One of the basic commands you should teach your Maltese is to lie down. Along with sit, stay, and come, down belongs to the basics of training for Maltese. But how do you teach a Maltese to lay down?
You can teach your Maltese to lie down using the method of positive reinforcement. But before that, your Maltese should already know how to sit on command. Work with the following 7 steps to teach your Maltese to lie down:
- Choose a comfortable surface
- Take a treat in your hand
- Put your Maltese in the sit position
- Hold the treat in front of his nose and guide it towards the floor
- When your Maltese follows the treat and lies down, say “Down” as soon as he is lying properly
- Give him the treat immediately and praise him
- Repeat the exercise until your Maltese dog masters the “Down” command
As you can see, it is not that complicated to teach your Maltese to lie down. It takes some preparation and good timing, but if you have already taught him to sit, you should have no problems with this.
We will go into more detail in this article on how to teach your Maltese to sit. We will also tell you if you can teach him without treats and how to proceed with a particularly stubborn Maltese.
After that, we will also tell you how long it takes to teach a Maltese to lie down and what you need to keep in mind when training him. We also explain how your Maltese should be for it, and if older Maltese can still learn it.
How to Teach a Maltese to Lay Down?
If you have already taught your Maltese to sit down – which is a prerequisite for learning to lie down – you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the concept of positive reinforcement is used here as well.
Positive reinforcement means that your Maltese learns that desired behavior is rewarded. He learns to associate the behavior you expect of him with a positive experience.
In this way, your Maltese will willingly behave the way you expect him to behave because it is positively associated with him.
But how exactly do you go about learning to lie down?
First of all, as mentioned above, you should teach your Maltese to sit on command. Your Maltese should be well versed in this exercise before you start laying him down. The reason for this is that the sitting position is the starting position for lying down.
When this condition is met, you can start training:
- Choose a comfortable surface: It should not be uncomfortable for your Maltese to lie down. Cold tiles or a scratchy, rough surface are not so motivating. Find a surface that she would be comfortable lying down on herself, such as a soft carpet, a warm summer lawn, or a nice wooden floor.
- Put a treat in your hand: The treat is the reward your Maltese will receive when training is successful. It is the incentive, so to speak, to behave as desired. Your Maltese should see the treat the whole time during the exercise, but not be able to snatch it away.
- Put your Maltese in the sit position: Use the “Sit” command to get him to sit. It is easiest to train to lay down from the sit position.
- Hold the treat in front of his nose and guide it towards the ground: With this step, you get your Maltese to instinctively lie down to follow the treat. He should be able to see the treat the whole time and follow it with his nose on the way to the ground. If he does not follow the treat, you will have to start the exercise over again.
- Say “Down” as soon as your Maltese has lain down properly: This is where the right timing is important. Your Maltese should associate the moment his body fully touches the ground and he lies down correctly with the command. Good timing is important for this. If you don’t get it right away, don’t get frustrated. It just takes a little practice.
- Give your Maltese the treat and praise him: After you say the command “Down”, immediately give him the treat so he learns to associate the reward with his behavior. After he gets the treat, praise him for doing well.
- Repeat the exercise until he masters it: This does not mean that you should practice in one session until he can do it perfectly. But you should practice with him regularly so that he really learns it. By all means, repeat the exercise two or three times at a stretch, and practice several times a day until he masters it.
Although you should choose a comfortable surface, you should vary the place where you practice. Your Maltese should not associate the exercise with a specific location but should learn that this is a general command.
Go to another room, go outside, practice on the hardwood floor instead of the carpet. Show him that the location doesn’t matter, only his behavior.
If you feel that laying down with treats works well, try it without treats. Do the exercise exactly as described, but with a treat in your hand.
Just hold your hand in front of his nose and lead towards the ground. This way your Maltese will see what you want him to do and when he is ready, he will follow you even without a treat.
Eventually, your Maltese should lie down on command, even without you leading him with your hand. Leading with your hand should only ease the transition from training with treats to training without treats.
If your Maltese lies down on command, without you having to do anything else, and without him sitting down first, you’ve done it.
How to Teach a Maltese to Lay Down Without Treats?
The treat is a very important tool in training your Maltese. It attracts his attention and makes him follow you the way you want him to. He will usually have a great need to treat himself to this delicious treat.
However, if you want to train without a treat, that is also possible. You just need to replace the treat with something that interests him as well.
It is best to use his favorite toy as a substitute for the treat. Of course, it should not be the biggest toy, but rather something small and handy. A nice chew toy* will work best.
Proceed with training in the same way as described above. Instead of the treat, however, use the chew toy. Let your Maltese chew on the chew toy for a while after he lies down. Don’t wait too long, he should get up on your initiative, not on his own.
Take the chew toy away from him and start the exercise again. In this way, you can teach your Maltese to lie down even without a treat.
