How To Teach a Dog to Lay Down

Teaching your dog to lay down can help to keep them safe when you're outside and calm them down when you are in a restaurant. Learn how to teach a dog to lay down with our top-rated course.

How To Teach a Dog to Lay Down in Just Four Days

Day 1


We won't be using the verbal cue (command) "DOWN" in the first task, but we'll introduce it in the next tasks.


Start by giving a “SIT” cue to your dog. (If you haven't mastered Sit yet, we have a course for this. How to Teach a Dog to Sit In 3 Days


With a treat in your hand, level yourself with a dog in a Sit position.

Lure your dog’s nose down past their chest until their nose is near the ground. Then lure your dog’s nose from between their front feet towards you with the treat

As your dog flattens out and places their chest on the floor, say "GOOD" and feed your dog several individual treats as they remain in the down position

Day 2


Today we'll practice Down with a hand signal and a verbal cue (command).


Start by giving a “SIT” cue to your dog. With a treat in your hand, level yourself with a dog in a Sit position.

Lure your dog’s nose down past their chest until their nose is near the ground. Then lure your dog’s nose from between their front feet towards you with the treat


As your dog flattens out and places their chest on the floor, you need to introduce the verbal cue and say "DOWN" and follow it with a hand movement directing your dog to lay down (this is your hand signal).


Once reliable, repeat the hand signal and verbal cue to get the position, but don't have a treat in your hand. Only show the treat once your dog has assumed the correct position of Down.

Day 3


Let's try using verbal cues only! It might be challenging to begin with, but this is an important step in your dog's training program. Start by giving a “SIT” cue to your dog. With a treat in your hand, level yourself with a dog in a Sit position.

Lure your dog’s nose down past their chest until their nose is near the ground. Then lure your dog’s nose from between their front feet towards you with your hand.


As your dog flattens out and places their chest on the floor say "DOWN" and follow it with a hand movement directing your dog to lay down (this is your hand signal)

After 5 successful repetitions, gradually fade your hand signal. For example, you do the full movement for 1st repetition, more subtle hand movement for the 2nd repetition and so on. Your goal is slowly fade the signal with every repetition so on the 10th repetition you only use the verbal cue “DOWN”.

As you progress, try not to crouch or lean over your dog too much. The ultimate target here is to be stood up straight and to be able to give the verbal cue "DOWN" without additional luring

Day 4

Your today's goal is to make sure that your dog stays in the Down position as long as possible. In other words, we'll work on durations, which is one of the 3D’s’ - namely, Duration, Distraction and Distance. We add these three elements to really reward and make this behaviour water-tight.

Get your dog into a Down and count to 5 seconds with them remaining in position prior to you saying "GOOD" and reinforcing without using hand signals. If you can't do it yet keep practising the previous task.

Following each successful repetition, add an additional 5 seconds to the duration of your dog’s Down prior to saying "GOOD" and giving a treat.

If at any point your dog gets up before you've said "GOOD", simply return to one second and build up again from there.


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How long does it take to teach a dog to lay down?


Every dog is different and it can take as quickly as a couple of days and as long as two weeks to teach a dog to lay down. We usually see that it takes 3-5 days to master the Down trick if you follow the above steps.

What to do if your dog won't lay down?


If your dog is struggling to lay down there can be several reasons.

  • Distractions. Start practising at home and make sure there are minimal distractions around.

  • Surface. Always practice your Down on a nice comfortable surface. Avoid cold, hard, and wet ground and always keep your training happy and positive

  • Health. If your pup has heap or joint problems, you might want to avoid practising down without prior advice from a vet.