The tricks described here are used not only to play, but also to develop the so-called croup awareness. Dogs do not manipulate the back of the body as skillfully as the front and often give the impression as if they were not aware of its existence …
2on-2off – front on the ground, rear on the object
The name „2on-2off” (literally „two on – two outside”) comes from agility. In this way, the position that the dog takes on the palisade, footbridge or swing – with the front paws on the ground and the hind paws on the obstacle – is determined. This is one of the ways dogs can pass so-called contact zones on these obstacles, i.e. the sections marked on them which they must touch with at least one paw. Pets have a tendency to jump over these zones, hence the need for the following exercises.
What was a deliberate agility exercise quickly became an independent trick: the dog stands with its front legs on the ground, and the rear stands against a vertical wall. We offer two ways of learning.
Method 1. – for dogs able to go backwards
If your quadruped has already mastered getting back well (see No. 7/2007), this is the easiest way. At first, reward your dog a few times for going backwards to make sure that this is the case. Then place something not too tall and flat just behind it, e.g. a book. It’s important not to start with a too high object, because the pooch, feeling the obstacle behind, will simply stop. (You can also use stairs with flat steps). Wait for the dog, stepping back, accidentally step on this thing. Mark this moment with a click or word and reward it generously. Repeat this several or several times. In the next series of exercises, gradually raise the object, e.g. stack one book on top of the other or move to a steeper staircase – until the pooch finally climbs his hind legs onto something vertical – e.g. a tree or a concrete wall. Only slippery surfaces are not suitable for exercise.
Method 2. – for dogs unable to go back
You can immediately start exercising on a slightly higher object or standard stairs (of course, in the case of miniature dogs it must be something lower). In this way, you will teach this trick also a dog unable to go back on command. Show him the treat and lead him forward so that he is in the „2on-2off” position. If you practice, for example, on a box, just lead the dog upwards and stop with the front paws on the ground, and the hind paws on the box. Repeat this in several series of exercises, each time rewarding him in this position – so that he understands that it is worth taking it. Then, tempt the quadruped with a treat so that it stretches out more and more to him, reward him for keeping his hind legs on the object. When pushing the delicacy forward, wait for it to detach one hind leg from the object – then quickly bring the treat closer. If the dog withdraws its paw on the object, clearly mark the moment it is placed and reward it. Repeat the exercise several times. Try to get the same with two paws. Gradually try to reduce the dainty guidance backward, waiting for the pooch to start pulling his paws back on the object himself. Then stop guiding him at the beginning to the „2on-2off” position – just start the exercise with the dog standing back to the object it is going to climb on. Practice on higher and higher subjects.
Standing on its front legs
Few dogs can master this trick. Only suitable for athletic quadrupeds, small or medium. If the dog goes up with its hind legs on tall objects, you can start rewarding the moment when it raises its hind legs or tears them away from the object for a moment. This usually takes a very short time, so a clicker is recommended that allows you to precisely mark the desired behavior. It is best to reward the dog with treats placed on the ground right in front of his nose – he does not have to look up in his head then.
Tricks not for everyone
The tricks described require well-developed back muscles. Do not try them with an obese dog or those with front limb problems (e.g. elbow dysplasia). Standing on the front legs and vertical „2on-2off” is also not suitable for massive animals – although it will not hurt them to climb with their hind legs on a slight increase.
We thank Agnieszka Niedziela and Taj for help