How to teach your dog to lie down

yellow labrador lying on pier on the water

Lie down or down is one of the basic and useful behaviour to teach your puppy. It’s also a way to calm down your puppy when they’re over excited. 

What do you need to teach your dog to lie down?

  • a clicker,
  • some yummy treats,
  • a hungry, possibly tired dog,
  • a few minutes every day,
  • a bit of patience,
  • different groundings and surroundings. 

How to start: 

  1. Start by showing a treat to your dog then hide it in your hand. Your dog must be standing, don’t try to teach them to lie down from a sitting position. That will slow the lying down process because first, you need to put your dog to sit and only then lie down.
  2. Now, place your hand with the hidden treat in front of your dog’s nose and lower it slowly to the floor. Your dog will follow your hand, first with their chest and then with the rest of their body.
  3. When your dog is lying on the floor, click and give them the reward. 

Repeat the exercise a few times and add a voice command when you see your dog has figured out what you want them to do. When your dog is familiar with the voice command, remove the treat from your hand. Let the dog lie down on your voice command, then click and give them the treat. 

The next step is to wait a few seconds when your dog is already on the floor to teach them to lie down until you release them from this position. To make it harder, let your dog stay on the ground while you walk around them and move away from them. Your dog has to lie down the whole time. Click and reward when you return to your dog’s side.  

Practice a few times every day, at least before every meal. Be persistent. Change the environment and the grounding of your practice often. It may be easy to train at home, but with people and cars speeding by and distracting smells all around it will be a different story. 

A few rules to follow when training your dog:

  • Keep your practices short.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be patient.
  • If you see your dog is weary, stop the practice. Otherwise, both of you will get frustrated. 
  • Train in different situations and different surroundings. 
  • Always finish training on a successful note, even if that means you have to make a step back. 
  • And most of all, keep it fun!