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Lie Down - Teaching Dog Commands

When your dog has mastered the command 'sit' the next one that is easiest to move onto is 'lie down'. Once you have those two mastered you will be able to move on to other commands. Being able to get your dog to lie down when you command it is a very useful option to have for various situations. Aim to have two or more short training sessions a day about 5 to 10 minutes long each time. Here we have a step by step guide on how to teach your dog the lie down command, based on the fact they have already mastered the sit command.

1) Getting your dog into the lie down position using luring

Start with your dog in the 'sit' position in a room with no distractions. Have a treat in your hand between your fingers let them smell it and lick it if you want to but not eat it yet. Put it in front of their nose then slowly move your hand down to in between their paws on the floor. Your dog should follow down with his nose as you move down. Once you reach the floor pull it backwards towards you so you are making an L shape with the treat. To keep up with the treat your dog will most likely keep his head low and follow so his body will also come into the 'down' position. As soon as his elbows touch the floor say 'yes' or 'good' and give him the treat straight away.

After this first time if your dog does not get up himself step away from him and encourage him to get up. Then repeat the above action another 15 to 20 times. For some dogs it will take less repeats to understand the down position gets the reward, and for others they may need a few days on just this first step.


If your dog does not follow the treat as you try to lure him down it may not be a treat he is interested in so try another. More exciting treats for most dogs include things like pieces of cheese, chicken or hot dog. When you lure him down if his rear end goes up in the air rather than coming down too do not give him the treat as this is not the correct position. Get him back to sit and try and again.

If he is reluctant still try sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you and them sitting next to you. Bend your knees so they come up and you make a tunnel with them. Lure your dog down and then across the floor under your knees. If he is too scared to go down and under put a trail of treats to follow. For some dogs going into the lie down position is easier from a standing position. Also keep in mind some dogs do not like to lie down on cold floors!

2) Adding a hand signal

As with teaching him to sit you are now going to do step one again but this time the treat is going to be hidden in your other hand or pocket. Start him in the 'sit' position. Say 'down' and use the same hand motion. When his elbows reach the floor say 'yes' or 'good' and give him the treat. Step away or clap your hands to get him back up and repeat. This step will need a week or two of practice. Move on to step 3 when he lies down consistently on your hand signal.

Resist adding the treat back in if he does not follow the empty hand straight away, Just be persistent and patient. If he is still not following try ticking him! Use a treat 3 or 4 times in quick succession and then the next time do not. When he still obeys open your hand to show him there was nothing there but then give him a reward from elsewhere so he learn treats can can from anywhere.

3) Reducing the hand signal

So that you do not have to keep going down to the floor each time and to gradually get to where your dog will obey the verbal command only we now need to shrink the hand signal. Go slowly so your dog still understands what you are commanding though. Do the same as step 2 but don't take your hand all the way down to the floor this time, stop an inch or so from it before moving back. Practice that for a day or so and then make so you are 3 or 4 inches from the ground. After another couple of days shrink again. Eventually you will get to where you don't need to bend over at all, you will be able to say 'down' and point to the floor.


4) Different locations and situations

You need to know that your dog can obey your commands wherever you are in any situation and to reach that point your dog needs to practice. Start by adding in some distraction during the training session, move to less calm environments remembering to go slowly. Move the sessions away from the house completely, friend's houses, the park, on your walk route. Have people bounce a ball nearby, when the door bell rings and so on. If at first he struggles return to using the treat as a lure a couple of times to remind him. Always praise and reward him when he gets it right. If he is totally unfocussed you may have upped the level of distraction by too much too son. Go back to something less hard for him and approach it more slowly.

5) Cutting down on the treats

Obviously you do not want to be carrying a lot of treats all the time. When he is confident in each situation you can reduce the treats he gets when he obeys. Just reward him when he is especially fast. Slower, reluctant reactions are still obeying so tell him well done, just reduce the treats he gets those times! You can start to get him to obey a command before he gets to do something he wants. If he want to play tell him 'down' first then reward him with some play time. Make him lie down before you take him off the leash, or before dinner and so on.

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