How to Train a dog to Lie "Down" (K9-1.com)
How to Teach a Dog to Lie Down
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? If you want a well-mannered dog, teaching him to lie down is a must. Teaching your dog to lie down can help you control him and his impulses in general, and can increase your bond with your dog.
Introducing the Lie Down Idea
Have a yummy treat ready.Figure out what kinds of treats your dog likes and have them with you when training. Hold the treat in front of the dog so that he can smell it, but not eat it yet. Bring the treat back a bit so he knows he has to do something in order to get it from you.
- If you have already used a clicker with training, you can use the clicker instead of a treat for positive reinforcement, particularly if your dog has weight issues or is not hungry because he just ate.
Get the dog to sit.It’s easier to train a dog to lie down after he already knows the “sit” command. When he’s in the sitting position, bring the treat close to his nose again. If he gets excited and springs back up because of the treat, step back again and get him back into the sit position before continuing. Once he’s steady in the sit position, kneel or squat down to get closer to his level.
Say the cue “Down”.This is very important to do absolutely every time, because eventually you will train the dog to lie down without any treats and only with this command.
Lure the dog into a lying down position.While you’re squatting, move the treat down to the floor right in between his front legs. He should follow the treat to the floor with his nose. Once his nose is to the floor, bring the treat back out along the floor toward you.
- If the dog pops up while luring him down, quickly snatch the treat away. Then immediately ask him to sit again, and start the luring process over again.
Put your hand gently on his shoulder.This should deter him from getting back up and walking toward the treat. As you inch the treat along the floor, he should glide down to the floor too. The entire motion of luring is an “L” shape with your hand.
Try this trick if he’s reluctant.Sit down in front of him with him on either your left or right side. Put your legs out along the floor, then raise them up so they look like a tent. Slowly move the treat down to the floor and then under your legs as he’s sniffing it. Move it out under your legs so he has to crouch down under them to get to it.
- Remember, don’t allow him to have the treat until he lies down. He will get confused about what it is you’re asking him to do.
”Catch” him in the behavior.If your dog is particularly resistant to the luring technique, you can reward “catching” him lying down on his own. Simply stand with your dog in a room and wait for him to lie down.
- The instant his body hits the floor, say “down,” use your clicker and throw a treat a few feet in front of him. He’ll have to stand up to go get the treat, so then you just wait for him to lie down again.
- Repeat the sequence until he seems to start connecting “down” with what you want him to do.
Praise the dog and let him eat the treat immediately when he lies down.Say “Yes!” or “Good dog!” and then give the treat (or click the clicker). The moment his elbows, rear end, and belly touch the floor, that’s when you give the praise and the treat – not before!
Give a release command.You can say, “Ok!” or “Up!” and then clap your hands or take some steps backward to get him to stand up.
Repeat.After he stands back up, repeat these steps immediately 5-15 times after he gets it the first time, depending on what his attention span allows. This much repetition in the beginning will help him to remember what to do.
Part 1 Quiz
What should you do if your dog leaps up from the sitting position before laying all the way down?
Reinforcing the Lie Down Command
Practice the steps above twice per day.Try to keep each training session short and simple, about 10 minutes each time. Once he gets it easily each time, you’ll be ready to move onto gradually removing the treats. Some dogs will be ready to move on after only a day or two of those steps; others will need more practice.
Veterinarian Pippa Elliott suggests: "If you find it difficult to fit training sessions into the day, try using the ad breaks on TV. Each time ads come on, practice 'Down' with the dog."
Start using an empty hand but still giving a treat.This teaches your dog to know what he’s expected to do without having to actually see the treat. Practice saying “down” and luring him down to the floor, using the same “L” motion, but without a treat in your hand.
- Keep the treats nearby and give him one as soon as he lies down and stays, and be sure to give praise. If he refuses to lie down without seeing a treat, you can try this “fake out” trick: lure him into the lying down position with a treat just like in the first section quickly 4 times in a row.
- The last time, quickly do it without the treat. He will probably lie down, thinking you have a treat. As soon as he does, say your praise (“Yes!” or “Good dog!”) and open your hand to show him there’s no treat. #*Then give him 3 surprise treats.
- Start again practicing without the treats and only using the hand signal.
- Practice the empty hand method for 10 minutes a couple of times each day for a couple of days.
Start shrinking the hand signal.After a couple of days of practicing using an empty hand, you’re ready to also start shrinking your hand signal. Instead of guiding your dog all the way to the floor with your hand, say “down” and guide him almost to the floor.
- Stop your hand an inch or two above the floor and move it out. As soon as he lies down, deliver the praise and the treat.
Continue shrinking the hand signal.Every couple of days, make your hand signal smaller and smaller. You will eventually have to bend over less, and finally all you’ll need to do is say “down” and point to the floor while standing up. Continue delivering treats and praise each time he lies down for you on command.
Take it on the road.Practice your dog’s new skill in different locations so he’ll be able to do it anywhere you ask him to. Start by using different rooms in your house, then go outside around your house when no one else is around. Increase the level of distractions gradually.
- Try practicing while you’re out on a walk where there’s little distraction, then work up to environments where there is a lot he’s distracted by.
Start using fewer treats.After your dog can lie down in various locations and under various circumstances, start giving less treats. Always give praise and a pet though! You can start by only giving treats for the fastest downs, letting the slower more reluctant ones just get a praise and a pet.
Give “life rewards”.Start asking your dog to lie down before different fun activities, like before you put on his leash to go for a walk, before you give him dinner, before you throw him a favorite toy, before he’s allowed to meet new people, or before you let him off leash to play.
