Teach your dog to lie down

How to teach your dog to lie down

Once a dog has mastered sit, he can begin learning how to lie down on command.  Not only is lying down a neat trick that makes your dog look well behaved, but it can also be useful for calming excited dogs or as an antidote to jumping. 

Red Groodle puppy laying down

Steps to teach your dog to lie down

There are a number of methods for teaching your dog this trick, and you should practice each to determine which works best for your pup.  As with “sit,” you will begin by first teaching your dog the motion, and then adding the verbal command.  First ask your Groodle to sit, and then place a treated hand in front of your dog’s nose.  Slowly move your hand both backwards (towards your body), and down towards the floor, drawing your dog’s nose to the ground.  For most dogs, their bodies will follow their nose, and by the time your hand reaches the floor he will be lying down.  Say “yes!” and administer a treat the moment he reaches the correct position. 

Other ways to teach “lie down”

If your dog is tempted to walk towards the treat instead of lie down, a second option is to again start with a treated hand in front of the dog’s nose, but instead of moving your hand backwards, move your hand both toward the dog and down, ending near his front feet.  His nose will follow the treat, and lack of space will force him to assume a lying down position. 

Two alternative ways, should the first two methods not work, are to start with the lure at the dog’s nose, and slowly draw your hand close to the dog’s body, finishing down at his tail.  This manner forces the dog to reposition himself to get the treat, and typically the most natural position is lying down.  A final way is to get your dog’s attention and quickly “snap” the treat onto the ground, causing your dog to follow suit for the treat.  Find the method (or variation) which works best for your dog and repeat this action until he reliably lies down with the lure. 

How to use the command

Once your dog is ready, incorporate the use of a verbal command.  While it is tempting to say “lie down,” dogs do best with one syllable commands, such as “down.”  Just as with “sit,” issue the “down” command and then lure your dog into the proper position.  Immediately reward your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement the moment he lies down.  After this command has been mastered from the sitting position, begin to ask for the down when your dog is standing.

Never become frustrated with your dog if teaching the down command is difficult.  If you find yourself becoming upset, take a break from training and come back to it with a clear head.  Do not force your dog into the proper position, as he will not learn the command in this way.  As always, timing the reward is a crucial component.  Do not reward too soon, before the dog is in the fully lying down position, or too late. 

If you simply cannot find a reliable luring method, a more time-consuming technique is to enthusiastically say “down” and reward your dog every time you see him lying down.  Although a slow process, your dog will eventually learn the association between the word, action, and reward.