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Training your dog to walk backwards is not only a cute trick, but can come in handy. Imagine your dog being able to back out of the way when you are coming through the door with an armload. Keep in mind that it's not natural for your dog to walk backward, his nature is to turn around and walk forward. But, as with most types of training, the more fun you make it for your pup, the faster he will learn.
When your dog walks backward, he is also exercising different groups of muscles than he uses to walk forwards. It can also help him to develop different levels of coordination. While training your dog can be challenging to be sure, keep at it and he will soon figure out exactly what you want him to do.
Bear in mind, your pup loves to learn new tricks, and the more fun you can make the training period and subsequent play, the more your pup is going to love doing so. You can use just about any command you want for this trick such as, 'reverse', 'back up', or simply the word "back" for this but be sure that you choose a command that is easy to use and stick to it. The last thing your pup needs is being confused by different commands being used for a single activity.
As with any type of training, you need to find a quiet place to work, plenty of patience, and the ability to work with your pup at least a couple of times a day during the training period. The more time you have to practice, the faster your pup will learn to shift into reverse when you tell him to.
The good news is that you really don't need much in the way of supplies to train your dog to walk backwards. You will need his leash, a bunch of his favorite treats, your pup, and if you use one for other training exercises, a clicker. The most important thing you need for this trick is a nice quiet room or spot in your yard to practice. Since this movement goes against your dog's nature, you will need to be patient and ready with his favorite treat when he gets things right.
The Move Towards Him Method
Start off with stay
Start off by giving your pup the stay command.
Move away from him
Step back a few steps from your pup, then turn until you are facing him.
Start walking towards him
Start walking towards him, he may naturally start to back up. If he doesn't, keep moving towards him and lean forward at the same time.
Give him a treat
The moment he starts moving backwards, tell him he's a good boy and give him a treat.
Repeat this step and add in your choice of command words, continue rewarding him each time he gets it right.
Keep practicing this daily for a few minutes at a time and before long, your pup will be able to walk backwards on command.
The Back and Forth Method
Stand in front
Take a single step backwards with your dog watching what you are doing. When he steps forward, praise him and take a step towards him. If he steps backward, give him a treat and praise him.
Take a single step backwards with your dog watching what you are doing. When he steps forward, praise him and take a step toward him. If he steps backward, give him a treat and praise him.
Repeat and increase
Repeat this process, increasing the number of steps you take each time, remembering to treat him and praise him.
Add the command word
Now that you have him backing up, it's time to add in your command word.
Keep practicing until your pup will walk backwards any time you give him the command. Just be sure to give him plenty of treats and praise during the training process.
The Narrow Place Method
Create a narrow training space
Start by creating a space narrow enough to train in that your pup cannot turn around in, such as a hallway lined with chairs or simply a long row of chairs with their backs facing each other.
Place your pup
Take your pup to one end of the passage and tell him to 'stay'.
Walk to the other end
Walk to the other end of the training passageway and tell your dog to come.
Walk towards him
Walk towards your pup, this should make him walk backwards. When he does, be sure to praise him and give him treats.
Add the command
Repeat this process and start inserting your command. When he does, be sure to give him a treat.
Open up the space
Take your pup somewhere with more space and try repeating this process. If he backs up on command, be sure to give him lots of praise and treats.
Keep it up
Keep practicing this until your dog will back up or walk backwards on command. Be patient, he will nail this trick in a couple of weeks or so and then you can show his prowess off to your friends and family.
By PB Getz
Published: 10/25/2017, edited: 01/08/2021