Critter Culture
Tips for Teaching Your Puppy to Lay Down

Tips for Teaching Your Puppy to Lay Down

Critter Culture Staff



Teaching a puppy how to lay down is a basic command to use when you want your pup to calm down or keep it out of trouble. But how do you do it? There's a few approaches you can try with your puppy and some important tips to keep in mind.


To start, do this

man training his puppy outdoors SolStock / Getty Images

Training your puppy when they're tired is one way to set yourself up for success. They'll be harder to train when full of energy, so start teaching them right after a walk or period of activity. Don't forget to reward your doggo when they get into the down position. Rewarding your pooch at the right time is essential in helping them make the connection about what you want them to do.


Don't do this

person holding puppy on the grass Peter Cade / Getty Images

Although it might get frustrating to get your puppy to cooperate, you should never force them into laying down. If you do, your training will have the opposite effect. Your pooch will resist and try to stand up even more. You might also scare them or discourage them from getting into the position on their own. Remember, the best way to train your doggo is to entice it into doing what you want it to do, not force it.


Keep in mind

ening to owner during obedience training exercise Elva Etienne / Getty Images

No matter what you're teaching your puppy, there are a few tips that can help you be successful. First, remember that your pup is still young and may not be able to do what you're asking. It will take a while for them to understand new words, like "no" or "down". Study your dog, and try to understand its body language to take advantage of the times when it may be more receptive to training. Finally, use high-value treats for training. If it's something your pupper really wants, they're more likely to cooperate with training.


Lure them

Two Sandy Coloured Cockapoo puppies being trained in a sunny garden Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

One way to teach your pup how to lie down is to lure them. Luring is one of the easiest ways to train any behavior. Just use a treat to literally lure your pooch to do what you want it to do. The key to luring is only to use the promise of a snack for a short time. Eventually, you want your puppy to respond to a verbal command or hand signal rather than waiting for a treat to lay down.


Steps to luring

A owner giving a hand signal to a little breed dog dachshund for the command of lie down.

First, hold a treat up to your doggo's nose when it's sitting. Lower the treat to your puppy's paws, and their head should follow. Then, pull the treat toward you along the ground, enticing your pupper to lay down. When they do, praise them and give them the treat immediately. Repeat this a few times. Once your puppy gets the hang of it, use your empty hand to lure them, but give them a treat from the other hand as a reward to teach them the desired hand signal.


Use a clicker

person using clicker to train puppy

Clicker training is a way to encourage your puppy to train itself. With this approach, the sound of the clicker lets your pup know they're doing something you want them to. It may be easier to teach your dog to lie down using a clicker if you've already used it to teach them how to sit. This way, your pupper already associates the clicker with getting a treat.


Steps to using a clicker

person using clicker to train puppy

First, have a clicker and some treats ready as this approach relies on catching your puppy in the moment. When your doggo lays down, use the clicker and give your puppy a treat. Repeat the next time they lay down, but don't offer any praise or encouragement. The point of this method is for your pet to figure out the cause and effect of laying down, hearing the clicker, and getting a treat. Once your dog responds by hanging on its belly when you click the clicker, you can start saying "down" with each click to give a verbal command or add a silent hand signal. Eventually, your puppy will respond to your telling it to sit down or giving it the signal, and you won't need the clicker anymore.


Do it a step at a time

puppy lying down on the grass

Another approach is shaping or teaching a command one step at a time. To break laying down into smaller steps, start with taking them to look at the ground first. Then, move on to teaching them to get down on their front legs and eventually lie down. You can combine this with a luring technique, using a treat to encourage your dog to learn each step.


Capture it

Young puppy being trained to lie down on lawn grass

Capturing it is similar to the previous method but without the clicker. Have the treats handy because to capture this behavior, you have to reward your puppy any time they lay down on their own. After you do this enough times, your doggo will start to lay down in front of you to try to get a treat. At this point, begin to add a hand signal or verbal command right before they lay down. Eventually, the puppy will associate the word or hand signal with the behavior.


Teach them to stand up

Pomeranian dogs standing on its hind legs to get a treat from owner iJacky / Getty Images

After you teach your puppy to lay down, you have to teach them to stand up to keep them in the lay-down position if needed. To do this, hold onto the treat when you get them to lay down and pull it toward you, so your pup stands up to follow. When they do, use a clicker or verbal praise, then give them the treat. Repeat a few times. When they get it, do the same thing without using a treat in your hand and reward them when they lay and then stand up again. Eventually, you can add verbal commands or hand signals for "down" and "stand".


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