Top 5 reasons to teach your dog to lie down

In all our courses, we teach dogs to sit and lie down. For some breeds, learning to lie down with a hand signal can be challenging and their owners ask if it is necessary for the dog to learn this skill.

Here are some good reasons to persevere with teaching your dog to a “lie down” on cue.

1. Comfortable, duration behaviour

An informal “drop” or “down” is the position in which dogs naturally sleep, so it is a comfortable position that dogs can hold for long periods of time.

Teaching your dog to lie down with a hand signal and / or a verbal cue can be used when you take your dog visiting friends, to the local coffee shop or in the vet waiting room.

When combined with teaching the dog to staying on a mat, a comfortable drop position is a very useful behaviour to use for all manner of “problematic” household behaviours. Use the drop on a mat as an alternative to your dog doing the following at home:

  • counter surfing
  • begging at the table while you are eating
  • jumping on guests when they visit
  • escaping out the front door
  • running through the house with dirty feet
  • waiting beside the car while you unload

2. More stable than sit

A reliable drop or down position is more stable than a sit. In a sit position, dogs can easily “spring up” into a stand while physiologically most dogs they are slower to get up into a stand from a drop.

Further, in a sit, dogs are typically more alert and ready to move than when they are in a drop. Through the placement and delivery of your reward you can condition the dog to have a relaxed, calm state of mind in the drop position, so you are building the stability of the position.

A stable, calm drop position is very useful in higher risk situations like unloading the dog from the car near a busy road. Likewise, in high excitement situations, like when guests visit, a drop can be a useful position for your dog.

3. Differentiate from “sit” and “stand”

Teaching a drop verbal cue and hand signal helps the dog differentiate the three positions – sit, stand and drop. We can “test” our dogs’ understanding of the 3 positions, by giving a verbal and hand signal for sit, drop and stand in different sequences. Having three (3) possible options of behaviours encourages the dog to focus on our cues and respond accordingly.

4. Grooming

Especially for larger breed dogs or wriggly dogs, a stable, confident drop is useful for grooming and maintenance activities. Toenail trimming and ear cleaning is easy if the dog is lying down on the ground or a station (like the lounge or grooming table). The dog is less likely to move from the position and you are able to easily move around them without manhandling them to hold them in position.

For extra stability, you could teach your dog a chin rest or nose target which could be combined with the drop.

5. Trick training

Finally, a drop is the beginning of a number of fun (and useful) tricks. The “crawl” trick requires the dog to start in a drop position and hold that position as they “crawl” forward. This trick is fun and a great body conditioning exercise for dogs.

The “rollover” trick also requires a drop as the starting position.

Teamwork Dogs offers pet dog training for dogs aged from 10 weeks. We train at Taigum on Saturday mornings and Caboolture on Sunday mornings. Our aim is to help you train a great family pet.

Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay