HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DOG TO LIE DOWN

It is important to train your dog to lie down. The “down” command, and when I say that, I mean the command to lie down, not a command to stop jumping, helps to teach your dog to relax; and is helpful when you want your dog to hang out with you when you’re away from home. Here are four tips for teaching a dog to lay down.

TIP 1: TEACH YOUR DOG OTHER COMMANDS, BEFORE YOU TRAIN YOUR DOG TO LIE DOWN

A dog which has trust or respect issues will fight lying down on command. Wait until you have developed a working rapport with your dog before you attempt to train your dog to lie down, especially if it is at all fearful or dominant. Lying down places a dog in a vulnerable position. It can’t defend itself when it is lying down. Wait until you have your dog doing well with other dog training commands, and until you can see that it really wants to please you, before teaching it to lie down.

TIP 2: TEACH YOUR DOG TO LIE DOWN FROM SITTING

It is far easier to teach a dog to lie down when it is sitting down. To begin teaching a dog to lay down on command, have it sitting next to you. For small dogs, you will initially want to be on your knees, or sitting on the floor. Once it has learned how to “down,” from a sit, you can progress to training your dog to lie down from standing, if you like.

TIP 3: GIVE YOUR DOG ATTENTION WHEN IT IS LYING DOWN

Once your dog is down, you want to get it to relax. Encourage it to roll over onto one hip, rather than lying in a straight line on its belly with its back legs on each side of its body. A dog lying on one hip is relaxed, and is more likely to stay lying down. A dog that is lying in a straight line is tensed to pop back up at any moment.

While your dog is down, get down at its level, and give it a lot of attention to encourage it to stay down. Pet it, scratch its belly, tell it that it’s wonderful, whatever, just make staying in a “down” a pleasant experience for your dog. However, avoid acting excited, or petting your dog in a way that’s going to stimulate excitement.

TIP 4: GIVE YOUR DOG POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT WHEN IT LIES DOWN ON ITS OWN

To help train your dog to lie down on command, say “down” as you see it lying down on its own. Then, give it attention when it is down, so that it associates the word “down” with the action of lying down. If you have a dog that has any tendency towards hyperactivity, you can help it learn calmness by giving it treats and attention when it is lying calmly, rather than giving it attention while it is being hyper.

Once your dog gets in the habit of lying down when you want it to, you will have more opportunities to take your dog out in public, such as at outdoor restaurant tables. You will also be giving your dog the chance to practice just hanging out with you calmly; definitely a win-win situation.

Good luck!

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