How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down (Step-by-Step Video)

By 22nd September 2017Dog Training
how to teach a dog to lay down

In this post, we’re going to show you how to teach a dog to lay down.

The ‘Down’ is useful when you want your dog to lay on her bed, if you want her to settle down and stay out of the way when you have company, or when you want to eat your tea in peace!

Teaching your dog how to lay down might require a little patience, some dogs pick it up in seconds, while some can take quite a while!

But stick with it!

It’s worth remembering that some larger breeds like Mastiffs or older dogs might not like to lie down as getting up can be quite strenuous. That being said, it’s still a useful command to teach.

How to Stop a Dog Pulling on the LeadOK, OK we admit it,

The training methods we write about here at Pet Checkers aren’t our own.

They are the positive re-enforcement methods of world-renowned dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell.

You can find out about her on her website at or if you like her training methods like we do, you can buy her book from

Watch the Video Below to See How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down

Teaching Your Puppy to Lie Down, Step-by-Step

You can teach a dog to lay down from either standing or sitting but most dogs find it easier from the sitting position so that’s where we’ll start.

Here’s how to do it;

With a treat in hand, place your palm on the floor so she can smell it but can’t get to it. Let her figure out for herself how to unlock the treat from your hand. She might lick or paw at your hand but don’t let her have it until she lies down.
As soon as she’s down, give her the treat and praise her for the behavior.
Repeat this action until she is behaving consistently.
Now it’s time to put the word ‘down’ to the action. As your dog is laying down, say ‘down’ and reward her with the treat.
Repeat this process until she is responding consistently.
Once she’s got it, it’s time to actually ask her to lay down. Say ‘down’ and lower your hand to the floor. When she lies down, give her the treat and praise her.
Again, repeat this until you’re confident she’s got it.
Now vary the position in which you ask her to sit. Ask her from the standing position, kneeling down, bring her to your side and ask her.
If she fails at this point, go back to where she was successful and build back up from there.

What NOT to Do

Training takes time, understanding and above all, patience. Unfortunately, this is a trait that many people don’t have. You need to take your time.

See our dog training tip and techniques for more advice.

So with that said;

Don’t ever be tempted to force your dog into position – this is uncomfortable at best and at worst can be painful. It can even cause injury.
And don’t ever tell your dog off – for not understanding what you want from her. If she get’s something wrong, calmly say ‘uh-oh’ and try again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Training a dog to lay down (in theory) should be a simple process but sometimes it doesn’t go as smoothly as we like. If you and your pooch are struggling, take a look at these commonly asked questions and answers;

“My Dog Wont Lay Down, What Am I Doing Wrong?”

There are a few things that might be contributing to your dogs’ lack of cooperation. Here are a few things to consider;

Be patient – as with all dog training, patience is key. Some dogs respond to training more quickly than others so keep at it and be consistent.
Watch your dog – if she’s bounding about, full of energy and not listening to a word you say, then she’s probably got too much pent-up energy. In which case a game of fetch, tug or a run around with her will burn off some of that excess energy.
Take stock of your environment – some dogs don’t like lying down in certain environments or situations. Start her training in a quiet environment where she can concentrate on you without other distractions getting in the way. If you’re training on a tiled or laminated floor, provide her with a non-slip mat to sit on. Also, make sure the surface isn’t too hot or too cold.
Change her motivation – some dogs just aren’t motivated by food or treats, if this is true for your dog it’s important to find another motivation, like a favorite toy. Your dog might just be motivated by fuss and praise, in which case, give it to her.

“My Dog Lies Down But Then Stands Right Back Up Again. What Should I Do?”

Only reward your dog when she lies down fully.

If she stands up as you issue the treat, remove it behind your back and say ‘uh-oh’ calmly – this is called a ‘no reward marker’. Give it a few seconds and try again. Every time she stands up, remove the treat and give the ‘uh-oh’ cue. As soon as she lies down properly, reward her.

Keep practicing until she gets it.

Leave a Comment Below!

So, we’ve shown you how to teach a dog to lay down and now it’s your turn.

Have a go and leave a comment below to let us know how you get, or to ask a question.

We love hearing from our readers and we’ll respond to every comment.

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