How to Train Your Older Dog to Lay Down

Easy
1-3 Days
General

Introduction

Sit, stay, and lay down are three of the most basic commands in the world of dog training. So it may surprise you that some pooches have never got these standard tricks down. “Lay down” can be especially magical, as it has the power to flatten a rambunctious pupper in milliseconds. But if you've opened your home to an older canine who was never taught this staple, your life might get a bit frustrating.

Defining Tasks

In general, “lay down” is a pretty simple concept for a dog to learn. That being said, some mature canines are exceptionally stubborn. You may need to be a bit more persistent with an old pooch. Some puppies-at-heart will be able to catch on to this command in no time, while others may put up some resistance.

The goal is to be able to get your doggo to lay still on his belly for as long as you need him there. This command can be great for keeping your mutt calm when people arrive at your home. It can also be a safety measure, convincing a dog to stay out of harm's way.

Getting Started

Teaching your old boy or gal to lay down isn't too complicated. To be successful, you might want to have:

  • Treats!: Positive reinforcement works wonders when teaching an old dog new tricks. Nothing reaches a pupper’s heart faster than dog treats, so stock up!
  • A Blanket or Mat: Senior canines can have old, rickety bones, and aching joints. When making your dog lay down repeatedly, place a warm, comfy mat or blanket under them.
  • A Clicker: One of the methods for teaching a dog to lay down relies on the use of a clicker. These can be purchased at most dog supply stores.

Please, please double check with your vet before coaxing your pooch to lie down. Some older dogs suffer from ailments that prevent this basic movement. It would be cruel to force an aged fur buddy to learn a truck that really hurts them.

Below are some of the most effective methods for teaching any dog to lay down. Remember, older dogs may need a bit more convincing, and gentler handling so as to not aggravate aches and pains.

The Gradual Down Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Get their attention
Bring your dog to a quiet area where you can be the primary focus.
Step
2
Put them in a sit
Get your dog to sit. Sitting is the halfway point of laying down, and will get your dog headed in the right direction.
Step
3
Grab a goodie
Use a treat to lure your pooch's head down to the ground while saying the command.
Step
4
Reward compliance
As soon as your furry friend gives in and lowers his body, give him the treat and lots of praise.
Step
5
Repeat!
Continue these steps over and over until your dog can drop to the floor with the command alone.
Recommend training method?

The Wear Him Down Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Have your dog sit
Once again, convince your elderly pal to sit down.
Step
2
Use food
Grab a treat and hold it under your hand, on the ground.
Step
3
Be still and quiet
Wait as your dog sniffs around your hand. Do not say anything.
Step
4
Give up the goods
If and when your pup finally decides to lay down to get the treat, let him have it!
Step
5
Continue
Repeat the steps, and give tons of praise if your dog gets the point
Step
6
Add a phrase
Introduce the command as the dog lays down and continue to practice.
Recommend training method?

The Click-Down Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Have your clicker
Go get that clicker we talked about earlier.
Step
2
Eliminate distractions
Bring your pooch into a closed room and plunk yourself down.
Step
3
Monitor the pooch
Watch the dog closely, and as soon as she finally lays down, click! Also give a treat at this time.
Step
4
Ignore everything else
Don't reward or even acknowledge any other behaviors during the training session.
Step
5
Watch for the behavior
As soon as your senior lays down again, click and reward.
Step
6
Stay at it
Keep practicing until the dog lays down before your click, anticipating that's what you want her to do.
Step
7
Use a command
Add the vocal command “lay down” to the behavior.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Louie
Unknown
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Louie
Unknown
4 Years

First thing if you could help identify the breed of him that would be great. But to ask you the real question is how do I stop him from bully my other dogs. He’s a new dog we took in and he’s making the environment for our other dogs hostile. One dog refuses to eat when he’s around. He plays rough and when told to stop chasing a cat or play rough he’ll do it but then go back and do it again and it’ll become an endless cycle.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello James, From looking at Louie I would guess that he may have a combination of Corgi, either Pit Bull or Staffordshire Terrier, and something smaller, such as Boston Terrier. You can purchase genetic tests that will take a simple sample of your dog's DNA, such as a saliva or hair sample, and analyze it to determine breed combination. Doing a genetic test may help you better understand if any of the characteristics that he is exhibiting are breed related. To help with the bullying, I would advise you to practice obedience training with Louie very regularly to build trust and respect towards you, and to establish that you are the one who makes the rules in the house and not one of the dogs. I would also have Louie work for his food and other rewards; rewards such as going on walks and receiving pets by requiring him to do something such as sit, wait, lay down, or a perform a trick first. This should also help with the listening. It is extremely important that you are consistent and that you ensure that he follows through whenever you tell him to do something. If you are inconsistent he will learn that he does not always have to obey. You can also work on training the commands "Leave It", "Out", and "Settle". You can then use these commands to clearly communicate to him when he needs to leave another dog or other dog's item alone, when he needs to get out of another dog's personal space, and when he should be laying down calmly out of the way. The settle command can be especially useful when he is having a hard time listening and obeying. It will give him something clear to do that will keep him out of trouble when he is struggling to choose good behavior. If his behavior seems to be fear related, you can pair the presence of the other dog with a reward. Rewarding him only when the other dog is nearby or is receiving something that Louie would like, such as affection from you. Then Louie will begin to look forward to the presence of the other dog and feel less jealous. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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