Train Your Dog to Play Dead

Here are a few steps to train your dog to "play dead." As always, positive reinforcement with training a dog will yield more results than any punishment you could dole out. Keep in mind that your dog wants to please you! So show him how with lots of love and treats when he does something right.

  1. Train your dog a solid "down" or "lay down" command. This is a totally separate thing, but it should start with a sit, and then you can slowly lure the dog to lay down with a treat in your hand. "Down" alone should take several training sessions, and different dogs will pick up on it more quickly than others.
  2. I like the command "bang!" for playing dead, but obviously you can use any signal word or hand gesture that you please. Once your dog is in a "down," push him gently onto his side with one hand, making the gesture with the other and saying "bang!" If he rolls over, even for an instant, praise him profusely and give him a treat. Make sure that, if it's just for a second, you are praising at that exact second and not after.
  3. It should take several repetitions of this before your dog gets the idea. Be patient; it's kind of a weird command. If these steps have taken more than 15 minutes, now should probably be the end of the first session.
  4. If beginning a new session here, make sure to refresh what you've already asked for.
  5. Obviously a "play dead" command is more than just laying on his side, though. You want your dog to relax with his head on the floor. Do the same as you were doing before (with or without a gentle push, depending on how far he's come so far), but don't reward until he puts his head down. This will take several tries, as the dog is doing what you were just asking for, and he will be confused! Be patient.
  6. As soon as he lays his head down, even slightly, praise and treat!

Repeat these steps several times; no dog will understand a trick right away. But with the right encouragement, your dog will know a new party trick in no time!

Puppy Learning to Roll Over/Play Dead

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Comments 17 comments

Chris Miller 8 years ago

THANK YOU, MY DOG CAN NOW ROLL OVER.Honestly, that technique is amazing.within the first half hour.

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helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks, Chris! I'm really glad to know it worked for you.

DogTrainingProject 8 years ago

That was great! It took me about 45 minutes to get the idea through my pups head and now she's set!! It's so much fun. I am on a dog training project to help her understand some other obedience skills to help our relationship grow even more with respect and love. I am so glad I found your site. It was so much fun for us to do together and I know she feels as proud as I am that she picked it up.

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helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks for stopping by, DTP! I'm very glad this article was helpful for you and your pup.

missy 8 years ago

These instructions are awesome! Thanks! :-)

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helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan Author

Any time, missy! Thanks for the compliment.

Leah Kay, The Pup profile image

Leah Kay, The Pup 8 years ago from Anywhere-USA

I have been teaching Leah Kay "Bang, your dead". I think I found my own mistake. I really haven't focuse on the down command. She knows it a little, but not enough.

She will do the down, dead position, but only for us-she will not do it in front of anybody else and we can't figure out why.

Thanks for this great advise. I'm going right after this, and start working on the "down" command before encouraging anymore of the "dead".

If you get a chance, take a peek at her hub page!

Sharon, Brian & Leah Kay

helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan Author

I'm glad you were able to work that out for Leah Kay. She's adorable!! Once she has "down" -- well -- down (haha), I bet she'll have "bang" flawless!

Inky 7 years ago


Aflatmaj9 7 years ago

Can't wait to try the "lure" technique with my favorite dog tomorrow. I've decided to teach her to play dead on the "bang" command. I'm a dog-walker and one of my rescue hounds is such a pleaser, I've taught her to fetch, fetch and bring the ball to me "in my hand", she sits, lies down, comes when she's called in the house and in the yard... but not necessarily when we're out walking. I would love for her to walk with me off the leash - but I can't trust her.

dj 6 years ago

my min pin are names bruce & jet.Bruce knows more tricks than jet.My dogs know hot to be cute thats the easiest trick they can do.Bruuce can also play dead 1 time he was in the house and i said bang and he was prteanding to be dead and my friends through he were dead so they left.My dogs can do eney tricks you tell them 2.Jet is the smallest dog i have and bruce is the biggest i have.My dogs are min pins.Thats all i have to tell you about my dogs THE!!!!!

dog training tools 6 years ago

I also make up different names for the commands... The kids love it when I say something funny and the dog reacts!


Alexis 6 years ago

My dog will not do it she expects me to roll her over and she is really heavy i mean she is a boxer and i am 11 i can not roll her over!!

scoot 6 years ago

it works

sarah 6 years ago

i already trained my dog to roll over so she thinks that was what i wanid her to do but when i kept keeping her on her side she got it perfectly shes so great! :)

Juskiren 5 years ago

That asom what an asom dog

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mary615 5 years ago from Florida

Good Hub. I just linked to this one. Thanks.

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