The command “lie down” is an important part of the dog parent’s tool belt and can be used to do everything from discouraging begging to keeping a dog safe in high-traffic environments. Fortunately, teaching a dog to lie down is easy; you can quickly master the command with these easy tips:
Start from “Sit”
Once the dog knows how to sit, lying down is just a hop, skip and a jump away. Begin working the “lie down” command by asking the dog to sit and then encouraging her to lie down by getting on the dog’s level, patting the ground with your hand and rewarding her every time she makes a move toward a lying down position. The dog does not have to get it all at once and should be rewarded for any apparent “try.”
Dogs are food-driven creatures and will generally respond well to new training when encouraged with a food reward. To begin training a dog that does not currently know how to lie down, the handler should begin by offering a food incentive. Ask the dog to sit and hold a treat in front of the dog’s nose. Bring the treat toward the ground, encouraging the dog to follow. If the dog lies down after following the treat to the ground, give the dog the food reward and offer plenty of verbal praise.
Move up to a Hand Signal
Once the dog will follow a treat to the ground, start instructing the dog with a hand signal. Many pet parents choose to use a flat palm lifted into the air or a similar signal. Whatever you use, ensure it is obvious, distinct and used only for the “lie down” command.
Practice Makes Perfect
Think about when you learned to ride a bike: it was not easy and you certainly didn’t master it in one try. Teaching your dog to lie down will be the same way. Practice the command until the dog gets it easily and then keep practicing in order to ensure that the dog masters it entirely. In order to learn a new trick, dogs need consistent reinforcement and plenty of positive rewards. Aim for at least ten minutes of “lie down” practice every day and encourage confused dogs with plenty of help, praise and treats.
Dogs that lie down on command are more easily manageable than those that do not and learning to lie down can keep a dog safe and obedient in a variety of different circumstances. When training your dog to lie down, be sure to be patient, consistent and practical about the training process. Sooner or later, with enough positive reinforcement, your dog will master the “lie down” command and make everyone else at the dog park green with envy.