Teaching a dog to lie down is the first step to teaching our dogs to relax and settle while we are busy.

Ideas for verbal cues: “down”, “settle”, “relax”, 

Step 1: Lure the downOption 1: Lure from a sitWith your dog in a seated position, bring a treat from their nose (palm down) slowly moving the treat down towards the floor and close to their chest, landing between their two front paws.Keep the treat lure close to your dog’s nose—if you move your hand up too quickly or too far away from their mouth, they may jump up, back up, or give up.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and release the treat for them to eat while they are still in the down position. Option 2: Lure from a standWith your dog in a standing position, bring a treat from their nose (palm down) slowly moving the treat down towards the floor and close to their chest, landing between their two front paws.Keep the treat lure close to your dog’s nose—if you move your hand up too quickly or too far away from their mouth, they may jump up, back up, or give up.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and release the treat for them to eat while they are still in the down position. You can toss a treat away to reset. Note:If your dog pops up, play-bows, backs up, or remains sitting or standing, mark and treat for a lowered head, bent elbows, or a half-down for this round.Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 2: Fade the lureWith your dog in a seated or standing position, cup your empty hand (palm down) as if you have a treat in it. Lower it in the same motion as the lure – down and close to the chest, aiming for between the two front paws.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and feed a treat from your pouch while they are still in the down position.If your dog stands up after the mark and before you have a chance to feed the treat, simply lure them back into the down position to release the food. You can toss a treat away to reset. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 3: Clean up the hand signalWith your dog in a seated or standing position, cup your empty hand (palm down) and lower your hand in the same fashion, to the floor. Freeze and wait.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and feed a treat from your pouch while they are still in the down position.If your dog stands up after the mark and before you have a chance to feed the treat, simply lure them back into the down position to release the food. You can toss a treat away to reset. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 4a: Fade the hand signalWith your dog in a seated or standing position, cup your empty hand (palm down) and lower your hand in the same fashion, to the height of your ankle – just a few inches off the floor. Freeze and wait.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and feed a treat from your pouch while they are still in the down position.If your dog stands up after the mark and before you have a chance to feed the treat, simply lure them back into the down position to release the food. You can toss a treat away to reset. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 4b: Fade the hand signalWith your dog in a seated or standing position, cup your empty hand (palm down) and lower your hand in the same fashion, to the height of your knee, freeze and wait.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and feed a treat from your pouch while they are still in the down position.If your dog stands up after the mark and before you have a chance to feed the treat, simply lure them back into the down position to release the food. You can toss a treat away to reset. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 4c: Fade the hand signalWith your dog in a seated or standing position, cup your empty hand (palm down) and lower your hand in the same fashion, to the height of your waist, freeze and wait.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and feed a treat from your pouch while they are still in the down position.If your dog stands up after the mark and before you have a chance to feed the treat, simply lure them back into the down position to release the food. You can toss a treat away to reset. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 5: Cue itWith your dog in a seated or standing position, say “down” in a gentle voice, wait 1 second, then offer the hand signal (to your waist), freeze and wait.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and feed a treat from your pouch while they are still in the down position.If your dog stands up after the mark and before you have a chance to feed the treat, simply lure them back into the down position to release the food. You can toss a treat away to reset. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 6: Drop the hand signalWith your dog in a seated or standing position, say “down” in a gentle voice, freeze and wait. Your arms should remain still or behind your back.As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “yes!” (or click) and feed a treat from your pouch while they are still in the down position.If your dog stands up after the mark and before you have a chance to feed the treat, simply lure them back into the down position to release the food. You can toss a treat away to reset. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 repetitions.Step 7: Take it on the roadTake it on the road! You may have to start from scratch in a new environment but the steps will go a LOT faster as your dog already knows them, but not how to apply it to different environments. Alternate your use of the silent hand signal and the verbal cue without a hand signal. It’s ideal to have a dog who will respond to both independently!Some situations in which to practice:

  • at home
  • in the yard
  • on leash on the sidewalk
  • at the crosswalk
  • before getting into the car
  • before opening the front door
  • before giving a food toy
  • when you arrive home after an absence
  • before throwing the toy

Remember: “down” is a vulnerable position and dogs will often refuse to lie down if they are feeling vulnerable. Never force a dog to lie down.