “down”. Make sure you say the “lie down” or “down” cue in a calm, clear voice and maintain eye contact with your puppy as you say the cue.[7]
    • Use the cue “down” or “lie down” to teach your puppy to get down on the ground and not use it for other actions, like getting off of the couch or off of a step. Instead, use the command “off” in other instances so your puppy is not confused about which action you are asking for.[8]
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    Hold a treat between your fingers. Allow your dog to smell it and lick it, but not to eat it. Continue to hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose and move it down toward the floor, between his front legs. Your dog’s nose should follow the treat and his head should bend down towards the floor.
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    Move the treat to the ground. Keep moving the treat until your hand lands on the ground, straight in front of your dog. Your dog will continue to follow the treat and ease himself into a down position. Once his elbows touch the floor, say “yes!” and let him eat the treat from your fingers.[9]
    • Avoid using your hands to push your dog down to the ground as this can be seen as an aggressive move by your dog and spook him or put him on edge. You want to teach your dog to lie down on his own.[10]
    • Your dog may stand up after eating the treat and move out of the down position. If he does not do this, move one to two steps away to encourage him to move out of the down position. If you dog’s back end pops up when you move him into the down position, you should not give him the treat. Instead, ask your dog to sit and try the sequence again until his whole body goes down to the ground. You can try allowing your dog to sniff or nibble at the treat as you move it to the floor to encourage him to lie down fully.
    • Keep in mind some dogs may not be interested in the treat you are using for the session and he may not follow the treat with his nose. Switch up the treat for something more enticing, like a small piece of chicken, a piece of cheese, or the end of a hot dog.
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    Repeat the “down” sequence 15 to 20 times. Some dogs can move on to learning the hand signal after one session, and other dogs may need a few more sessions of practice.
    • Try to do at least two short, five to ten minute sessions, a day.
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    Practice the “lie down” hand signal. Once your dog gets the hang of the down position with the use of a treat, you can move on to using a hand signal to get your dog to lie down. You will still use treats as a reward, but they will be hidden behind your back so your dog follows the hand signal, rather than the treat.[11][12]
    • Begin with commanding your dog to “sit”.
    • Say “down.” Make the same motion with your fingers and hand, but without a treat between your fingers.
    • Move your hand to the ground and as soon as your dog’s elbows touch the floor, say “yes!” and give him a treat.
    • Take a few steps back to signal to your dog that he can stand up.
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    Repeat this sequence 15 to 20 times for one to two weeks. Try to have two five to ten minute training sessions a day where your dog follows your hand signal. Once your dog lies down as soon as you say the cue and make the hand signal, you can move forward in the training.[13]
    • If your dog doesn’t follow your empty hand into the down position, do not bring out a treat to encourage him. Be patient and make eye contact with him until he lies down on his own.

Part 3
Practicing the “Lie Down” Command

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    Work on reducing the hand signal. Over time, you likely will not want to continue to bend all the way down to the floor to get your dog into the down position with the hand signal. You can try to shrink the signal so it is a smaller movement and you do not need to bend down towards the floor. Make sure you progress to a smaller hand signal slowly, and only once your dog is comfortable with the “lie down” command and the normal hand signal.[14]
    • Repeat the command and the hand signal, without a treat between your fingers. Instead of moving your hand all the way to the floor, move it down until it is an inch or two above the floor. Continue to practice the down command with this new, smaller hand signal for one to two days.
    • Once your dog responds to the smaller hand signal, adjust your movement so your hand is three to four inches above the floor. After practicing for a couple more days, shrink the hand signal again so it is farther and farther away from the floor and you need to bend over less and less.
    • Over time, you will not need to bend over at all and you should be able to say the “Lie down” command while standing up straight and pointing to the floor.
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    Use the command in different settings and situations. Now that your pup has mastered the lie down command, it’s time to practice the new skill in different settings and situations. This will teach him to always follow the command, regardless of any distractions around him.[15]
    • Start by practicing the command in familiar places, like the rooms in your home, in your backyard, and in your front yard.
    • Move on to slightly more distracting areas, like in your home when other family members are around. You can also practice the command during a daily walk and in friend’s houses or yards.
    • Once your dog masters lying down on command in these situations, add on more distractions. Practice the command while someone makes noise or plays with a ball nearby. You should also practice the command when you are playing with your dog at the park, when someone rings the doorbell, and when your dog is playing with other dogs.
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    Practice the command with less treats. If you’d rather not carry pockets full of dog treats every time you ask your dog to lie down, you can start to reduce the number of treats he receives during the training sessions. Only do this once your dog is very comfortable with following the lie down command in different settings and situations.[16]
    • Begin by giving him treats only when he lies down fast and with excitement. If he lies down slowly and with reluctance, give him praise and a head scratch but do not give him a treat. Withhold the treats for only the faster lie downs so he does not receive a treat every time he lies down.
    • You can also use other rewards besides treats for when he follows the command. Ask your dog for a down position before you attach his leash for a walk, before you give him his dinner, before you throw his favorite toy and before he can greet someone. This way, he will see the lie down command as a positive cue that leads to rewards other than treats.

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Categories: Dog Tricks