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Training your dog has so many benefits. Basic tricks and behaviors such as sitting and heeling make life with a dog easy and organized, and can even keep them (and you) safe. It matters that your dog obey your simple commands if you should ever encounter another animal or dangerous situation.
Beyond those simple behaviors--which should be part of every dog's repertoire--more complicated tricks can stimulate your dog's intellect and athleticism. Setting new challenges for Fido will make sure that he is tuned in to you and tuned out to misbehaviors associated with attention-seeking or boredom. And, of course, teaching your dog tricks can be a lot of fun and a chance to bond, especially when you're able to show off all of your hard work at the dog park-- there's no better team than you and your furry bestie!
Teaching your dog to "stand tall", alternatively known as "sitting pretty", is a demanding trick that asks your dog to stand unsupported on his hind legs. It's a trick requiring a good sense of balance and physical fitness, and teaching it to your dog is sure to keep him mentally and physically engaged. This impressive trick will not only allow you and your dog to (literally) see eye-to-eye but is also a gateway to other crowd pleasers, such as hind leg walking and dancing. Let's get started!
You will need:
- A quiet, distraction-free environment to practice in
- A slip-free practice surface (carpet is ideal)
- A high-reward treat
The Reach For the Treat Method
Choose a safe location
The first and most important step to teaching this trick is choosing where to train. You want to choose (as always), a quiet area with no distractions. But for this trick, safety is also key. Make sure to choose a floor surface that isn't slippery--a carpeted area is ideal.
Hold your dog's treat over his head
Hold your dog's favorite treat over his head, encouraging him to rear up on his hind legs to reach it.
Reward the position
When your dog first rears up to stand on his hind legs to reach the treat, immediately give it to him to let him know that he's done what you've asked.
Ask for more
Repeat these steps, but each time your dog stands up on his hind legs, increase the amount of time he stands before giving him the treat. Go slow - this is a physically demanding skill for your dog!
Try without the treat
Keep practicing, but without your dog's treat in your hand. Hold your empty hand at the same height, and when he stands up to reach it for the amount of time you'd like, treat him from your other hand. He should come to recognize the signal to perform this behavior, rather than being motivated solely by reaching his treat
The Verbal Command Method
Choose a stable surface
Before beginning your training, make sure that the surface you are on is safe. Avoid floors that are slippery or too hard, should your dog stumble. Carpet is best.
Choose your command
Choose the word you'd like to give as a command for this trick. A simple command such as "stand tall" or "sit pretty" is best. Make sure that your phrasing and tone remain consistent throughout training.
Hold your dog's treat over his head
Give your command, then hold your dog's favorite kind of treat over his head. He will likely rear up on his hind legs to get to the treat. As soon as he does this, give it to him.
Practice this step, but each time you give your command and offer the treat over your dog's head, have him stand tall for slightly longer before rewarding him. Don't ask too much of him right off the bat - this is a tough trick!
Practice without the treat in your hand
Once your dog is standing on his hind legs for the amount of time you want, try removing the treat from your hand and, without holding your hand over his head, simply giving your verbal command. If your dog successfully performs the behavior, treat him from your other hand.
The Lean Back Method
Before starting training, make sure that you are in a safe location with a floor with good grip. You don't want your dog to slip while practicing this skill, or to hurt himself if he loses his balance.
Have your dog sit
This training method works best if your dog already knows how to sit. Ask your dog to sit in front of you.
Hold your dog's treat in your hand
Hold your dog's favorite kind of treat (something he values and is willing to work for) in your hand and hold it in front of his face, just out of reach. Slowly move the treat up and over his head. He will likely follow the treat by moving his head back, chin up. Give him the treat.
Repeat, moving the treat farther back
Repeat this step, but each time you do, move the treat farther back over his head. In his effort to follow the treat, he should start raising his front legs off the ground. Practice, until he is at the point where he has completely reared back onto his hind legs
Practice without the treat
Practice the behavior without the treat in your hand, instead just passing your empty hand up and over his head. When he stands up, treat him from your other hand
Written by Michelle Anne Olsen
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/27/2018, edited: 01/08/2021