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How to Teach Your Dog to Lie Down in 6 Easy Steps

Dog being taught how to lie down on command

Written by The Halo Team

May 10, 2023

A well-trained dog is a happy member of the family. But before your pet can master the flashy tricks that will impress every guest, it needs to learn the basics. Like sit or stay, lie down is a classic command every dog should know.

Lie down is one of the most useful commands in a pet owner’s arsenal. Whether you’re trying to get your dog to settle down or protect your guests from canine excitement, flashing a quick hand signal is the fastest way to keep the peace. Teaching a dog to lie down may seem more complicated than teaching it to sit. But really, all it takes is some time, a little patience and plenty of treats. To keep things simple, here’s how to teach a dog to lie down in just six easy steps.

1. Guide Your Dog Into a Down Position

The first step is to guide your dog into a lying-down position. To do this, hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose to capture its attention. From there, slowly drag the treat straight down to the ground. Your dog should follow it with its nose, naturally ending in a lying-down position.

There’s some debate over whether dogs should learn this command from a standing or sitting position. When starting seated, some dogs may start to lie down every time you ask them to sit. For others, it may feel like a more natural starting point. Whether you start from a standing position or a seated one, the concept is the same: Move your hand down until your dog lies down completely. If one position isn’t working, you can always switch it up in your next training session.

2. Reward It With Praise and a Treat

Once your dog lies down, make sure to give it a reward for its effort. A simple “good dog” and a tasty treat are enough to build a positive association with the action. It’s natural to get excited when you see improvement during a training session, but try to stay calm so your dog doesn’t lose focus.

During this stage, make sure you award the treat immediately after your dog lies down. This ensures it understands which action leads to the reward, so it’ll be more likely to remember the command on the next try. Once your pet has successfully performed the trick a few times in a row, you can move on to step three.

3. Try It Without Treats

Now that your dog knows what to do, you can start practicing the command without help from any treats. Using the same motion as before, hold your empty hand near its nose and slowly lower it to the floor. While your hands are empty at this stage, it’s important to still give out praise and treats as a reward for reaching the correct position. This teaches your dog to follow the command even when the food isn’t visible.

4. Name the Command

Once your dog is consistently lying down on your command, it’s time to add a verbal cue. With your dog’s attention, say the words “lie down.” After a brief pause, guide it down with a hand signal just like you’ve practiced. Then, give your reward to form a positive association between the verbal cue and the motion. Once you’ve practiced this for a few sessions, give your dog the command verbally — without guiding it — to see if it’s got it.

5. Change Your Location

Now that your dog is comfortable with the motion, it’s time to practice lying down in various locations. Telling your dog to lie down outside of your home is a good way to sharpen its skills — especially in environments that might be distracting. If your dog has trouble following the verbal cue, return to your at-home practice sessions before trying again.

6. Practice Makes Perfect

When your dog can comfortably enter a down position in a variety of environments, it’s well on its way to mastering the command. From here, it may take several weeks before your dog can nail the trick every time. Continue to practice with your pup and pretty soon, it’ll be responding to your cues no matter where you are.

Tips for Teaching a Dog to Lie Down

Dog motivated by a treat to lie down on command

When training your dog, things might not always go as planned. Every dog is different, and yours may respond differently to new commands. But by listening to your pup and using lots of positive reinforcement, any trick can be taught. If your dog is having trouble following along, here are some tips to help you teach this trick like a pro.

Take Breaks

Learning a new trick is hard work. Guiding your dog to the floor a few times might seem simple to you, but keep in mind that your pup is building all sorts of connections between the position and your response. For this reason, trying to cover all six steps at once is unrealistic. For the best results, keep training sessions short. At first, have your dog lie down just a few times before taking a break so it doesn’t get overwhelmed. Once it starts to catch on, you can train for longer periods of time.

Have Patience

A lying-down position might seem like an easy thing to master, but it might not be that simple for your dog. As you train, don’t be discouraged if your dog has trouble following the treat at first. Take things slowly and keep it positive. Whatever you do, don’t force your dog to lie down. Have patience and it’ll get the hang of it with more practice.

Build Trust

Training your dog is easiest when you have a strong bond. Safety and trust keep it happy and can make it more responsive to your commands. But how do you build trust? Start by creating a sense of structure your dog can rely on every day. Following a routine or investing in a training collar are simple things that can make all the difference.

To keep your dog safe and build a relationship that satisfies you both, a Halo collar is the perfect addition to your daily life. From training to bonding, Halo is a modern solution that will help your dog live its happiest life.

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