Dog Training

How to teach a dog to lie down

How to teach a dog to lie down

Teaching your dog to lie down is useful because it encourages them to behave in a calm and relaxed manner whether you’re in the house or out and about. As an added bonus, the ‘down’ cue can be a building block for fun behaviours and tricks so, if you’ve been thinking about tricks to teach your dog, it’s worth getting this core training done first.

It’s slightly easier to teach a dog to lie down if they already know how to sit, but still very achievable if they don’t.

Don’t forget the basics

Before you start teaching your furry friend to lie down, or indeed embark on any other sort of training, it’s worth thinking about training tips to make life easier. For example:

Training should be fun for both student and teacher

Fun training sessions aren’t just enjoyable, they’re also more likely to be successful. For this reason, keep things short and sweet.

Patience and consistency will get results

Dogs, like humans, are individuals and will all learn at their own pace. Just keep being consistent and your furry friend will soon get the hang of things.

Rewards get results!

Many animal experts recommend reward-based training. Put simply your dog is more likely to do ‘good’ things if they get good things in return. Rewards don’t have to be treats and can include praise or getting a favourite toy or game. That said, a lot of dogs are very motivated by food! If you are using treats in your training, PEDIGREE™ Ranchos Slices and Ranchos Sticks are an excellent choice. Ranchos Slices are made with 100% natural beef and Ranchos Sticks 100% natural chicken. Neither contain any added colours or flavours, and they are less than 5% fat.

It’s important not to punish or scold your dog

Generally speaking, when a dog is told off or punished, they don’t understand what they’re in trouble for, so it’s ineffective. Even more seriously, punishing your dog can damage the bond between the two of you and even make them frightened of you.

Teaching a dog to lie down when they know how to sit

Does you dog already know how to sit? The good news is that’s going to make training them to lie down easier. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Start with your dog sitting

With your dog in a sitting position and a treat in your hand, lower the treat down to the ground letting your dog follow it.

2. Your dog will lie down

Your dog is likely to follow the treat into a lying down position.

3. Time for a reward!

As soon as your dog is lying down fully (meaning their elbows and hocks are on the ground), it’s time to give them their treat and some calm praise.

4. Adding in a verbal cue

Once your dog is consistently lying down, you can introduce a cue word such as ‘down’.

5. Keep practising

As with any training, you’ll want to reinforce what your furry friend has learned by practising regularly.

Teaching a dog to lie down when they don’t know how to sit

It’s still possible to teach a dog to lie down if they don’t already know how to sit, and it’s worth bearing in mind that some dogs, such as greyhounds or those with very short legs, may find sitting uncomfortable. If your furry friend doesn’t know how to sit, start your ‘down’ training with them in a standing position. You follow the same steps as above, and still use a treat to guide them down to the floor.

Pro tips

Tired pups will lie down more willingly

It makes sense that it’s easier to teach a dog to lie down when they’re not bursting with energy, so try training when they’ve just had a walk or an energetic play session.

Never ‘help’ your dog to lie down

It may seem like a good idea to try to push your dog into a lying position, but this won’t help with their training, and you could even hurt them.

Make sure you’re rewarding your dog when they’re in the down position

It’s important you reward your dog when they are actually in the down position. If you miss that moment and dish out a treat when they are sitting up again, your dog may well think they earned their treat for getting up, not lying down.

Adding the release

Once your dog has got the hang of lying down when they’re asked to, it’s time to introduce a release word. This is what tells your four-legged friend you’re giving them permission to get up. A lot of people use ‘okay’ for this, but you can use any word you want as long as you’re consistent.

Learning to lie down can be a building block for tricks

If you’re keen to teach your dog some fun tricks (and your dog shares that enthusiasm!), you’ll be pleased to know that the ‘down’ cue is a useful building block for tricks such as roll over and playing dead.

How long does it take to teach a dog to lie down?

Just like us humans, no two dogs are the same. That’s why it’s impossible to say exactly how long it will take to train a dog to lie down. One thing is for sure though you’ll get quicker results if you are patient and consistent with your training. Try to keep sessions short and sweet and you could even have your dog lying down when asked in as little as 10 days.

Looking for more training advice? You might be interested in these:

How to communicate with your dog – and the mistakes to avoid

How to toilet train a puppy or dog. Our no-stress guide.