August 17, 2017

After teaching your puppy the “Sit” command, the next logical step in the training sequence is to teach him the “Lie down” command. Do not try to teach your puppy this command until he has mastered the “Sit” command and responds appropriately each time. You will find the step-by-step process for teaching the “Lie down” command below.

Step-By-Step Process

In the same way you did when teaching the “Sit” command, you will need a handful of small treats to reward your puppy while teaching him the “Lie down” command.

  1. Start by kneeling in front of your puppy so you are at eye level with him.
  2. Hold a treat in your dominant hand, pinching it between your thumb and forefinger and place it in front of your puppy’s nose.
  3. Give your puppy the “Sit” command then wait for him to respond appropriately.
  4. When your puppy sits, praise him but do not offer the food reward.
  5. Give your puppy the “Lie down” or “Down” command and immediately move your hand downward, holding the treat on the floor between your puppy’s paws.
  6. Your puppy’s natural reaction should be to lie down to get the treat – if he does, praise him and offer him the treat as a reward.
  7. Repeat this sequence several times until your puppy starts to get the hang of it and recognizes the “Lie down” command.
  8. If your puppy stands up rather than lying down to get the food reward, simply return to the starting position and go through the whole sequence again beginning with the “Sit” command.

Just as you did when training your puppy to respond to the “Sit” command, repeat this sequence as many as 15 to 20 times in one training session and complete two to three training sessions each day. Keep your training sessions short and sweet so your puppy doesn’t get bored.

Introducing Hand Signals

To take your puppy’s training one step further, you can start to phase out the food rewards and introduce hand signals. Follow the sequence below to introduce hand signals for the “Sit” and “Lie down” commands:

  1. Choose a hand signal to accompany the “Sit” command – it should be simply and easily recognizable, like a closed fist.
  2. Kneel in front of your puppy with a few treats in your pocket, not in your hand.
  3. With your dominant hand, make the hand signal and give your puppy the “Sit” command.
  4. Use your hand to guide your puppy to sit in the same way you did when you were holding a treat – move your closed fist forward toward the back of your puppy’s head.
  5. When your puppy’s rump hits the floor, praise and reward him.
  6. Repeat this sequence several times until your puppy begins to respond consistently then start using the hand signal alone without the verbal command.
  7. Continue to praise and reward your puppy for responding appropriately until you have completely 15 to 20 repetitions of the sequence.

Once your puppy consistently responds to the hand signal for “Sit,” you can begin to train him to respond to a signal for “Lie down” as well. Choose a simple signal that your puppy can easily distinguish from the “Sit” signal – holding your hand flat and moving it downward is a good choice. Follow the sequence below to introduce the hand signal for the “Lie down” command:

  1. Kneel in front of your puppy with a few treats in your pocket, not in your hand.
  2. With your dominant hand, make the hand signal for the “Sit” command and wait for your puppy to respond correctly.
  3. If your puppy sits down in response to the command, praise him but do not offer him the treat yet.
  4. Pinch your fingers together as if you were holding a treat and hold your hand in front of your puppy’s nose.
  5. Give the “Lie down” or “down” command and move your hand down to the floor between your puppy’s paws.
  6. If your puppy lies down, praise him and offer him a treat from your pocket.
  7. After a few repetitions, start to hold your hand out flat rather than pinching your fingers – repeat this sequence several times, giving your puppy food rewards when he responds correctly.
  8. Once your puppy responds consistently, start to give the hand signal for the “Lie down” command without the verbal command.
  9. If your puppy responds appropriate, praise him and offer him a treat from your pocket – repeat this sequence several times.
  10. After a few repetitions, start to minimize your hand motion – rather than moving your hand all the way to the floor, move it only halfway.
  11. Repeat this until your puppy responds consistently then minimize the motion again, moving your hand downward only about 12 inches.
  12. After a few more repetitions, alter the movement so you are only moving your hand down a few inches.

Remember, it is important to be as consistent as possible when training your puppy so he learns to associate each command with the proper action. Just as you did when teaching the “Sit” command, you can start to phase out food rewards, offering a few seconds of belly rub or a minute of play time with a favored toy instead.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a freelance writer and a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine, Dog News. She is the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com award-winner for 2013. Additionally, Carlotta is the author of Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Health and Happy, as well as other books about pets. She is a guest writer for numerous website and blogs and a frequent pet food reviewer.

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