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How to Teach a Dog to Play Dead [It’s Easy!]

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One of the best dog tricks out there is the age-old trick of playing dead. We’ll show you how to teach a dog to play dead in 7 easy steps!

How to teach a dog to play dead

Training Guide: How to Teach a Dog to Play Dead

While there are numerous tricks that you can teach your dog, such as how to shake and how to spin, playing dead is always one of the most exciting and entertaining. Here’s all you need to know about how to teach a dog to play dead.

1. Begin with Your Dog Lying Down

When you start training your dog to play dead, you will ask them to lie down.

If you haven’t trained your dog to lie down, now is the time.

Dogs typically favor one side, which is important for getting them to play dead. When they’re on the ground, pay attention to the side their weight is leaning on.

2. Put the Treat at Their Nose and Move it

Take the treat and hold it right at their nose. You’re going to move the treat from their nose, over the shoulder of the side they’re not favoring.

So if they’re lying on their right side, you’ll move the treat over their left shoulder.

3. Provide a Reward

While you’re moving the treat over their shoulder, they should eventually lean backward towards the treat. Once they move backward, reward them with the treat.

4. Repeat the Process

Practice the cycle – lay down, treat to nose, treat over shoulder, lean back, reward – about five times.

You want to make sure that they really have it down and know what they’re doing before you move on to the next step.

Dog play dead

5. Repeat – But Don’t Reward Right Away

Practice moving the treat from their nose, over their shoulder, again. However, this time you won’t reward them when they move backward.

Instead, you’ll keep moving it backward until your dog is actually lying on their back.

Once they’re on their back, you will give them the reward. Repeat many times.

6. Repeat Again Without a Treat

Once again, you will practice moving your hand over their shoulder until they are lying on their back. This time, however, you won’t have a treat in your hand.

Have them roll onto their back without being led by a treat. However, you still want to give them a treat when they lay on their back. Repeat a few times.

7. Add a Command

When your dog is lying down, now it’s time to add a verbal cue associated with the trick. This can be “play dead” or something else of your choosing.

The goal is for your dog to associate the command with the expectation to lie down, roll over and “play dead.”

After you say the command, continue the process until they are lying on their back and reward them with a treat.

For best results, continue practicing until your dog has the process down, always starting with the verbal cue.

Dog on back

Final Thoughts on How to Teach a Dog to Play Dead

After you practice many times, your dog will have the process down and be ready to perform on command.

Ultimately, you and your pup will have a great party trick to entertain others as well as a fun game to play when you’re both just hanging out.

It’s also a great way to provide mental and physical exercise for your pup.

Learn how to teach a dog to play dead and you’ll have a great way to bond with your dog!

Watch a Training Video

As you learn how to teach a dog to play dead, training videos are always a great resource to learn more. After all, most people are more visual learners.

Lucky for us, popular dog trainer Zak George has put together a video on the topic that is definitely worth checking out.

George brings a positive, fun and informational style that has earned him millions of fans. We watched his training videos often when we first got our dog Toby.

After checking out this tutorial on how to teach a dog to play dead, you may even want to head over to his YouTube channel for a variety of other excellent training videos.

Bonus Training Tip

While it might not be as important as obedience commands like “stay,” and “come,” “play dead” does provide a great deal of fun and will entertain your guests.

Plus, this is another way to mentally and physically challenge your dog and work on their obedience skills.

As you work on how to teach a dog to play dead, you might find yourself getting frustrated or impatient and may even want to throw in the towel.

Training a dog does require a great deal of patience and persistence. If you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, either take a break entirely and start the training again at a later time or give yourself a quick timeout.

Don’t forget that learning how to teach a dog to play dead is really just like playing a game with your dog. It requires some laughter, some time, and a good sense of humor. Enjoy the process. After all, it’s a bonding experience with your dog!

Dog lying down
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