To start your canine fitness adventure, start working on some base skills. This is the first of a series of five blogs (Teach Fido the Fundamentals) to guide you. Later in Fit Dogs, you’ll learn how to use those skills in combinations on the flat and/or with equipment.
Many owners choose to use a release word (“ok,” “done,” “free” or “release”) to indicate to the dog that he is free to move around and that the duration of holding a position is over. For example, if you ask your dog for a sit command, he should stay seated until you tell him his release word. Feel free to release your dog out of the stands, sits, sphinx downs and after the puppy pushup repetition is complete.
With your dog in a sit position, lure him into a stand position by using a treat lure underneath his nose. The treat should move a few inches away from the dog’s nose and be at the height where the dog’s nose would be if the dog were already standing. When your dog rises his back legs into a stand position, say "yes" to indicate that your dog did the motion correctly. Then give the treat to your dog while your dog is still standing. Say your release word ("ok") and walk the dog a few steps so the dog understands that he can move his feet.
Build duration – how long your dog holds the position - of the stand by giving additional treats while the dog holds the stand but before the release word. The dog should not move his feet during the stand – the feet should remain glued to the floor! Thus, it’s better to have a short stand position than to have a stand position with shuffling paws. Build a pattern of perfection in the dog’s memory with all of your training.
For snazzier stand work, work on doing the stand from a down position, too.
With the dog standing, use a treat in front of the dog’s nose to lure the dog into a sit – his front legs will remain straight and his rear end will sit on the floor. The lure should lead the dog to look up at the sky and stay close to his nose. When the dog’s head extends his nose up to the sky, his bottom should go down to the floor into a sit position. Voila! Say “yes” and give the treat when the dog sits. Say your release word and walk the dog away so he knows he can move. Over time, build duration by providing more treats while the dog holds the sit but before you say the release word.
A sit is called a “rock back sit” if the dogs rocks his rear end to the floor and then moves his front paws near his rear end to perform the sit. Most trainers use the command “sit” for a rock back sit.
There is also a variation called a “tuck sit” in which the dog keeps his front paws glued to the floor and moves his rear end near his front paws to do the sit. This works different muscles than the “rock back sit.” Feel free to use a treat to determine if you can get your dog to do the tuck sit - perhaps use “tuck” as the command after your dog is consistently doing the motion.
Puppy Push Up
Have your dog start in a down position. Lure your dog into a sit by putting a treat in front of his nose and moving the treat up diagonally in the air toward his rear end. Your dog should follow the treat with his nose and upper body. His rear end doesn’t move off of the floor. When the dog reaches the sit position, say “yes” and give him the treat. That’s one repetition! You can do a few more reps right in a row if you ask your dog to lie down from the sit.
Stay tuned for other skills to train in the four upcoming “Teach Fido the Fundamentals” blogs!