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You’ve got the whole family over for a party. It doesn’t take long for things to get silly and the attention soon falls on your endearing dog. But guests aren’t just happy with a cuddle or seeing him sit. They want a party trick that’s going to leave them laughing into their glasses of wine. If you’re looking for such a crowd pleaser then the back flip is a guaranteed winner.
It’s also an ideal trick to teach a dog who is always full of energy and needs to blow off steam. Leaping into the air a few times is a quick and easy way to get him dozing for the afternoon, affording you some peace and quiet. Teaching your canine friend a trick like this will also make teaching him other tricks in the future more straightforward.
As you can probably imagine ,turning your dog into an acrobatic gymnast is no easy feat. Fortunately, it can be achieved with rigorous obedience training and an effective incentive and reward program. If he is a young and agile puppy, both his brain and his body should respond to training in as little as a few days. If he has years of long walks behind him and a mind that wasn’t quite as sharp as it once was, then be prepared to invest a couple of weeks into the training.
This is a fun party trick to teach your dog and he’s guaranteed to end up on everyone’s Snapchat story and he may go semi-viral on Facebook. I mean who doesn’t love a back flipping dog? If you don’t have time to walk him as much as he might want, then this is a fantastic way to quickly tire him out.
Before you both start flipping your way across the yard, you will need to get together a few bits. The most important item you will need is treats and lots of them. Alternatively, you can use his favorite food broken into small chunks. You will use these to encourage and reward him.
You will also need space, away from sharp and dangerous objects and preferably with a soft surface, such as grass or carpet. Once you’ve got your hands on all of the above, just bring patience and a positive attitude and you’re ready to get going!
The Leg Launching Point Method
Find a good spot
Head into the yard with your dog and a pocket full of treats. Ensure there are no distractions around and no objects that he could possibly hurt himself on.
Get in position
Put one of your legs slightly forward and hold a treat high over his head. You are going to encourage him to use your leg as a launching point. This may take some time so make sure you have 15 minutes each day to dedicate to this.
Lead with the treat
Pat your chest with the treat and say ‘flip’. Use the treat to try and encourage him to jump up for it. Using a warm and playful voice will also help encourage him. To start with he may try and jump straight for the treat and not use the leg, so ensure he can’t reach the treat without using your leg as a launching point. You can encourage him by patting your leg at the same time with your other hand.
As soon as he starts to use your leg to jump up give him a treat. It’s important he receives the treat as soon as possible so he associates the command with the action and the treat. Don’t give up if it takes a couple of days to get to this point, the leg is an essential component and he may just need practice.
Once he has the hang of the leg, stretch the treat out further from your chest so he has to arch his back right back to get the treat. Use the command as well to signal to him he needs to jump. It will take many attempts before he finally flips, but keep increasing your reach until he instinctively flips to get to it.
After he completes his first flip, be sure to hugely praise and reward him. Then keep practicing and slowly reduce the frequency of treats until the promise of food is no longer needed.
The Frisbee Method
Play up the frisbee
Head into the yard with a frisbee and your dog in tow. Start by simply playing a game of tug and war with the frisbee, you want to create a real desire for that frisbee, so that he’s willing to do anything to get his mouth on it, even a back flip.
Have him sit and then throw the frisbee in a few different angles over his head. You are doing this to get him used to leaping into the air for the frisbee. You will also be able to get a feel for the right angle to throw to get his body to arch backwards.
Assist with the flip
Now slowly move the frisbee over his head and when he leaps up to get to it, use your hands to help him flip over. It is important you let go of the frisbee once he gets his mouth on it and he is mid-flip. Then he has to finish the flip anyway to land. It may take many attempts, but eventually he will get the hang of it, just be sure to lead him as much as possible.
As soon as he lands, give him a treat and shower him with praise. It is really important he realizes the treat is for the flip, so only reward him if he completes the flip or really tries to leap and arch back, as this is still an encouraging sign.
Practice this training every day for 15 minutes and slowly reduce the frequency of treats as he gets the hang of it. Only when you feel confident he can flip every time should you stop feeding him treats. Also stop using your hands to help him flip when he gets the hang of it. With a couple of weeks of daily practice you will be able to make him back flip just by throwing the frisbee at the right angle above his head!
The Sit and Flip Method
Find a spot
In a quiet space in your yard have him sit in front of you. Ensure you have a bag full of treats and enough space that he won’t hurt himself when he’s jumping in the air.
Introduce the command and direction
In a firm but warm voice give the ‘flip’ command. At the same time take a step towards him to force him to move backwards. As soon as he moves backwards give him a treat. You are showing him that moving backwards is the correct behavior.
Add a jump
This time give the command, quickly move forward and hold the treat over his head so he has to jump up to get it. Ensure he gets the treat when he jumps up to get it and shower him with praise. Now he knows he doesn’t just need to move backwards, he also needs to jump up.
Assist with the flip
Now give the command, move quickly forward and extend the treat over his head and use your other hand to help him flip over. This step may take lots of practice until he understands he needs to actually flip right over. Be sure to use treats and verbal praise to encourage him whenever he nearly does it or tries to do it.
Practice makes perfect
This is not a straightforward maneuver, so practice every day for 15 minutes. As he gets the hang of it, slowly reduce the frequency of treats until the verbal command alone is enough to get him to flip. You will then finally have the perfect party trick!
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 10/06/2017, edited: 01/08/2021