Paws Up is a valuable trick for taking photos since it requires the dog to maintain a position. And if you’ve taught your dog to look at the camera, you’ve got the potential for a great shot.
By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and Cynologist.
Teaching your dog they can put their front paws up on something is a handy and entertaining trick to teach. Paws up is also a fantastic way to build your dog’s confidence and a trick anyone can teach, young or old. All photos are courtesy of McSquare Doodles.
What you need
To teach this trick, you will be using targeting. This means you need somewhere for your dog to learn to place his feet on command. You can use your arm, a chair, the wall–something sturdy that won’t tip.
Also, make sure to do this trick on a non-slip surface, so when the dog goes onto his back feet to put his paws up, he doesn’t slide. A cut-up yoga mat piece that’s in a 12-inch by 12-inch square or foam pad works well.
Steps to accomplish Paws Up
Lure your dog with a treat to put his front feet up onto the surface. You can tap whatever you want your dog to put their paws upon.
Once their paws are up on the surface, immediately reward and tell your dog how good they are.
Give your dog the release cue, lure your dog’s paws off and repeat. Practice 5-10 minutes each session, always ending positively with your dog accomplishing the task.
Once your dog begins to understand, add a verbal cue. Say the verbal cue ‘Paws Up,’ wait, then lure your dog into putting his paws up.
Go very slowly if you find your dog is jumping entirely up, and be sure to reward immediately as its front paws touch the surface.
If your pet is still struggling, try feet up on a step or somewhere they can’t jump up and transition back to other situations such as a wall later.
Irene McHugh of McSquare Doodles offers this tip, “We started with larger/wider/lower objects to put our paws on. Like benches and curbs.
I also had them practice wall stands, including on empty playgrounds. As the pups got better and wanted to refine the trick, I started asking them to put their paws on narrower bars, like the exercise bars on the sit-up stand at the park or pieces of a fire hydrant. The narrower objects also helped them distinguish the difference between “paws” and “up” because I ask them to jump on many things. But when I want them just putting their paws on something, it’s easier if they know the difference.”
To get the best shot, dog parents should always have at least a few high-value treats with them on walks. I always have my treat pouch with me, but if I’ve run out of the super high-value treats that Bernie likes, sometimes he’ll take his paws off the object before I can get the shot. But if he smells the yummiest treats rather than just our normal dog walking snacks, he’s suddenly much more engaged with the process.
As your dog improves and becomes more reliable with Paws Up, you can start proofing the behavior by adding duration, distance, and distraction.
Increase the time your dog has his paws up before you give him a treat. Also, make the time between treats longer and longer for having his feet up.
Teach your dog that when you are at a distance, the object you point towards is the one to put its paws upon.
Add a twist to Paws Up
Paws up on your arm
Paws up on your leg
Paws on the page (for reading dog)
Say your prayers
Paws up on your back as you walk forward
Paws up on a shopping cart to push it
Paws up on tree limbs or branches
Paws up on fire hydrants
Paws up on curbs, rocks, exercise bars in the park
A cute act asks the dog to “spread ’em” against a wall and then pat down the dog.
Another extension would be perch work for rear-end awareness.
Benefits of Paws Up
Your dog will gain balance and work on its core strength using the paw targeting skills! Besides, since this trick shifts the dog’s body weight onto the opposite set of limbs, it increases strength in those limbs.
So get started teaching this cool trick and enjoy the benefits of great photos of your dogs.
About the author
Laura Pakis, is the owner and founder of Acme Canine, a canine resource website. She’s also a veteran professional dog trainer who is a member of the Dog Writer’s Association, BlogPaws, and the International Association of Canine Professionals. Laura reaches thousands of dog enthusiasts looking to improve their canine relationship by sharing her knowledge through social media channels. Follow Acme Canine on Instagram.
About McSquare Doodles
Bernie and Lizzie are Labradoodle siblings on a journey to become therapy dogs. Check out their blog to learn more about their journey as well as their Instagram account to keep up with their adventures.
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