Friday, March 11, 2011

Backing Up - This Week's Trick!

You’ll need your dog, treats, a clicker, and a couple broad jump boards to form a chute.  You can substitute the broad jump boards with any other type of barrier.  A wall on one side with a board on the other side would work.

You’re looking to set up a chute with these barrier items, just slightly wider than your dog’s width of body.  You will be sitting, or on your knees, whichever is more comfortable for you.  The dog will be lured into the chute, and will be facing you at the far end, or beginning of the chute. (See below)
You will have treats in one hand and your clicker in the other.  You are going to wait for your dog to drop his head (probably to sniff your hands), and you will click and roll the treat between his front legs toward his hind legs.  This is going to encourage him to move backwards.  Once he’s had his treat, start again with him in front of you, and when he picks up a paw, or drops his head, click and treat.  Repeat.

I think the mistake most people make in training is they don’t reward enough.  They spend so much time sticking a cookie on the dogs nose, and not enough time feeding them the treat!  So, reward often!!  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before.

He’ll soon pick up that you want him to back up.  The chute is keeping him straight.  Don’t rush!!!  Let him figure it out, and reward for small steps backwards.  Do not reward him for coming back to you to start again.

When he can back the full length of the barrier, with you on your knees, you can begin to stand.  Once he is able to back while you are standing, you can add the command, ‘back’.  Only say it once.  If the dog freezes, wait him out and reward when he takes one more step back.  Reward the same way, between his front legs and roll it back toward his hind legs.

If you give him a second command, you’ve taken away his need to think, and you’ve rewarded him for stopping.  Something you really do not want to get into the habit of doing.  Think about any ‘second’ command you give, you’ve actually ‘reinforced’ them ‘not doing it’.

If this is done correctly, your dog should be able to back up on one command until you ask him to do something else.  Don’t ask for too long of a back up at first.  Ping Pong your distance, sometimes really short, long, medium, short etc.  If you always have him go a long way back, he’ll start to wonder if you’re ever going to have him stop.  We really don’t want that!

This is a great exercise for rear end awareness, rear end strengthening, 4 leg engagement, and relationship building and wonderful for puppies.

Backing up!

It’s Only a Trick!

1 comment:

  1. Another good way to teach backing up is to have the dog target a mat with their back feet. This worked especially well with my puppy, who came from her breeder at 14 weeks with a very strong default sit. The mat gave her a new way to think about things.