How to train your dog to “lie down” using Victoria Stilwell approach?

Lukas lie down enjoying the stick

Lukas lying down enjoying the stick

The lie down cue is important for those situations where you want your dog to be in an area quite still, such as in a cafeteria, inside public transports, in any place you wish him to settle or just when you need to check him up (his fur, paws, mouth, etc). This post is about the training of the lie down cue to our rescued dog with 11 months from Romania, using Victoria Stilwell positively approach. In this post you can see three videos of us training our dog as an example. But first you can see a video of Victoria Stilwell training the lie down cue for ehow pets.

To our understanding there are several stages to do this training as with any other training. The stages are important so that you give enough time for your dog to create the right association with the verbal cue and the hand gesture. Otherwise, there can be confusion and more difficulty achieving the desired results of the training. Be patient and always end the training in a positive way with your dog.

Stage 1

  • have a piece of treat in your hand and place your hand on the floor
  • your dog will eventually come and lick your hand. He will try to take the treat out of your hand
  • try to keep the treat still on the floor
  • hopefully at some point your dog will lie down, when he does so reward him with the treat and verbally introduce the lie down cue
  • you are most likely in a low position near the floor
  • if your dog does not lie down, you can try to have him sit first and work it from there
  • be patient 🙂

See below a video of us training Stage 1. You can actually see that it was not easy to have our dog lie down from the beginning.

Stage 2

  • after several trainings of the stage 1
  • now start saying the cue lie down first and reward only when the dogs does so
  • remember to use the hand gesture movement at the same time as the verbal cue
  • you might still be in a lower position near the floor
  • gradually try now to stand on your knees when you ask your dog to lie down

Below a video of us training Stage 2.

Stage 3

  • after several trainings of the stage 2
  • now try to stand in different positions (standing up, sited, etc) when you ask your dog to lie down using verbal and gestural cue
  • it might be that you do not need at this point to touch the floor with your hand anymore
  • reward accordingly
  • try now to lie down your dog and ask him to remain in that position by adding the stay cue 
  • reward when your dog as stayed in the lie down position from several seconds to several minutes
  • be patient and enjoy the training with great fun in the end of each session 😀
  • train now outside of home and in any situation for consolidation

Below a video of us training Stage 3.


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