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Discussion Starter #1
We've had some really hot weather lately so most of our exercise has been mental. I'd like to teach Ringo (16 week old heeler/pit) to back up. I've watched some videos online and I've been trying to teach this via shaping but he has such a good default sit that he just sits in front of me. Should I ask him to stand (which he knows) and then toss a treat between his front legs and click when he backs up to get it? Or just wait for him to do something? We've been working on sit-stay a lot so most times if I wait he will just continue to sit there...or offer a down or just get bored. Should I get him excited with a toy and try to capture him taking a step back if I can, or would that be too confusing? Any tips would be appreciated!
 

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The way they showed us in one of Tucker's classes was to set up an area where it would be tough for him to turn around, against a wall with some chairs or something to form a barrier. Then have him sit, have him focus on you then slowly take a step towards him.... this worked fairly well with Tuck.
 

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I MUCH prefer shaping the back up rather than walking into them, I don't know why, I just do.
I get them in front of me, and wait. If they make ANY movement of their hind feet, I click or say yes, and toss a treat between their legs. That movement could include (initially) going into a sit or a down. Then I build up into actually having to take a step. I also only reward for individual feet moving - I don't reward hopping backwards.
My Aussie was horrible at this for a few sessions. He too, would offer a sit, then a down, and then cry. I just kept the sessions short. One minute timer. We probably had 5 sessions where he did nothing but cry. Then finally, he was basically like "Well, I better try something else".
Stay strong!
 

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I love shaping the back up! My dog didn't shape it well in the beginning, but after we did body awareness exercises and foundation work, we revisited it a few weeks later, and then she learned it in a few minutes via shaping. Now backing up is one of her favorite tricks.

My last dog I taught it using the narrow hallway method while walking into him. It worked, but made a few other things harder to train or deteriorated the behavior in the case of his fronts unless I worked hard on it. Eventually we did get both really great, but Pip's back up and front are miles ahead of Otis's back up and front and I've had her less than a year.
 

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I do a combo of shaping and also utilizing a backfoot target with low laying barriers.

Hopefully this works... Don't normally link to vids via my phone. Just shows a couple reps of one of my dogs working with backfoot targeting. This particular guy is a rally free dog. We need straight backing for quite a distance on verbal only. The low laying guides are ime way easier to fade than walls and the target aids in getting speed and distance quickly, plus no need to step into the dog. I can give more info about how to get started if it looks like something you want to try out.
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Please forgive the drowned rat look...he was wet from rain iirc. I keep him well groomed. I promise!;)
 

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Similar to Thisisme's comment. I worked the dog starting in the sitting heel position next to a wall. Lured the dog backwards while associating the verbal command and marking/rewarding appropriately. Repetition, consistency and slowly moving away from the wall as the dog learned. Once that was accomplished, the dog would back up from any position without much problem.

If using a lead be careful regarding any leash pressure you might use as most dogs exhibit opposition reflex and this will make the training more difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the info! This is extremely helpful to me. I didn't even think about hind end awareness! We'll keep working on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So we practiced some more today. Not backing up specifically, but I threw an encyclopedia on the ground and he was pretty quick to put his front paws on it (we've done this before with other things). We had two short sessions today and by the end he was able to pivot around the book with me. He's just so good at sitting (never thought I'd complain about that :p) so it'll definitely take some patience on my part. Next I'll try setting a timer and see what he offers me. One day I'd love for him to be able to back up like in kmes' video, and also walk in reverse in heel position.

@kmes, that video is awesome. Hopefully we will look like that one day!
 
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