Do you want to teach your dog to lay down and stay so that you can finally get some stuff done?
It’s not as hard as you might think!
I have this easy 7-step guide to help you master this trick with positive reinforcement.
Are you ready?
Then keep on reading.
Read this: Dog Clicker Training: Definitive Guide
7 Steps to Teach a Dog to Lay Down and Stay
If I have to be honest, teaching “lay down” is slightly harder than teaching a basic command like “sit.”
That’s because staying still is not in your pet’s nature.
However, “lay down” is a command that will come in handy in many situations when you need your dog to be quiet and calm while you take care of business.
In addition to this, it’s easier for your dog to relax in the “lay down” position than “sitting.”
So, let’s see how you can train your dog to lay down on command.
Before you start teaching your dog to lay down and stay, you have to do some preparations.
First, you have to choose your command words. “Down” works, of course.
However, it’s a word that you use whenever you want your dog to get off whatever furniture Rover has climbed onto.
So, you might choose “Lay down” or “Drop down” to avoid confusing your pooch.
In addition to this, you’re going to need a release word.
This word shows your dog that he is free to do as he pleases. For example, “Off you go,” “Go,” or “Free.”
Moreover, you need high-value treats to stimulate your dog to obey your commands.
These treats should be something your dogs get so excited that they will do anything to get them.
Need some tips on choosing the best command? Check out the video below!
#2 Pick a Time and Place
No matter what you’re teaching your dog, you have to pick up the perfect time and place.
Working with a dog when the pooch is tired, anxious, or in pain never yields good results.
Rover should be well-rested and in a good mood for learning.
In addition to this, you have to choose a place where your dog won’t be distracted by exciting smells and sights.
Otherwise, Rover won’t pay attention to your training. I recommend a room indoors away from the hustle and bustle of the house.
#3 Lure Your Dog into Position
Get your dog to sit. If your dog has not yet mastered his command, you should skip to the next step.
Once your dog is sitting, take a treat in hand and put it in front of your dog’s nose.
Your goal is to let Rover sniff the food and get him excited. Then lower your hand to the ground slowly. Aim for an angle between Rover’s paws.
Your pooch should follow the movement of your hands and end up lying on the floor. Here’s a video that illustrates what you want to happen:
Once Rover does it successfully, praise and reward him with the treat. Then you continue to practice for a few days.
When your dog is dropping successfully to the ground, you could lose the treat and make your dog go down only with the hand gesture.
#4 Capture The Behavior
Luring the dog to a down position is not always easy. However, you can also use a technique called “Capture the behavior.”
That means that you’re going to reward and praise your pooch enthusiastically whenever Rover lies down:
- Take your dog to the room you’ve chosen for the lesson.
- Let your dog roam the room while you pretend to do something else, for example, reading a book.
- At some point, Rover is going to lie down from boredom.
- When he does, you must toss him a treat immediately and praise him with a “YES!” Or use a clicker to mark the behavior.
- Then move your dog around the room a bit and repeat the same step.
Eventually, your pooch will figure out that lying down triggers rewards, and he will start doing it on purpose.
#5 Introduce The Command
Once you get the hang out of getting your dog to lay down, it’s time to introduce the command word. Say “Down” or “Get down” just before your dog drops to the floor.
If you’re luring the dog, the time to say the command will be before you move your hand down to the floor.
If you’re capturing the behavior, you must deliver the word a moment before your dog hits the floor.
Your goal is to make Rover associates the command word with the action and respond in anticipation of an award.
I’m not going to lie – it takes a lot of practice and patience.
That’s why you should use “down” as much as possible, not only during lessons but anywhere else in the house so that your pooch gets used to obeying it.
#6 Teach Your Dog to Stay
The goal of the lesson is not only to teach your dog to lay down on command but also to stay in that position. That’s the hard part because some dogs are energetic by nature and don’t like it when they stay still for very long.
Here’s where the release word will come into play. It shows Rover that the lesson is over and that he is free to move.
I mentioned some release words that you can use, but it’s up to you. Just make sure that it’s not something that often comes in a conversation.
So, how to teach a dog to stay in the down position? Well:
- Say “down” and wait for your dog to obey.
- Give Rover a treat and say, “stay.”
- Stop the rewards as soon as Rover gets up. That shows your dog that he will get treats as long as he stays down.
- Repeat these steps a couple of times as usual.
- Then get Rover down and wait a couple of seconds.
- If the dog is not moving, say your release word and encourage Rover to move.
- When he does, praise and reward.
- Keep practicing.
#7 Work On Duration and Distance
Once your dog is dropping on the floor on command and staying there (even for a few seconds), your job is almost done. All you have to do is build the duration and the distance.
First, you must have realistic expectations. A puppy is not going to stay down for more than 60 seconds, and even a well-trained dog will have problems staying still for hours on end.
Start increasing the “stay” by a couple of seconds and go slowly.
Then, you start working on the distance. Get your dog to lay down and move a couple of steps away.
Then return, release your pooch and reward him for a job well done.
After that, you’ll be increasing the distance slowly until you’re on the other half of the room without your dog breaking position.
And that’s the foundation of how you teach a dog to lay down and stay.
All that’s left to do is to proof your command against various distractions and test your dog’s obedience in the outside world.
Don’t be discouraged if your pooch fails, but keep practicing.