Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog to Walk Backwards

This post is part of the series Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics

Other posts in this series:

  1. Beyond the Basics: How to Teach Your Dog to Speak
  2. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog to Howl on Command
  3. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog to Walk Backwards (Current)
  4. Beyond the Basics: Training Dogs to Wipe their Paws
  5. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog to Army Crawl

Although it’s not a basic command needed for a well mannered dog, Teaching your dog to walk backwards, or to back up can come in pretty handy sometimes.  It’s something that most service dogs are taught.  Especially for service dogs with handlers in wheelchairs, who sometimes need to maneuver out of tight spots with their dogs.  We use it when we’re walking the dogs in the woods.  They manage to go the wrong way around trees once in a while.  And it’s easier to have them back-up, than for us to untangle the leash.  Especially in thicker undergrowth.

Teaching your dog to walk backwards is also great for large packs, like ours, when they swamp us at feeding times.  We back them up, and then put them where they should be with the food bowls.

Teaching Your Dog to Walk Backwards

Like most dog training, and practice sessions, you’re going to need some high value dog treats.  Whatever is your dog’s favorite works great.  Just remember to keep them small, or broken into smaller pieces, because you’ll be using lots of them.

Some dogs pick up on walking backwards pretty easily.  Others may need a little more work, and/or to be taught in a tight space where they don’t have the option of turning around easily.

Okay, let’s get started.  Call your dog over for a training session.

With your dog facing you walk forward toward him.  If he takes a step back, praise him and immediately give him a treat.  Continue walking slowly towards him, and treat and praise, when he steps backwards.

Once your buddy has the hang of it, and is stepping back for the treats, add in the command word.  We use “back up”, but you can use whatever you wish.  You can also add in a hand signal, such as motioning him away, if you wish.

Practice often.  And when your dog is reliably backing up on command, start phasing out the constant treats.

Teaching Your Dog to Walk Backwards – In an enclosed space

If you can get your dog to step straight back out in the open.  If he keeps turning, or backing up crooked, now it’s time to bring in some props and make an aisle to work with him in.  Try making a small aisle with dining chairs or dog crates, or something similar.  Make it just big enough for you both to walk into, but not for the dog to turn around easily in.

Then work through the above mentioned method in the confined space.  Walking towards him until he backs up.  Once he’s reliably walking backwards on command in the confined space, move out into the open and continue to practice.

It may take a few days to perfect your dog’s backwards walking, but keep practicing and soon he’ll be a pro!

This post is part of the series Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics

Other posts in this series:

  1. Beyond the Basics: How to Teach Your Dog to Speak
  2. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog to Howl on Command
  3. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog to Walk Backwards (Current)
  4. Beyond the Basics: Training Dogs to Wipe their Paws
  5. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog to Army Crawl

Continue reading this series:

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