The Stand

The Stand

The average dog has little difficulty in learning the sit and down commands but can easily become confused with an order to stand. This is particularly true if the Stand is not introduced at a fairly young age. Because the Stand is taught from the Sit, it should only be introduced when a puppy is happy and confident in the sit and down.

Puppy Stand

Have the puppy sit while on lead which is held in your left hand. With a treat in the right hand allow the puppy to sniff it briefly and then withdraw the treat towards you, elbow passing your right side, in order to draw the puppy forward and into a standing position. The hand moving parallel to the ground, swinging sideways away from the dog, becomes the hand signal for “stand”.  Allow the puppy to get the food only when he is standing properly. Give the command, “Stand” and praise. Do not expect a puppy to remain standing for long. Repeat a few times. I prefer to draw the word out to “St-a-a-nd” in order to get it to differ from other commands such as “Sit.”

A disadvantage of this method is that the dog moves forward into the standing position which may conflict with requirements of obedience training at a higher level.

Preventing forward movement

This exercise, although also taught from the Sit position, encourages the dog to move its back legs backwards into a standing position and is suitable for slightly older puppies or dogs. Have the puppy sitting on lead and offer a treat, but just as he moves ever so slightly forward and tries to take it, move the treat under his chin and back towards his throat. This will make the puppy or older dog move its head down into his chest in order to get at the treat. His back will arch and he will move his legs backwards into a standing position. As soon as he stands, give the “St-a-a-nd” command and treat. Getting the movement with the food under the chin can be tricky and may need a bit of practice. With very young puppies I have found that using my left hand to initially lift the back legs a bit soon gets the puppy the idea of moving backwards into the Stand.

Older dog Stand

When teaching the Stand to an older dog for the first time I again start from a sitting position. I place the dog sitting while on lead in the Heel position next to me, then make a left turn, facing the side of the dog. Using the foot of my right leg I gently move it forward in order to touch the dog’s back left foot. As the dog feels my foot under its belly and the gentle tap on the foot, it invariably moves its back legs into a standing position. As soon as the dog stands I give the “St-a-a-nd” command and press down or pat the hindquarters of the dog to encourage it to stand firmly and not regress into a sit again. A common mistake is to use your foot to lift the dog into a standing position.

The leash is used to prevent any forward movement. Practicing the Stand by getting the dog to sit on a top stair or a terrace will prevent a forward moving habit from developing. At feeding time I hold Quanto’s food dish in front of his chest when giving the Stand command, forcing him to move backwards into a stand position in order for him to get his food.

My puppy, Polo, is beginning her stand training in our garden where she cannot move forward.

Schutzhund exercises: The dog will stand on command.

It is important to teach the stand right from the beginning, rather than wait until the dog is two years old.

The choice of command is also a consideration. “Stand” or “Stay” are not ideal and can be confused with “Sit!” Consequently Schuts’ trainers use “Back!” for the stand in motion.

Standing from a walk

The handler begins with the dog on a short tab leash. He heels very slowly and then as his left foot touches the ground, abruptly commands, “Back” (or word of your choice) while tugging sharply backwards on the tab leash and at the same time stepping forward, away from the dog. If the dog tries to follow him or takes a step forward the handler corrects it again and repeats, “Back.”

Quanto with a tab leash

As soon as the dog stands still, the handler returns to the dog and praises enthusiastically. This is followed by a “Heel” command, walking a short distance and immediately doing another stand out of motion. After a few sessions it may be possible to repeat the exercise while dropping the leash and doing a free heel exercise at a slow pace. It is a mistake for the handler to come to a halt as the “Back” command is given.

Standing from a run

Once the dog has learnt to stop instantly on a slow walk the handler can begin to move more quickly. He walks increasingly faster as he gives the “Back” command, until eventually he is running. The dog must learn to come to a clean stand out of a fast trot. The dog must not be allowed to even take a step or two after hearing the “Back” command otherwise it will become a bad habit that is going to persist. In order to help my dog I often swing my right leg with bent knee around the front of my left leg to block my dog on his chest as I give the “Back” command. This I do intermittently to ensure a clean Stand in this exercise.

Important Concepts for Meeting the Goal

1. Standing for food

At first the stand is only taught from the Sit. The handler then, with a treat, leads the dog one step from the Sit, at the same time commanding “Back!” Once the dog is standing, he feeds it, steadying it with a hand, if necessary, to remain standing. Over time all hand signals are “faded” out so that the dog will stand in response to the voice command alone.

2. Standing for a ball is not encouraged because it’s a “prey” item and will excite the dog to want to move forward. One small step forward will lead to another and become a walk and a   disqualification. Therefore the dog is rewarded for stands only with food, praise and petting, not the ball.

Distance Control Stand

Please refer to my article on Distance Control in the advanced section for alternative ideas on teaching the Stand from different obedience positions.