Standing up on Command

By Jim & Phyllis Dobbs and Alice Woodyard

More on The Stationary Exercises

The training platform, discussed in parts 7 - 10 of this series, can be a very useful piece of equipment when used in combination with your remote trainer. If your dog is familiar with staying on the platform until released (covered in part 7), his high level of understanding of the platform boundary can be used to shape the way he goes into his stand and down position. We'll cover the stand this month, and the down in the next article.

The Stand

You can train a nice Novice stand by having the dog walk forward out of a sit position into a "stack." However, this style of walking into the stand can make it hard for the dog to stop in the stand position precisely at heel in the Utility signal exercise. Dogs taught to stand by walking forward tend to end up forged in the Utility signal exercise, and have trouble understanding why they're doing anything wrong. We recommend that competition obedience dogs learn to stand up from a sit by stepping the hind feet backwards, rather than their front feet forwards.

This style of standing up is easy to achieve if you introduce standing up from a sit when the dog is on the familiar platform. He already respects this boundary. He knows that, once on a platform, he shouldn't step off it until released. (Use a platform that is at least as long as your dog.)

Teaching the dog to stand up on the platform.

Sit the dog with his front toes on the edge of the platform. He knows that he doesn't want to step off the platform by going forward, so now it's up to you to teach him how to back his hind feet into the stand. Say "Stand" and encourage the dog up into a stand with your other hand under his flank. The moment he moves his back feet backwards, praise and reward!

As he becomes prompt in starting to step backwards on the command "Stand," begin delaying the praise until he's all the way up. (An alternative to flank pressure that works very well with sensitive dogs is to brush their hind toes lightly, causing them to move the feet backwards. Again, as soon as the feet move, praise and reward.)

If you train with food, add the following variation. Present a goodie in your closed hand, right by his muzzle, then move it down and in a little toward his chest. This motion causes a dog to drop his head and arch his neck and, by extension, his back, making it easy for his hind end to raise up. (A goodie over his head will tend to rock his weight back into a sit, and a goodie down between his front feet will tend to elicit a down.) Help his hind end up with a hand under his flank if he doesn't stand up on his own. Open the goodie hand as he moves his hind feet back, and he gets the goodie!

Once the dog is standing up on your command, phase out eliciting the stand-up motion with the goodie in the closed hand. Now use food as a reward for performance.

Learning a physical correction

Now the dog knows how to stand up the way you want, and is prepared to respond correctly to a correction with the remote trainer if you need one. When you first introduce the correction, do so on the ground, not on the platform. Apply mild stimulation and, at the same time, help him up with the familiar technique you used when you first taught him to stand up on the platform. Press the button as you say "Stand," and as soon as the hind feet move backwards and he begins to stand up, release the button.

He should be off the platform when you first teach him how to "turn off" the collar by going into the stand. After he understands this, you can have him on the platform when you practice if you wish to prevent creeping. He'll understand how to respond to the correction from the collar if he fails to stand up

Adding a hand signal

Now you can chain in the hand signal you prefer for the stand. Give the signal before the command until the dog understands that both mean the same thing.

Standing up at a distance

Since the dog knows how to stand up on a platform, you can easily teach him to stand up from a sit or down while he is facing you, instead of at your side. This is the position he'd be in when you go through the Utility signal sequence of down, sit and come. The platform gives him a familiar boundary so he does not creep toward you when he goes into his stand. Introduce this idea with him in front of you and about six feet away. Gradually add distance after he "gets the idea."

Going into a stand while facing the handler is not required for any of the exercises in the ring. However, it is useful to teach because you can practice combinations of the Utility sit and down signals without going back to the dog to stand him up for another sequence. And, once you have introduced the collar correction, you can correct the dog from a distance if he habitually anticipates a Utility signal, and sits or lies down before it is given. He will know how to get back into a stand without you having to go to him and prop him back up!

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