- Dogs like having a job to do! And when he discovers that lying down gets him all kinds of rewards, he’ll be more likely to do it as soon as you ask.
Part 2 Quiz
Which of the following should you do first when your dog gets better at lying down on command?
Learning Some Dog Training Basics
Keep training sessions short and sweet.Like kids, dogs don’t have the longest attention spans. There’s no definite rule, but each training session should last about 15 minutes or less. Within that session, you can work on one skill, or switch between a few different skills.
- Spend those 15 minutes practicing new skills, but keep old ones polished by doing single repetitions at convenient times throughout the day.
Use consistent, positive reinforcement.If you like a behavior that your dog does, reward it. If you don’t like it, don’t reward it. For instance, if you sometimes pet your dog when he jumps up, but sometimes you yell at him, he’s bound to get confused about how you feel about the behavior.
- Don’t bury words like “sit” and “down” in complex sentences. When training, decide what word you will use for the action that you want, and use it clearly and consistently every time.
- Negative reinforcement doesn’t work! If you hit your dog or yank his leash when he does something you don’t like, he may simply learn that you are scary and not connect his behavior with how he got hurt. It’s much easier to focus on what you want your dog to do (if he starts doing something you don’t like, you tell him to sit) than on what you don’t want him to do.
Work on one part of a new skill at a time.Many skills have complex parts. For instance, if you’re teaching your dog a solid sit-stay, you’ll need to work on having him stay until you release him, then staying while you move away from him until you release him, then staying while you move away from him with distractions until you release him.
- Start with the more basic part of the skill, and then move upward in complexity for each level of mastery.
Practice everywhere and with everyone.Dogs, unlike people, don’t automatically take new information with them everywhere. They learn very specifically and don’t always apply their knowledge to different places and situations. So if you only practice a new skill in the kitchen, you’ll have a wonderfully kitchen-trained dog.
- While you may want to start a new skill in a quiet room of your house, move to different locations as soon as he starts getting it. Train your dog in different rooms of your house, in your yard, at different stops during your walks, and at friends’ houses.
End on a good note.It’s important to stop a training session before either one of you gets frustrated, tired, or bored. Also, remember to let your dog be a dog.
- This means that you should have patience with dog training, and accept that your dog has certain traits and behaviors (chewing, mouthing, roughhousing) that are just part of being a dog. You can deter some behaviors by not rewarding them, but this takes time and patience.
- If you are trying to prevent certain undesirable behaviors in your dog (like digging through the trash can), consider what you can do to prevent the behavior (like putting the can in a place where the dog can’t get to it) instead of setting unrealistic expectations on him.
Part 3 Quiz
Which of the following techniques are not successful ways to train your dog?
QuestionMy dog just puts her rump in the air when I lower the treat. How can I stop this?Aaryan mohtaCommunity AnswerTry to keep the treat in the dog's sight line. Then push the dog's body to get him in the down position. Do this repeatedly. After a few days of practice, try it without a treat.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I prevent my dog from putting her tail between her legs while lying down?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTeach her not to do it. When she lies down without her tail between her legs, give her a treat. If she puts her tail between her legs, withhold a treat until she removes it from between her legs.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog is a very lazy ad stubborn Yorkie-poo. I try to lure her into laying down, but she loses focus when I pull it towards me. Am I doing something wrong?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry gently pushing her rump down. Then lay her down gently yourself and see if she stays. Walk away and say "stay" in a firm voice. If you keep doing that, eventually she will lay down when you say to.Thanks!
QuestionThe leg method didn't really work for me; my dog jumps over me instead of crouching down. Is there any other way I can teach my dog the "down" command?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStep into her - not onto her or roughly; just push into her and say, "Down" firmly.Thanks!
QuestionHow long is it okay to keep my dog in his kennel when I'm not home?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDepending on what breed of dog you have, any more than 3 hours is pushing the boundary, as dogs need to excrete and exercise.Thanks!
QuestionI'm going to AAC (Austin Animal Center) and planning on teaching a dog I've been walking. What are some tips for dogs you've never met before?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf the dog trusts you and isn't fearful, it's pretty simple; just tell it to sit. Show it a treat, and once the dog is interested, bring the treat to the ground. Once the dog is good at it, you should be able to teach it to lie down from a standing position.Thanks!
QuestionI have a 14-month-old, 72-pound Catahoula. He is wonderful at sit and stay and turning around. He will fetch anything and return, but won't drop it without me throwing a treat so I can get the toy, and then he grabs it from my hand. Any advice?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHave him sit, and then put the treat in between his front 2 arms and slowly push into his belly until he is in a lying position.Thanks!
How do you teach your dog to roll over
To teach a dog to lie down, hold a treat in your hand in front of the dog. Get the dog to sit, then bring the treat close to its nose. If it gets excited and jumps up, pull the treat away and command it to sit again. Once it’s calm, kneel or squat down and say the command “Down” while bringing the treat close to the ground. When the dog lowers its nose to the ground, pull the treat back to entice the dog to lay down. If the dog lies down successfully, praise it and give it the treat.
- A good time for training for lying down is when your dog is hungry, before dinnertime. He’ll be more motivated to work for the treats.
- Another good time to work on this training is when he’s well exercised, like after a good walk. He’ll be more likely to want to lie down.
- Contact a professional dog trainer if you’re still having difficulties getting your dog to lie down or with any other dog training difficulties.
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