Have you ever watched a video of a really brilliant dog performing tons of amazing tricks? Do you remember that trick where the owner tells the dog to "Take a step. Now back up. Take another step. Now back up"? The trick ends with the incredibly patient dog finally getting the toy. The toy that he was staring a hole through while he walked toward it and away from it over and over again.
Were you not impressed while you watched the clever dog? Now imagine your dog being that dog. Walking backward is a fun trick. It can be combined with many other tricks to make your dog look especially brilliant, and it is a trick that even your older dog can likely learn.
Walking backwards is not only a fun party trick, but it is also quite useful when you need your older dog to move out of a space. It can also save you from having to pick up an older dog that cannot turn around. .
When training your older dog to walk backwards you will need to keep the sessions short enough for your dog to not get too tired. You will also need to be aware of your older dog's compromised balance, and be sure to go slowly enough for him to figure out where he needs step, so that he does not trip. If your dog is vision or hearing impaired, you will need to work especially slowly.
If your dog is vision impaired you will need to give your dog the time sniff the treat as you lure him with it, so that he can keep track of where the treat is. You will also need to be very gentle if you are using the 'Hallway' method" When you step toward your dog , very gently brush up against him and allow him time to become aware of your presence and to decide to step backward.
If your dog is hearing impaired you will need to turn your lures and steps into hand signals and cues. To do this, when it is time to phase out the treat lures, simply remove the treat from your lure hand but continue to use your hand as if you still held a treat. With the steps, simply skip over the instructions to remove the steps and continue to use them.
Expect this command to take between two and four weeks. If your dog struggles with balance or has limited eyesight, you will need to allow more time and to work especially slowly to give your dog time to learn.
To get started, you will need lots of small, soft treats and patience. If you are using the 'Hallway' method, you will also need a narrow hallway or other long space that is enclosed on both sides, to practice the training in. You may also need a leash if your dog will not stay with you. If you are using the 'Chair Blocking' method, you will also need between six and ten chairs and a space large enough to form two lines of chairs close together. If your dog is large, aim to have ten chairs. If your dog is small six chairs will be enough, although you can add more.