Bang or "Play Dead"

This is a trick that looks harder to teach than it actually is, so read on to impress!

Start Here First!

The trick "bang" or play dead, is actually fairly easy, so this trick makes a great starting point beyond the basics. By now, the hope is that your furry friend will know the basics such as "sit" and "down." If you haven't had the chance to teach them the basics, I would recommend starting there. Before beginning your training session, follow the tips below to have an effective training session when trying to teach your dog a new trick for the first time.

  • Find an area where there are minimal distractions. You both may have the most success if there are no other people or pets in the room with you.
  • Choose yummy, strong-smelling treats to have on standby for your dog’s successes.
  • Keep it short and simple, choosing to only focus on a few tricks in that session.
  • Always end on a high note. You want your dog to enjoy training time, not remember that they weren’t able to learn something.

Now that you're motivated to learn new tricks, here are the steps to follow to have your dog be the star of the show with "bang" or play dead.

Teach Your Dog to Play Dead

First, you'll want to run through a few motions repeatedly with them so they understand the positions of the trick. Have them start in a down position.

Next, offer them a treat near their nose and move it so that they have to follow it by ending up rolling onto their side.

Reward your dog by saying your usual congratulatory word or statement such as "yes" or "good" then give them the treat. Repeat this process several times until they understand they need to roll onto their side for their reward.

Now is when you'll add a hand gesture and cue word. I have used the word "bang" with my hands gesturing toward the dog like a gun. You can really choose whatever you'd like, this is just what I went with.

Run through the steps above, but starting with the hand signal and cue word. If they have the basics down, then adding the hand signal and cue word should be easy for them to pick up.

Not Going As Well As You Hoped?

If your pup isn't following the treat so that they end up lying on their side, you can show them the position you're looking for by gently pushing them onto their side. Once they are in the position you’re looking for, immediately reward.

For a slightly different approach, and a visual, check out the training video from American Kennel Club.

What Next?

Now that your dog has mastered "bang" or play dead, move onto the next trick you'd like to tackle!

Roll Over

Harley's go-to



Round & round



A crowd pleaser