Training your dog to lay down teaches your dog to “take a break.” If you are busy in the kitchen cooking dinner, the last thing you need is your dog underfoot, tripping you up on the way to the refrigerator. If you train your dog to lie down, she can lay on a dog bed or blanket out of the way and you both can keep your eyes on each other.
Another use for the down command is for grooming or examinations. It’s sometimes easier to trim your dogs nails, clip the hair between the toes or brush their bellies when they are lying on their backs. Rover has a thorn in his pad? Get the tweezers and ask him to lay down while you pull it out.
There are a couple of ways to get your dog to lay down. For this command, I like to use dog training treats and luring your dog into position. Why? It’s easier on you and it’s easier on Fido. Imagine pig wrestling with your dog. Not a pretty picture. :)
Training Lay Down
For this command, you may have to sit on the floor with your dog to start. Then you can work your way to standing and giving a hand signal.
First, have your dog sit. If you haven’t taught sit yet, learn how
Get a small tasty dog treat, that’s soft and easy to chew. We don’t want to stop the training session while your dog is munching on a big dog biscuit.
Show your dog the treat by placing it right in front of his nose. Slowly move your hand down to about the dog’s chest. Your dog should follow the treat down with his nose. Give the treat. Repeat 5 times.
After 5 times, move your hand down even further to about the same height as your dog's pasterns. Repeat this 5 times. If your dog lays down before the 5 times, that’s Great! Repeat the exercise with your dog lying down 5 times.
At this point, some larger dogs may stand up to better reach the treat. You can do one of two things when this happens.
1. Ignore it. Just ask your dog to sit again and repeat the training process.
2. Say “Nope” or “Wrong” to let your dog know they need to try again. Then have the dog sit and continue with the exercise.
Personally, I like to give the dog a “wrong” cue. I believe it helps them better understand the training. Call me a weirdo, but I really think our dogs can understand more that we give them credit for. The other day I threw a ball for my Chesapeake and she didn’t see where it went, she ran for it but couldn’t find it. She came back and looked at me like I still had the ball. I said “Your ball is over by the fence in the corner.” I’ll be darned if she didn’t make a beeline right for it and found her ball. But, I digress.
One more step if your dog still hasn’t made it all the way to the down position. As you lure closer to the ground, and your dog practically has his nose on the floor, start to move your treat out and away from your dog.
Again, if they stand up to move closer to the treat, don’t give the treat. Use one of the two options above and start over. Soon you will see your dog “crawl" down after the treat. Remember to reward for small progressions.
“Place” - Teaching Your Dog to Lie Down Somewhere
Now that your dog is consistently lying down on command, let’s ask him to do it on a blanket, dog bed, or cushion.
Place the blanket, dog bed or cushion where you would like it stay in the house. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever move it, but if you do move it you will have work on training your dog at the new location. He will be confused for awhile and will look for the blanket at the old spot.
Coax your dog onto the blanket by pointing to the blanket or patting it. You can say a variety of commands. Pick the one you like the best. I say it like it is - “Get on your bed.” You can also say bedtime, place, get on your blanket, or get on your cushion.
Use a treat, toy or whatever motivates your dog onto the blanket if they seem reluctant. You can start with getting them to sit on the blanket first and then ask them to lie down.
Praise your dog once they accomplish what you’re asking them!
Now you know all about training your dog to lay down!