Of all the tricks a dog can learn, 'lay down' is one of the most useful and practical. Teaching your furry friend to lay down on command is not only impressive but also an essential part of their basic obedience training. It's a relatively easy trick to teach, and with some patience and persistence, any dog can learn it.
From understanding the basic principles of dog training to practising positive reinforcement techniques, you'll learn everything you need to know to help your pup master this trick. Whether you're a first-time dog owner or an experienced trainer, you and your furry companion will build a stronger bond and achieve your training goals. According to CK9 Training, training your dog for just 10 minutes a day will make your dog mentally fatigued and, therefore, calmer.
Grab some delicious treats, clear your schedule, and get ready to teach your dog to lie down in just six easy steps.
6 easy steps to teach your dog to lay down
Teaching your dog to lay down is essential for many situations, such as calming them down and preventing jumping up on people. Just like training other tricks, it prevents unwanted behaviours and promotes obedience, preventing unruliness and enhancing safety. Teaching tricks build a strong bond and can prevent boredom while providing mental stimulation. By investing time and effort in training your dog, you establish trust, understanding, and communication that leads to a more meaningful relationship with your furry friend.
STEP ONE: Start with the 'sit' command
Before teaching your dog to lay down, make sure they've mastered the 'sit' command. This will help your dog understand the basic principles of obedience training and make the learning process easier. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as verbal praise or treats that are appealing to the dog's sense of smell to encourage your dog to sit on command. Using training treats that have a strong smell, like Skippers Dog & Puppy Training Treats, can help keep your dog's attention during training.
STEP TWO: Use a lure to get your dog to lay down
Hold a treat in front of your dog's nose and slowly move it towards the ground. Your dog should follow the treat and naturally lie down to reach it. When your dog's belly touches the ground, reward them with a treat that they find irresistible. Repeat this a few more times.
A strong-smelling and palatable treat such as Dried Sprats needs to be used the right way. Treats can make the training process more enjoyable and help your dog associate the behaviour with positive experiences.
STEP THREE: Add a verbal cue
Once your dog is consistently lying down with the lure, it's time to add a verbal cue. As you move the treat towards the ground, say "lay down" or any other verbal cue you prefer. Eventually, your dog will associate the cue with the behaviour and perform it without the lure. It's important to have a verbal cue for situations where you have physical restrictions.
STEP FOUR: Add a hand signal
In addition to the verbal cue, add a hand signal, such as pointing to the ground to reinforce the behaviour. Start by saying the verbal cue and using the hand signal at the same time, and eventually, your dog will respond to the hand signal alone. According to One Mind Dogs, dogs are quicker to learn hand signals as it is more natural to them.
STEP FIVE: Increase the distance and duration
Once your dog has mastered laying down with the verbal cue and hand signal, start increasing the distance and duration of the behaviour. Start by standing a few steps away and gradually move farther away. You can also increase the duration by asking your dog to stay in the "lay down" position for longer periods of time. If you're finding it harder to keep your dog's attention, try using a dog treat with a stronger smell, which is a higher-value rewarding treat.
STEP SIX: Generalise the behaviour
It's important to generalise the behaviour to different environments and situations. According to a study carried out by Jan, Thorsten and Torben, it is preferred to train 1-2 times per week for short durations to optimise the training sessions. Practice in different rooms of your home or in outdoor spaces with distractions. This will help your dog understand that the behaviour applies in all situations and contexts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why isn't my dog learning to lie down?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dog may not seem to be learning the "lay down" command. If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few possible reasons why:
Your dog is distracted: If your dog is more interested in what's going on around them, they may have a hard time focusing on the training. Make sure you're practising in a quiet, low-distraction environment and using treats that are appealing to your dog. Try using a training bundle to find the most appealing treat to keep your dog's attention.
Your dog is uncomfortable: If your dog has an underlying health condition or physical issue, they may be uncomfortable or in pain when trying to lie down. Make sure to consult with your vet to rule out any medical issues that may be affecting your dog's ability to learn.
Your timing is off: It's important to reward your dog for the behaviour you want them to exhibit, not for something else they did. If you're rewarding your dog at the wrong time, it can be confusing for them and hinder their learning process.
You're moving too quickly: If you're moving too quickly through the training steps, your dog may become overwhelmed and confused. Remember to take it slow and break down the training into manageable steps. A study by Jan, Thorsten and Torben showed that training 1-2 times per week for short durations was the optimal way to train a dog.
Remember, every dog is different and may learn at their own pace. Don't get discouraged if your dog is struggling to learn the "lay down" command. With patience, persistence, and the help of delicious training treats, your dog will eventually master this important obedience command.
How to use the hand command to teach your dog to lay down?
Teaching your dog to "lay down" using a hand command can be a helpful tool, especially in situations where you may not be able to communicate verbally with your dog. One Mind Dogs states that dogs learn quicker through hand commands in comparison to vocal commands.
To teach your dog to lie down, use the same 6 instructions from above; however, solely introduce the desired hand command that you would like to use for your dog to lay down.
How can an older dog learn to lay down?
Teaching an older dog new tricks may require a bit more patience, but it is definitely possible. Here are some tips to help your older dog learn to lie down:
Take it slow: Older dogs may need more time to process information and may require more frequent breaks during training sessions. Be sure to take things slow and not overwhelm your dog with too much information at once.
Use positive reinforcement: Older dogs may be set in their ways and resistant to change. Using positive reinforcement, such as feeding training treats with a strong smell, can help keep your dog's attention and encourage good behaviour, making training more enjoyable for your furry friend.
Be consistent: Consistency is key when teaching your older dog a new behaviour. Use the same command and hand motion every time you ask your dog to lie down. Over time, your dog will begin to associate the vocal command and hand motion with the behaviour.
Adjust for mobility issues: Older dogs may have mobility issues that make it difficult for them to lie down. If this is the case, consider using a soft surface, such as a padded mat, to make it more comfortable for your dog to lie down.
Be patient: Remember, training your older dog may take more time and patience than training a younger dog. Celebrate even the smallest progress and keep practising with consistency and positivity.
By using these tips and techniques, you can help your older dog learn to lie down and reinforce good behaviour.