Perfect Puppy Training Book – Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 4)
Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 4)
Lying down is a great behavior to teach your puppy. If she’s going to grow up to be a large dog, she won’t be as intimidating to some people if she’s lying down. It’s also a convenient position in which to trim your puppy’s nails. Let’s cover the basics to teaching her the lay down command:
- Have a treat in your hand. Give the cue “
, sit.” Don’t forget to use your hand signal. Mark “Yes!” when she sits.
- Put the treat in front of your puppy’s nose. Give the cue “
, down.” (Use a friendly voice!) Move the treat down her chest. Go very, very slowly. Only go as fast as her nose follows. If you’re holding the treat on the floor, and she’s looking up at your face, you’ve lost her. Try again.
- When her head follows the treat down to the floor, slowly move the treat along the floor outward and away from her. She should lie down to get the treat. You’re also teaching her a hand signal at the same time.
- When she lies down, mark “Yes!” and give her the treat. Remember, this could take a fair amount of attempt to get right. Don’t get frustrated! Keep your training sessions short so neither you or the puppy gets frustrated.
- Praise her for a few seconds in a soft voice. If you’re too enthusiastic, she may be encouraged to get up. It also may not be a good idea to pet your puppy during this exercise. Some puppies get too excited when you pet them, and they pop right up. If your puppy is one of them, save the petting for later and just use a friendly voice to reward her for lying down nicely.
- Release her with “Okay!”
- What if your puppy follows the treat, but her rear pops up? Instead of moving the treat along the floor, away from her, try moving it inward, in between her front paws. Go really, really slowly. Some puppies prefer to “fold” into a down position. If you’re still having trouble, exercise your puppy so that she’s good and tired, then try the training again. She may be more likely to lie down if she’s not bouncing with energy.
- When your puppy starts lying down for a few seconds, it’s time to train her to lie down for longer periods. It’s also time to stop using a treat as a lure to get her to lie down. You will still give her a treat to reward her for performing the cue.
- Have some treats ready in one hand. Give the cue “
, sit.” Use your hand signal. Mark “Yes!” when she sits.
- Give the cue “
, down.” With an empty hand, start at her nose, go down her chest, and move your hand along the floor, away from her (or toward her if that’s her preference) until she lies down. When she lies down, mark “Yes!” Take a treat from your other hand and give it to her. While she’s chewing, stand up quickly. Your goal is to have her stay lying down while you stand up.
- Watch your puppy closely. She’ll tell you if she’s going to get up. Is she fidgety? Is she looking away from you? Is she starting to sniff the ground? These are all signs that she’s growing bored or getting distracted. If you see them, take action quickly. Before she moves, mark “Yes!” and give her another treat. This will teach her that she gets rewarded the longer she lies down.
- Repeat this process a few times and then release with “Okay!”
- Gradually work up to longer times.
Troubleshooting: What if your puppy gets up before you give the release cue? Don’t tell her “Down” again, and don’t tell her “No!.” Instead, lure her back into position and don’t wait so long between rewards. She may need more feedback to understand what you want.
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