How To Train A Boxer To Lay Down

To lie down or “drop” is one of the core basic commands to teach your Boxer and should take no time at all.

The easiest and most effective way to train a Boxer to lay down is to use treats and a luring method.

This is preferable to trying to physically put your Boxer into the down position, which is much less enjoyable for you both — and doesn’t tend to work for Boxers, as a breed.

Before You Start Training Your Boxer To “Drop”

First of all, decide what word you are going to use for this command.

Most people choose between “drop” or “down”.

Use whichever comes most naturally to you and stick with it. To avoid confusion, make sure everyone who interacts with the dog uses the same command.

The usual progression is to learn “Sit” first and then “Down”, as it tends to be easiest to teach a dog to lay down from sitting.

(Some Boxers, though, go down into a lying position almost more naturally than to a sit.)

It can be a good idea to pair the command with a hand action, to reinforce the instruction.

A good motion for “Drop” is to hold your hand out flat, palm facing downwards, and push it towards the ground.

Equipment You Need To Teach A Boxer To “Lie Down”

As when teaching anything to your Boxer it’s a good idea to have:

  • A treat pouch
  • High value treats
  • A clicker

For certain parts of this training you may want to have your dog on leash using a front-attaching harness.


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A treat pouch like the Navaris Silicone Dog Treat Pouch that attaches to your waistband allows you to have treats at the ready while keeping your hands free to interact with your dog.

(Made of silicone this pouch also copes well with raw meat and comes clean easily.)

Fill the treat pouch with healthy but “high value” treats that your dog regards as super desirable and — this is the important thing — that he’s willing to work for.

This may something like small chunks of raw beef or slices cut from whole raw sardines (nice and smelly to create maximum motivation in your dog).

A clicker like the OYEFLY Clicker also comes in handy for training a Boxer.

The basic principle is to click when the dog performs the desired action and then treat.

The click is a consistent sound, without the variations that creep in to the human voice, and it cuts through the background noise.

Alternatively you can use a “clicker word” like “Yes!” to mark the moment, but a clicker is worth using.

You can wear it around your wrist so it’s always there.

How To Teach Your Boxer To Lie Down From Sit

Do this in the living room or another familiar, low distraction environment where your Boxer finds it easy to give you his attention.

Here are the basic steps for teaching “drop” or “down”:

  1. Start with your Boxer in a “Sit” position.
  2. Have a treat in your closed hand and let your Boxer have a smell so he knows it’s there.
  3. Bring your hand down to the ground in front of your Boxer. His nose will follow and he’ll naturally come into the “Down” position in an effort to get at the treat.
  4. As your dog lies down, say the word “Drop/Down”, so that he begins to match the position with the command.
  5. When he is fully laid down, give him the treat and praise.

If your pup isn’t getting it, you can try giving him a bit more help by:

  • Pushing the treat back towards your pup’s body as well as in a downward direction. This usually causes your pup to inch back and slide down into the correct position.
  • Having your pup leashed with a front attaching harness and giving a slight, gentle tug downwards to encourage movement in the right direction.
  • If you’ve tried everything else, you can gently lift up both of your pup’s front paws and place them on the ground to really show him what down is.

Remember it’s always better to lure or encourage your pup to get himself into the position rather than physically put him there yourself.

Boxers in particular don’t respond well to being forcibly made to do things and this can cause them to resist or, if it ceases to become fun, to shut down.

Fun and rewards are the way to a Boxer’s heart.

Training should feel like a game.

As with all training, keep sessions short.

Better to do very short sessions of two to five minutes frequently throughout the day than one long session, which is likely to exceed your pup’s attention span and become stressful, which is counterproductive.

Boxer puppy lying down in a relaxed position.
Boxer puppy in a relaxed “down” position, rolled onto one hip.

Sphinx Position Vs. Relaxed Lying Down

Your Boxer might initially drop into the sphinx position, facing forward with symmetrical hindquarters and both paws out straight in front (more or less like the dog in the picture at the top of this article).

You might like to encourage him to shift to the side so that he’s lying more on one hip, like the puppy above.

The benefit of the more relaxed down position is that it tends to be more comfortable and more stable, easier for your dog to remain in.

Dogs tend to pop up out of the sphinx position more easily.

Some owners accept either position as a down, some demand the relaxed down. Yet others have a word to distinguish one from the other, although this might be overcomplicating it for simple pet purposes.

To encourage your Boxer to adopt the relaxed down position, bring the treat around to the side of your dog’s body as he lies in a sphinx.

His tendency will be to follow the treat with his head and his body may readjust as well, naturally rolling onto one hip.

If necessary, you can gently push with a finger or two on one hip, to make it clear what you’re wanting him to do.

Teaching The “Down” Command To A Boxer From Standing Position

Boxers tend to be pretty good at this.

Once your Boxer knows what “Drop” or “Down” means, you can start to work on it from a standing stance, rather than from a “Sit”.

Starting with your dog in a stand and giving the command while doing the matching hand signal should be enough.

Treat when your pup lies down.

It can help to build some momentum by first practicing a few lie downs from a seated position.

A fun drill to practice with your Boxer is to have him go between a “Sit” and a “Down” a few times, known as “pushups”.

Once your Boxer knows “Stand” as well, you can throw that in there to mix it up.

Troubleshooting Your Boxer’s “Down” Command

Sometimes a Boxer will decide to freestyle it.

He might think it’s more fun to throw himself on the ground and roll around on his back than to d a simple “down”.

This is so funny and adorable and so … well, so Boxer (!) that you will probably struggle to not inadvertently reward the behavior by laughing.

You are not alone!

But beneath the charm, your Boxer is blowing off your instructions and being disobedient.

What to do?

You can try “capturing” and naming this alternate behavior as a “Roll around!”

Then you can work it into the mix and hopefully preempt him by giving him a chance to get his wriggles out, while still doing what you say.

If you succeed in doing this … let me know 🙂

Your Boxer going off script might also be a sign he’s run out of attention span. Time to call it quits for now and have a play session instead.

Maybe next time try keeping the session a little shorter, stopping before your Boxer gets frustrated or bored.

Commands To Teach Once Your Boxer Masters “Down”

Once your dog knows “Sit” and “Down”, what next?

“Come!”, “Stay”, “Wait”, “Stand” and “Leave it” will round out your core commands.

Be sure to also teach your dog basic life skills like impulse control, which will make all of the above easier.

Teaching tricks to your Boxer is another great way to build your bond and get him thinking.

Conclusion

Training your “drop” or “lie down” is one of the first, and easiest, things you will teach your Boxer.

This command comes in handy as a circuit breaker or “chill out” command, since it’s impossible to do a whole array of bad behaviors — particularly excitable ones like jumping — when you’re busy lying down.

You’ll be able to use the “down” command in all sorts of situations, particularly when coupled with a “Stay”.

Some owners, for instance, use a “Down” and “Stay” to prevent begging behaviors while the family eats dinner.

A good “Drop” command is also the starting point for teaching some other fun moves like a “Crawl” or a “Roll over”, if you’re feeling ambitious!