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Teach a Dog to Lie Down – 5 Alternate Methods for All Dogs


Teaching a dog to lay down is one of those
things that can sometimes be a struggle for them to learn. But today, I’m going to show you five different
ways to come at the problem so you can make it happen. Ian here with Simpawtico Dog Training, and
before we get into lay down strategies, please make sure you are subscribed so you never
miss any of our videos. Also, if you’re new here please give us a
thumbs up and check out our other videos for training tips, product reviews, and more. Now, teaching a dog to lay down is one of
those basic behaviors we strive to teach every dog in the first few weeks that we have them. It’s one of the three basic positions along
with Sit and Stand. And it’s a wonderful way to settle a dog down
or to have them Stay for an extended period. Laying down is a little special, though. Most dogs will pick it up right away with
a basic lure-reward-training routine. But other dogs can struggle with the concept. Certain breeds such as Boston Terriers and
Yorkies for example seem to generally just be totally baffled with down. So, to help you out here are five strategies
to teach down to your dog: STRATEGY #1: LURE REWARD TRAINING. This is the most straightforward method, and
it’s the first one you should try. All lure-reward trained behaviors follow the
same 1234 formula: Request, Lure, Response, and Reward. In this case, that looks like this: Say “Down.” Use a food reward to lure the dog’s nose down
between the front paws. The dog should collapse into a laying position. Immediately praise and reward the dog. Most commonly this is started from a sit position
since half the dog is already in the right place. That’s ok to begin with, but as soon as you
can get ten in a row, start trying it from the standing position. Your dog should be able to lay down from either
sitting or standing without any unnecessary steps. Although lure reward training is the first
thing you should try, sometimes it takes a little bit more to crack this nut. That brings us to…STRATEGY #2: BUILDING
from a BOW. This is lure reward training too, but we’re
taking a different approach on the luring bit. Teaching a dog to lay down is one of those
things that can sometimes be a struggle for them to learn. But today, I’m going to show
you five different ways to come at the problem so you can make it happen. Ian here with Simpawtico
Dog Training, and before we get into lay down strategies, please make sure you are subscribed
so you never miss any of our videos. Also, if you’re new here please give us a thumbs
up and check out our other videos for training tips, product reviews, and more. Now, teaching
a dog to lay down is one of those basic behaviors we strive to teach every dog in the first
few weeks that we have them. It’s one of the three basic positions along with Sit and
Stand. And it’s a wonderful way to settle a dog down or to have them Stay for an extended
period. Laying down is a little special, though. Most dogs will pick it up right away with
a basic lure-reward-training routine. But other dogs can struggle with the concept.
Certain breeds such as Boston Terriers and Yorkies for example seem to generally just
be totally baffled with down. So, to help you out here are five strategies to teach
down to your dog: STRATEGY #1: LURE REWARD TRAINING. This is
the most straightforward method, and it’s the first one you should try. All lure-reward
trained behaviors follow the same 1234 formula: Request, Lure, Response, and Reward. In this
case, that looks like this: Say “Down.” Use a food reward to lure the dog’s nose down
between the front paws. The dog should collapse into a laying position. Immediately praise
and reward the dog. Most commonly this is started from a sit position since half the
dog is already in the right place. That’s ok to begin with, but as soon as you can get
ten in a row, start trying it from the standing position. Your dog should be able to lay down
from either sitting or standing without any unnecessary steps. Although lure reward training
is the first thing you should try, sometimes it takes a little bit more to crack this nut.
That brings us to…STRATEGY #2: BUILDING from a BOW. This is lure reward training too,
but we’re taking a different approach on the luring bit. Stand or kneel to the side of
your dog and, using the food lure, move in between the front paws at an oblique, 45º
angle. The point is to get them to go into the same position as a play bow. Once you’re
getting the bow consistently start dialing it in. Build repetitions. Then, start pausing
between the front feet. It won’t take long for the bottom to just plop down. Praise BIG
