Fun Tricks to Teach Your Dog – Back Up

Why Teach Your Dog to Back Up?

If you have a boxer, like I do, you know how excitable these dogs can be.  My dog practically does the “Riverdance” every time I walk through my front door.  This is cute for a while, but eventually this behavior becomes tiring.  As much as I love my boxer, I enjoy walking through the front door without her throwing a parade and me practically tripping over her.

One day I decided I would try to teach my dog a useful command that would sort of curb this behavior and encourage her to relax.  After trying a few things that didn’t work, I decided that I would teach her to back up.  This turned out to be surprisingly effective in curbing her excitement and useful at many other times.

I have my own way of teaching my boxer that works effectively and very quickly.  I have seen other tutorials that include placing objects for them to back out from in between, or putting your dog between you and a wall, but I find all of these unnecessary.  I’m not saying they don’t work well, but I have my own way of teaching that works strictly through consistency, repetition, and rewarding correct behavior.  I’m kind of old school in that regard.  So let’s teach your dog to back up!

How to Teach Your Dog to Back Up

Prerequisites: It is helpful if your dog already knows how to sit and stay.

What you’ll need: dog treats or a favorite toy, patience

Step One: First, you must make sure your dog is calm and in a relatively good mood.  It can be difficult to teach a dog anything if she is restless or excited.  Grab some dog treats or her favorite toy.

Step Two: Get your dog’s attention with a treat or toy and have her sit down.  Reward her as necessary.  Now present a treat in front of her, but do not yet give it to her.  The point is to get the point across to the dog that you are ready to give her a treat, but are waiting for her to do something to earn it.  This can take some time, but eventually she will be looking for any signal that tells her what she needs to do to get that treat or toy.  This can be helpful when teaching her new tricks down the road.

Approach her with the treat slowly and make some hand motions that signal to her that she needs to back up, while saying whatever command you would like her to associate this with.  If she is not responding to this, keep moving closer to her slowly and she will eventually have no choice but to take a step or two backwards.  As soon as she does this, reward her immediately and praise her positively.  Do this a few times and she should catch on quickly.  Eventually you will no longer need both the hand motion and the command.  One or the other should work fine.

Step Three:  After your dog becomes comfortable with the “back up” technique, practice it in an exciting situation.  With my boxer, I decided the best way to teach her to back up while distracted is when my girlfriend comes home from work.  Each time she would come home, I would announce her arrival when she would pull into the driveway and my dog would briefly lose her mind, tap-dancing all over the house.  Eventually my dog would make her way to the door to greet my girlfriend, but I would instead be waiting there with a treat in my hand.  Now it is time to give her the “back up” command as my girlfriend is entering the house.  This created a difficult situation for my boxer to understand, but with consistency and patience she is now associating my girlfriend coming home with this practice.  I eventually didn’t need to give her a treat anymore for this.

After some practice, my dog is now backing up on command (or hand signal) without needing to be rewarded.  This works great for when people are entering my house or when I come home.  She now knows not to crowd people at the door.  This trick also comes in handy when I am eating or doing anything where she would normally crowd me.  Now I just say “back up” and she knows exactly what to do.  Now when I come home, there is a little less “Riverdance.”  So, if you are looking for similar results, just teach your dog to back up.

For an introduction to training your boxer, check out this post.



Photo by twodolla

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