Halloween is almost here! We don’t dress up the pups in the McSquare household, but we do like tricks AND treats, so we’re pretty excited to be part of this year’s Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop! We’ve teamed up with several blogger friends to create training tutorials for a variety of dog tricks AND give away almost $1500 in prizes.
At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the complete list of all 18 participating blogs along with the name of their unique trick tutorial. Visit each blog to learn 18 different dog tricks. When you visit each blog, you’ll also find a new place to enter the giveaway! Yes, you can enter 18 times!
Prizes are sponsored by Kong, Wellness Pet Food, Petcurean, Only Natural Pet, DogTV, Caru Pet, Treatibles, Noah’s Bark Dog Treats, West Paw, and P.L.A.Y.
Why train back up?
Back up is an easy trick to teach your dog.
With a solid back up, you can teach your dog how to moonwalk.
It’s fun! Watching some therapy dogs in action, I saw people asking if the dogs knew any tricks. They were delighted to shake paws, high five, and wave at the pups, but they also enjoyed watching the other tricks the dogs could do.
Finally, in our household, it’s practical. Our desk is behind our couch sectional. About two to three months ago, Bernie and Lizzie started hopping up onto the couch and placing their paws on the desk to watch me work. While their smiling adorable faces encourage me to get off the computer, paw scratches on teak are not so delightful. Teaching back up has a true use!
A helpful cue
To redirect Bernie and Lizzie back to me, I used the cue touch, which they associate more with fun. In previous training sessions, I like to end on a positive note with several behaviors I know they can offer me. These final two minutes usually focus on encouraging a high energy positive vibe that the pups will continue to associate with training. I almost always include touch in those combinations because it is so easy for them and it’s a practical way to redirect them to a physical place where I want them in any number of situations.
Getting your environment ready to teach back up
Use a narrow hallway or create a narrow space. I lined up empty plastic bins along a long way we don’t have any furniture on. You could also try this technique along the back of a couch. Get creative with using items you already own to create a narrow chute to help your dog understand that back means backing up in a straight line.
Teach back up
Direct your dog to the opening of your training chute.
Have a treat in your closed hand and stand in front of your dog.
Walk toward your dog gently pressing on his nose to get him to take a step backward.
In the beginning, mark the tiniest steps backwards with an enthusiastic marker word like “Yes!” or a clicker, and give your dog the treat.
As your dog seems more comfortable with backing up, you’ll want to gradually stop gently pushing on his nose.
Switch to just walking toward your dog. Have several treats in one hand. With the other hand, make a back up wave with the back of your hand. If your dog is super excited about treats, place the treat hand behind your back so he focuses on your hand signal.
Each time your dog takes a step backward mark the desired behavior with your marker word or clicker, and a treat.
You can also start to name the behavior by saying “back up”.
Just don’t repeat “back up” over and over. Say it once for each “set” you do. In the chute I set up for Bernie and Lizzie, I would say “back up” when they were at the opening. Then I could walk toward them two to three more times to get them to walk backwards, marking each step backwards with praise and a treat.
You definitely want to decrease the number of steps you’re taking forward. If your dog needs more of a visual cue than you waving your backwards hand at him, try raising your knee a bit.
You do need to walk to him to give him the treat or gently toss the treat at his front paws. Avoid recalling your dog back to you too often. I usually try to get Bernie and Lizzie to back up at least 3-4 times and then say touch to bring them back to the chute opening. Depending on how far your dog backs up, and the size of the room though, you could run out of room before you can try 3-4 times.
Try to get to the point where you can remain stationary while your dog backs up.
Keep increasing distance and duration:
Once your dog has a good grasp of what you want him to do, try training in a different location in your home. No more plastic bins or other props to create a chute.
As you keep practicing, be sure to say “back up” just once and you stand still. Then gauge how often you need to treat your dog for each step backwards. As your dog becomes more comfortable knowing what you expect of him, you can decrease the number of treats, but keep praising him.
See how far your dog will back up.