when you get it. Then build more repetitions on the full down.
On a side note: you could make this “take a bow” and then shape it to be “Down,” and
still have both of them available as behaviors. STRATEGY #3: SHAPING from the NECK. Sometimes,
a dog won’t be able to figure out what the expectation is and will give up quickly. If
luring doesn’t seem to work to get the dog all the way down, break the behavior down
into smaller pieces. Perform the luring action as before but reward initially for just lowering
the head down to get it. As consistency builds ask your dog to go further and further with
it until they go all the way down. This is a time consuming method that can take several
days, but I’ve done it before with stubborn dogs. When they finally lay down, boy you’d
better make a big fuss about it! STRATEGY #4: ALL or NONE REWARD TRAINING (aka the “BATHROOM
DOWN”). This is the easiest of all the methods because you don’t really have to do much.
Get about 20 or so food rewards and something to read. Pick a small room such as a bathroom
or even a walk-in closet and close yourself inside with your dog. Have a seat and start
reading. Pay no mind to your dog, just do your own thing. Your dog will eventually get
bored with sniffing the corners and lay down. Immediately praise this behavior, and toss
a treat so that the dog has to get up to get it, thus setting them up to do it again. As
the dog catches on and starts offering the behavior to get a reward, it will be a simple
thing to transition over to putting the behavior on request (or what we call “putting it
on stimulus control”). Simply say “Down” right before they do it, and reward them.
Piece of cake. Be aware that once you leave the space you’ve done this in your dog may
need a bit of coaxing to realize this works everywhere. At this point simple lure reward
training should work now, to get over the hump. STRATEGY #5: SHAPING by BRIDGING. This
is the last resort because it’s the most difficult to do and the most time consuming.
Essentially you will use a food reward to lure your dog to crawl under a bridge. This
could be a stool, your leg or bent knee, an end table…it just depends on the size of
your dog. Make sure that you mark the behavior as soon as the elbows and belly touch the
floor. Gradually shape this behavior by removing the bridge little bits at a time. Raise your
leg or knee higher, or remove the stool or chair. Incidentally this is how I taught down
to my Boston Terrier, Bobo. Once he got the idea, it was easy to get rid of the bridge
and use lure reward training to improving his performance. Now he’s so good he’s perfectly
prompt, precise, and polite. If you’re struggling with Down, here are some other aspects you
should consider: If you’re having trouble, check the floor surface. Some surfaces weird
a dog out and they resist laying down on it. Maybe it’s too slippery, or uncomfortable,
or just plain unfamiliar. Try a different place, or have the dog try it on a blanket,
a towel, or a bath mat. Once they get the idea, transition to other surfaces with lots
of practice, and praise. Also, think of ways you can set yourself up for success. For example
you could practice down after a long walk or after play time. These are instances when
the dog is more inclined to lie down anyways to rest. Don’t forget to start phasing out
the food lure as soon as possible. Once you’ve got lay down pretty well dialed in, get that
food lure out of your hand and into your pocket. Remember: a lure is given to cause a behavior.
Once the behavior is happening reliably we don’t need it. A reward, then, comes after
the behavior like magic. It’s not guaranteed or promised. In contrast, a bribe is used
before the behavior to coerce them to perform. This is not how it’s done for the longterm.
It’s all about repetition, clear goals, and consistency. FINALLY: As always, be patient,
and be encouraging as they figure it out. Remember teaching your dog things is a team
sport. You’re both working together. You’d cheer your kid on if they made a goal in soccer.
Do the same for your dog when they hit a new accomplishment. Show enthusiasm and encouragement.
You can do a lot, when you do it together! So, good luck nailing this if your dog is
having some trouble. Relax, and don’t give up. It will get there. Questions for you:
Which one of these approaches stood out to you the most? What tips do YOU have? And what
are some other training conundrums you’d like me to help you with? Let’s connect
in the comments below. Please thumbs up this video if you learned something useful and
as always, keep learning, keep practicing, and I’ll see you soon. Thanks for watching.