How to Teach a Stubborn Maltese to Lay Down?
While Maltese are affectionate dogs who want to please their owners, they can be stubborn at times. However, this is completely normal and should not worry you.
However, it is not helpful for training if you have caught a very stubborn moment and your Maltese just does not feel like doing what you want him to do.
In that case, it is best to stop training for the moment. There is no point in forcing him to do something he just doesn’t want to do. This will only cause frustration on both sides and will rather harm the training progress.
Leave him alone and try again at a later time. It is unlikely that your Maltese will permanently switch to stubbornness and not participate in training at all.
However, if your Maltese does not respond to your training attempts all day, it is best to take a few days off. Maltese learns by repetition, and if it becomes ingrained in him that he does not need to respond to your training attempts, you will have a hard time changing that back.
Give him some time to be receptive again. Walk him a lot, keep him active, spend quality time together to distract him. Then he will be ready to exercise with you again.
This is also great advice when teaching your Maltese to swim. Take breaks whenever you feel like it is too much for him.
How Long Does It Take to Teach a Maltese to Lay Down?
As with learning to sit, learning to lie down can be quite quick. If you catch a good moment, your Maltese may learn it within a day or two.
However, this is not true for every Maltese. It depends on how receptive he is, how often, well, and cleanly you perform the exercise, and how well he is already trained.
Some Maltese learn very quickly because they are one of the more intelligent dog breeds. Other Maltese just take a little longer.
If it takes your Maltese a week or more to learn to lie down, that’s okay too. Learning commands is not a speed contest, it is a long-term investment. Be patient with your Maltese and give him the time he needs.
What Do I Need to Consider When Teaching My Maltese to Lay Down?
Even though the training steps sound quite simple, there are a few things you should keep in mind when training to make it successful.
- Choose a good surface: There are people who like to lie on a bed of nails. But you, just like me, are probably not one of them. And your Maltese also likes to be comfortable. It is not motivating for your Maltese to lie down on an uncomfortable surface. So choose a surface that you yourself would like to lie on.
- Your Maltese should not lose sight of the treat: If he doesn’t see the treat anymore, he will lose interest. It is then very unlikely that he will lie down. Make sure he can always see the treat, and make sure he follows it with his gaze.
- Teach him to sit first: If your Maltese is not yet good at sitting, it is too early to start laying him down. Complete the sit training first before moving on. It is a foundation for laying down that your Maltese can sit well. So you are only making it unnecessarily difficult for yourself and him if you move too quickly.
- Watch your timing on the command: It is important that you say the command at the right time. The right time is when your Maltese is fully recumbent, but also no later. It takes a bit of practice to get the timing right. So don’t despair if it takes you a few tries to get it right.
- Don’t let your Maltese lie too long: When your Maltese is lying down and you have given him the treat and praised him, let him lie down for a few more seconds and then break up the exercise by letting him stand up. Don’t wait too long or your Maltese will get impatient and get up on his own. However, you should always be the boss during training and tell him what to do. Therefore, it is important that you finish the exercise by letting him stand up.
How Old Should a Maltese Be When I Teach Him to Lay Down?
Dogs generally learn best when they are still puppies. Therefore, it is a good idea to start training as early as possible.
However, it is not the case that a puppy is ready for commands at any age. Puppies have a lot to learn, and sometimes there just isn’t room for learning commands.
However, from about 7 months of age, every puppy should be able to learn commands. In many cases, it can be done earlier.
First teach your Maltese puppy to sit, then start training him to lie down. The best age to start down training depends on when your Maltese puppy learns to sit.
With some Maltese you can be successful at the age of 4 or 5 months, with others you should start at the age of 7 months. Try to get a feel for how far along your Maltese is in his development.
However, do not overtax him. If he is not ready to learn commands yet, that is not a bad thing. Just wait and see, the right time to start training will come in any case.
Can Old Maltese Learn to Lay Down?
If you take an older Maltese into your family, who has not been trained well yet, you will have it a bit harder. It is not impossible to train an older Maltese, but it usually requires more training and also more patience.
As far as the training process is concerned, follow the same procedure as described above. However, always be aware that you are training an older Maltese and also expect that successes will not come quite as quickly.
If you train your Maltese with understanding and patience, it is possible to teach even an older Maltese to lie down.
Conclusion: How to Teach a Maltese to Lay Down?
Teaching Maltese to lie down is quite easy if you know the proper steps. Maltese can also learn it quite quickly.
However, it is important to know that you must first teach your Maltese to sit before you start laying down. Sitting is a prerequisite that is used when training laying down. Therefore, he should master it well.
The easiest way is to train your Maltese when he is still a puppy. It is also possible to teach an older Maltese to lie down, but it requires more patience and time.