Plan your sessions well
Are you starting from scratch or have you already been working with your dog for several days?
In both cases you should be clear about the objective of the session before you start. Here are some examples:
- Teach the lying down movement.
- Associate the behavior to a word.
- Hold more seconds without moving.
- Lying down in more complicated situations.
Set a goal! Do not underestimate this point.
The duration of the sessions should be short. This will make it fun and keep your dog wanting more.
Make sure the dog is receptive
To learn easily your dog has to be in the right emotional state. Neither too upset nor too calm.
There is virtue in the middle ground!
- If he is too nervous he will not understand well what you are teaching him.
- If he is too calm he will not have that minimum attitude to learn.
Be constant and positive
Teaching behaviors to your dog is a little long-distance race. That's why you have to train regularly, not just one day.
Make training a daily routine, just like going to the gym.
Do short but continuous sessions for several days. This way your dog will consolidate what he has learned and you will be able to make more progress.
How to teach your dog to lie down step by step
The first point to take into account is...
Prepare his treat
Before starting the training session, have the treats ready. Don't make the mistake of stopping to get more treats.
Have everything ready!
Choose the right word and gesture
It is recommended that you use a word that you have not used so far. This way the word will only refer to lying down and he will learn more clearly.
If you want to use a gesture use the same advice. Do not confuse your dog by using one that you have already used for other commands.
To teach him it is not necessary to use a word and a gesture at the same time.
If you do, at first use both the gesture and the command at the same time. As you progress in your work, remove the gesture and leave only the command.
Choose the method you understand best
This will vary depending on factors such as the size of your dog or how nervous he is.
Which one is best for your dog? We'll help you find out.
Lying down by leading with food through the sitting position.
This way is useful if your dog gets very nervous with food, as you will have a hard time getting him to lie down. Having him sit first will help you a lot.
If he is very small it will also be useful to do it this way.
How to do it: put a treat at nose level and raise it above his head to get him to sit. Here you have more information on how to teach your dog to sit step by step.
To get him to lie down use any of the options explained below.
Lying down by guiding him directly into position
Pick up a treat, place it at the level of his nose and lower your hand straight down to the ground. If he lies down... reward him. Voilà!
If the above technique didn't work, use one of these variations:
- L inward: lower yourself to the ground and then bring your hand towards your dog. If all goes well, he will lie down bending his elbows. reward him.
- L outward: lower your hand to the ground and now pull your hand away from your dog. Did you get him to lie down by stretching his legs and the rest of his body forward? Very good, reward him.
- wedge-shaped: with the treat at the level of his nose, draw a diagonal line simultaneously towards him and towards the ground. Make a wedge shape with your hand. He will lie down bending his elbows. reward him.
If he resists lying down with the above three techniques, work on getting him to go under your leg. This video shows you how to do it step by step.
Lying down leading with food and hand or leash.
If you guide him with food and he half lies down, but doesn't quite do it... Do this!
Simultaneously to guiding him with a treat, use light hand or leash downward tension.
Use whichever option you see is most comfortable for him. Contact with your hand is more likely to be pleasing to him than leash tension, so use it! Put light pressure on his rump to encourage him to lie down.
But focus primarily on guiding him with food. Hand or leash tension is only an aid.
Lying down with hand and leash guidance only.
Does he lie down at 80% or 90%? Then use this technique.
If he almost lies down, you can use light hand pressure or light leash tension to get him to lie down.
If this is not the case, better use any of the above. Otherwise you will have to apply a lot of pressure or tension, which is not recommended.
Lying down only with the voice
When you have succeeded in getting him to lie down, then it is time to start associating that behavior with a word.
Before guiding him with a reward, say "down" and while he is doing it, repeat it a couple of times more. This way he will associate the command with the behavior.
After two or three days of work you will be able to use the command "Down". This way you will get him to lie down with your voice without having to guide him with the food or use other techniques.
Since your dog already knows what he has to do... It's time to tell him to do it!
Tips to keep in mind
Let's summarize the key points of training:
- use the most appropriate way to get him to lie down.
- Reward him every time he does it well.
- associate the "lie down" command with the lying down.
- use the command to get him to lie down.
Even if your dog knows how to lie down without food, give him treats from time to time. You know.... no one is bitter for a treat.
And remember... don't count the training days, make the training count!