How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down (4 Steps)

Teaching a dog to lay down improves obedience and overall behavior. It is a basic command that provides mental stimulation for your dog and helps establish your role as a leader.

With patience and proper training, you will witness its usefulness in various situations

Imagine this scenario: your dog has crossed the road, and you need it to stay on the other side until a car passes. This is where the “Down” command comes in handy. Unlike other commands, it is more challenging for a dog to break out of a prone position, making it highly effective. 

Here, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of teaching your dog to lay down, ensuring a positive and effective training experience.

how to teach a dog to lay down, dog down command,


  1. Treats
  2. Clicker or Verbal cues / Hand signals

4 Steps to Teach a Dog to Lay Down

Step 1: Get your dog into a ‘sit’ position

Before you teach your dog to lay down, starting with a solid foundation is important. Begin by getting your dog into a sitting position. This step is crucial as it helps your dog understand that you are initiating a training session.

Related: Train Your Dog to Sit

To get your dog to sit, hold a treat close to their nose and slowly raise it above their head. As your dog follows the treat with their eyes, their natural response will be to sit down. As soon as your dog’s bottom touches the ground, reward them with verbal praise and a treat. Repeat this step until your dog consistently responds to the “sit” command.

Step 2: Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose

dog treat near nose, dog training to lay down

With your dog in a seated position, it’s time to introduce the concept of laying down.

Before starting, ensure you have a pocket full of small dog treats as a food lure. To encourage your dog to move into a down position, hold a treat in front of their nose. However, there may be some challenges along the way. Here’s how to overcome them:

  • If your dog tries to jump up to grab the treat, hold it closer to the ground to redirect their attention downward.
  • If your dog seems uninterested or reluctant, try using a higher-value treat or a toy that motivates them.

Step 3: Move the treat toward the floor

dog training to lay down having treat near dog nose,

Once your dog is focused on the treat, place the food on her nose and gradually lower it toward the floor. 

When she follows the food and lowers her head, praise her and reward her with a treat. Initially, she doesn’t have to lie down completely; the goal is to teach her to follow the lure as it moves slightly downward each time.

As you lower the treat, your dog’s natural instinct will be to follow it with their nose. This instinct encourages them to lower their body toward the floor. 

Continue to move the treat down until it reaches the ground, close to your dog’s paws.

If your dog follows the treat and lies down, provide positive reinforcement by saying “yes” or using a clicker, followed by verbal praise and a treat

Repeat this step 4-6 times, and take a break.

Related: Learn Clicker Training for Dogs

Step 4: Add a hand signal and verbal cue

Dogs understand body language better, so we start by teaching the hand signal first. Once your dog grasps the hand signal, we can introduce a verbal cue using the word “down.”

teaching a dog to lie down with hand signal,

Start by using an open flat palm and move it downward, imitating the motion of the treat going towards the floor. 

To have both hands free, you can drop the leash on the floor.

Now, show the hand signal without holding any food. Move your hand signal towards the floor and promptly reward your dog with a treat from your other hand before she gets up.

Repeat this process multiple times. This will help establish the understanding that the open flat hand signal means the same thing as the hand with food.

Gradually decrease the size of the hand signal until your dog understands and responds to the hand signal alone, without the need for a treat.

Over time, your dog will learn to understand a simple hand signal in front of her face while you stand upright. 

dog training to lay down, teaching dog to lay down, using hand signal and verbal cue to lay dow down,

Now, begin by saying the word “down” and then demonstrate the hand signal she already knows. Through consistent repetition, your dog will eventually learn to lie down when she hears the verbal cue alone. 

Repetition is crucial in dog training. Practice the “down” command in various locations and situations to reinforce your dog’s understanding of the command. 

Watch the video demonstration of the training process from AKC to get a visual understanding of each steps:


Teaching your dog to lay down is a rewarding experience that strengthens the bond between you and your furry companion.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and maintaining patience and consistency, you can successfully train your dog to respond to the “down” command.

Related: How to Teach a Dog to Stay

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