how to teach your dog to play dead

Teach Your Dog To Play Dead In 8 Steps

Playing dead is a classic dog trick that's both fun and impressive. It not only entertains your friends and family but also provides mental stimulation and bonding time with your canine companion. This step-by-step guide will walk you through teaching your dog to play dead, making it an enjoyable experience for both of you.

Step One: Gather Your Training Essentials

Before you start teaching your dog to play dead, you'll need a few key items:

  1. Treats: Pick small, easy-to-consume treats that your dog adores. These will serve as rewards and motivators during training sessions.
  2. A comfortable, non-slip surface: Choose a soft, non-slip area, such as carpet or grass, to ensure your dog is comfortable and secure while learning to play dead.
  3. Patience and positivity: Training takes time, consistency, and a positive attitude. Keep the training sessions enjoyable and use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog.

Step Two: Master the Basics

Before attempting to teach your dog to play dead, they should be familiar with the "down" command. Having this foundation will make the training process smoother and more successful. If your dog isn't comfortable with the "down" command, take the time to teach it before proceeding with the play dead trick.

Step Three: Introduce the "Bang!" Command

Choose a clear, concise command such as "bang!" or "play dead" to signal your dog to play dead. Be consistent with the command you use, as changing it may cause confusion.

With your dog in the "down" position, give the chosen command, and then use a treat to lure your dog onto their side. Position the treat near their nose and slowly move it towards their shoulder. As your dog follows the treat, they should naturally roll onto their side.

Once your dog is on their side, praise them and give them the treat. Repeat this process several times to help your dog associate the command with the action of lying on their side.

Step Four: Add Drama to the Trick

To make the play dead trick more theatrical, encourage your dog to fall onto their side more dramatically. Start by giving the chosen command while your dog is in the "down" position. This time, instead of luring them onto their side with a treat, quickly move your hand (with the treat hidden inside) in a sweeping motion, as if you were "shooting" them with an imaginary gun.

As your dog rolls onto their side, praise them and reward them with the treat. Practice this step multiple times, gradually increasing the speed and drama of the "shooting" motion.

Step Five: Encourage Your Dog to Stay "Dead"

Once your dog has mastered rolling onto their side with the "bang!" command, it's time to teach them to stay "dead" for a short period. After your dog has rolled onto their side, wait a few seconds before praising and rewarding them with the treat.

Gradually increase the duration your dog stays in the "dead" position before receiving the treat. This will help them understand that they need to remain still until you release them.

Step Six: Add a Release Command

Now that your dog is comfortable staying in the "dead" position, introduce a release command such as "up" or "okay" to signal them to get up. This will help your dog understand when it's time 

to stop playing dead and return to their normal activities.

Give the release command after your dog has remained in the "dead" position for a few seconds. As soon as they get up, praise them and reward them with a treat. Practice this step multiple times to ensure your dog understands the connection between the release command and the end of the trick.

Step Seven: Fade Out the Treat Lure

As your dog becomes more proficient with the play dead trick, gradually reduce their reliance on the treat as a lure. Begin by using the treat only to initiate the trick and reward your dog at the end. Over time, your dog should respond to the "bang!" and release commands without needing the treat as a lure. Remember to be patient and continue to reward your dog with praise and treats for their successful performances, even as you decrease the use of the treat as a lure.

Step Eight: Practice, Practice, Practice!

Consistency and repetition are vital to mastering any new skill, and teaching your dog to play dead is no exception. Set aside time each day to practice the trick, slowly increasing the difficulty by adding distractions or varying the training environment.

The more opportunities your dog has to practice, the more reliable their play dead performance will become. Keep training sessions enjoyable and engaging, and you'll continue to strengthen your bond with your dog.

Step Nine: Show Off Your Dog's New Talent

Once your dog has confidently mastered the play dead trick, it's time to share their new skill with friends and family. Take pride in your dog's accomplishment and enjoy the laughter and amazement their performance brings.

Remember that training is an ongoing process, and there are always new tricks and commands to learn. Maintain a positive attitude and keep training sessions fun to foster a deep bond and lasting connection with your canine companion.


Teaching your dog to play dead can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. By following our step-by-step guide, you'll not only help your dog learn an entertaining trick but also build trust and improve communication between the two of you.

Approach each training session with patience, consistency, and a positive attitude. With time and dedication, you'll have a happy, well-trained dog that's eager to show off their new talent. So grab those treats and start teaching your dog to play dead – happy training!

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