Whether or not your poodle is always up on his hind legs or only does it occasionally, you probably want to know why your favourite poodle is doing this and if it’s safe!
So, why do poodles walk on their hind legs?
Poodles walk on their hind legs to reach something too high for them or because they have been trained to do so. It is not good for poodles to spend long periods walking on their hind legs as it can cause muscle strain and back problems.
In this post we will answer the questions below:
- Why do poodles walk on their hind legs?
- Is it normal for a poodle to walk on their hind legs?
- Why are people training their dogs to walk on their hind legs?
- Are dogs trained to walk on their hind legs in danger?
- Is it safe for you to train your dog to walk on their hind legs?
Why do poodles walk on their hind legs?
Most poodles, like any dog, will occasionally stand on their hind legs so they can become taller and reach something out of their normal reach (normally food or strokes from a human they love- let’s be honest!). Poodles will also stand up when they are very excited to go somewhere and can often be seen standing up to paw at a closed-door or gate, tail wagging with excitement at the thought of a long walk or someone they love arriving home.
Pet owners often report that smaller dogs (such as Toy Poodles) are more likely to walk on their hind legs for a longer time and appear to have better balance when doing this. The poodle’s close cousin, the bichon frise is also known to stand on its hind legs more readily than larger dogs.
However, poodles normally walk and run on four legs, this is how they were built to keep them healthy, strong and one of the best dogs for agility training!
You have probably seen videos online of poodles who are able to walk on just their hind legs for long periods of time, they don’t look uncomfortable, so what’s the problem?
These poodles have been trained to walk on their hind legs and it is seen by some as a cool and funny trick. However, there have been some concerns raised by PETA that the way these animals have been trained is cruel and unethical and that the dogs walking like people have probably been mistreated. PETA argues that forcing animals to behave in a human-like way for our entertainment is degrading and unkind.
Poodles, like all other animals, have feelings and it is not fair to exploit them for our entertainment.
Is it normal for a poodle to walk on their hind legs?
In some cases, yes, it is normal for a poodle to stand on its hind legs for a very short time. This is normally to reach something high up that it wants- such as food or strokes from their favourite human.
Poodles and other dogs may also stand on their hind legs and lean against something for support when they want to be closer to something (again, food or attention are the most likely culprits!).
It is not normal behavior for a poodle or other dog to walk on its hind legs when it is not to reach something. The videos you see of poodles walking down the street are a result of strict and possibly cruel training and are not a normal dog behaviour.
Poodles who have been trained to walk on their hind legs do so to please their owners and may be uncomfortable, but know that their owner wants them to perform this trick. Poodles, like most dogs, want more than anything to keep their owner happy, so will continue walking on their hind legs to keep their owner happy, even if it is painful.
Why are people training Poodles to walk on their hind legs?
The only reason people train their dog to walk on their hind legs is for entertainment, fun and profit.
Historically, poodles often worked as circus dogs. Poodles were selected to work in the circus because of their unusual and distinctive coat. Poodles are also highly intelligent and easy to train, which is very important for masters who want their dogs to perform to an audience for hours at a time!
Poodles were trained to perform with their masters, often in fancy dress and spent entire performances in their hind legs for entertainment. There are even records of groups of Poodles acting out complex choreographed dance routines and singing!
As circuses have become a less popular form of entertainment and many circuses no longer use animals, the main reason people are still training their dog to walk on their hind legs is for internet fame.
Since social media, there has been a huge rise in the amount of “celebrity” dogs who do tricks for entertainment. Some of the most popular dogs on Instagram have millions of followers and millions of followers = lots of money for the owners though endorsement and advertising deals…
There is nothing wrong with dog owners sharing photos and videos of their dog or making money from their pet’s fame. Most famous dogs are well cared for, loved and pampered by their adoring owners. People love seeing cute animals and seeing a picture of a cute puppy can brighten anyone’s day. However, when the owner is making their dog do tricks that could be painful, degrading and even cause health problems, this is not a good trend.
While it seems unlikely that a poodle spending a short amount of time on their hind legs will cause them harm, some vets have raised concerns that dogs spending a lot of time performing this trick could suffer from muscle strain and it puts pressure on joints. This is especially a problem as a dog gets older because, like us humans, when a dog gets older they are more likely to suffer joint and muscle problems. Older dogs also take longer to heal from injuries.
An important example worth sharing is that when a dog is disabled, and has three legs, they can normally move around just fine. However, if a dog only has two legs, they normally need some sort of help, such a wheelchair to get around. This is proof that dogs and Poodles should not be walking on only two of their legs.
Are poodles trained to walk on their hind legs in danger?
There have also been stories in the media of poodles and other dogs who have been beaten by their owners trying to make them stand up and perform tricks. Dogs who are mistreated and abused often struggle to adapt to normal family life, even if they have been removed from their abusive owner’s care. Dogs who have been abused need to be trained to trust their owners again and while many will bounce back to their happy selves, some never will.
Poodles, like other animals, are being exploited for entertainment on a daily basis and as responsible poodle owners, you should not be making your Poodle perform on its hind legs for the camera or any other reason.
Is it safe for you to train your poodle to walk on their hind legs?
You should not train or encourage your poodle to walk on its hind legs. As discussed in this article, it can cause long term health problems to your poodle and should be avoided. Poodles are very intelligent dogs and respond well to most forms of training. There are plenty of fun and cool tricks you can teach your Poodle with no risk of hurting them.