How to Teach your Dog to Lie Down in 4 Easy Steps

Lying down on the floor. Cute Golden retriever dog is indoors in the domestic room

You’ve conquered teaching your dog to sit on command like a champ. But don’t get too comfortable – that was just the warmup. Next up is how to teach your dog to lie down on command, which, while trickier than “sit,” is still an essential skill to have in your dog training regime.

For new owners, getting their energetic ball of fur to actually lie down may feel like a stretch.

With the right approach and some patience, you can absolutely teach your dog to drop into a down position on cue. This command helps build crucial impulse control while reinforcing patterns of attentiveness and obedience. It also sets your pup up for success as you progress to more advanced training down the road.

Ready to put in the work and add “down” to your dog’s obedience? Let’s jump into the step-by-step process.

How to Teach Your Dog to Lie Down

Follow this easy guide to get the “down” command done in no time!

brown dog being lured into a down position for how to teach your dog to lie down on command

1. Lure Your Dog

Start by using treats to lure your dog into the proper down position. Let them take a few nibbles from your hand to get them engaged and following the lure.

To get them in the down position, guide your hand down as your dog follows. Slowly lower it all the way to the floor. It may take some time before they clue in and lie down, but stick with it.

The second that belly hits the floor, immediately say “yes!” or use a clicker to mark the behavior and reward with the treat. Keep repeating this luring process until your dog reliably lies down whenever you guide your hand to the ground.

2. Fade the Lure

Once they’ve got the basic motion down, it’s time to start fading out the lure itself. The goal is to shape that hand motion into an official hand signal that prompts the down on its own.

Speed up your hand movement as you lower it, straightening your arm and shortening the distance. Over time, your dog will start lying down in response to that hand signal alone. As soon as that happens, mark and reward it! You’re one step closer to putting the lure behind you completely.

3. Give it a Name

With the motion mastered through luring and your hand signal, you’re ready to introduce a verbal cue that will cement the “down” command. This is where those treats come in handy again.

Why do we wait until this point to put a name to the behavior?

Dogs are primarily visual learners, especially in those initial training phases. When you were guiding them into the down with the lure and hand signal, your dog was hyper-focused on those visual cues. Any words you said were likely tuned out.

When dogs are first learning, they pick up on hand motions before verbal cues, so it’s best to avoid adding the verbal component until the physical positioning is understood. That way, when you finally say “down!” your dog can make the connection between the word and the action they’ve practiced.

Here’s the order you’ll want to follow:

  1. Say “down!” in a clear and consistent tone.
  2. Use your practiced hand signal.
  3. Your dog lies down.
  4. Immediately mark the behavior with “yes!” or a click and treat.

Stick to this sequence, and that particular word will become inevitably linked to the action you want. With consistency and regular practice, you’ll be able to say “down” and have your pup will drop to the floor.

4. Teaching Them to Stay Down

So your dog lowers their body when you say “down”…but then immediately pops right back up again the second that treat hits their mouth. Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – this is a super common training hurdle.

The key here is teaching your dog that “down” isn’t just about putting their belly on the floor – it’s about holding that position until you say otherwise. As soon as they lie down, rapidly reward them with two or three more treats in a row. This reinforces the idea that staying down leads to abundant treats.

If your dog gets overexcited and shoots back up, say “nope” or “ah-ah” to mark the incorrect behavior. Then, guide them back into the down position and try again. In the early stages, reward frequently when they hold the down for even a few seconds to build value around that sustained stillness.

With consistency and repetition, that duration will stretch further and further. Before you know it, you’ll have an all-star “stay” to pair with the down!


By following this step-by-step approach of luring, fading the lure, adding a verbal cue, and reinforcing duration, you’re setting your pup up for stellar down-staying abilities.

Like the sit before it, learning how to teach your dog to lie down lays an essential foundation for more advanced training. It cements patterns of attentiveness and impulse control that will propel your dog’s overall obedience to new levels. Who knows, you might have a future dog sport or trick title winner in the making!

If you get stuck anywhere along the way or just need some extra guidance, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I’ll be rolling out online courses very soon that will coach you and your pup through the entire down process from start to finish, from basic puppy obedience to advanced concepts. You’ll have that belly on the floor in no time!

In the meantime, keep practicing, be patient, and get ready to add another impressive skill to your doggo’s repertoire.

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