This is one of my favorite tricks – it is super simple to learn but it looks impressive and can be a “gateway” to all sorts of fun tricks. In fact, the first time I taught it was quite by accident. I wanted a straight back and was using my legs to guide him, I ended up with what I call “the shuffle” instead.
I have no idea what others call this, it may not even have a “proper” name, but I call it the shuffle. And basically, you and the dog back up together while your dog is in-between your legs.
It looks like this:
I know it looks difficult, but I promise it’s not!
Teaching The Shuffle
Using a clicker will make this trick really easy. If you haven’t used a clicker, don’t worry about it, it’s not necessary. You will need treats.
Start with your dog between your legs. I lured my dog using a cookie at first. Now, I just have to point.
Hold a treat (just out of reach) over your dog’s head, so he has to look up to see it.
Start to slowly move the treat back over your dog’s head while moving your own feet back (if you “shuffle” your feet it works best as eventually you will be moving backward pretty quickly.) This should cause your dog to move backwards, to keep the treat in view.
Click (or say “good,” “yes,” etc.) and give your dog the treat as soon as he takes even one step backwards.
If your dog sits, your hand was too far back, just move it until he stand back up, and then try again.
Repeat this, gradually increasing how many steps your dog takes before he gets the reward.
Your dog will start to move faster once he has figured out what you want.
Fading The Treat
One of the reasons this trick is so easy is because unlike many behaviors, you have a secondary cue built in – the movement of your feet.
So, for most dogs, removing your hand but still backing up with your own feet will get your dog to back up – no fading of the treat/lure necessary!
If your dog did not pick up on the secondary cue, start to fade the lure by first getting rid of the treat. Try to lure him back while you back up with an empty hand, than reward with a treat from your other hand.
Once he will do an open handed lower, start moving the hand up and out of the way in small increments.
(If you want to use a verbal cue such as “shuffle” – this is when you would want to start saying it, as your dog does the behavior).
Eventually, your hand will be out of the picture and your dog will be responding to your feet or verbal cue.
As I said, once you have this basic part of the trick down, you can do all kinds of things. For example, you can teach your dog to walk forwards when you walk forwards, to back around your legs, etc. Be creative and have fun!