How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down is a great trick for your dog to learn after the SIT command. Your dog starts in the seated position, so go back and learn SIT before beginning this trick.
Only say “DOWN” not “LAY DOWN” as short commands work best for most dogs.
Well, let’s get down….
Start with your dog in the seated position by giving the “SIT” command. Don’t treat or reward at this point since there is more to come.
This step uses the sit command as a starting point. The reason you don’t want to give your dog a verbal praise or tasty treat yet is they need to be expecting to do something else.
With treat in hand in front of your dog’s nose, move your hand straight down to ground. Your dog’s head/body should follow.
The goal of this step is to get your dog to put their head down without lifting their bottom from the sit position.
Some dogs will try to walk towards you to get the treat. If they do, start over and do not give the the treat until they get it right.
Then, move hand with treat back towards you along the ground (overall L-Motion) to lure your dog into the DOWN position. When done, say “DOWN”, then PRAISE and REWARD them.
This step gets your dog in the final down position and a couple other things.
First, you are associating the verbal “DOWN” command to the action of getting down on their belly.
Next, you give them a verbal praise (Good Boy, Good Girl) and a reward of a tasty treat. With this treatment, they know they did something right and want to repeat it.
How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down as taught so far, works using treats in your hand.
As a follow on, move to only using the “DOWN” command before PRAISE and REWARD.
A middle step would be to use only your hand (no treat) flat and pointed at the ground and saying “DOWN.”
Repeat steps 1 – 3 as needed. Some dogs don’t want to go all the way down – for them, slowly encourage them with REWARDs as they go lower and lower, until eventually… they get it…
Share your training experience below in the comments to help others along their journey.
If you liked this, try out more of our dog tricks.