Training A Puppy To 'Lie Down'

This article on training a puppy to lie down will help you towards having an obedient little Cocker puppy. One who does exactly what you ask of him, when you ask. Read on to learn how to teach your puppy the 'down' command.

How To Teach Your Puppy To 'Lie Down'

All puppies and dogs are different and have different ways of learning.

Golden cocker spaniel puppy lying down on the grass, in training.Training a puppy to lie down is simple!

Not all of them get it right first time, and some are a little slow to understand what we want from them.

That's why I've given 3 different ways of training your puppy to lie down.

If the first one doesn't work for you and your Cocker, you'll find another two options to try below.

However, I'm confident your puppy will get it right first time.

Option 1: Teaching Your Puppy To Lie 'Down' On Command

  • Call your puppy and get him to sit in front of you.

  • Take a treat and hold it between your fingers. Let your puppy sniff the treat, but don't give it to him yet.

  • Slowly move your hand away from his nose, down towards the floor and between his paws.

    When your hand reaches the floor, move it back a little, towards you. Your hand movement should be fluid and resemble an 'L' shape.
  • Your puppy will lower his head to follow the treat. As his head nears the floor, his body will automatically follow until he is in a lying-down position.

  • Don't move the treat too far away from him, otherwise he may try to stand in order to reach it. Similarly, if you don't move far enough away, he may not be able to lie down properly because your hand will be in the way.

  • As your puppy moves into the down position, quickly say the command word, 'Down', then praise him with the words, 'Down, Good boy down', and give him a treat.

If your Cocker Spaniel doesn't get it right, don't worry; simply go back to the beginning and try again. Repeat as often as necessary until your puppy gets it right.

If he seems to be having some difficulty with this command, try the alternative techniques, option 2 or 3 below.


"To watch someone training a Cocker Spaniel puppy,
and to see the him respond positively,
can be an amazing and truly rewarding sight"


Option 2: Training A Puppy To Lie 'Down' On Command

This exercise works well if your puppy kept sticking his bum up in the air while his nose was sniffing the treat on the floor! 

  • Have your puppy sit on the floor. Sit in front of him, but turn sideways. Bend your legs at the knees and put your feet flat on the floor, about 60 cm away from your bottom.

    Your puppy should be facing the outside of your left knee.

  • Pick up a treat and hold it between the fingers of your right hand.

  • Thread your right hand under your knees and up towards your puppy's nose and let him sniff the treat. As he moves towards it, lower your hand to the floor and slowly bring your arm back through your legs. 

    Your fingers holding the treat should now be on the floor at the other side of the triangle of your bent legs, which should help to 'tease' your Cocker through.

  • When he follows the treat, he will probably have to lower himself quite close to the floor to get through your legs. This will force him naturally into a down position. As his tummy touches the floor, say the command word, 'Down', then praise him with the words, 'Down, good boy down', and give him a treat.

If your puppy's tummy doesn't touch the floor when going through your knees, you may have to lower your legs slightly to encourage him to drop down further.

Option 3: Training A Puppy To Lie 'Down' On Command

Put a treat on the floor about 30 cm in front of your puppy. Place your hand, palm down, over the treat.

Your puppy will try to sniff it and may try to get at it; don't let him have it.

Black cocker spaniel being trained to lie down on command
  • Don't say anything to him; don't give him any commands. While he's trying to work out how he's going to get the treat from underneath your hand, he may well lie down on the floor. As soon as he's fully down, give your puppy the treat and praise him.

  • Repeat this exercise several times each day until he's mastered the 'Down' command.

As your Cocker's training progresses, begin to remove the treats from every other session. Offering him a treat every time he gets it right will teach him to follow commands only when food is offered. Instead of treats, reward your puppy with extra praise and lots of cuddles!

The Next Step...

When you feel your puppy has mastered the 'down' command, the next step is to use the vocal command on its own. After all, you won't always be able to sit down and raise your knees each time, will you?

If he doesn't get it, stand in front of him and show him that you have a treat in your hand. The treat might trigger a reaction from him.

Give him lots of enthusiastic praise, and eventually you should be able to remove the treat.

Note: If that doesn't work, go back to Option 1 and try again. He may now understand what you want from him and you'll be able to use that visual command instead.

Training A Puppy: Summary

If your puppy doesn't get it right first time don't get angry or upset. 

Instead, take a break. Lighten up and play with him for a while. You can always try again later.

Last, but not least, training a puppy takes time, patience, and understanding. Be kind to your puppy (as if you'd be anything other than kind!) and help him to get it right.

Happy training!

Your Puppy's Next Obedience Training

Once your puppy is able to lie down the minute you ask him, you might want to progress to the next command.

The 'Down and Stay' is a command I think you'll find you use quite often.

I know I do!

Discover more puppy obedience training here.


» » Training A Puppy to 'Lie Down'

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