Teaching your dog to play dead is really not all that high on the list of must teach commands, but it’s a lot of fun! And for people who have therapy dogs that make visits to nursing homes, hospitals and the like, this command can provide a lot of entertainment.
First of all, your dog needs to have mastered the “down” command. If your dog needs to learn this, just go to our previous article, How To Teach Your Dog To Lie Down, for complete instructions.
Also, it’s a good idea to wait until your dog is tired and is ready to take a rest before you attempt to teach this trick. There are a couple of ways to approach this task:
One – The active method – Get your dog into the “down” position, then keel directly in front of him with a treat held in your hand. Next, hold your hand with the treat beside her head and then move it towards her shoulder. Most likely he will follow the treat with his body and fall to his side. You can also continue the hand motion to get your dog to roll completely onto his back.
Immediately reward this behavior by giving your dog the treat and at the same time, say “Play dead!”
Repeat this sequence several times, and then wait for a few seconds as he holds the position before you give him the treat. Afterwards use a release word like “OK” or “All done,” before you give him the treat.
Two – The passive method – This way of training your dog to play dead relies on taking advantage of finding him naturally resting on his side. Here’s how to do it: every time you see him resting on his side, say “Play dead!” and give him a treat. Over time, he will naturally assume this position when you give the command.