Have your dog laying down on command! How to train your dog to lay down? This step-by-step guide will show you how to teach your puppy a reliable down command with positive dog training methods.
I will teach you how to teach your puppy to lay down with positive methods which are the easiest and more effective techniques to use with your pup. To refine and improve your dog's response, it is up to you to practice a lot so your canine friend can solidify the concept.
Once your pet knows to respond to the down cue, you can use it to make him settle or distract him from something that might arouse him. For example, ask your hound to lay down when the doorbell rings.
Teaching the down command to small dogs can sometimes be tricky, don't miss the troubleshooting section at the end of the article.
We will start teaching your dog to lay down by using the Luring method.
If you have already trained "sit", then you know what to do.
Put a piece of really yummy treat between your thumb and index finger and show it to your puppy. Do not let him take the treat! Just let him sniff it. You will notice that your pet will follow your hand, which you can use to your advantage! Make your canine friend move the way you want!
Start with your dog in a sitting position. Lure him down by moving your hand slowly in a vertical way from his nose to the floor.
Go really slowly!
Your pet will try to follow your hand and most likely lay down. If your dog lays down, Mark and Reward!
If your pet won't lay down try combining a little bit of Shaping. Mark and Reward for smaller approximations to the end goal. For example, first reward him for getting closer to the floor (half way), then 3/4 of the way and so on.
Repeat up to 5 times until your dog starts doing it faster, almost anticipating that he has to lay down to get the treat! Always give the treat in your hand to your dog after he is in a down position (and while he is still laying down!).
If your dog is laying down eagerly with a food lure, move on to the next step!
Your furry friend is not following the treat in your hand?
Try a different treat, something he will go crazy for! Try a toy.
Use the dog training method Capturing.
Have treats handy and Mark and Reward! every time your dog lays down on his own.
This will take you a little longer because you have to wait for him to do it, but you will have less steps to follow and the behavior will be well trained!
To get several downs in a single training session, distract your pet from the down position by calling him over to another part of the room. Then wait again...if he goes down....yes! Mark and Reward!
Your puppy should start sitting more often during a training session.
your dog is eagerly sitting in front of you to get a treat, go to Step3: Cutting down on treats!
Now it is time to have your dog laying down by following your empty hand!
Reminder: at this point you want to reward your pet every single time! He needs to have a good history of rewards for laying down to keep him motivated! We will work on cutting down the treats later on.
When your dog is laying down while following your empty hand 80% of the time (8 out of 10 times) move on to the next step!
If you have trained your dog to sit, you know how this goes, right?
Whenever you add a new difficulty you have to reward your pet 100% of the time with a food treat. Once he is eagerly doing the behavior or responding to a visual prompt (like a lure) 8 out 10 times...then you can cut down the treats.
This has to be done gradually, you do not want your hound to get frustrated and give up! Start by "missing" a treat once every ten times your puppy correctly responds, then twice...and so on.
If you are using Capturing, follow the same advice. Every time your pet sits for a treat reward him, then start "missing" a few treats...always use verbal praise!
Because we are still in the beginning stages of training your dog to lay down, we want to keep the rewards high...so do not go below 70% at this point.
Not really, but it is up to you to decide. The following pictures show you the different dog laying down possibilities. If you want you can train your pet to go into a specific down. One that I find particularly useful is "head down". This prevents your furry friend from barking even from this position.
It's time to teach your dog a hand signal!
If you are using an empty lure, turn it into a hand signal like this:
You are ready to move on to the next step when your dog responds to your hand signal 8 out of 10 times you ask!
Repeat Step 3!
Use this time to reward with a treat the best dog laying down responses. Which ones are these? When your dog lays dog within 2 seconds of your empty lure, when the down position is "pretty", etc.
You are ready to move on to the next step when your pet responds 8 out of 10 times and is only rewarded for 7 out of 10 correct responses.
Teaching a verbal command from a hand signal:
You are ready to move on to the next step when your dog responds to your verbal command 8 out of 10 times you ask!
Remember to cut back the treats once your pet learns the new difficulty. But I personally do not recommend you go below 50% because you want to always keep your hound motivated!
A common question: Do you have to use treats forever?
Well, do you get a paycheck every month? Your pet feels the same way. A reliable response to
your commands needs to be rewarded often! But because you will be
doing it only half of the time and randomly, your pet will ALSO respond when you do not have treats!
You are ready to move on to step 7 When your dog responds 8 out 10 times to both hand signals or verbal commands and is being rewarded 50-60% of the time.Note: at this point you can start training another behavior at the same time. Try "Stand".
Down means your dog laying down anywhere!
You need to teach your dog this! The best way is to train the behavior, from the beginning (steps 1-7) at many different locations! You will notice that your pet will learn faster and faster!
Read Sit Level 2 for detailed information on how to do this!
The same is necessary with distractions. If you want your puppy to respond to your command even when other dogs are running near by or a ball is flying in the air, you need to start from the beginning (steps 1-7) with something easy. Then move to more challenging situations (repeating steps 1-7 for every new difficulty)...and your canine friend MUST succeed every time!
Please read Sit Level 2 step 9 for ideas and detailed instructions!
Because dogs are bad at generalizing a concept, we need to specifically teach them that "Down means down until I say so!".
Repeat Steps 1-7 adding time. Start with with short periods (seconds) and move on to longer ones slowly. Your pet MUST succeed every single difficulty before moving on to the next one.
Read the article "Teach your dog to Stay" for more information.
Adding distance to a command is easy since your dog already knows the command! But again, you must train each difficulty level (in this case it will be distance: 1 step away, 3 steps away, etc.) from the beginning.
Always reward 100% of the time when you introduce something new, when your dog gets good at it (80% accurate) cut down the treats, practice to perfect the behavior...then add a new level of difficulty and repeat all over again!
Read Sit Level 3 step 11 for more information on how to do this!
Dogs need to learn each aspect of a behavior separately. If you try to teach your pet to lay down and stay while dogs are running around him...well, it won't happen! But if you teach each part separately then you can combine them for the best, most reliable dog response.
Repeat Steps 4-7 for each combination. Start with easy ones and move on to harder ones. Your dog MUST succeed every single difficulty before moving on to the next one.
Your best friend might do the behavior a little sloppily when you combine difficulties. Don't worry...Practice practice practice and your puppy will get it perfect again really soon!
Finally you must teach your pet that:
sit means dog sitting!
Down means dog laying down!
This can be hard to do, but with practice your hound will learn it.
Read Sit Level 3 for more information and ideas on how to teach your pet to discriminate between commands.
Sometimes it can be
hard for dogs to understand what we are asking them to do, specially
when we first start training. Here are a few ideas to successfully train
your dog to lay down:
It can be hard to train a small dog to lay down with the luring method because they are already so close to the floor. Here are a few tricks to try: