Teaching Your Dog How to Lie Down: Easy at Home Training

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Lure Your Pup
  • Use the Capture Method
  • Use the Shaping Method
  • Additional Tips for Training Your Dog to Lie Down 
  • Conclusion

Article at a Glance 

  • It’s very important to train your dog to lie down
  • There are several methods you can use to train your dog to lie down, including luring, capturing, and shaping
  • Certain tips can make it easier to teach your dog to lie down 

When you get a new pup, there’s a lot of training you need to do, from leash training to potty training to general obedience training. One of the most important commands to teach your dog is how to lie down. Getting your dog to lie down can help calm down chaotic situations. It will also allow you to bring your dog into all different sorts of environments. 

But, how do you teach your dog to lie down? Read our easy at-home training guide to learn how it’s done!

Lure Your Pup 

Using methods to lure your dog is one of the best ways to teach them to lie down. For example, you can use a treat or a toy to coax your dog into a lying position. If you decide to use a treat, you can hold it to your pup’s nose and then move the treat in a parallel circle toward the ground. Here’s what it’ll look like:

  1. When your dog is in a sitting position, hold a treat to its nose. 
  2. Bring the treat down in front of your dog’s paws. Hopefully, they’ll lower their head to follow the treat. 
  3. Move the treat along the ground away from your dog. As your dog follows the treat, it should move into a lying down position. 
  4. Once your dog is in the down position, click and pray. Then, immediately give your dog the reward. 
  5. After doing this several times, start to use a treat from your other hand, so your dog is no longer eating the lure. 
  6. Eventually, you should be able to lure your puppy with an empty hand. This way, you’ll have a hand signal in place for lowering your dog to the ground. 
  7. Once your dog gets used to obeying the hand signal, you can start saying the word “down” right before you give the signal. After a while, your puppy should start to respond to your verbal cue. 

To make sure the luring technique works, choose a lure that your dog will be excited about. This will ensure they’re willing to follow it. You may also want to use a clicker to communicate to your dog the exact moment they do something right. Even if your puppy doesn’t know yet how to sit on command, you can still lure them into lying down from a standing position. You can do this by luring them to sit first or by taking the treat straight down to the ground when your dog is in the standing position. 

Use the Capture Method 

You can also use the capture method to teach your dog to lie down. This involves giving a reward to your dog any time they lie down on their own. Whenever you see your dog in the act of lying down, immediately give them a reward such as a toy or a treat. You can also use a clicker and praise them verbally. Once you capture them getting into the lying down position enough times, your dog will eventually begin to lie down in front of you on purpose with the hope of getting a reward. You can eventually add a verbal cue or hand signal right before they’re about to lie down. 

This way, your puppy will associate your verbal cues or gestures with their actions. Eventually, you’ll be able to ask them to lie down at any time. 

Use the Shaping Method 

Last but not least, you can use the shaping method to teach your dog to lie down. The shaping method involves teaching things one step at a time. When teaching your dog to lie down, this would mean teaching your dog to look at the ground, lower their elbows to the ground, and then finally lie down. The trick to the shaping method is to choose a first step that your puppy can easily do. Then, you can add on another step without increasing too much in difficulty. For example, you can start by using a lure to get your puppy to look at the ground. Then, click and praise and reward the look. 

After your puppy masters this step, lure their head to the ground before you give a click and reward. Next, you could move on to asking them to bend their elbows, and so on. Once you’ve taught the final behavior, you can fade the lure and add a verbal cue. 

Additional Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Lie Down 

Teaching your dog to lie down takes some practice, so don’t get frustrated if your dog doesn’t learn the command right away. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make the training process easier. 

Here are some additional tips for teaching your dog to lie down:

Choose the Right Environment 

Choosing the right environment is key to successful dog obedience training. When teaching your dog to lie down, choose a calm, quiet space where your dog feels comfortable. For many dogs, this is the living room. Also, make sure you choose to train at the right time. Choose a time when your puppy is relaxed and happy. Often, the best time to train your dog to lie down is right after a walk, as they’ll be a little tired and more responsive to sitting still. 

Focus On the Placement of the Rewards 

When teaching your dog how to lie down, be mindful about where you place the rewards. If you wait to give your pup the treat until they sit up again, then they’re going to think you’re rewarding them for sitting up rather than lying down.This will lead to a “push-up problem” where your dog lies down for a second and then pops up again. Always be ready with treats so you can offer them to your puppy while they’re still lying down. 

Never Force Your Puppy to Lie Down  

You should never physically force your puppy into a lying-down position. Even if you do so gently, your dog will try to stay standing up to resist the pressure, leading to the opposite effect of what you want. Or, even worse, you might frighten your dog, which will make the lying down position seem completely unappealing. 

Don’t Mix “Down” with “Off” 

When teaching your dog verbal cues, clarity is essential. You can’t expect your dog to understand what you mean if your word usage isn’t consistent. Using the command “down” should only be done when you want your dog to get into the lying position. On the other hand, the word “off” should be reserved for when you want your dog to get off a piece of furniture, stop jumping, or stop counter surfing. If you use the word “down” when you want your dog to get off the couch, they’re going to think you’re telling them to lie down on the couch. 

Practice in Different Places 

While you should start teaching your dog how to lie down in a comfortable place such as your living room, eventually, you want to move on to practicing in different places. While you might need to go back to the basics when practicing in a new spot, it’s important that your dog learns to follow your commands outside of the home. 

The “down” command will likely come in handy more often when you’re away from home. For example, you may need to tell your dog to lie down at the dog park, at the vet, or when visiting a friend’s house. If they only know how to lie down in your living room, then you’re not taking your training far enough.

Know How to Troubleshoot Issues 

There are a couple of common issues you may run into when teaching your dog how to lie down. Some dog body types make following the traditional lure movement uncomfortable. If this is the case for your dog, you might want to consider guiding them into a lure so they end up in a curved position, which will put less pressure on their chests. This can be helpful for short-legged breeds, such as corgis and dachshunds, as well as some larger dogs, such as greyhounds. 

Also, if your dog isn’t interested in following the lure, you may need to select a more high-value treat. Or, you could teach your dog to lie down once they’ve worked up a bit of an appetite. 

Teaching Your Dog to Lie Down: Time to Get to Work! 

As you can see, teaching your dog to lie down isn’t all that complicated. Pretty soon, telling your dog to lie down will be effortless. If you’re looking for more tips on training your dog, check out this guide on the top home training methods for a young puppy. 

Written by Mead Johnston

Mead is an experienced dog trainer, writer, and lover of animals. She has always been surrounded by animals and had a passion for learning more about them every day. This passion grew tremendously when Mead brought home a Great Pyrenees x Golden Retriever named Mac in 2018. Mead has continued to learn more about dogs whenever possible and wherever possible, while also helping so many wonderful clients. Her goal is help her clients and their dogs become confident in their daily lives. As a dog trainer, she often helps clients who are starting off with a puppy or they might have an older dog that is presenting challenging behaviours. Mead believes in the all-natural uses of Pet CBD to help our furry loved ones live longer, happier and healthier lives.

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