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Train A Trick: The Backwards Crawl

| Published on June 4, 2015

Sometimes called the “moonwalk,” this is not only a cute a trick, but it strengthens your dog’s back legs and teaches them about hind end awareness, which can help them in sports and prevent injury.

It’s also relatively easy to teach and can be fun to show off at parties.

Before Beginning…

Make sure your dog is physically fit enough to perform this trick. If they have any type of past injury or chronic condition like arthritis, ask your vet first. Your dog should be in good shape before trying this trick.

Wondering what it looks like when it finished? Watched this Sheltie perform several tricks, including a good backwards crawl (Note: this is not one of my Shelties)

How To Teach A Backwards Crawl

Step 1

Sit in front of your dog and lure them into the down with a piece of food.

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A few tips about this:

If you don’t want to have to cue your dog to lie down (or fade it later) before he will crawl backwards, don’t use it to get him in position for the crawl).

If your dog wants to roll to one of his hips, he won’t be able to crawl. Lure your treat straight down and a bit under his nose to help get him into the “sphinx down.” If he still rolls on his hip, try sitting with your legs out straight and your dog in between, have them just wide enough for to lie down, but not enough room for him to roll on the hip.

Step 2

Take a treat and put it right under your dog’s nose.

When he start to follow it, move it slowly into his chest. Most dog’s will automatically start to back up to get the treat. As soon as he moves even a bit backwards, use your marker (click/yes/good/etc) and give him the treat.

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If he flops to the side or is crawling crooked, you can use poles, books, etc., to help him stay straight. I am using the Dog Agility Kit from DogTread in the picture. You can buy it here.

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If he pops his hind end in the air, trying using a pole, your legs, a chair, etc., to back him under, which will help keep his rump down. You want it just high enough that he can fit with a bit of room (your dog will have to life his hip up a bit in order to move his feet back, so there has to be some room). Or, you can do what my dog trainer friend did, she let her Frenchie back up with her hind-end in the air and she named it “Scoot.” It’s truly adorable.

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Step 3

Once he is backing up fairly quickly and easily as soon as he sees your hand coming into him, remove the treat and try “luring” without it. Your dog should still crawl backward without the food lure. If he doesn’t, go back to using the food lure a couple more times and then try again.

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Step 4

If you want to fade the hand signal, start saying your verbal cue (crawl, scoot, back, etc) before you use your hand to lure your dog to crawl backwards. You don’t have to do this, however.

For some dogs, you may also have to fade your position, meaning, stand up in increments (kneeling, crouching, bending over, etc). It just depends on your dog’s learning.

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