Dog Training: How to Teach Your Dog to Lie Down

Updated: 3/15/20242-4 minutes

Just like the come, sit, and stay commands, the lie down command is among the most important ones you can teach your dog. It’s the directive you can use to settle him on the floor if he gets too excited around other people or pets. In this article, we provide training tips for how to teach a dog to lie down. 

Why Your Dog Won’t Lie Down

If your dog is older with joint stiffness, he may not be comfortable lying down for this training. Talk to your vet, and if there is no medical reason why your dog doesn’t want to lie down, you can feel comfortable teaching “dog down” to your pup. 

If you’re training a puppy or a high-energy adult dog, it’s a good idea to teach this command when he’s a bit tuckered out. Take him out for a walk or some exercise first, then start the lesson. If your dog is full of energy, trying to teach him to lie down and be still is going to be difficult.

Because some dogs may feel vulnerable on the ground, especially in crowded places, begin the lessons at home where there are fewer distractions.

Below you’ll find six steps from the pros at Purina for the best way to teach your dog to lie down. You can view the tips in action with this handy video.

How to Train Your Dog to Lie Down 

The lie down command is one of the basic commands for dogs. Teaching this command will take a little patience but shouldn’t be too difficult. 

Before the first lesson, be prepared with lots of your dog’s favorite treats and a clicker. Clickers are used to mark when your dog has successfully completed the desired behavior. If you don’t want to use a clicker for lie down training, or don’t have one, you can use a vocal mark like “Yes” or “Good dog” instead of the clicker. Just make sure you use your voice marks consistently. 

Step 1: Get your dog’s attention with a treat

  • Call your dog Command him to “Sit” and “Stay”
  • Pro tips:
    • Begin in a low-distraction environment
    • Start from a sitting position
    • Take as many steps as you need

Step 2: Hold the treat

  • Use the treat as a lure
  • Move your hand to the ground
  • Pro tips:
    • Start by getting your dog to look at the ground
    • Use the treat as a lure to get his head down

Step 3: Give the down command once

  • Give the command clearly
  • Then use your hand to lure your dog down
  • Keep the treat at his nose level
  • Slowly lower it to lure him to the ground
  • When your dog gets on the ground, mark the behavior with the clicker or say “Yes”
  • You want to give the treat once your dog is on the ground
  • Pro tips:
    • You can start by luring your dog down with the treat before you start giving him the down command; then when he learns that, introduce the vocal down command
    • If your dog won’t lie down, don’t physically push him to the floor
    • If you apply pressure to his back, he’ll just resist and push back

Step 4: Get him completely down, including elbows

  • Move the treat along the ground to keep him down
  • Pro tip:
    • If necessary, direct your dog under your legs or a chair where he must get down on all fours to get the treat

Step 5: Reward with praise and treat

  • When your dog gets down on the ground, click the clicker or give your vocal mark
  • Then reward him with the treat
  • Pro tip:
    • Don’t worry about fading the lure until you know he understands the command

Step 6: Keep practicing

  • Give him lots of praise as he learns the command
  • Keep practicing inside where there are fewer distractions
  • Once he gets the hang of it, add some distance between you and your dog
  • Pro tips:
    • Eventually fade the treat lure and reward with praise
    • As he learns and builds confidence, work on increasing distractions

Remember, it takes patience and commitment to teach a new command. But once you’ve trained your dog to lie down, you can begin teaching other commands. 

For more expert tips on training your dog, explore our dog training page.

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