Teaching Your Dog to 'Sit' and 'Lie Down': A Step-by-Step Guide

Teaching Your Dog to 'Sit' and 'Lie Down': A Step-by-Step Guide
Teaching Your Dog to 'Sit' and 'Lie Down': A Step-by-Step Guide

Training your dog to follow basic obedience commands like 'sit' and 'lie down' is not only essential for their discipline, safety and well-being, but it is also a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. These commands are the foundation of dog training and are relatively easy to teach. This blog will provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you teach your dog these fundamental behaviours.

Understanding Your Dog's Learning Process:

Before diving into the training process, it’s important to understand how dogs learn. Below are a few basic dog training tips to follow:

  • Short Training Sessions: keep sessions around 5-10 minutes to maintain your dog’s attention. This will be much more effective than one longer session.
  • Quiet, Distraction-Free Area: get the basics down in a place where your dog can focus without any interruptions. Add distractions later so your dog can get used to different environments.
  • Positive Reinforcement: training should always involve praise and rewards to encourage the desired behaviour. We recommend using high-value treats that your dog loves but doesn’t get often.
  • Patience and Calmness: only train your dog when you’re in a good mood to create a stress-free learning environment. Dogs are highly sensitive to human emotions, so they will be able to detect when you’re stressed or grumpy.
  • End on a Positive Note: finish each training session with an exercise you know your dog can do to keep the experience positive.

How to Teach your Dog to 'Sit'

The 'sit' command is a great place to start with your dog training. It’s incredibly useful for several reasons, for example, a dog that can sit on command is often calmer and better behaved around other dogs and people. Plus, it’s a lifesaver in potentially dangerous situations, such as crossing the road, as it can keep your dog stationery and safe.

Here are 6 easy steps you can follow to teach your dog to sit:

Step 1: Get Your Dog’s Attention

With your dog in the standing position, show them a tasty treat to capture their focus, holding it close to their nose.

Step 2: Introduce the Cue

Say the word “sit” clearly as you perform the next step. Consistency with this cue is key – be careful not to say it before your dog sits or they may associate it with the wrong movement.

Step 3: Use a Treat to Guide Your Dog

Slowly move the treat above your dog’s head towards their tail. This action will naturally cause them to look up and back, lowering their bottom to the ground.

Step 4: Timing the Reward

The moment your dog’s bottom touches the ground, praise them and give them the treat. It is crucial to reward immediately to help your dog associate sitting with the treat.

Step 5: Repeat the Process

Practice this sequence multiple times in short sessions, gradually increasing the time your dog remains sitting before receiving the treat, and decreasing the number of treats. Continue using verbal cue and praise.

How to Teach your Dog to 'Lie Down'

Once your dog has mastered the 'sit' command, it is time to train them to 'lie down'. This is another basic dog command that is especially useful in calming a dog during overexcited moments both in and out of the house. Additionally, mastering this command lays the groundwork for more advanced training and can significantly improve your dog’s social interactions.

To train your dog to 'lie down', follow the steps below:

Step 1: Start with Your Dog Sitting

Begin with your dog in the sitting position. This makes it easier to transition them into lying down.

Step 2: Introduce the Cue

As you perform the next steps, clearly say “lie down”. Consistency in your verbal cues is essential.

Step 3: Use a Treat to Guide Your Dog

Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose, then slowly lower it straight down to the ground between their paws. Your dog’s head should follow the treat.

Step 4: Guide Your Dog into Position

Slowly move the treat away from your dog along the ground, encouraging them to stretch out to follow it. Most dogs will naturally lie down in this position.

Step 5: Timing the Reward

The moment your dog lies down, immediately give them a treat and praise them. This helps them associate the action with a positive reward.

Step 6: Repeat the Process

Practice this sequence several times in short, regular sessions. Repetition and consistency are key to learning.

Step 7: Reduce the Treat Lure

As your dog begins to understand the command, start to reduce the use of treats. Continue to use the verbal command and praise them each time they lie down.


With both the 'sit' and 'lie down' commands, practice and patience is key. Some dogs may pick up the command quickly, while others might take a bit more time and practice. Celebrate each small success and maintain a positive, encouraging attitude throughout. With practice and patience, your dog will be sitting and lying down on command like a champ!