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Teaching a Dog to Stand


Techniques Conditioning > Teaching a Dog to Stand

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After teaching a dog to sit, a subsequent command may be to stand up again. Common 'command words' that are used include 'up' and 'stand'. Start your practice in a place which is quiet and with no distractions.

Here are some ways to help you achieve this:

From sitting or lying down

You can teach the dog to stand from sitting or lying down. It is often easier to start with standing from a sit as this is already half-way to a stand.

Catch them in the act

Get them to sit first. Then wait. Eventually they will want to stand up. When they are just beginning to move up, give a command word and reward them. Do this repeatedly, gradually waiting longer before the reward is given, ending up where they are rewarded only for a full stand.

Beware of a half-way freeze as they think that this is all you want (having been rewarded this previously for a small movement). Be patient - it's a bit uncomfortable position so they will move eventually.

No reward for sitting

When they reliably sit, do not reward them other than with praise. Let them know that there is more work to do to get their food tidbit. This will keep their attention on you and their desire to please you (or just to get fed) continuing.

Moving forward

A way that can help is for you to step back. In order to move closer to you, which they may well like to do, they have to stand up. If you have them on a leash then a gentle tug forward can help, to signal that you want them to move from the sitting position.

When using this, the signal to stand may be you moving back, so you will need an extra period where you transfer the signal to the verbal or hand command. Do this by moving back less, then just starting to step back. Give the reward initially for movement and finally for a complete stand.


Hold a treat in front of their nose to get their full attention. Then move it slowly away from them. To get to it, they will have to stand. Raise the treat slightly as they stand to keep it in front of their nose, though slightly below to keep their head pointing down. Never raise the treat above their nose or they may end up sitting. If they are liable to snap or lunge, do not use this method or hold it so the cannot grab at it.

Lifting them

If they do not get the idea of standing, you can add some physical help by putting your hand under their abdomen and gently raising them, adding encouragement and reward for progress.

Add hand signal

At some point when the dog has got the idea of standing on command, add a hand signal. This is typically a palm-up raising hand. Over time decrease the size of this, ending up with a slight tilt of your fingers.

Stand before sitting

Because a 'sit' is natural and often the first trick they learn, they may well sit as a default. If you teach the dog to stand when they come to you and only sit on command, you can help them to distinguish between these two moves.

Extend the standing period

Gradually extend the time between the stand and the reward, making sure you have the dogs full attention during this period. You can finish with a play if you like (and especially if the dog likes this!).

You can also teach them to stand and wait for a command before moving further. This is useful for such as when you are going to cross a road with them, if you are going to groom them, and so on.

Change the patterns

Add further variation into obeying the stand command, including doing it in different places, doing it from a distance and so on. You can also add distractions such as other people, other dogs, etc.


It can be surprisingly difficult to get a dog to stand, especially when it knows that sitting is a good thing. In fact when many commands and training sessions begins with a sit (which is natural to get the dog towards paying attention), the dog can be confused by the idea of standing up again. 'No', it maybe thinks, 'You want may attention so I'm supposed to sit'.

If the only command the dog knows is to sit, it may not even get the idea of sequential commands, that once they have sat then there may be something else that is required of them beyond this. In any case, the sitting position is comfortable for the dog, so they may be unwilling to change this.

See also

Teaching a Dog to Sit


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