How to Teach a Dog to Play Dead

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Teaching your dog a new trick can be a fun way to play with him and a different way to show off to your friends. One such cute trick is "bang" or "play dead." However, this trick can be useful as well. If your active dog begs for attention, this can be a great way to teach your dog that settling down can get him attention, even if that's not the goal of the trick.

Teaching Down from Sit

  • To teach play dead, your dog must be able to lie down. There are two ways to do this: One is to teach it from a sit. From a sit, move a treat directly below your dog's nose to the ground slowly. Then, pull the treat toward you until your dog drops into the down. This may take a few tries as she tries to figure it out. Try to resist the urge to push her. Just be patient and praise. After four to five repetitions, use the hand signal without the treat. Just make sure to do the same thing with your hand with or without the treat. Reward from your pocket.

Teaching Down from a Stand

  • The other way is to teach the down from a stand. In this case, move the food lure underneath your dog's chest, between his front legs, toward his back legs. Lure at an angle toward the ground until your dog drops into the down position. This can be a faster way to get down. Let your dog dictate which method works best. Especially in big dogs, one way may be more comfortable than the other.

Teach Play Dead

  • When your dog is in the down position, use the treat lure to get your dog to lie on her side. Start by using the lure to get her to turn her head toward her back shoulder. Reward. Gradually use the lure to get her to turn a little farther until she can go all the way to her side. Practice until she immediately drops to her side. Add the hand signal of "shooting a gun" while you say "bang." Follow that with the treat lure. Practice until your dog will drop to the side position without the treat lure.

Use a Clicker

  • You also can introduce this trick via clicker training by clicking when your dog offers you the desired behaviors. First, click and follow with a treat so your dog gets excited to hear the click. Start rewarding when your dog lies down and lies on his side. You also can use a lure to encourage these behaviors, as in step three.

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