Teaching A Dog To Play Dead

You’ve seen videos of people teaching their dog to play dead on YouTube. You may have even been inspired to try it out yourself — but it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. It’s a difficult command to teach, so you can’t put all the blame on yourself. Don’t worry, I’ll give you some tips so your pooch won’t forget how to play dead while training.

Dogs are undoubtedly one of the best companions a person could have. Aside from making our lives more fun, we also get to enjoy dog training moments that would leave anyone laughing for days. Below is a guide on how you can help your furry friend learn to play dead — which is truly one of the funniest things a dog can do.

Teaching a dog to play dead is a good way to help them relax. It’s also a fun way for you and your dog to bond and have some fun together.

To teach your dog to play dead, you’ll need:

A few treats, preferably something really tasty like chicken or liver

A clicker (if you don’t have one, don’t worry! You can just use your voice)

Step 1: Start by sitting down on the floor with your dog standing in front of you. Hold out a treat in front of his nose and say “sit.” As soon as he sits down, click the clicker or say “good boy” and give him the treat. Repeat this step several times until he learns what “sit” means.

Step 2: Now we’re going to work on getting him to lie down by sitting instead of standing up straight like he usually does when he hears “sit.” Hold out another treat between your thumb and forefinger so that he has to lower his head in order to reach it (you can hold it higher if he’s having trouble). Once again, say “sit,” wait for him to sit down, then click/say “good boy

Teaching a dog to play dead is a fun and easy way to keep your dog entertained. It’s not difficult, but it does require some patience and repetition.

Begin by having the dog sit in front of you. Then, place your hand on top of the dog’s head and gently press down until he lies down on his side. Once he’s lying down, give him a treat and praise him for doing what he’s supposed to do. Repeat this process 20 times over the course of two weeks, and then begin to add in new elements to keep things interesting. For example, instead of just pressing down on his head, try putting pressure on one side of his body at a time or gently pushing him over onto his back. After two weeks have passed, he should be able to perform this trick without any additional help from you!

Teaching A Dog To Play Dead

Playing dead is a great dog trick. While it’s not as important as teaching your dog to obey commands like “sit” and “stay,” it can be a fun game for both the dog and its audience. If sure your dog knows the “lie down” command, then playing dead should be easy.

All you need is a handful of tasty treats, and you are ready to start training your dog to play dead. This is a great trick to teach by clicker training route, be sure to have your clicker handy.

How to Train Your Dog to Play Dead

4 Steps to Teach Your Dog to Play Dead

  1. Start in a Down Position: Command your dog to lie down. (If your dog doesn’t lie down on command yet, go back and master that before you begin training it to play dead.)
  2. Offer a Treat: Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose, and slowly pull it over to its side so it will have to roll onto its side to get it. This step is a lot like teaching your dog to ​roll over. If your dog already knows this trick, then it’s ahead of the game.
  3. Reward Listening: As soon as your dog is lying on its side, say “yes” or “good.” Or, click your clicker. Then, give the dog a treat. Repeat these steps several times.
  4. Add a Signal: After your dog completes the roll a few times, add a cue word and a hand signal. Most people choose to use the verbal command “bang” along with a hand signal command, holding their fingers to look like a gun pointing at the dog. Others ask a funny question like, “Would you rather be a cat, or be dead?” Whatever command you choose, say the phrase, show the dog your hand signal, then offer the treat on the floor beside the dog. Eventually, you will stop placing the treat on the floor and reward the dog after it “revives” instead.
Starting in the down position
The Spruce
Offering a treat
a woman teaching an Australian shepherd to play dead


If your dog jumps up from playing dead more quickly than you want it to, you can train it to lie there longer. Instead of giving the dog a treat as soon as it lies on its side, wait a few seconds, and then give the treat. Practice this a few times, adding a few more seconds each time. Some dogs will lie still and play dead for several minutes!

Problems and Proofing Behavior

If your dog already knows how to roll over, its natural inclination might be to go all the way over when you start to lure it to its side. This is a great time to get your clicker out to capture the exact behavior you want.

  • Lure your dog onto its side with a treat, click your clicker immediately and give the dog a treat. If it tries to keep rolling over, step away for a minute. When your dog realizes that the treat disappears when it rolls completely over, it will stop.

If you are having trouble getting your dog to follow the treat so that it ends up lying on its side, you can help by physically moving the dog.

  • Gently push the dog over onto its side. As soon as the dog is in the correct position, click your clicker (or tell him “yes” or “good”) and offer a treat.

If at any point in the training your dog makes more than two or three mistakes in a row, you may be moving ahead too quickly. Go back a step or two and practice. When the dog is repeatedly successful at the earlier step, begin the next step.

Remember to be patient and consistent. Each dog is unique and learns at a different pace. Keep training sessions upbeat and stop training if your dog seems frustrated, tired, or bored. Always try to end sessions on a positive and successful note, even if that means switching to a simpler action like “sit” or “down” as the last thing you do.

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