How to Train Your Dog to Play Dead
When focusing on teaching your dog to play dead, praise your dog each time you see him lying on his side naturally. After a day or so, add a word cue like “Sleep” when you catch your dog resting and praise your dog just because he’s wonderful.
If the whole playing dead thing seems a little depressing, you can use “Go to Sleep” instead — so much more peaceful.
Teaching this trick isn’t too difficult if your dog has mastered the Down and Stay commands. Get your pup to show he’s dog-tired with these steps:
Instruct “Down,” and then kneel and rub your dog’s belly until he’s calm.
Gently roll your dog onto his side and praise him.
After a few days of this your dog should be comfortable rolling onto his side.
Start giving the command “Sleep-Stay.”
The Stay command should be familiar to him. If he lifts his head, lovingly rest it back on the floor and command “Stay.”
When your dog cooperates, introduce the trick command, “Play Dead” or “Go to Sleep.”
Extend the Sleep-Stay time until your dog is up to a minute. Now, instruct “Stay” and stand up calmly. Once you’re able to stand, vary the time you pause before releasing and praising your dog.
The hand signal is to place your palms together and raise them to the side of your face in a sleepy-time position.