Your dog has probably mastered the “come” and “sit” commands and the time has come to level up her training with the all too popular “down” command.
But maybe she’s no longer a puppy, and you’re wondering can an old dog really learn new tricks?
Well, stick around to learn our best strategy on how to train a dog to lay down.
Whether she’s a puppy or an old furred canine, you’ll have her laying down on command in no time.
And maybe afterward, you can train her to roll over—that’d be a neat parlor trick. Either way, teaching her to lay down on command is a very important part of raising a ladylike dog.
Teaching her the down command is a great way of generally controlling her impulses, and you also get the added benefit of increasing your bond with her by spending some quality time with her.
What’s more, be teaching her the “down” command, you’ll be able to keep her calm and settled when she’s too excited whether it’s indoor or when you’re out and about.
The down command is also the first step in teaching her to “stay” somewhere for some time as well as training her to “roll over.”
Lucky for you; she’s a fast learner and training her to lay down on cue is almost as easy as teaching her to “sit.” Speaking of the “sit” command, it’s much easier to train her to lay down if she’s already master the “sit” command.
Table of Contents,
The Down Position
For her to be in the proper down position, she should have her hocks, elbows, and chest touching the ground.
If she’s able to maintain that position until you release her, she will be well on her way to master the “stay” command.
All right, no more dilly-dallying, it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes of how to train a dog to lay down.
Step One: Be prepared
To have an effective training session with her, it’s important to choose a quiet area without any distractions, somewhere like your back yard or living room.
Ideally, you want a place that you can spend about 10 minutes with her without being disturbed.
Somewhere she’s used to and comfortable so she can relax and the both of you can have a great time. You also need to have plenty of treats ready.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to have two kinds or types of treats with you, the best dog training treats and your average dog treats.
Her training treats should be smaller and tastier or more delicious than her everyday treats.
Which reminds me, you shouldn’t try to train her on a full-stomach but when she’s hungry so the treats can be a great motivator.
You can relax, we’re not talking about starving her we want her a little famished, and you can feed her after her training, so it’s not punishing her.
It’s also important for her to know when she’s doing the right thing, so it’s crucial that you shower her with praise and reward her with her favorite training treats.
You can use a cue such as “yes” or “good girl” and immediately follow it up with a treat.
Timing is everything here, so make sure you’re always spot on.
Step Two: The Art of the Lure
With her favorite training treats at the ready call on her to start your training session.
Hold out a small piece of her treats in the palm of your hand and have her sniff it and perhaps even lick it but withdraw your hand before she gets a chance to chow it down—she can be quick, so you need to pay attention.
This way, she’ll know that there’s a catch and will be waiting for your direction. You can also use a clicker if you’ve used it before with her training instead of using a treat.
This is particularly useful if she’s got weight problems or if she’s full.
Step Three: Have her sit down
Like we’ve mentioned above, it’s much easier to train a dog a to lay down if she’ s already mastered the “sit” command.
Issue the “sit” command and when she sits, hold out the treat again and let her sniff it.
At this point, she’s probably way too excited so don’t be surprised if she jumps back up to try and get the treat. If she does this, withdraw your hand and issue the sit command again until she stays in the down position before moving on.
Older dogs are especially stubborn and you may have trouble controlling her impulses among other behaviors including fighting with the neighbors dogs and ripping your shoes apart.
My German Shepherd constantly drove me crazy with this until I came across Dan Stevens’s dog training program, and I was able to find out my mistakes and how to get her to follow my lead.
Once she gets it right, move closer to the ground by squatting or kneeling before continuing to the next step.
Step Four: Introduce the “down” cue
The next step is for you is extremely important if you want her to get it right without having to resort to treats every time. It’s time you introduced the “down” command and be sure to repeat it as many times as it takes for her to understand it.
Step Five: The reverse “L” motion
While kneeling or squatting, hold out the treat in the palm of your hand, let her sniff it or even lick it as you slowly lower it to the floor. By now she’s hooked, and she’ll be following your hand with her nose to the ground.
Once her nose or your hand hits the floor, slowly withdraw the treat towards you parallel to the floor.
his forms a Mirrored-L motion, which is why we called it the reverse “L” motion.
If she gets up as your luring her, withdraw the treat all together and repeat the process by having her sit. Additionally, remember to put your hand on her shoulder to deter her from springing back up while she’s chasing after her elusive yummy treats.
By now, you should be well on your way to getting her to lay down on command. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that the key to an effective training session is to make it playful and fun.