The way we are approaching it is that Penny does a sit and then stays there. I use the command ‘wait’ rather than ‘stay’, because we use the latter to mean she has to freeze in one position while I go away from her and then return. With ‘wait’, I don’t have to come back to release her.
So, Penny sits and waits.
I place a chair (or a box, or a very low table) close in front of her and give the command ‘paws up’, which means put your paws up on whatever I am indicating.
I then use a treat to lure her to sit down without removing her paws.
That’s as far as we have gone yet. The next stage will be to get the behaviour without a lure – I’ll give a treat as a reward after the behaviour. When we’ve got it happening reliably I’ll give the behaviour a name – I guess it’ll be ‘say your prayers’ - or maybe, just 'prayers'.
On the Net there are some good descriptions of this trick. The best explanation I've found is this one. The author, Pat Miller, says:
Use your clicker to lure-shape a trick your dog might not offer spontaneously by starting with small parts of the trick, and then building to the full behavior. “Lure-shape” means using a treat to show your dog what you want him to do, and then clicking and treating for any small bit of behavior that moves you toward the final goal. I lure-shaped my Scottie, Dubhy (pronounced Duffy), to “say his prayers” by sitting, putting his paws on a chair, and then lowering his muzzle between his front legs. This is his favorite trick and always a crowd-pleaser.
Here’s how to teach your dog to pray:
From the Bottom Up
1. Sit your dog in front of a sturdy bench or chair.
2. If he can shake, ask him to lift a paw. Click! – treat. If he can sit up, ask him to raise both paws. Click! – treat. (If he can’t do either, try lure-shaping with a treat to get him to put his paws up, or proceed to From the Top Down.)
3. Repeat several times, encouraging him to move closer to the bench, until...
4. …one or both paws occasionally touches or rests on the bench. Be sure to Click! those, and give him a Jackpot! – several treats, one after the other, to make a big impression.
5. Continue to Click! – treat when he puts his paws on the bench while sitting, until he holds the position.
From the Top Down
1. Stand your dog in front of the bench or chair.
2. Use a treat lure to invite him to put both front feet on the bench. Click! – treat.
3. Repeat several times, until he eagerly puts paws on bench.
4. Ask him to “Sit.” He may try to remove his paws from the bench. Use your treat to lure him forward, and Click! – treat for any bending of the hind legs while his paws are on the bench. He will gradually bend his hind legs more and more, until he’s finally sitting with his paws on the bench. Click! – Jackpot!
It may take a combination of “Bottom Up” and “Top Down” to get your dog to finally remain seated with his paws up. When he does that, he’s ready to “pray.”
1. Sit him in front of the bench with his paws up. Click! – treat.
2. Hold a treat in each hand. With one hand, lure his nose up. Let him nibble that treat while you slip your other hand under and between his front legs, near his chest.
3. Lure his nose down with the first treat, engage his nose with the second treat and let him nibble. Click! – treat.
4. Repeat until he performs the entire sequence easily. While he’s nibbling the second treat, lower it slowly until his muzzle is between his legs. Click! – treat. He’s praying! When he can do the whole sequence say, “Let Us Pray” just before you cue the behavior. Soon he’ll happily pray when you suggest it!
For anyone who's not sure what a 'clicker' is, the granddaddy of all clickertraining sites is clickertraining.com. I don't actually use a clicker these days. I use the word 'yess!", but the theory is based on the idea of using a clicker to mark an exact behavioural moment and to let the dog know she's done just what you wanted her to do.
There's another description of 'say your prayers'here.
However, I think the best view of the trick is a short clip on YouTube. It's a little dark, but clearly shows the sequence of the trick.
I notice that the other dogs actually lower their noses below their paws. We'll have to work on this.