Standing and walking on the hind legs are tricks that put an abnormal strain upon the muscles of the back and hind legs and most dogs require considerable practice before they gain sufficient control of those muscles to balance themselves in this unnatural position.
Before you rush into teaching this trick, bear in mind that not all dogs can do this trick, especially the big dogs such as St. Bernard or Great Dane as it is almost physically impossible for them to perform such trick. Sorry. This trick is not for you – Big dog owners!
A dog should first be taught to sit up and after he will do this well, hold a small piece of treat just above his nose and say “Up,” when he will elevate himself just a trifle to get it, and should be allowed to eat it. Give him daily practice at this, making him reach a little higher from day to day until he can balance himself on his hind feet.
Do not keep him at these lessons too long at any one time, as they are very fatiguing, and you must give the muscles plenty of time in which to grow strong, so that he can sustain himself more easily. After he can stand up he should be taught to walk by slowly moving the treat from him, and he will be induced to take first one step and then another toward it. Reward him frequently by letting him have the treat and be careful not to tire him.
After a dog can stand erect and walk on his hind legs he can be taught to dance, which consists simply in hopping around on the hind legs and at short intervals turning around.
The simplest method of teaching this trick is to attach a piece of treat to a string, four or five feet long; hold the treat in tempting proximity to the dog’s nose, and so high that he will stand on his hind legs to get to it, and then slowly move it around and he will follow after it any way that you may select. Give a command such as “Dance” to associate this trick with. Say the command when you tempt him with the treat.
Do not keep him at it too long and reward him frequently, so as to keep up his enthusiasm. In the early lessons, your dog simply follows the treat because he wants the reward attached to the end of it, nevertheless with regular practice, your dog will still dance for you even without the reward treat. Over time, he should be able to dance at command and for an occasional reward. Till then, he can be accustomed to dancing when dressed up in fantastic apparel.
Standing On Forelegs
This is one of the most difficult tricks to teach, and you most probably see this trick only in a circus as the position of standing on the front feet alone with the head down and the hind legs elevated is an unnatural one. It will be a long time before your dog learns to balance himself.
However, it is not totally impossible to teach your dog such trick, provided that you put in consistent amount of effort and time to teach and train him. (This trick is mainly for smaller and toy breed dogs only, most big dogs are physically incapable of doing this trick)
To teach this trick, provide yourself with a light cane or a stick, about two feet long. Hold the stick in your right hand and place it under the dog’s stomach, raising his hindquarters with the stick and at the same time placing your left hand on his head, so as to prevent his moving away, thereby forcing him to retain his reversed position; as the dog rises into position the stick should be gradually moved back from his belly until it supports only his hind feet.
Use a command such as “On your head” to associate this trick with and repeat it distinctively during training and remember don’t save on your praises and treats when your dog is progressing and learning. He need plentiful of them to further encourage him to learn the trick.
Repeat this operation at successive lessons until the dog understands what is expected of him and learns to balance himself with but very little assistance or support from the stick, and finally with none at all. Eventually he will learn to take the position at the order, “on your head,” without assistance from the hand or switch.
After a dog can balance himself on his forefeet he can be taught easily to take a few steps by standing in front and calling him to you, and as he gains confidence and experience can be made to walk quite a distance.
Your dog may or may not master any of these tricks mention above. For all you might know, he could be a lazy dog, or maybe you are a lousy teacher. In any case, tricks are still tricks; you shouldn’t be bothered if your buddy can’t perform them because I know you will still love him for what he is, and not performing tricks to entertain friends or yourself.