How to Train Your Dog to Do a Handstand

Hard
2-6 Months
Fun

Introduction

Have you ever watched those really smart, athletic dogs on TV do all kinds of cool tricks and thought, "I wonder if my dog could do that?" If your dog is naturally athletic and motivated, chances are that your dog can learn how to do something really impressive, like a handstand. All your dog needs is instruction and enough practice and time.

Defining Tasks

Because doing a handstand requires not only for your dog to have an understanding of the command itself but also to have the muscle strength and control to hold his own weight in the air, this command is best suited for dogs that are naturally athletic and agile. Herding breeds, toy breeds, and many other small to medium-sized breeds tend to be most suited for this type of trick due to their natural agility and physique. There are many mixed breed dogs and large breed dogs that can excel at this trick as well, though.

Be sure to give your dog many weeks or months to build up to this trick. Although many dogs will grasp this concept rather quickly, it will take time for your dog's muscles to strengthen enough to hold his own weight. To strengthen them you must practice the steps leading up to this trick frequently over a long period of time.

Getting Started

To get started, you will need to grab some treats that your dog loves. Something small and soft will work best. You will need your dog's leash, and depending on which method you choose, you will need a few other things also.

If you choose to use the 'Book Stacking' method, then you will need a large stack of one to two-inch thick books. An encyclopedia book set can work well for this. If you choose to use the 'Furniture' method, you will need to look around your home and choose three to four different pieces of furniture, each set at a different height, and you will need a hand towel or similar piece of fabric that can be moved. If you choose to use the 'Arm Balancing' method, you will need a hand towel, and you may find it helpful to utilize an assistant while starting out.

The Book Stacking Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Touch the book
To get started, you will need to attach a leash to your dog and place a book on the ground. With the leash, lead your dog over the book and stop your dog when his back feet are on stepping on the book.
Step
2
Reward touch
Praise your dog and offer him a treat while he is standing on the book. It is important to praise him right when he first touches the book.
Step
3
Repeat
Repeat leading him onto the book and rewarding him, until he will eagerly put his feet onto the book without your guidance, as you you approach it.
Step
4
Add command
Once your dog will touch the book eagerly to receive his reward, start to tell him "Handstand" before his back paws touch the book.
Step
5
Move the book against a wall
Move the book to a nearby wall, so that the books will not slide underneath your dog as you build the stack higher.
Step
6
Add another book
When you dog has mastered placing his back paws onto the book, add another book on top of the first book. Continue to add books, one at a time, as he masters each new height.
Step
7
Transition to the wall
When the stack of books becomes so tall that your dog can no longer touch the top of the stack with his back paws any longer, remove the stack of books. Place one of the books flush against the wall, at the height of the previous stack, for your dog to touch with his paws now.
Step
8
Remove all books
When your dog can lift the weight of his back legs onto the wall with ease, remove the book entirely and practice having him do a "handstand" against the palm of your hand instead. Place your hand against the wall while he is doing this to add stability.
Step
9
Move away from the wall
When your dog is well balanced against your hand, begin to move your hand away from the wall one inch at a time. Do this until your dog can hold up his entire balancing weight using only your hand for support.
Step
10
Make your hand smaller
Decrease the size of your hand gradually as your dog's own balance increases. To do so, curl your fingers into a fist. Once your dog has mastered that, turn your hand sideways, so that your dog is only using the side of your hand for balance. Give your dog lots of time and practice to make this transition. This will require your dog to build muscle strength and control.
Step
11
Reward less touch
When your dog has built the muscles needed to balance on his own, begin to phase out your hand. Phase out your hand by rewarding your dog anytime he puts less pressure on your hand or lifts off of your hand entirely and is balanced on his own. Reward even brief second of no pressure.
Step
12
Practice!
Now that your dog can do a handstand, continue to practice this trick often so that your dog will retain the muscle strength and control needed to be able to continue this trick. Congratulations! You now have a dog with an awesome trick.
Recommend training method?

The Furniture Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Touch the towel
To begin, clip your dog's leash on. Now lay a hand towel on the floor. Lead your dog over the hand towel with his leash. When his back paws step onto the towel, stop him.
Step
2
Reward
With your dog standing on the towel, praise your dog and offer a treat. It is important to praise him as soon as both of his back paws are touching the towel.
Step
3
Add command
Practice walking your dog onto the towel until your dog will eagerly go to the towel on his own. When your dog begins to go to the towel on his own, tell him "handstand" right before his back paws touch the towel.
Step
4
Add furniture
Once your dog will step onto the towel when told "handstand", transition the towel onto a piece of furniture between six and twelve inches tall, then repeat the entire process on the higher area. If your dog is small, choose something around one fourth the height of your small dog instead.
Step
5
Increase height
When your dog has mastered the current height, continue to move the towel to higher and higher locations, taking time to practice each one until your dog has mastered it.
Step
6
Transition to your hand
When the height of the furniture is so tall that your dog can no longer reach it with his back paws, then place the towel onto your hand and place your hand against the furniture. Practice having your dog balance using your hand for support now.
Step
7
Move away from the furniture
Gradually move your hand away from the furniture, two inches at a time, until your dog can balance using only your hand for support.
Step
8
Phase out your hand
Reward your dog with a treat and praise every time he puts less pressure on your hand or moves completely off of your hand and balances on his own. Reward even brief seconds of balancing on his own!
Step
9
Keep practicing
Once your dog can balance without needing the support of your hand at all, you have officially mastered the 'handstand'. Continue to practice this trick regularly to ensure that your dog's muscle strength and control will remain, and he will be able to do this trick for years to come!
Recommend training method?

The Arm Balancing Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Touch the towel
To begin, clip your dog's leash on. Now lay your hand towel on the floor. Lead your dog by his leash over the hand towel. When his back paws step onto the towel, stop him.
Step
2
Reward
With your dog standing on the towel, praise your dog and offer a treat. It is important to praise him as soon as both of his back paws touch the towel.
Step
3
Add command
Practice walking your dog onto the towel until your dog will eagerly go to the towel on his own. When your dog begins to go to the towel on his own, tell him "handstand" right before his back paws touch the towel.
Step
4
Add your arm
Now, place the towel over your hand and forearm. Place your hand and forearm on the ground at the base of a wall. Practice having your dog step onto the towel and your arm. Continue to reward your dog every time he steps onto the towel when told "handstand".
Step
5
Raise your arm
Once your dog has mastered putting his back paws onto your arm at the base of the wall, raise your forearm off of the ground by a couple of inches. The wall behind your arm will give your dog something to stabilize against at this point in the training.
Step
6
Continue to add height
Continue to raise your arm a couple of inches at a time as your dog's balance improves. If it becomes too difficult to keep your arm raised while also offering your dog a treat bellow his chin, have an assistant reward your dog while you keep your arm against the wall.
Step
7
Transition off the wall
When your dog is fully tilted forward into the handstand position against the wall and your arm, begin to move your arm away from the wall. Move your arm a couple of inches at a time. To avoid straining your dog's muscles it is important to practice each new position many times before changing the position. Practice it until your dog can balance easily in the current position.
Step
8
Phase out your arm
When your arm is far enough away from the wall that your dog is only depending on your arm, reward your dog every time he puts less pressure on your arm or balances without depending on your arm at all.
Step
9
Increase time
When your dog can balance completely on his own, increase the amount of time that he stays in the hand-standing position. To increase the amount of time, reward your dog for holding the position for gradually longer and longer periods of time.
Step
10
Continue practicing
Once your dog has mastered the handstand, continue to practice this trick regularly to maintain your dog's muscle strength and control. Enjoy showing off this fun new trick for all of your friends!
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd