Monday, August 5, 2013

Using the "stand" command in a dog

Sinead in a stand position
Sinead performs a perfect stand.
In obedience class last week, we introduced our dogs to the concept of "stand." This is the command that's most commonly associated with show dogs, as this is the pose they hold while judges check their height and their conformance to the breed standard.

First off, I'll admit that I hate this command. I don't have show dogs, so there's no real reason for me to make my dogs stand up when I tell them to do so. Instead, I usually use the "wait" command, mainly because they're often already on their feet and running off to do something, instead of standing and listening to me. That being said, I am an obedient person in a class I paid for, so I wanted to try to teach little Sinead this trick.

It's harder than it seems.

In obedience classes, dogs are often taught that sitting down is the default position. In my class, a "down" command comes after a sit, and all heeling sessions begin and end with a sit. Also, when I ask Sinead to "come," she sits in front of my feet. If she's not sure what I want her to do, she'll sit right down and wait, as it's pretty likely that I'm about to tell her to do so. It's a pretty good guess, and in most cases, she's right.

As a result, the stand command seems foreign, and most dogs respond by standing up and then sitting right back down again. Sinead did these popcorn stands over and over again, and she wasn't quite sure why she was wrong when she sat back down and I gave her another command. I knew I had a rough week ahead.

Over the past week, whenever she's stood up after lying down, I've been shouting out, "Good stand!" I've also been working with treats and following up the command to stand with the "stay" command. This pairs an action with a still motion, which seems to prevent popcorn stands. She's slowly learning to stand up and freeze, until I tell her it's safe to move again.

Tomorrow night is class night, and we'll see how well she holds a stand in a room full of dog distractions. I can say, however, that we have done our homework.

If you'd like to see a video demonstration involving this command, click here.

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