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Training your puppy to do a handstand is a fun and exciting trick for your little guy to learn. This is a perfect trick for small breeds and toy dogs because they're so little, and fun tricks bring out their unique personalities. Imagine the attention your little guy will get when you're out and about and you show people how he can stand on his ‘hands.’ Fun tricks give your dog something to do outside of obedience expectations. These playful tricks such as handstands or walking on their hands don't take a lot of time to train and give your little guy something fun to show off.
Though you can teach a larger dog to stand on his hands, this trick is much easier for smaller dogs because of their size. You will need to spend some time building up his front leg muscles before you should expect him to be able to stand alone on his front paws. Expect to spend much of your time building up his strength before you focus on the trick itself. Before you train your puppy how to do a handstand, be sure he understands basic obedience commands first. Even though he won't be using these commands to perform this trick, he needs to have a foundation of obedience with you and understand your relationship before you begin to teach him fun tricks.
This trick will require repetition and some tasty treats for rewards. You will want your sessions to be short and simple to give his muscles time to recover as well as to hold his attention long enough to learn.
The Object Targeting Method
Use a book to target train your dog. Place a book up against a wall or hard surface and practice having your dog touch the book with both of his back paws.
To train your pup to target the book with his rear paws, you will have to place him in front of the book. Touch one of his back paws to the book and then touch the other to the book. If you have a really small dog, you can simply place your dog so his rear legs are on the book and his front legs are on the floor in front of him.
Once your dog has his rear legs on the book behind him, give him a treat. Call him forward to you with the lure of another treat, and then touch that treat to the book expecting him to touch his legs to the book is he did before. Alternatively, you can continue to pick his legs up for him and place them on the book. Only do this until he can do it on his own.
Reward your little guy each time he's able to touch his legs to the book behind him.
Repeat this targeting practice with one book until your dog is doing it consistently on his own.
After your dog understands target training with his rear legs, increase the height of the books you are having him target. After he fully understands how to target one book, add an additional book and continue to build until the stack is fairly tall. Be sure he masters one book at a time.
This will take some time for your little guy to get used to, so give it time. While he’s learning and practicing, he is also strengthening his leg muscles, so be patient. Once he is targeting the books at a height where he is standing on his front legs, begin to give it a command such as ‘handstand.’
At this point, with lots of practice and strength building, start using the command and expect your pup to lift himself up onto his front legs only.
Be sure to reward him for mastering such a fun trick.
The Wall Help Method
Using a wall
Place little guy near a wall and give him a treat to start your training lesson.
Add a couple to a few books to get your dog’s rear height up. Put his back legs on the books leaving his front legs on the floor.
Do this several times until your dog can place his rear legs on the books on his own without your help. As he practices, be sure to offer him rewards in the form of treats.
Once his front legs are strong and he is lifting his rear legs to the books, help him put his rear legs up against the wall instead of the books.
Keep practicing this as you did with the books until he can place his rear legs on the wall without your help. This will take a lot of practice and repetition. Each time he succeeds, treat him with a tasty reward.
Once he is lifting his rear legs to the wall on his own, take away the books and give it a name. Start using the command you’ll use to ask him to do a handstand.
When he accomplishes doing this on his own, give him a treat.
The Leg Lift Method
Start building strength up in your dog’s front legs by gently lifting his rear legs and supporting him while he stand on his front legs. Give your pooch a treat each time you lift his legs.
When you are first starting this strength training with your dog, go slow. Only lift his legs one inch at a time and give his muscles time to build.
Over time, you will need to increase the height you are lifting his rear legs one inch at a time. Make sure he gets a treat each time.
Give your trick a command such as ‘do a handstand.’ Say this command each time you assist your dog in lifting his rear legs.
On his own
Give this lots of time and practice, but over time your little guy should be able to lift his rear legs on his own and do a handstand.
As you practice together and when he is doing the trick on his own, be sure to give him lots of tasty rewards.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 04/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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