Teaching a dog to lay down on cue or command is probably one of the most useful tools that any dog owners should have in their arsenal. It does not only allow you to calm or settle your dog in any place, but it is also the first step in teaching other basic tricks such as “roll over” and “bang”.
At the beginning of the training session, you would want to stock your pouch or pocket with treats and go to a place where your pup is comfortable without any distractions. Also, it is much easier to train your pup if he is on a leash.
Teaching A Dog To Lie Down on Cue
Probably, the most important thing for you to remember when teaching your pup to lay down on cue is to not “force” him into the position. Pups can become aggressive if you put your hands on him and encourages distrust which can cause him to resist future training.
Teaching “lay down” on command, the easy way, is to lure your dog from a sitting position using treats.
- Use your hand as bait and ask your dog to sit.
- Place the baited hand just around 1 inch above his nose and encourage him to sniff and touch your hand.
- While your pup’s nose is stuck sniffing on your hand, start moving your hand down towards the ground. It is good to aim your hand around 2 inches in front of his feet and his nose needs to be attached to that hand the entire time. If your pup gets up or his nose leaves your hand, say “No” and quickly stand up and take the treat or food out of his reach. This acts as a punishment and will prevent your pup from getting the reward.
- When you successfully lured his nose to the ground, start moving your hand very slowly along the ground and away from him until he lies down. He is considered down if his elbows and rear end touch the ground.
- The instant his elbows have touched the ground, praise him and put a few treats on the ground between his paws. Be sure to put several treats in order to prevent your pup from getting up very fast while also orienting him on the ground.
- Before your dog gets up, give him the release cue and praise him heavily.
If your pup is not going down through the traditional lure, then you might need to be a little creative in order to get him down.
You can try and lure your pup under your knee in order to get him to lie down. Just sit on the floor with your knees bent in order to make a low bridge. Move his treats under your leg so that he will crawl under your leg in order to get his treat. Once his rear end and elbow touch the ground, offer him a reward and praise heavily.
You can also capture this behavior when is naturally laying down. If you saw him lying down, offer him treats and praise him to show him that it is a positive or desirable position.
Removing the Lure and Encouraging a Better Performance
Once your pup easily goes down into a down position, offers the focus cue and then wait to be released, you need to begin fading our o removing the lure.
Start to give the verbal cue before the lure and give him rewards when he obeys. After trying this for several times, your pup will begin to anticipate the lure in the down position once the verbal cue has been said.
If you see your dog anticipating the down cue, try to stop doing the lure and just tell him “Down”. Wait for a couple of seconds for your pup to think about what he should do next. In case he does not go down, go and offer him the lure again in order to help him out. Then, try again.
When your pup goes into the down position without any lure or help, then start giving him better treats for a faster response and improve his performance.
Even though teaching a dog how to lie down on command can be extremely difficult and frustrating, it is such a very useful command you should definitely teach. Whether your pup needs an extra help it takes to the command quickly, it is important that you stay positive and patient during the whole training.
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