How to Teach a Dog to Lay

how to teach a dog to lay

There are multiple ways to teach a dog how to lay down. Although most people who are beginners will be more forceful with pushing the dog’s body into a laying position, we have better methods.

Another common error is using a leash to force the dog to the ground. The more advanced you become when training a dog on commands the less force you will use.

Teaching the Lay Command

Some people prefer to say down because it sounds too close to the stay command. I can guarantee you this doesn’t matter and whatever command word you want to use will be just fine.

If you feel like the similarities will confuse the dog, which it won’t, you can use down instead. Others use a combination of lay down and that works well.

Most of the time we are so routine with when and where we want them to lay it is a no brainer for the dog. But that’s not the only reason.

Body Language Teaches Dog to Lay

The reason you don’t have to worry about the verbal usage we prefer is because dogs will learn from your body movement. You will unconsciously do something every time you want them to lay.

Pointing to the ground for example this is something you won’t do when you ask them to do other commands like stay. When you tell a dog to stay you will most likely use you hand as a stop sign while teaching and point to the ground for the dog to lay down.

Once the dog learns through body language first, they will begin to understand by just verbal commands. When you tell the dog to lay down when you are laying down on the couch and they lay they understand how to lay down without body language.

Exercise to Help Dog Lay Down

The best way to teach a dog to lay down is to exercise them. Runs are going to be the best option and I like to use a bike to get the dog the extra mileage they need at a faster pace.

Once the dog is showing signs of exhaustion, they will be looking for food, water and a place to lay. At this point you will teach your dog to lay by telling him to do something he is already going to do.

You won’t have to worry about forcing the dog they will willingly want to lay down quickly. Using a leash, you can repeat this process and ask them to lay down to give the dog the proper repetitions.

Dog Pillow

Dog pillows are great additions to this type of training. A nice comfortable spot for you to teach the dog to lay down in the house in their favorite spot. Training good inside behavior while providing exercise is excellent.

You can use a blanket, kennel, crate or anything you use to train your dog. Make sure you leave the gate open when using a kennel and request the dog stay inside while laying down.


The more times you tell the dog to lay the more it will become easy to communicate. Let’s face it, when you don’t know how to train a dog the experience of doing it repeatedly is better for you than it is for the dog.

Remember if you need to take the dog for a run on the bike and a walk after getting them where they are listening and calm. Dogs will normally learn how to lay after two to three days of repetition.


Treats are good but I would caution everyone of one fact. You don’t need any treats to help the dog lay down repeatedly. Exercise is the only thing that can effortlessly get the dog to lay without resistance.

Adding treats sometimes is a great tool to use for the dog displaying good behavior. For example, if the dog lays down 5 times straight that is a great reason to give a treat.


Using praise is something a lot of dog owners and trainers like to overdue. Just like treats I like to save praise for the end of the repetition. If there is progression and improvement you should praise the dog.

You don’t have to praise at all or for sub-par performance. Using too much voice makes the dog too excited and can destroy the harmony you were building with exercise and commands training.

And at the same time, it is not wrong to do. Just understand praise will invite excitement when the session should end with the down laying down taking a nap not jumping all over the place.

Don’t Push to Dog Down

We went over this in the intro, but I would like to repeat it in the article don’t push the dog down. After teaching hundreds of dogs how to lay there really isn’t a dog that needs physical touch for this command.

If physical touch is of use, we can and will use it but when things can be done more effectively at a lower level it makes no sense. Teach the dog how to lay by getting them tired not by being lazy and forcing them to the ground.

Don’t Pull Dog on Leash

Probably the worst error you can make it to choke a dog to the ground. Doesn’t serve a purpose for you or the dog and it make command training a lower morale activity.

We want to keep the morale high while training and shaping the dog. Making these type of mistake should be something we should avoid in addition to the pushing of the body for compliance.

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