100
Comments
  • Lots of bowing so far……we'll get there! (But I like the idea of having the bow as a trick! Thanks for that idea!)

  • Thank you for making and posting this video.
    I used method 5 with the leg for my brother's dog because he's a Dachshund.
    He learnt it quickly but he won't do it on tiles, wood, or pavement (sidewalk).
    My brother took him home and has been practising but he's told me that if Arnie is on one of these surfaces, he'll go onto a rug, sofa or footstool which is nearby and do 'down' on there.
    Should my brother still reward Arnie if/when he does that?
    Any advice on how to get Arnie to do 'down' on any surface?
    We're struggling with him coming when we call him. Any tips?

  • Tried the first one, but could not get her elbows lowered. Tried the 5th she crawled under my legs after 5 lay downs I went back to the first one. Right away she offered a laydown, great. Thanks

  • Thank you SO MUCH for these alternatives. I just got a 7 month old mali mix on Monday and although he’s super smart, he just does not respond to the lure method. I’m definitely gonna try the alternatives and I see them working well for him.

  • I tried using the bathroom tip and bridge tip but he just gives up of he can't immediately get the treat what do I do?

  • My dog was actually very successful with the bridge and got it within minutes. I was able to remove the chair after a couple of sessions and he effectively does it with a lure. The problem is is that he refuses to do the command without the lure. I say the command word prior to luring him but without the lure, he won’t do it. He’s only interested in the food. Any advice?

  • Omg I watched this video because my Boston terroir will not lie down I’ve been being patient and I’ve trained her not to go after my hand with the treat and wait until I clearly show she can get it and it makes it a lot harder

  • My dog, Simba, he won't do the lure, but when I saw the bathroom technique, I realized that when I tell him to go to bed, he will and a few seconds later, he'll lay.

  • The bridge worked the best for me, but I have one question, he doesn't pay attention to my words when training, he does everything, but no matter what I say he just always sits lol. Any tips for fixing that?

  • Ive been trying to teach my dog Down, but he just looked at me baffled. Then I watched your video and saw the method luring under the leg, I used a small side table and he got it within a few attempts, he can do it without the table now and I'm going to try him in different situations. Many Thanks Ian xx

  • He, of course, being the crazy mouthy labrador puppy, just starts biting me. Guess I will try the 4th method behind the baby gate 😄

  • help me my puppy wont lay down without my hand putting it lower to the ground with the treat how can i make her lay down with just saying it

  • My dog has very short legs and can easily reach the floor without bending her legs. Also she is not food or toy motivated. Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated.

  • This is great for alternative methods. Had tried 1, 2 and 5 with my italian greyhound who just couldn't figure it out. 4 worked for us well!

  • Thank you so much. I just got a 2 year old rescue. I been trying for two weeks to get him to lie down. With starting with the small room with treat. Then to bridge, then to kneeling down next to him. He finally gots it down to a science.

  • My terrier mix was never able to understand this command, but I did the bridge technique and it was a light bulb moment!! So quick and now I don’t think he is so stubborn! Well, perhaps stubborn but not hopeless

  • my dog does okay with the lure, though he doesn't seem very happy about getting down(regular surface where he lays and sleeps) but he never offers the behavior without the lure and I can't figure out how to move to the next step. Sitting he got fairly easily but not this.

  • After watching 5 million of essentially the same exact video on how to teach lay down when my dog is NOT responding to lure…THANK. YOU.

  • Love this! Thanks! I have a 6 and 8 month old dogs who are just learning and aren't picking up the luring technique very well. Will definitely start trying these other methods!

  • I just adopted a (stubborn) two year old Basset Hound. He is not responding to ANY method. I have never had a dog like this. I am using the reward scale correctly btw

  • Omg I used the one where the dog started sitting then put the treats in front of it until it lies down and it worked!

  • The tip about the floor surface was excellent. Tried to teach my Amer Bulldog down in the kitchen and he just wouldn't do it. I tired it on the upstairs carpet that he likes to lay on and it worked…every time Amazing. Thank you.

  • Excellent video. Yours are the best YouTube videos I’ve found about dog training. Good content, easy to understand, and well-produced. 👍👍👍

  • My dog is a poodle, so very smart, but he had NO IDEA what we were trying to lure him to do with the standard lure method, so I wasn't sure how to proceed. Found this video & within 15 mins, I'm getting a consistent down anywhere in the house. Just having some ideas on how to break through the initial confusion about what I'm asking was all we needed. Thanks!

  • I was trying to teach her from the sit position then down, on hardwood. So I changed to carpet and went instead from standing to straight down. She picked it up so fast! Thanks!

  • Welp Im like a year or two late but I'm training my cat and I'm working on the last method, I hope this works

  • Big thumbs up to this video. Has been scratching my head to train my Bichon to do Down. This video gives me bright ideas 💡 thank you

  • The ONLY reward my minpin likes is bread. And I rarely see her laying outside her crate! Will try the bridge with bread. But is it bad to just push her down a bit to get her in the position for trying method 4? Like she has been in the bathroom with me and will stand forever and never get bored. Lol

  • Thank you for this great video! I have a Yorkshire terrier and he only knows Sit and Shake. When I try to get him to lay down he confuses my hand movement with Shake and gives me his paw instead of paying attention to what I'm trying to teach him. Like I tell him to sit and then to "Down" and I put my flat palm in front of him then bring it down for him to follow but all he does it immediately try to shake my hand and scratch my hand for "Shake" once its flat on the flor between his paws. I know he's a smart puppy but I don't know what I could do better to make him pay attention, he just goes crazy over the treat in my hand. And when I do NOT show him the treat, he shows no interest at all.

