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Back up! Cha-cha-cha~

So we didn’t really do very well with the Back up trick in the last post. But we’re slightly better at it this week.

But before I get started on that, I have to say that I recently read on a blog somewhere that groomers, vets, etc have every opportunity to make the grooming, vet experience less scary for the dog but this doesn’t seem to happen that much. Not in action and not in the posters, etc that these establishments have on the wall.

But as people with blogs, we have every opportunity to do that. So yah, here’s a picture of me treating Donna for stepping backwards ;) because rewarding is part of making the training a positive and fun experience for the dog! :D

dog learning to step backwards

That’s bits of cooked chicken she is taken from my hand.

I admit, I didn’t really have photos of me treating her for the previous training posts. In fact, Kyla demanded to see the treat to make sure that Donna is not cheated of it! LOL

We’re still not very good with backing up. And unfortunately, I am right-handed, and that means I favour working with Donna on my  right side. The result, of course, is that she is responding to walking backwards on my right side, and has some difficulty doing the same on the left. My fault. But that’s ok, we’ll just continue to work on the left side.

In any case, nowadays we seem to be doing some sort of cha-cha to get her to walk backwards. Observe:

walking backwards (Enhanced) from weliveinaflat on Vimeo.
Don’t you love her wagging tail???
A lot of lip licking anticipating the fresh cooked chicken bits I’m giving her :P

Where’s the Cha-cha music? And why are you in your PJs, human???!!
Video by Mr P on his Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

While she no longer sits as much, she hasn’t really grasped that “Back” = take step(s) backwards. So if I were stationary and then walk back, she may try to turn around and sit and stare at me. So I keep having to step front and step back and somehow she follows my motion. I guess, I’m hoping that when we do that enough times, she’ll start associating “Back” with stepping back and not step forward and step back. Haha. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve stopped luring her with a treat, unless she doesn’t respond since I don’t really want her to take steps backwards with her nose following the treat. This makes her either turn to the side towards the treat and making a U-turn rather than walking backwards, or walking backwards awkwardly with her nose pointing to the floor. Either way, I’m not sure how she could build the association to the action if she was so overly fixated on the treat all the time. So once, she starts to respond to visual cues, I faded the lure and only show her the treat when she does the action correctly instead. Does that make sense?

So now, we’re basically trying to correct the following:

  • dog walking backwards on the left too
  • dog walking backwards in a straight line and not having the butt curving in and tripping the human
  • dog walking backwards from being stationary, rather than no response
  • maybe dog dancing to cha-cha music, haha! 

So we started on this next trick to build her rear end awareness – Stepping up and Pivoting. Stepping up is not a problem for Donna, she easily got this in one session. But the pivoting is quite impossible at the moment so I guess this dog has absolutely no rear-end awareness, huh? So I’ll just have to keep trying to lure her to pivot. Hah!

dog stepping on box


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  1. Not much backing up here. We sometimes do it when Mom says back, but it isn’t a very important command at our house.

    • What are the important commands at your house? *curious*

      • Stay and come are top, sit, down, off, aus (German) to stop howling, when walking we use obstacle to keep from tangling, easy when getting treats, we just don’t need to back up much but if we do Mom says back and walks towards us which gets us moving backwards.

  2. I had to make certain that you were giving Donna her treat. It’s in the union contract. I don’t understand how she could be overly fixated on a treat. If there’s a treat near, it has 100% of my attention. It doesn’t bother me when They say that I’m the most food-driven dog They’ve ever encountered. Enough words, let’s eat.

  3. That is so cool! How long have you been working on it?

    • Been trying to do it sporadically in the last months but no success, so we finally hunkered down and concentrate on working it.. and it got better since last week!

  4. Hey. My mom is trying to learn Vaks to come when she calls. I am coming every time she calls even if she call at Vaks. He don’t care to come grr grr. Sniff and wags from Laika and Vaks

    • Yah, I mostly come but sometimes I take my own sweet time coming and the human has to stand there and wait impatiently, lol :P

  5. My boys will back up to catch a toy or popcorn but generally just sit and stare at me. Haha!

  6. I think no matter what you teach your dogs, it’s always good exercise for their brains. We haven’t tried Back Up yet, but I think we will.

    –Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  7. My life has been pretty hectic and I haven’t had time to keep up with you and Donna for awhile. I am delighted to see how great you both are doing. You are becoming quite the trainer! Donna looks like she is having fun and that is the way training should be. Looking forward to keeping up to date on your accomplishments. :)

  8. We don’t really have a formal “back up” command but Nailah knows that “Git” means she needs to leave the area. : As for rear awareness training, it’s a bit of a toughie. I actually worked on it for a while with Niles and she got pretty good at it. She still needed some prodding but she was able to circle round the little stool we made her. I hope you guys are able to keep progressing! :)

  9. Awesome! Looks like she stepped hard on the box! Hope you had a good Sepia Saturday.

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