Teaching your puppy to lay down

Teaching your Japanese Spitz puppy to lie down on command is important as it is one of the control commands to help establish to your dog that you are in control and are dominant over him. This is also a useful position to have your dog in when you take your dog out with you, as when he is lying down, he cannot jump up onto the table, beg for food or chase other dogs which may also be in the same venue as you and your dog. If you plan to take your dog out to outdoor restaurants or cafes that allow dogs, a dog in the Down position at the table makes for a welcome guest.

Steps to teaching your puppy to lay down

  1. Start your dog in the sit position.
  2. Give the cue “down”, “drop” or “lay” (only one of these words)
  3. Hold a piece of your dog’s favourite treat between your thumb and first finger a couple of centimetres in front of your dog’s nose so they know it’s there and can smell it.
  4. Slowly move the treat straight down to the floor so it is touching the ground between your dog’s legs but hold the treat with your fingers.
  5. Your dog will follow the treat with his head and will bend his neck until he needs to bring his head down to continue to follow the treat to the floor.
  6. Draw the treat away from him along the floor in a straight line.
  7. Repeat the cue that you used earlier.
  8. When he brings his legs out in front of him and his belly touches the floor, give him the treat and heap on the praise.
  9. Repeat the process for the next 5 to 10 minutes and end the training session there.
  10. Try to practice this new command for at least 5 minutes per day for the next 2 weeks to make sure that your dog remembers this command. Your dog will also associate the hand signal of your thumb and first finger brought together and pointing to the floor as the signal for “down”.
  11. It may be helpful to use the word “drop” rather than “down” to avoid confusing your dog between down on the floor and saying down when your dog jumps up on you.

Some helpful tips:

If your dog has trouble laying down when you draw the food out along the ground in front of him, you can try to place a collar and lead on your dog and gently encourage him to lie down that way. Another technique you can try is to sit on the ground in front of your dog with your legs bent across the front of your dog at a 90 degree angle, so when you draw the treat along the ground your dog must go under your knees to get the treat.

A good way to keep up your dog’s skills with all their commands is to make them sit, stay, lie down etc before every meal, before and after every play session, and pretty much anytime they want to do something fun for them. This will help to reinforce the concept that they must first listen to what you want from them and give it to you, for them to do what they want.

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