  • I too have tried getting my BT to obey commands like "down" She got "sit" very easily but anything else is play time or sleep time.

  • Please help. My 3month old puppy knows the down command, but will only do it on textured surfaces(carpet, rug,bet,couch…etc) and not hard surface( tile,wood flooring..etc.) What can I do?

  • My doggo is dumb. I managed to teach her to sit as a puppy but shes absolutely dumb and stubborn nowadays. None of your trianing vids worked not even a little.

  • Hahaha, Boston terriers are baffled by this trick. As I have a Boston and she just does NOT get it lol

  • I have a Boston terrier bulldog mix he is very smart and can learn a new trick almost instantly lay down is a weak point of his so we have to work extra hard with him these really helped especially the bathroom reading one

  • Thanks for the help. My little doggo is struggling to grasp 'down' but I think the bathroom trick might just work!

  • Any tried #4 ? I wanna try with my male adult rednose pitbull because he stubborn and forgot down but remembers everything else. Lol thank you!

  • I just came across your videos by accident and I'm so glad I did. (everything happens for a reason). I have a Yorkie/poodle/Shih Tzu mix. She's about 10 pounds. We got her from a friend and decided to keep her with no knowledge on training. We've had her for a year now and behaviours are slowly getting better except for when we leave the house, and barking.
    I've given her treats in her pen when we leave, but it's not allowing her to be comfortable with us leaving.
    But the bigger issue is barking.
    She barks at EVERYTHING.
    Someone comes out of their house, she barks. A squirrel runs by, she barks.
    Another dog walks on, she barks. A leaf in the wind blowing…. You got it, she barks.
    How on earth do I get her to stop barking?!
    Her barking has actually gotten us into some hot water from the city and a neighbour complaining. We got her a collar that vibrates when she barks but it just doesn't teach her anything.
    HELP!

  • Really helpful! I was attempting to teach my dog down doing the first method for 2 days and it was not working. He would just put his head down but not the rest of his body and then give up. After you mentioned trying out different surfaces, I moved our training from the carpet area to the rug area where he tends to lie down more readily. He got it on the first try!!

  • i understand these but it is hard when my dog is so small and when i put my hand down all the way she can still reach it while standing

    update: i am using the second method and it is working very well!!

    (also to anyone questioning i have a dachshund)

  • Hey Ian. I’m using the first method – but my dog only lies down when I have the treat in my hand. I am practicing a few times each day – for 2 months now 🤔
    Perhaps I said the command at wrong time (I say it while luring her down instead of first luring her down and say it when her elbows touch the ground)?
    Thanks so much for your videos. Enjoy them very much an I learn a lot.

  • My dog will almost lurch forward and into the down position and immediately jump back up. How do I get him to stay down?

  • Ya ever time my golden retriever it keeps laying down when I’m walking it is so annoying when it does that

  • The second one worked for my dog he’s a boxer mixed with a pit bull so he was a little stubborn but he is still very smart and got sit within 2 days. So I wasn’t really worried but I didn’t know how to train him to lay down and this video really helped thank you

  • 1. Lure-reward training
    2. Building from a bow
    3. Shaping from the neck
    4. All-or-none reward (Bathroom down)
    5. Shaping by bridging

  • all my dog does is sleep she can only do one trick which is to shit and i cant teach her anything else no matter how hard i try.

  • My dog is a giraffe, when I put the treat in between her paws she just bends her neck down and eats it

  • So in most of these steps, you're coaxing your dog into lying down which is a steady process. But how do you teach them to associate the act of lying down to a spoken command?

  • 4 or 5 sounds like it might work for my greyhound.
    The problem is his neck is so long he can reach pretty far without really moving, so lure training just wasn't working and sit doesn't seem like a comfortable or natural position.

  • I swear my dog is the most stubborn thing 😂 I have been sitting in a small room waiting for her to lie down for the past 30 minutes

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