Thank you to our friend David for sharing this training tip from Dog Training & Military Working Dog Rescue:
The extended down /stay. This is great when one wants to go into a store or control your dog in distracting/possible dangerous situations. This will be first on leash then graduate to off leash.
What to do when you are out walking with your favorite pet and you want to jump in the store for a drink or a quick snack. How about if your GSD bolts towards a busy street. Lets say you are out and have to help some friends or need to pull your attention from your dog to something else.
These and other situations are when an extended down / stay can be a life saver.
Start by working your dog with the longest leash you have. Should be 9ft or 3m or longer. A 30ft or 10m would be best. If you don´t have one that long you can use cloth-line or rope. It is just your safety net in the beginning.
Start with your dog in front facing you. Be sure to take up the slack on the leash. Say the command for Down / Platz etc what ever you use. If your dog has not learned this yet take a treat in your right hand and let him smell it but not get it. In front of his nose place your hand on the ground. He will automatically follow it and when he is in the good down position reward confirm the command word down / platz and praise. repeat and praise.
Now back to the main training. Keep placing your dog in the down position and releasing. Once he has it good extend the down with and added Stay / Bleib command. Increase the time to make the down/stay longer and longer. As you are doing this remember to release and praise your dog for a job well done. Now As you are increasing the timed down/stay increase the distance between you and your dog. I also recommend that you walk around your dog while he is in the down /stay. (note: Keep the leash /rope from touching him as you walk around him. Sometimes if your dog feels the leash it could confuse him and cause him to break the command.) Each time you can increase the time and the distance. (This is where the 30ft 10m leash comes in handy.) Remember to praise each time and have fun doing this.
Now once your GSD, (or another breed. I am just biased to the great GSD. lol) has this down, you will want to go “off-leash”. This can be a bit stressful for some owners. So you can do this in a fenced area. I also recommend a good cheating method for the beginners Take an old leash and cut it about 4 to 8 inches or 10 to 20 centimeters from the leash hook. Connect this micro leash to your dog´s collar. He will 95% of the time think he is still on leash.
Start the whole process over, extending the time and distance in and from the down/stay. Remember to praise and reward often.
With all this down and working well put your GSD in play mode or fetch Now is when you will give the down / stay platz / bleib command. Do this both on and off leash. You can also have a friend or family member call him from a distance and at different intervals place him in the down /stay command Have fun doing this. This could save your dog´s life. Say if you are walking with him or playing and he runs towards the street, you can give a quick down /stay command to stop him in his tracks. Also while walking with him by your side in the heel or fuss. say the down/stay and keep walking. This will help reinforce the command. Now don’t stress if at first he breaks the down/stay to follow you or does it half way. Stop correct to a good down/stay and then praise and keep moving. If he breaks command anytime return to that spot and reduce.
For leaving his sight in the extended down / stay just do everything above but while increasing the time and the distance go behind an object, wall, fence, car etc. Then call him to you praise and reward. Increase the time that he can´t see you and do it at different angles. See it is as easy as it sounds. Just remember if there are and there will be little hiccups/set backs repeat and repeat with lots of praise.
Now to add a real world element to this. We are almost done. While practicing / training have friends with other dogs and even cats come over to help. When your dog is in the down /stay have friends pass in-front /back and on the sides of him as a distraction with and with out pets. (note Pets helping should be on leash even cats if used, to help control the environment.)
I hope this helps and you all have fun training your GSD/any other breed. Any questions feel free to ask.