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Canine Gym At Home: Sit To Stand

By Lauren Tobin | Updated: Feb 28 2019

Many times, when we first introduce the “Stand” command to our students, we see looks of confusion! They already KNOW why they need a Sit/Stay. And a Down/Stay. And Coming when called, heeling, place…but Stand? They’re not so sure about that one!

Well…..the reason we want you to love it as much as we do is because ‘Stand’ is a super useful command! Just ask your veterinarian about that when he has to do an exam on your dog. Or your groomer when your dog is being dried and/or trimmed. 

Or YOU, when you have to brush your dog, or wipe your dog’s feet, or for those times when you have to bathe your dog. A dog who understands “Stand” makes ALL of those things much easier to accomplish!

And as far as strengthening your dog’s body, the “Sit To Stand” exercise is one of our top 3 must-have sequences. It not only teaches your puppy, adult, or older dog to sit properly, but it also teaches the ‘Stand’ command quickly and easily.

PLUS…BONUS!…it makes your dog aware that he has a rear, and that it can move independently of his front.

Having a dog who’s able to isolate his rear allows you to strengthen his CORE and REAR which:

  • Helps prevent common injuries like muscle strains or torn CCL’s (similar to a human’s ACL tear)
  • A strong core and rear will help your dog do the things he loves best EVEN BETTER! Whether that’s just chasing frisbees in the yard, long hikes, or if he competes in agility or flyball, having a strong rear and core are the foundations of all of these activities!!!
  • Increases the dog’s confidence which can then translate over into SO many other aspects of his life!
  • Having a strong rear and core can also help your dog age gracefully and with less pain and mobility issues than a dog who doesn’t doesn’t exercise regularly.

So, in order to create this awareness, you need to isolate your dog’s front feet so that all the movement comes from the rear.

To start, you need to have their front paws up, either on a platform OR a raised surface (upside down bowl, curb, step, etc), also known as “Paws Up”.

Once he’s comfortable stepping up onto the platform, use a cookie to lure him into a sit.

 

TROUBLESHOOTING THE “SIT” FROM “PAWS UP”

  • If your dog suddenly becomes frozen and has no idea how to Sit without moving his front legs off the raised surface, you may have to gently guide his rear into a sitting position. Make sure that you’re guiding his rear TO his front feet, creating a tuck motion.
  • If your dog tries to back up into a sit (and move his front feet off the platform), you may need to gently hold his collar collar to prevent that from happening.

Once he’s sitting, use the cookie to lure him slightly forward so that he leans towards the cookie enough that he lifts his rear up into a stand, but not so much that he steps off the platform with his front feet.

My best advice to you at this point is to make friends with “trial and error”, because your success will depend on holding the cookie at the right level, moving it forward the right amount of inches, at the right speed.

This is not rocket science, but it sometimes feels like it is!  I promise you that Patience and Persistence will help you AND your dog achieve your goals.

GOOD NEWS ALERT!!!  Once you’ve found the sweet spot and have artfully moved the cookie in the perfect trajectory that causes your dog to move into a stand, your dog will quickly understand what you’re asking, and will soon be ‘pro status’ with his Sit to Stand routine!

CHALLENGE: The higher the surface, the more weight your dog will be distributed to the rear. Try using stair steps, or even a chair!

What Equipment Is Needed?

Most students don’t have FitBones, Peanuts, and Wobble Boards at home (but if you do, GREAT!), so we put together a list of common household items that can be used instead for this exercise:

  • Any object that is a couple inches off the ground for them to step onto for Paws Up. That could be an upside bowl, a bottom stair, or an old large book! (put the bowl or book on a ‘grippy’ surface so it won’t slide!)
  • For the Sit to Stand Challenges you can use a chair, an ottoman, or even an upside laundry basket to create a higher surface for their front paws. 

What Commands Are Needed?

  • Paws Up
  • Sit
  • Stand

What Part Of The Dog's Body Does This Exercise Target?

  • Rear
  • Core
  • Rear Proprioception

How To Teach It

  • Start with dogs front feet on the object
  • Use a treat to lure the dog into a sit, keeping their front feet on the raised surface
  • You want their rear to tuck into the sit, so hold the cookie high and close to your body to help lure them into the proper position
    • NOTE: the higher the surface, the harder it is for the dog. Try a lower surface, then raise it for a challenge
    • You want the front feet to stay stationary – all the motion should come from the rear
  • Once the dog is sitting, lure the cookie forward slightly to have the rear legs kick back into a stand
  • Beginners: Start with 3-5 reps for each session a few times a week
  • Advanced: Start with 5-10 reps for each session a few times a week

Is Your Dog Ready For A Challenge?

  • Add height for more of a challenge such as having them put their front paws on an ottoman, the side of a couch, a small side table, etc!

Lauren Tobin

ASSISTANT FAST TRACK MANAGER | TRAINER

Lauren has her Animal Sciences degree from Penn State University. During college, she worked with both domestic and wild animals, and volunteered at a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for 4 years of college and even interned at Central Park Zoo. She is a Certified Dog Trainer from IACP and is a Certified Canine Athlete Advisor for Canine Conditioning. She also holds her CGC/CGCA Evaluator for the AKC.