How to Teach Your Dog to Play Dead

Does your dog have a flair for the dramatic? Does he or she enjoy a good nap on hardwood floors, even when there’s a perfectly good dog bed just a few feet away? Have you ever wondered if there was another use for these theatrical abilities? Well, wonder no more. The answer is: teaching your pup to play dead!

Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and slowly lower it towards the floor.

Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and slowly lower it towards the floor. Try not to move too fast, but do not let your dog see where the treat is going or what you are doing. The slow downward motion will help keep their attention on the treat rather than looking at your hand or moving away from it. If they start getting up and coming towards you, try again with another piece of food until they understand that staying still means treats!

Reward him by giving him the treat.

It’s important to reward your dog for doing a trick, because it reinforces the behavior. You may want to use treats or affection as a reward so that he feels good about himself and knows that you are happy with him.

When you give your dog a treat as a reward, you are reinforcing the behavior by letting him know that he did something right. This helps them understand what you want from them and gives them confidence when learning new things in the future.

Repeat, adding a command to your dog’s trick until he plays dead every time, without you having to touch him.

Once your dog has mastered the behavior, you can move on to the next step and add a command. Give the command “play dead” as soon as he lays down on his side, then reward him with treats when he follows through. If he doesn’t play dead right away, try again and keep trying until he plays dead every time when commanded, without having to touch him or offer any other type of help.


That’s it! You have successfully taught your dog to play dead. Now, you may want to practice this trick a few more times before moving on to the next one in our “Trick Dog” series. Stay tuned for more articles on training your pup –– and remember, if at any point you feel like you need extra help with training, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional trainer or behaviorist!