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How to Train a Dog to Back Up

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Back up is a fun dog trick that can come in quite handy. It's useful if you need your dog to back away from an open door, back away from you when he's crowding you during a game of fetch, or if you simply want to impress your friends.

What You Need

You don't need any special equipment to train a dog to back up. As long as you have your dog and a handful of treats, you are ready to go. If you are clicker training, you should also have your clicker on hand.

Here's How to Do It

  1. Start off by giving your dog the stay command. If your dog doesn't know how to stay yet, it would help if you went back and worked on that before moving on to the next step.

  2. Take a few steps away from your dog, and then turn and face him.

  3. Give your dog the command "back up," and then begin moving towards him. Some dogs will take a few steps back the minute you start moving in their direction.

  4. If your dog doesn't start stepping back as you move toward him, keep going forward, and try to lean your body forward slightly.

  5. As soon as your dog takes a few steps back, tell him "good" or click your clicker, and give him a treat.

  6. Most dogs learn to back up quickly. Practice the steps above for a few minutes each day, and your dog will soon be responding to the back up command.

Troubleshooting

  1. If your dog fails to step back when you are following the steps above, he made need a little more encouragement. Continue to walk towards him as explained in steps 3 and 4. When you reach your dog, use the part of your leg above your knee to very gently nudge him backwards. Your dog will take a few steps back as you use your body to gently push him. Tell him "good" or click your clicker and give him a treat as soon as he moves backwards.

  2. Some dogs will get up and move away rather than backwards when you attempt the steps above. If this is the case with your dog, you may need to move your dog training sessions to a narrow hallway or other enclosed space. Follow the steps outlined above, and make sure that your dog has no place to go except backwards.
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