How to Teach your Collie to Play Dead

Playing dead is an impressive trick for any dog to learn. It’s both dramatic and adorable at the same time. Learning this might not be essential but teaching dogs new tricks is great for their mental well-being and it’s great bonding time too!

The best way to teach your Collie to play dead is by using a treat to lure them into the desired position, using a verbal and visual command, and rewarding them so that they associate the command with the playing dead position. Most collies will flop onto their side naturally when they are tired, so for this trick, it’s useful to train after exercise.

This trick will be easier to learn once your collie already has already learned some basic obedience commands like stay and lie down.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of learning to play dead, including how to get them into the “dead” position in the first place, and how to help your collie learn and remember the trick.

How To Teach Your Collie to Play Dead

1. Wait for Them to be Tired

When tired, Border Collies will often flop to the floor on their side or just lie down so they can relax or sleep. As a bonus to us, this also means they’re happier to comply with your command to get on the floor and are more willing to follow a treat to the floor without rushing to take it from your hand.

Keep an eye on your dog after some heavy exercise or later in the day around the time they usually like to sleep. After a long walk or an exercise class is the perfect time for a quick training session to introduce them to playing dead.

When you notice your collie is about to lie on their sides, utter the “dead” command and reward them with a treat when they have flopped over. Over time, they will learn to associate the action with the command (and with a treat!) and will be able to perform on command.

Keep in mind that when training your dog at these times, they will be very tired and might also be less willing to respond to you because of it. Don’t get frustrated with them if this is the case. Just ending the training session and try again at another time.

For best results, practice ‘play dead’ when your collie is already tired so that they want to lie down.

2. Use a Treat to Guide Them into Position

Once your collie is lying down normally, you can encourage them to lie on their belly by holding a treat above their head and moving it to the side. When they try to follow the treat they will naturally roll over onto their side, at which point you can reward them by giving them the treat.

Always use a treat when training your Border Collie. Treats can help hold their attention for longer and it means they get a yummy positive reward which makes it easier to understand the command or trick.

If you want them to play dead for longer, don’t reward them until it’s been a few seconds. When it looks like they want to move out of position, tell them the command again and wait to reward them.

3. Use a Verbal Command and Hand Signal

When your collie is learning a new trick, introducing a clear verbal command and a hand signal is important to make the trick repeatable. For play dead, use the command while they are training, but only reward them when they are in the desired position. Over time, your collie will associate the command with the action.

Using a hand signal and a verbal command together will help reinforce this trick and help make it easier for your dog to learn.

“Play Dead”, “Die” or “Bang” are commonly used for this trick though other variations might be used instead. Hand signals are popular for this trick with the most common being the finger-pointing signal.

This also adds another fun element to the trick which makes it more visually impressive, dramatic, and adorable.

Many people choose to use a ‘pointing’ hand signal for play dead.

4. Reward them for Playing Dead

Each time your collie successfully gets into the ‘play dead’ position, give them a treat and other positive reinforcement and attention. Only reward them for playing dead when they lay down in the correct position so that they don’t learn any bad habits.

Eventually, you will be able to get your collie to perform without always expecting a treat as a reward.

5. Practice Practice Practice!

Don’t worry if your collie doesn’t learn to play dead straight away. Keep practicing for a short time every day and they will pick it up in no time.

Collies thrive on routine and consistent training will help them internalize the trick and learn what they have to do.

As long as you’re consistent and patient, they can learn to play dead very quickly. If you start to become frustrated and you feel yourself getting angry, it’s time to end the training session for the day!

Never scold your collie for not getting it right the first time. Collies thrive on mental stimulation and love to please you, it can really upset them if they get things wrong and you yell at them or tell them off. They will hate training which is a real shame because learning new tricks can bring a lot of joy and enrichment to a collie’s life.

Make sure you reward your collie when they get it right!


How Long does it take to Teach your Border Collie to Play Dead?

It’s difficult to give an exact time since this depends on your dog. Border Collies are generally quick learners but some are better at this than others.

Play dead is a moderately difficulty trick. It could take a few weeks to master it, but you may start seeing some basic progress after only one or two training sessions. Stick at it and be patient with your dog. Training should be fun for both of you!

What are the Benefits of Teaching your Border Collie to Play Dead?

Border Collies need mental stimulation and mental exercise to be happy, calm dogs.

Collies need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, and they have a high work drive. Learning a new trick like play dead is a great way to keep your collie’s mind active, and a fun activity they will love. It’s also a great bonding experience and will strengthen your dog’s relationship with you!

Border Collies can have a lot of energy or get distracted so tricks can be a good way to snap their attention back to you and help them calm down.

Summary – How To Teach Your Collie “Play Dead”:

If you want to teach your collie to play dead, here are the simple steps to follow:

  1. Wait until your collie is tired and lying on their side.
  2. Hold a treat over their head to guide them into the ‘dead’ position.
  3. Use a verbal and visual signal when your collie is in the ‘play dead’ position.
  4. Reward your collie for successfully completing the trick.
  5. Practice often! Collies love training and

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!