The down-stay is one of the most useful commands you can teach your dog. You shouldn't have to set aside a special time to do this. Anytime you are sitting down, perhaps watching TV, is fine. Start this training in a quiet, nondistracting situation to encourage your dog to relax.
Teaching the down-stay will be the same as teaching the sit-stay. Start with several pieces of food in your hand. Down your dog using one piece of food and give it to him. Tell him to stay. Put three or four pieces of food an arm's length away. Give him the food quickly, one piece after another, as he is lying down. If he gets up, pick up all the food and start over. Gradually lengthen the amount of time between pieces of food until your dog is staying three minutes.
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Fundamentals of Dog and Puppy Training. Although dogs shouldn't be attributed with having human characteristics, they are intelligent enough to be able to understand the concept of, and execute, certain actions that their owners require of them - if these actions are asked in a way that dogs find rewarding.