How Can One Train a Dog to Lie Down?


Quick Answer

The owner begins with the dog in a sitting position and holds a treat in front of the dog's face. With the dog in sitting position, the owner commands "down" and lowers the treat between the dog's front paws. As the dog bends toward the treat, the owner moves it in a straight line out in front of the paws. The dog moves into the down position, following the treat.

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How Can One Train a Dog to Lie Down?
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Full Answer

It's important for the owner to immediately reward the dog with the treat and encouraging praise, such as "Good boy," once the dog is fully in the down position. According to the ASPCA, owners should practice the above sequence about 20 times. If a dog is having trouble with the sequence, the owner should consider using a more enticing treat, such as a small piece of chicken. While training the dog, if the owner sees the animal's back end pop up, the owner should take the treat away immediately and have the pet start over from the sitting position.

Once the dog automatically follows the treat into the down position, the owner can move on to commanding the down position with an empty hand. However, it is still important to reward the dog for completing the command, so the owner should keep treats nearby.

As the dog gets better with the down command, the trainer or owner can start to use smaller hand movements to direct the pet. Owners should begin at the second step in the process, but they should avoid bringing their hands all the way to the floor. Gradually, owners should develop a unique hand gesture that the dog understands as the down command. Once this is accomplished, it is important to practice the command in several situations so that the owner can control the dog in any environment.

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