Purpose: A Tuck Sit-Kick Back Stand is a great way to teach a pup about their rear legs, and how to move them independently, and intentionally. A Tuck Sit-Kick Back Stand also teaches a pup to keep their front feet still while moving the rear feet and introduces the square sit position (hocks parallel, stifle tracking straight). And this beginner level progression adds a bit of height to the front feet, further challenging body awareness.
Equipment: 2 Sitting Platforms, 2 Rubber Bowls or other raised foot targets that equal 1/2 elbow height not higher.
Targets: This exercise will become an important overall strengthening exercise for the shoulder, core and hip flexors. But for now, the goal of this exercise is mainly teaching body awareness and body control. Remember, form is everything… Slow and steady until the dog can mentally and physically execute the requirements.
Steps: There are three main challenges with this exercise…Keeping the front feet still. “Kicking Back” far enough so hocks are vertical. “Tucking” forward into a square sit (hocks parallel and hips width of space apart with femurs in a neutral rotation/not dropping in or rotating out)
Let’s go over each of those parts individually.
Keeping front feet still requires quite a lot of strength and stability in the shoulders, as well as enough coordination through the rear end and core, to not put too much power into the equation (when kicking back) to lose balance. This will come with time/experience.
Kicking back with enough force (but not too much) to move into alignment (hocks vertical), and having enough muscle memory/body awareness to know where vertical is. This is pretty tricky and requires a certain amount of strength/coordination through the core muscles and hip extensors (glutes/hamstrings/etc). I’m using a platform/texture change to help Ron Burgundy remember to step his feet back into position.
Tucking forward into a square sit also requires quite a bit of fine motor control… Not enough energy in, and the rear feet will land short, while too much will cause a loss of balance forward. Also, keeping the hocks parallel requires quite a bit of strength through the inner thigh muscle, while keeping the femur rotated in a neutral alignment (not dropping into internal rotation, or dropping out into external rotation) requires quite a bit of strength through the deep hip stabilizers.
Linking all of these movements together is quite a challenge!
If your pup is struggling to transition from Sit to Stand, check you placement of reward and handler motion. The reward should move from the nose, down and toward the carpus in a curved line. This is demonstrated in the graphic below.
Watchpoints: For a growing dog like Ron Burgundy, or a dog that is just learning a tuck sit, it’s unlikely they’ll get everything perfect, so it’s important to prioritize. At this point in the progression, the most important things are (in order of importance)
- The dog understands the rear legs are doing the movement. I don’t want any confusion between this movement, and a Rock Back Sit.
- A square sit… withholding reward if the hocks slip out, or femur rotates inward.
- Rear feet moving back enough that hocks are vertical or approaching vertical.
- Top line neutral. With growing dogs, or dogs just learning this movement, it’s common for them to have a bit of a rise over the loin (roach/spine flexion), as the abdominal muscles are able to engage more effectively in a shorter position. This should resolve sooner rather than later. If this spinal alignment persists, that would be a concern… and may indicate more time is needed working through the exercises in the standing series. (When RB’s front legs grow, and finally catch up to his back legs I expect this to resolve)
Later, instead of stepping forward and backward, I would transition to a Hop Sit and Hop Back Stand.