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Teaching My Dog to Lie Down

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 28, 2017
Teaching My Dog to Lie Down

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Teaching your dog to lie down with a command will help it develop self-control and will be very useful for you in your everyday life with your pet. Note that it is an exercise that is not easy to teach all dogs, because it puts them in a vulnerable position. Therefore, you have to be very patient to train your dog to lie upon command.

The final criterion is that you should get your dog to lie down with a command and hold that position for a second. To achieve this standard of training, you should divide the exercise into several simple criteria.

In this AnimalWised article we tell you about the training criteria on which you will work this exercise: your dog lies when you signal, your dog remains for a second, your dog lies even if you are moving, your dog remains lying for a second even though you are moving, your dog lies down with an order. Remember to train in a closed quiet place without distractions until all the criteria of the proposed training are met.

Criterion 1: Your dog lies when you signal

Bring a piece of food close to your dog's nose and slowly lower your hand toward the floor between the front legs of your pet. By following the food, your dog will lower the head, then the shoulders and finally it will lie down.

When your dog lies, click on a clicker and give him food. You can give it food while it remains lying or make it rise to take it like in the sequence of photos. No matter if your dog gets up after you have clicked. Repeat this procedure until your dog easily lies whenever you guide it with food. From that moment, gradually reduce the movement you do with your arm until it is sufficient that you stretch down your arm for it to lie down. This may take you several sessions.

When you have got your dog to lie only when you extend your arm down, practice doing this signal without having food in your hand. Every time your dog lies down, do a click, take a piece of food from your belt pouch or your pocket and give it to your dog. Please note that some dogs are reluctant to lie only to follow a piece of food, so be very patient with this exercise. It may take several sessions.

Also note that some dogs lie more easily if they are sitting before, while others lie more easily if they stand before. If you need to sit your dog to practice this exercise, do so guiding it as done when training to sit. Do not use the order to sit your dog. When you have made your dog lie down with the signal (no food in hand) 8 out of 10 repetitions in two consecutive sessions, turn to training following criteria.

'Lie' to compete

If you want your dog to learn to lie from a standing position, as required in some dog sports, you have to include this criterion as soon as you have got your dog to lie. For that, you will only reinforce the behaviours that are close to the behaviour you want.

Note however that this is not something you can demand from a little puppy or dog whose morphology hinder them from lying from upright. Nor can you require this from dogs that have back, elbow, knee or hip problems. Training your dog to lie from an upright position involves an additional criterion, so it will take longer to achieve the desired behaviour.

Teaching My Dog to Lie Down - Criterion 1: Your dog lies when you signal

Criterion 2: Your dog is lying for a second

Make your dog lie down with the signal, without food in your hand. When it lies down mentally count to one. If your dog keeps the position until you finish counting, click, take a bit of food from the belt pocket and give to your dog. If your dog gets up while counting to one move a couple of steps without clicking or giving food (ignore it for a few seconds). Then repeat the procedure.

If necessary use smaller intervals, mentally counting "A" instead of "One" for a few repetitions. Then try to increase the time that your dog remains down until you count "One" mentally. You can make 2 or 3 repetitions of the above criteria before starting the sessions of this training approach.

Teaching My Dog to Lie Down - Criterion 2: Your dog is lying for a second

Criterion 3: Your dog lies though you are moving

Do the same procedure as the first criterion, but jogging or walking on the spot. Also change position relative to your dog: sometimes sideways, sometimes in front, sometimes diagonally. At this stage you should also make sure you get your dog to lie in different locations within the place of training.

You can do a few repetitions without moving before starting each session of this dog training criterion. You can also have food in your hand and do the full movement, lowering your hand to the ground during the first 5 repetitions (approximately) of the first session to help your dog to generalise this behaviour.

Teaching My Dog to Lie Down - Criterion 3: Your dog lies though you are moving

Criterion 4: Your dog remains lying for a second while you are moving

Do the same procedure as in the second criterion, but jog or walk on the spot while doing the signal for your dog to lie down. You can make 2 or 3 repetitions of criterion 1 before starting each session, so your pet will know that the session is dedicated to the lying exercise.

Go on to the next criterion when you get a success rate of 80% on 2 consecutive sessions.

Teaching My Dog to Lie Down - Criterion 4: Your dog remains lying for a second while you are moving

Criterion 5: Your dog lies with a command

Say 'lie' and make the signal with your arm so that your dog lies. When your dog lies down click, take a piece of food from the belt and give it to it. Make several repetitions until your dog starts to lie down when you give the order, before you make the signal. From that moment gradually reduce the signal that you do with your arm to completely eliminate it.

If your dog lies before you give the order, just say 'No' or 'Ah' (use any, but always the same word to indicate that it will not get the bit of food) in a quiet tone and move a few steps. Then give the order before your dog lies down.

When your dog has associated the command 'lie' with the conduct of lying, repeat criteria 2, 3 and 4 but using the verbal order instead of the signal that you do with your arm.

Teaching My Dog to Lie Down - Criterion 5: Your dog lies with a command

Possible problems when training your dog to lie

Your dog is easily distracted

If your dog is distracted during the dog training session, try to practice in another place where there are no distractions. You can also make a quick sequence of delivering 5 pieces of food before starting the session.

Your dog bites the hand

If your dog hurts you when giving it food give it on the palm of your hand or throw it to the ground. But if it hurts you when using food as a guide, you have to capture the behaviour. In the next topic you will see how.

Your dog does not lie when you guide it with the food.

Many dogs do not lie with this procedure because they do not want to put themselves in a position where they are vulnerable. Others do not simply because they try out other behaviours to get the food. If your dog does not lie when guiding it with food the consider the following:

  • Try to start the training on another surface. If your dog will not lie on tiles then try on the carpet. Later you can generalise the behaviour.
  • Make sure the food that you use to guide your dog is tempting for it.
  • Move your hand more slowly.
  • If you take your dog from a sitting position, move your hand slightly forward once you come down almost to the floor. This movement is an imaginary 'L' shape, first down and then a little forward.
  • If you lie your dog from a standing position, direct the food into the middle of your pet's front legs, and a little back.
  • Try alternative ways to teach your dog to lie.
Teaching My Dog to Lie Down - Possible problems when training your dog to lie

Precautions when training your dog to lie using a command.

When you teach this exercise to your dog, you should make sure it is not on an uncomfortable surface. Very hot or very cold surfaces can prevent the dog from lying, so check that the soil temperature is not very high (no need other than to touch it with the back of your hand to check the temperature).

Apart from training your dog to lie, you can also train your dog to find trufflesor prepare for the arrival of a baby.

Teaching My Dog to Lie Down - Precautions when training your dog to lie using a command.

If you want to read similar articles to Teaching My Dog to Lie Down, we recommend you visit our Advanced education category.

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