Training Your Dog to Back Up

Fun Dog Tricks: Back Up

Training with dog
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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 your 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.

How to Train Your Dog to Back Up

  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. Begin moving towards your dog. 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 "yes!" or click your clicker, then give him a treat.
  6. Once your dog seems to understand the action, add in the words back up." Continue to reward your dog when he backs up on cue.
  7. 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 While Training Back Up

  • 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 backward. Your dog will take a few steps back as you use your body to gently push him. Tell him "good," "yes!" or click your clicker and give him a treat as soon as he moves backward.
  • Some dogs will get up and move away rather than backward 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 backward.
  • Don't get frustrated if your dog is still not responding as you hoped. Every dog learns differently. It's important to keep training sessions short and positive. Practice for only about ten minutes at a time. If backing up is too hard, switch to an easier action that your dog knows, like sit or down. Reward these behaviors and try "back up" again. If the session has gone on long enough, end with an easy action and reward your dog with treats and praise. You can always come back and try "back up" another day.