How to Train Your Border Collie Puppy to Play Dead

Hello, sheep. Here I come.

Hello, sheep. Here I come.

A border collie puppy is full of energy as the herding dog group is naturally active. You can tire out your puppy first and then teach him to play dead on command. He must first learn to lie down, because the play dead command starts in a lie-down position.

Play tug of war with a rope toy or fetch with a ball for about 10 minutes to tucker out your border collie puppy. Playtime before training will allow him to rid himself of all of his extra energy so he can concentrate on learning a new trick.

Take your puppy to an area that is quiet with no distractions. Turn off the stereo or television in the living room or go into a quiet backyard.

Place some high-reward dog treats in a treat pouch and strap it to your waist. You can use a fanny pack with a zipper top as a treat pouch. Choose tasty small-dog treats that you only give you pet while in training.

Sit down on the floor or ground in front of your puppy. Hold a treat in one hand between your thumb and forefinger. Allow your puppy to smell and see the treat.

Lower your hand with the treat slowly to ground level. Your puppy should follow the treat downward and lower himself to the ground. Tell your pooch “lie down” as he lowers himself. Place the treat on the ground between his front paws and slightly in front of his snout so he cannot reach it. When his chin touches the ground, praise him and immediately give him the treat. Practice the lie-down command each day for 10 to 15 minutes until he has it down pat. Extend the amount of time he lies with his chin on the ground by a few seconds each time.

Tell your pup to lie down. Look at his top line from his shoulders to his rear end to see which way he is naturally leaning. Gently push your puppy onto the ground in the direction he is leaning so he is flat on his side and say, “play dead.” When he sets the side of his head on the ground, give him a treat and praise him. Practice the play-dead command and combine it with saying “bang” and pointing one forefinger at him with your thumb in the air like a play gun. Eventually phase out the words "play dead" and only say "bang" to teach him to play dead with the bang command.

Items you will need

  • Rope toy
  • Dog ball
  • Dog treats
  • Treat pouch


  • If your puppy loses interest while in training, end the session for the day. Puppies have shorter attention spans than older dogs and can only concentrate on one thing for 10 to 15 minutes, or less.
  • You can teach your puppy to play dead for longer periods and then release him from the pose by saying “release” or “OK,” then give him the treat when he gets up off the ground.
  • Phase out the treats for performing tricks as your puppy gets older and give him lots of affection instead.

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About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

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