Standing and walking on the hind legs are tricks that put an abnormal strain upon the muscles of the back and hind legs and most dogs require considerable practice before they gain sufficient control of those muscles to balance themselves in this unnatural position.
Before you rush into teaching this trick, bear in mind that not all dogs can do this trick, especially the big dogs such as St. Bernard or Great Dane as it is almost physically impossible for them to perform such trick. Sorry. This trick is not for you – Big dog owners!
A dog should first be taught to sit up and after he will do this well, hold a small piece of treat just above his nose and say “Up,” when he will elevate himself just a trifle to get it, and should be allowed to eat it. Give him daily practice at this, making him reach a little higher from day to day until he can balance himself on his hind feet.
Do not keep him at these lessons too long at any one time, as they are very fatiguing, and you must give the muscles plenty of time in which to grow strong, so that he can sustain himself more easily. After he can stand up he should be taught to walk by slowly moving the treat from him, and he will be induced to take first one step and then another toward it. Reward him frequently by letting him have the treat and be careful not to tire him.
After a dog can stand erect and walk on his hind legs he can be taught to dance, which consists simply in hopping around on the hind legs and at short intervals turning around.
The simplest method of teaching this trick is to attach a piece of treat to a string, four or five feet long; hold the treat in tempting proximity to the dog’s nose, and so high that he will stand on his hind legs to get to it, and then slowly move it around and he will follow after it any way that you may select. Give a command such as “Dance” to associate this trick with. Say the command when you tempt him with the treat.
Do not keep him at it too long and reward him frequently, so as to keep up his enthusiasm. In the early lessons, your dog simply follows the treat because he wants the reward attached to the end of it, nevertheless with regular practice, your dog will still dance for you even without the reward treat. Over time, he should be able to dance at command and for an occasional reward. Till then, he can be accustomed to dancing when dressed up in fantastic apparel.
Standing On Forelegs
This is one of the most difficult tricks to teach, and you most probably see this trick only in a circus as the position of standing on the front feet alone with the head down and the hind legs elevated is an unnatural one. It will be a long time before your dog learns to balance himself.
However, it is not totally impossible to teach your dog such trick, provided that you put in consistent amount of effort and time to teach and train him. (This trick is mainly for smaller and toy breed dogs only, most big dogs are physically incapable of doing this trick)
To teach this trick, provide yourself with a light cane or a stick, about two feet long. Hold the stick in your right hand and place it under the dog’s stomach, raising his hindquarters with the stick and at the same time placing your left hand on his head, so as to prevent his moving away, thereby forcing him to retain his reversed position; as the dog rises into position the stick should be gradually moved back from his belly until it supports only his hind feet.
Use a command such as “On your head” to associate this trick with and repeat it distinctively during training and remember don’t save on your praises and treats when your dog is progressing and learning. He need plentiful of them to further encourage him to learn the trick.
Repeat this operation at successive lessons until the dog understands what is expected of him and learns to balance himself with but very little assistance or support from the stick, and finally with none at all. Eventually he will learn to take the position at the order, “on your head,” without assistance from the hand or switch.
After a dog can balance himself on his forefeet he can be taught easily to take a few steps by standing in front and calling him to you, and as he gains confidence and experience can be made to walk quite a distance.
Your dog may or may not master any of these tricks mention above. For all you might know, he could be a lazy dog, or maybe you are a lousy teacher. In any case, tricks are still tricks; you shouldn’t be bothered if your buddy can’t perform them because I know you will still love him for what he is, and not performing tricks to entertain friends or yourself.
The trick of “sitting up” is easily taught to small dogs, but should try not be included in a big dog’s education, as it is difficult for them to preserve their balance.
The training of sitting up is one of the first tricks to teach and forms the groundwork for many other dog tricks. To train a dog to sit up, prepare some treats as a reward, and set your dog on his haunches in a corner, so that he cannot fall either backward or sideways and has very little or no space to lose balance.
Keep him from pitching forward by holding one hand under his chin and with the other hand hold the treat above his nose and keep repeating distinctly and deliberately say, “sit up.” Do not make him sit up too long at any one time, but repeat the lesson frequently and reward him often with plentiful of praise and treats.
During his first lesson he will require considerable assistance from your hand to prevent him from pitching forward, but as he gets control of the balancing muscles and understands what you want, he will depend less and less upon your hand to keep him in position and you can gradually render him less assistance until you will only have to keep one hand in position two or three inches from his neck or chin, so as to be ready to prevent him pitching forward; later on you can withdraw this hand entirely and simply hold the treat just above the level of his head.
By constant practice he will sit up well after you set him up; then he should be set up against the wall, so as to afford him a support for his back only, and after he has been well schooled at this and can keep his position easily, practice him against chair legs, cushions or other objects that afford him less and less assistance, until finally he learns to preserve his balance and sits up without anything to lean against.
During all these lessons the words “sit up” have been impressed upon his mind by frequent repetition, and now comes the final lesson to teach him to sit up as soon as he hears the words, and the chances are, if he has been diligently drilled, it will be necessary only to call him out in the room, show him a treat, hold it up a suitable distance from the floor, say “sit up” and he will do so, when he should be given the treat while still in position.
The only necessity to perfection is to practice him several times a day until he will sit up at the word and without being shown a reward; that can be given him after he has obeyed.
You have now a foundation for many other tricks. He can be taught to beg by moving your hand up and down just in front of his paws, which he will move in unison with yours. He can also be taught to salute by bringing one paw up to the side of his head, or to hold a wooden pipe in his mouth, or to wear a cap on his head or other articles of wearing apparel.
In teaching a dog to submit to being dressed up, do not attempt to get him to wear too many things at once; try him at first with a cap and after he becomes accustomed to that you can put on a coat and gradually accustom him to the other clothing articles.
Enjoy teaching your dog the “sit up” trick and most importantly have fun along the way!