Purpose: Teaching a pup a square stand using a front and rear foot target, not only helps to train good posture physically (muscles) and neurologically (proprioception), but also continues to improve front/rear limb awareness, and introduces the concept of keeping the feet still. Teaching a Square Stand is important at any age, but is especially useful for puppies, Senior Dogs, and dogs struggling with muscle balance issues.
Equipment: 2 Balance Bars or 2 Sitting Platforms
Targets: Teaching a square stand works to strengthen the core muscles (epaxials, hypaxials, and abdominals) that support the spine and pelvis, fostering proper spinal alignment. It also targets the hip and shoulder muscles, promoting muscle balance and body awareness. This exercise is the foundation for a large portion of future progressions, including Teaching Stillness, Fold Back Down, Weight Shifting and Head Hods. So it’s important to take the time to build reward history, and not to rush this exercise.
- While the ultimate goal is to have the forelimbs and hocks vertically aligned. When first introducing this exercise, it can be helpful to slightly shorten the spacing between the props. A slightly shorter spacing is easier for pups that are learning, and will allow for an initial high ROR (rate of reinforcement), building value to the position and increasing confidence. Once the pup is foot targeting fluently, it’s fair to stretch the space out, and require vertical forelimb and hock alignment. It is equally important not to spend too much time reinforcing less than ideal posture / too short a space between the foot targets… Balance is key.
- It’s also important to reward generously and not ask for too much duration. This variation is about learning foot placement more than building duration. Duration will come in future variations.
- Take a cookie from hand
- Follow and find a tossed cookie