How to Train Your Puppy to Lie Down

Easy
1-3 Weeks
General

Introduction

Once your puppy is old enough for basic obedience commands, you're going to teach him a few easy tricks first. Your puppy should know how to sit before you teach him how to lie down. Once he knows how to sit, the transition for the trick to lie down is pretty easy to make. Your puppy is energetic and eager to please you. He is at the age where training basic obedience tricks is still fun and not a whole lot of work for him. 

Training your puppy to lie down will give you a great foundation for other tricks in the future as well as obedience expectations when it comes to behavioral problems. The 'down' position is a great way to have your dog wait patiently. So start training today so you and your puppy can begin to work on more difficult commands together. 

Defining Tasks

To train your puppy to lie down you're going to have to teach him how to sit on command first. Decide before you start obedience training if you are going to use a clicker for all of your training sessions. If so, be sure to click train this position as well. Your puppy may start in a 'sit' position or go directly to a down position depending on your expectations of him. Your puppy should probably be at least 8 weeks old to begin training and preferably 12 to 16 weeks old before training beyond basic obedience commands. The younger your puppy, the more time it will take to train. Be sure to keep your little guy’s attention with short sessions and lots of rewards.

Getting Started

Be patient with your little guy and keep your training times short. If you are clicker training, be sure to have your clicker and lots of tasty treats on hand and ready to go for each training session. If you are not clicker training, have some treats ready for rewards. The basic obedience training can be completely reward-based and positive for your puppy, making all future training fun exciting and rewarding.

The 'Down' Command Method

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Step
1
Treat to nose
Hold a yummy treat up to your puppy’s nose. Don’t let him have the treat, only let him sniff it. You might consider hiding the treat inside your closed hand so your puppy cannot get to the treat but can smell it.
Step
2
Treat to ground
Once your puppy has sniffed and acknowledged the treat, bring the treat slowly down to the ground. With one slow movement, pull the treat out towards your body.
Step
3
Follow the treat
Your puppy should want to follow the treat. If he doesn’t, it might be because he missed it. If he doesn’t follow, try with the treat up high and go slower. Make sure you have his attention as you lower the treat to the ground. If he follows the treat, he may bend over to sniff it on the ground, but as you pull close to your body, he should follow by lying down.
Step
4
Down
As your puppy stretches his paws out and lays on the ground, say the command “Down.”
Step
5
Treat
After you give him the command word to lie down, give him the treat.
Step
6
Repeat and practice
Keep working on the command and the action repeating the same steps several times.
Step
7
Command only
Over time, your puppy should lie down as he hears the command. Start to practice using only the command and not the treat. Be sure to reward him with a treat once he is in the down position, but you’d like to be at a point quickly where you do not have to lure him down with a treat, but rather he knows the command.
Recommend training method?

The Click 'Down' Method

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Step
1
Have puppy sit
If you have not trained your puppy to sit, do so before moving on to lie down. If your puppy knows how to sit on command, have him sit. Once he sits, click and treat.
Step
2
Treat
Hide a treat in your hand. The best way to give the 'down' hand signal is to put the treat between your thumb and palm. This allows your hand to be flat. Stand or sit in front of your sitting puppy and show him the treat then place it between your thumb and palm.
Step
3
Hand signal
Hold your hand flat with the treat hidden. Your palm should be facing down. This will be the hand signal your puppy will learn to lie down.
Step
4
Hand down
To get your puppy to lie down, bring your hand down all the way to the ground in front of your puppy. You may need to pull your hand out away from his front paws.
Step
5
Follow
Your puppy, wanting the treat, should follow your hand. As you pull your hand away from your puppy’s body, he should stretch out into a down position to get to the treat.
Step
6
Click and treat
When your puppy is in the 'down' position, click the training clicker and give him the treat.
Step
7
Practice
Keep practicing this trick to get your puppy to lie down. With practice, you should be able to show your puppy the hand signal with your palm facing down and expect him to lie down. Be sure to give him the click and treat reward each time he lies down.
Recommend training method?

The Condition Method

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Step
1
'Sit'
Start with your puppy in a 'sit' position. Position yourself in front of your puppy while he is sitting. Give him a treat for sitting.
Step
2
Treat
Show him another treat you have in your hand but do not give it to him.
Step
3
Pat
Pat the floor or ground in front of your puppy and show him the treat from the ground.
Step
4
Follow to 'down'
Your puppy, wanting the treat, should follow your hand into a lying down position. If he only bends his nose over to get to the treat, pull the treat further away from his body to get him to lie down.
Step
5
Lie down
Once your puppy is in the down position, say the command you will use to ask him to lie down in the future and give him the treat.
Step
6
Repeat
Continue to repeat these steps, conditioning your puppy to lie down to earn a treat each time you say the command you are teaching him. This will take time and practice, but he will get it. He will also be conditioned to expect a treat each time he is successful.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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