Backing up, or walking backwards, can be a really flashy and cool looking trick to teach your dog. And while I certainly love teaching tricks just for the sake of cuteness, it has practical day-day uses as well!
One common time I ask my dog to back up is when I’m about to open the front door. I always ask my dog to sit and wait at the door before heading out on a walk. I do this primarily because we live in an apartment complex, and I don’t want to walk out if there’s another dog right in front of our door. She’ll sometimes sit too close to the door since she’s excited and ready to go, so I’ll ask her to back up a few steps to get her where I need her. Then I can easily get the door open and peak outside to make sure we’re clear to head out (without her also looking out, which is key for our needs). I also ask her to back up if she’s crowding the door and I’m trying to head out without her.
Another time the back up comes in handy is when she tries to enter the kitchen. I don’t want her hanging around
by my feet when I’m trying to cook, but she’s often tempted by the potential of dropped crumbs. When this happens, I can simply ask her to back up until she’s outside the kitchen again. In this case I’ll usually reward her a few moments later as long as she continues to wait outside the kitchen.
Sometimes I also just want a bit of space, like when I’m having a snack on the couch. I do occasionally share a bite of my food with her (the horror!), so naturally she ends up begging for more. If she’s being too pushy and in my space, I’ll just ask her to back up. That way I can eat in peace, and I don’t have to put her on her place bed, which we do use some of the time.
Aside from these day-to-day uses for the trick, it also has benefits to your dog’s health and fitness. When your dog walks backwards they have to be very aware of how their hind end is moving, which doesn’t come naturally to dogs. This rear-end awareness can help with injury prevention, as well as helping you teach other advanced tricks later on. Walking backwards is also good for their hips and strengthens the back legs!
If you’d like to get started with this trick, it’s one of the behaviors taught in our four week Novice Parkour Class, which will be starting again on December 2nd at 12:00pm. If you want to get started at home, here’s a great instructional: Backing Up Like a Boss! | Hannah Branigan – Wonderpups Training