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So we just taught the sit command and now we will teach your lab puppy to lay down. Most people will think that since you got the sit command without much problem that “lay down” will be a breeze when in fact , this is actually one of the hardest commands of basic training. People think that since you got the sit command that the lay down or down command will be super easy. This will be true in super submissive dogs but any pup with any alpha male genes in it, this will not be the  case since the lay down position is a submissive state. But like anything, we remain calm, assertive and diligent, we will teach your lab puppy to lay down in no time flat…is that a pun?!?

A Labrador puppy laying down on a leash.

Needed training tools:

  • A closed in space – A living room, basement, fenced in backyard. The smaller the space the less distractions that are likely to interfere.
  • Reward Treats – Younger puppies will eat anything so their dry kibble is enoough to entice them. Just be sure that whatever you give them in training is subtracted from their daily portions as labs are known to put on a few uneeded pounds in their lifetime. A simple choice for treats that you can make at home are dehydrated sweet potato fries…then you can snack as well!
  • Reward Toy – If you care to focus on their affixation to that favorite toy then you would want to use it here. A quick note here that a smaller toy would work better but at the same time, you can not choose what your puppy desires.
  • Collar/Leash – As these are no needed in your living room or basement, your puppy has to learn to lay down on the leash also so why not kill two birds with one stone.
  • Poop Bags – Of course if your at the park or in the back yard these are a given necessity.


Just before we get into this, there are two ways to go about this. You can train the “down command” from a standing point or you can go from standing position to the “sit” position to finally ending on the “down command”. It’s really a personal preference I guess but I always train down through “sit” to “lay down”. I have found it to create a more disciplined training structure and they go through that motion anyways. So I will list the steps here going through “sit” and if you care to train straight to “lay down”, simply omit the “sit” step.

Lab puppy laying with it's plush toy friend.
  1. Take your selected reward that you are using and put your puppy into the “sit position”. Your puppy should be looking up at you still and your hand should be above their snout.
  2. Now lower your hand down to the floor so that their head now comes down to investigate your hand. 
  3. As they lower their head down, give the “lay down” or “down command” and pull your hand along the ground to make their posture walk out into the “lay down position”.
  4. Offer the reward, with positive reinforcement. I tend to use “Good laydown!” I always use good in front of the approved command.
  5. Offer some quick affection to celebrate the successful attempt and then repeat right away. I try this in 3 sets of 3 reps. I would also not recommend trying to build off this trick yet, even if it happens naturally. If it does happen naturally, let it go, it’s your puppy being a puppy. Wait for your pup to mature more before going to more advance tricks, right now our focus is on the basics first.
A Labrador Retriever laying down in class with crossed legs.

Now if your having problems like your puppy pawing at your hand, jumping forward or leaping back up simply remove your hand and start again from the start not half way in between. So we now have 3 of 5 basic training commands complete, “come”, “sit” and “down”. Next we will come to the hardest of all 5 in my opinion but the most satisfying of them all, the “stay command”. 

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