While learning how to teach a dog to play dead isn’t exactly a lifesaving skill, it could serve as a pretty cool party skill.
That said, much like teaching your dog any other skill, teaching your dog to play dead requires a whole lot of patience. Now let’s get to learning how to teach.
Teaching The Basic Skills
Before teaching your dog something as ambitious as how to play dead, your dog must already have the very basic skills.
Some of these include understanding basic commands and knowing how to sit and lie on command.
If your dog doesn’t have these basic skills, teaching said basic skills is where you need to start.
Teach To Sit
First off, you could take on the challenge of teaching your dog to sit. For the entire training, you’ll be needing their favorite treat for encouragement and reward.
So, first off, you want to press your dog gently into the sitting position while saying the word ‘sit’. And when they do sit, reward them with a bite of their favorite treat.
Do this a couple of times a day until your dog is able to associate the command with the action without needing assistance from you.
Be careful not to overwork your dog. A training session of between 10 to 15 minutes, 3 times a day should be enough. You could even incorporate this training into your everyday lives.
Teach To Lie
When your dog has mastered the act of sitting on command, they are ready to move on to lying.
So, the same way you assisted at the beginning by pressing gently on their lower back, you’ll be assisting them again but this time, pressing gently on their shoulders to get them to the lying position.
Of course, you’ll be accompanying this with a verbal cue (people usually use ‘down’) or some sort of visual cue if they are hearing impaired.
You’ll also need to reward them once they are able to get to that position.
With time, you’ll have to allow them to lie on their own when you give the verbal or visual cue.
Teaching Them To Play Dead
Once your dog has been able to learn these basic skills, teaching them to play dead won’t be so different or difficult.
So, from a standing position, you want to get them to a sitting and then a lying position. Now, a dog’s dead position is usually on its side.
So, from the down position, you’ll need to help him change positions to his side. Practice this procedure from sit to down to side and then from down to side.
The idea is for them to be able to play dead from whatever position they are on. Now, once your dog is getting the hang of switching positions, introduce the prompter.
Whatever word or hand signal you decide to go for is fine, provided your dog is able to associate said cue with the action you are looking for.
Treats will also be of good help at this stage as a reward. In addition to that, because your dog will be lying on their side, you could also reward them with belly rubs.
As your dog gets better at playing dead, you’ll need to switch positions and locations so that your dog does not associate a particular location to the command and action.
Once your dog is able to learn this neat little trick, you and your dog could be the life of the party. However, be careful not to force anything.
Take your time and allow your dog learn at their pace; especially considering that it isn’t exactly a life saving skill.
Now watch this quick demonstration video: