Training your dog to "stand" on command is very useful. This basic command is used to tell your dog to stand up on all four paws without moving. Learning how to teach a dog to stand comes in handy when you need your dog to stand up to be examined or groomed, whether it's by you or someone else. It's a good foundation for advanced obedience training as well. And, if you hope to show your dog, it is essential because many competitions require a dog to stand perfectly still despite distractions. Fortunately, this is a fairly simple command to teach and most dogs pick it up rather quickly.
Teach "Sit" and "Down"
Before you teach your dog to stand on command, it is helpful that your dog knows the sit and down commands. Even if you're still working on those, introducing "stand" is good practice and can help reinforce the other commands.
Prepare for Training
All you need to teach your dog to stand is a handful of treats. If you are using clicker training, you will need the clicker as well. You will also want to find a quiet place that is free of distractions so your dog will keep its focus on you.
Here are the steps to introduce your dog to the stand command:
- Start off with your dog either sitting or lying down in front of you.
- Stand in front of the dog slightly bending and hold a treat right in front of its nose.
- Give the verbal command "stand."
- Very slowly pull the treat straight out from its nose and up toward your hip. Your dog should stand up to follow the treat in your hand.
- The moment it is standing, praise your dog or click your clicker, and give it the treat.
Practice the Command
The first several times you practice the stand command, you should praise and treat any time your dog stands up, even if it moves a little bit. Once the dog has the hang of it, you can begin offering treats only when it stands up directly without moving from the spot. You should be able to perfect the stand command in several short training sessions, eventually using a hand signal without a treat.
The common hand signal for a dog to stand, without using a treat, is to hold your hand down toward your hip, palm facing out. Then swiftly move the hand straight backward or out from your side, inviting your dog to move into a standing position. Your dog will soon become used to your command treat-free, though it will still follow your hand.
Extend Distance and Time
When your dog is obeying the standing command and not moving on a regular basis, increase the distance between you and the dog. Take these steps:
- Start by taking just one step back after your dog is standing.
- Reward it for not moving toward you.
- Continue to increase the distance until you can back away a few steps.
- At the same time, extend the length of time your dog stands without moving.
- Begin pausing for a few extra seconds, then wait for 30 seconds, a full minute, and then longer before offering a treat. This is a good way to instill self-control in your dog, which is the foundation of good obedience training.
Problems and Proofing Behavior
If you are having trouble getting your dog to stand up, use these tips to help motivate your pet.
- Be the cheerleader: Entice your dog to learn the command by offering additional encouragement. Talking in an excited voice or shaking a toy in front of the dog are two good methods.
- Vary positions: It's okay to vary the starting position of your dog's stand training. For instance, if you began with your dog sitting, practice the stand command from the down position. This will help your dog understand that standing is not only associated with sitting.
- Keep it short: Training sessions should be brief and they should end before your dog loses interest. This is especially important for young puppies who have a limited attention span and may get frustrated or bored after just five minutes.
- End positively: Finish each session on an upbeat note to keep your dog confident, even if you have to revert to a command that your dog knows really well such as sit.
- Practice: Proof this behavior by practicing it in places where there are distractions. Begin with your backyard and then try it in a public park. In each scenario, your dog should be paying attention to you and not what's going on in the environment.
Enlist Others to Help Teach Your Dog to Stand
Groomers and vets can also help teach your dog to stand by practicing the command with your pet. You can also ask a friend or family member to work with your dog for a few minutes, but show them how you do it first. They can follow your lead, which will help your dog understand that another person is asking the same thing of it so it knows what to do. At your next appointment, give the stand command and your vet or groomer will be impressed with your training.
D’Aniello B, Scandurra A, Alterisio A, Valsecchi P, Prato-Previde E. The importance of gestural communication: a study of human-dog communication using incongruent information. Anim Cogn. 2016;19(6):1231-1235.
Correia-Caeiro C, Guo K, Mills D. Bodily emotional expressions are a primary source of information for dogs, but not for humans. Anim Cogn. 2021;24(2):267-279.