Training Your Dog to Lie Down

A Pembroke Welsh Corgi lying down

Your dog has to learn the fundamental command "down" or "lay down." All dogs should ideally be able to lay down when requested by their owners. When you need your dog to unwind in a stressful circumstance or maintain him in a remain position for an extended amount of time, the command "down" may be quite helpful. It's also the first move in certain well-known dog tricks, including the rollover. Fortunately, teaching your dog to "down" is virtually as easy as teaching them to "sit."

Your dog should be lying on its back with its chest, elbows, and hocks on the ground. It should ideally remain there until you let go of it. Your dog may learn to perfectly execute the down command with practice, and it is a simple command to teach.

How to Teach Your Dog to Lie Down

Make sure you have lots of enticing training snacks on hand before you start. The ideal treats for your dog are small, soft, and tasty. Use alternate goodies for general rewards and save these sweets only for training sessions.

Set aside five to ten minutes in a distraction-free location. Be sure to have your clicker on hand if you use it to train your dog.

  1. Begin by getting your dog’s attention. Show him that you have a treat in your hand.
  2. Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose but don't let him get it yet. Next, slowly move the treat towards the ground, letting your dog follow it.
  3. Repeat this motion until your dog is all the way down. Try pulling the treat away a little bit if your dog isn't following it down with his body.
  4. Once your dog is fully lying down (meaning his elbows and hocks are on the ground) give your dog the treat followed by petting and praise.
  5. Once your dog is consistently doing the down motion with the treat, add in the verbal cue. Say the word “down” clearly and firmly while moving the treat to the ground.
  6. Repeat this until your dog lies down with only the verbal cue and no treat-guiding. Continue to reward with a treat after your dog lies down.

Short exercise sessions should be done once or twice each day. The lessons should take place in a variety of settings, including both indoor and outdoor spaces. Always make an effort to wrap out sessions with a smile. Find another cue that your dog is familiar with, such as "sit," and use that at the end, followed by a treat.

Add the Release

It's time to introduce your release word after your dog can effectively lie down when asked to. Saying this will signal your dog that it is okay to stand up. The phrase "OK" is frequently used as a release trigger, although you can use any word as long as you're consistent.

Your dog should only be forced to lie down for a maximum of 30 seconds before being released. Use the "stay" command first, and when you're ready to let the dog go, use your release command. Work your way up to longer intervals so that no matter how long it takes, your dog will remain down until you command, "OK."

Problems and Proofing Behavior

Try noting the behavior if you are still having problems getting your dog to lie down while being bribed with goodies. Say "down" the next time your dog instinctively lies down, then give it praise and a treat. Every time you catch it lying down, try this. If you want this to work, you'll probably need to provide snacks. Using a clicker, it's also quite simple to record behaviors.

When your dog swiftly reacts to the down cue, consider introducing distractions gradually. Additionally, you have to practice the conduct in a variety of settings and circumstances.

Once your dog masters lying down, you won't need to reward him with a treat each time. Giving incentives on occasion will help to reinforce the desired behavior. Additionally, giving praise as a reward is always a smart move. Your dog likes to please you, so the goodies are really just a perk.


  • If your dog does not lie down on his own after a few tries, avoid pushing him down into position. It's a common mistake that owners make and dogs generally do not learn this way.
  • Do not yell at or punish your dog as this will only discourage him.
  • If your dog doesn't respond well to the usual treats, try a more valuable treat, like fresh meat.