How Can I Teach My Dachshund to Lie Down?

Dachshund lying down
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Q. My Dachshund is so long-bodied that it’s almost impossible to get her into a down and to get her to stay for long in the lying position. How can I teach her to lie down on command and stay there without popping back up right away?

A. Your plight is not uncommon; I've noticed in my training classes that it can be a challenge to get longer-bodied dogs, such as Dachshunds and Corgis, to lie down and stay there. These breeds are intelligent — and thus able to learn to follow commands — but their body structure makes the down position challenging for several reasons.

Long-bodied dogs are so low to the ground that it’s often difficult to discern whether they are lying down or standing. Unlike dogs with longer legs, their short legs make it a challenge to reward small movements (which can be hard to see) when luring them into a down. Their longer bodies also make it harder for these dogs to slide into a down when the lure is pushed behind their front paws. Finally, long-bodied breeds are so low to the ground that it’s easy for them to pop back into a stand, often without their pet parents noticing that they’ve gotten up again. 

Use a Clicker to Teach a Down

There are various ways to teach your long-bodied dog to lie down, but luring her into a down is not always the best method. One of my favorite ways to teach these dogs to lie down is through clicker training, which relies on “capturing” the behavior, or waiting for it to occur naturally and rewarding it immediately. 

1. Put your dog in a situation where she is likely to lie down. The more comfortable the environment, the more likely your dog will be to relax and lie down. Since it’s difficult to tell when a longer-bodied dog is lying down, it helps to get down closer to her leg level, either by sitting with her on a couch or bed, or getting down to her level on the floor. Softer areas, such as carpeting, mats or grass, work better than cooler, harder surfaces, such as tile or wood, which are less inviting to lie down on (for both you and your dog).

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