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How to Teach a Dog to Lie Down

Your dog should learn to lie down on command.

One of the basic commands that a dog should learn, along with come, sit, and stay, is lie down. You will be able to use this command when you need your dog to rest calmly in one spot. Along with the sit command, knowing how to respond to the lie down command is a prerequisite for teaching a dog to stay.

General Dog Training Tips

Here are some things to keep in mind when training your dog:

  • It helps to do a training session after a play time. This lets some of your dog's energy out, so it's easier for him to focus when it's time to train.
  • Training just before a meal can work well sometimes. It means your dog will be a bit hungry, so your training treats look more attractive to him.
  • Don't make training sessions too long. Short training sessions of 5-10 minutes once or twice a day work best for dogs. Also, ending on success is important, so your dog will look forward to the next session.
  • Try clicker training. Clicker training is great for dogs because you can click immediately when your dog does something right; faster than you would be able to give a treat. Doing this helps your dog more quickly learn what you want from him. You can learn more here: "Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview."

Training Your Dog to Lie Down

It helps if your dog knows how to respond to the sit command before you train him to follow the lie down command.

Here are the steps for teaching your dog to lie down:

  1. Give your dog the command to sit.
  2. Put a treat in front of your dog's nose, then lower it between his front legs, then quickly bring it straight out, toward you. If your dog follows this motion, he should be lying down. You may need to practice this movement a few times to make it fluid.
  3. You can place the hand not holding the treat between your dog's shoulders and gently push while you're moving the treat, to further show him what you want.
  4. Once your dog is down, praise him and give him the treat.
  5. Over time, use a treat sporadically, the rest of the time using just the hand motion. Add the command "lie down" after a few successful practices.
  6. Eventually, you will be able to remove the hand motion and just use the lie down command.

Once your dog knows how to respond to the lie down command, you can work on teaching stay.

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