Work in some distractions:
Training a trick in your home is fun, but you’ll probably be performing somewhere else, so be sure to practice in other places as well.
Start in your backyard or driveway. Somewhere close to home that’s a safe place for your dog to try backing up with all the outside sniffs and noises distracting him.
Once he’s doing well backing up outside your home, start asking for random back ups on your walks or other adventures around your city or town..
Tips for fitting trick training into your daily life
Count out the number of treats you’ll use for every session.
By monitoring the number of treats you give, you know how many pieces of kibble to deduct from meals. Keeping track of approximate calories your dog eats each day is important to maintain a healthy weight.
Plus this habit creates an approximate, but consistent amount of time you spend training during each session.
I usually give each dog about 12-18 treats in one burst of training. Usually I spend less than five minutes reinforcing the new behavior. That’s five minutes total for both dogs. I try to keep training new concepts quick and fun.
Keep training sessions short and light.
If you’re feeling frustrated or your dog seems frustrated, stop trying to teach a new behavior. Exasperation will not lead to more productive results.
Work training into your routine.
On weekdays when I’m working, I may only get in one session each afternoon before dinner. If I can get in another session before pack snuggle time, I’m doing really well that day.
On the weekends, I can usually work in two to three quick bursts of training each day at home. Our weekend walks are also longer, so if I think the pups are ready to transfer the new behavior to a wider world, I’ll try working it into one of our water breaks.
In the mornings, I’ll break up one of Bernie’s supplements into four pieces so I can ask for different behaviors before breakfast. Bernie does well with these requests. He may take a moment to work through what I’m asking him to do, but he usually figures it out.
On the other hand, I’ve made the decision not to try this exact technique with Lizzie because my highly treat motivated little girl gets too excited. She wants her morning supplements and breakfast so desperately that she’ll spontaneously start offering any variety of behaviors that she’s got down cold. I just don’t feel good trying to discourage behaviors that I have taught her because she’s overstimulated. Instead, I ask Lizzie to perform those behaviors that I know she’ll offer anyway to reinforce that she’s a good girl.
Be sure to end on a positive note as well.
If your dog has done well with the new concept, heap on the praise and pets. If your dog is struggling, end with asking for a few behaviors you know your dog will rock! Make sure he feels good about each training session, so he will want to give it a try again tomorrow.
And now, here’s your treat! Ap-paws! Ap-paws! These prizes are barkworthy!
**PAID FOR BY ALL PARTICIPATING BLOGGERS**
PLUS follow ALL bloggers on Facebook & Instagram for a chance to win one of 13 SPECIAL SOCIAL MEDIA PRIZES!A new giveaway will be posted each day on either Facebook or Instagram and will run for 24 hours. Each giveaway will be posted on the co-hosts' social media pages along with a select group of bloggers. You can enter on each participating blog's account for MORE entries! You have to enter each day for a chance to win that day's prize.
Plus follow us too! McSquare Doodles - Facebook | Instagram
WHERE TO ENTER:
Learn to Jump Through a Hula Hoop by Kol's Notes
Learn to Spin by Beagles & Bargains
Learn to Come by A Dog Walks into a Bar
Learn to Hug by Boogie the Pug
Learn to Wear a Hat by ChiPets
Learn to Hold a Long Down-Stay by Dog Mom Days
Learn to Play Hide & Seek by Fidose of Reality
Learn to Show Your Belly by It's Dog or Nothing
Learn to Jump Through Hula Hoop Hands by Maggie Loves Orbit
Learn to Back Up by McSquare Doodles
Learn to Take a Bow by My GBGV Life
Learn to Do An Obstacle Course by My Rescued Life
Learn to Say Your Prayers by Oh My Dog Blog
Learn to Clean Up Your Toys by Tenacious Little Terrier
Learn to Leg Weave by The Broke Dog
Learn to Balance Items on Your Dog's Head by The Chesnut Mutts
Learn to Crawl by Wag 'n Woof Pets
Learn to Wave by Wear Wag RepeatVisit each blog for more chances to win! Follow #TrickorTreatDogs!