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How to Teach Your Dog: Go Back

Teaching your dog to take a few steps back can be very helpful when you are entering your house with groceries and your dog comes to greet you a bit too enthusiastically. It is useful for many other situations in which your dog is simply in the way. Instead of pulling the dog with the leash, a cue gives the dog the option to move out of the way and win a treat at the same time.

  1. Prepare in advance a clicker and some highly reinforcing treats.
  2. Start with the dog standing in front of you. Lean forward, or if needed, take a step forward. When your dog moves a little bit back – even it is only a lean back or a small step – click and treat.
  3. Repeat numerous times while trying to reduce your body movement towards the dog until only a small lean forward gets the dog to step back.
  4. Now, try to get the dog to move back more than 1 step. Try to increase the number of steps your dog makes gradually until you get to about 4-5 steps.
  5. Now, you are ready to add the cue. While your dog is moving back, say the cue ‘go back’ – click and treat.
  6. Repeat step 5 several times and gradually, try to say the cue earlier in the process. Try to get to the point where you are saying the cue when you see your dog commits into moving backward.
  7. You are now ready to say the cue before leaning towards your dog. Say the cue and watch your dog – if he moves backward even one step, click and treat. Repeat until the cue is strong and your dog succeeds in stepping back with only the cue.
  8. Try this exercise with added distractions and in different locations.
  9. Good luck.
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