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Teaching "Back Up"

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Have any of you ever taught your Border Collie to walk backwards with you in heel position?


I am having a tough time with this.


It was suggested that we walk along a wall with dog in heel (the dog between oneself and the wall), place food on the dog's nose, and take a couple steps back. The dog should naturally back up with you.


Speedy did it the first night it was introduced in class with no trouble.


At home he got "spooked" by it and ran to hide under the table. I have never had a problem like this before with him.


I really think the trouble is that he doesn't know what I want him to do and he's frustrated by it. I can't figure out any other way to communicate this to him.


Have any of you ever taught this a different way?

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how far are you trying to go? my mom taught her jack to do this, so I asked her, she said if your dog spooks by the wall try doing up against a coffe table or something, and reward after only 1-2 steps backwards, she said most people screw iit up when they try to go to far, in her words "just because the dog CAN do it does not mean you SHOULD do it" she said 1-2 steps backwards and start rewarding and praising a ton.

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I know you asked for Backup in the heel position but can your BC backup from in front? I found it easier to start with front as most dogs will start to back up a little if you step towards them. You can use that to assist in teaching your dog what backup actually means. Ness will backup in heel, at side, and in front and will back through my back through my legs from a front position (i.e. half spin the backup) but we started with front. Will your dog heel alongside a wall - trying to work out if its a wall problem or a backing problem?


I don't have them on me at the moment but I have notes somewhere on teaching backing.




Sally and Ness

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We learned to do this in Rally class (I assume that's what you want the "Backup 3 steps in heel position for?)


We started with Tenaya in Front, then stand, and move toward her a step, holding out a treat in front of her nose, which will get her to move back a step. Click and reward, and as she starts to get it, add the command ("Backup", in her case, but I've heard other people use "Beepbeep", "Move", etc).


In Rally class, we've used 2 Ex-pens set up as sort of fences to make a chute about 1 foot wide and 4 feet long. you put the dog facing you at the end of the "chute" and you start moving toward them. That helps the dog move backward in a straight line.


Next step was to do it along a wall, in heel position. the picture is different, so it's starting over in some ways, but pretty quickly it "clicked" and she realized "backup" means to step backwards from wherever you are. Reward just one step to start with--don't expect the dog to be able to do multiple steps back all at once!


Start working further away from the wall to get her used to working out in the open. If she starts moving crooked (a problem I still have with Willow, my Collie), then it is back to the wall, where the only choice is straight back. You can also use a dowel or short pole of some sort to tap the dog's side if the move crooked (hard to describe, but often used in Obedience training to guide precision in heel position).


Before you get too far in this on training your dog, make sure you are REALLY sure of your own footwork. This exercise is a tricky one for the human to do correctly, too!


this "trick" has come in handy, not only for Rally (we're not actually competing at the level where it is required, yet)--but also in tight spaces in the house, when one of the dogs follows me into the closet for example--I can just tell them to "backup" to get out of my way.


Deanna in OR

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WE'VE GOT IT!!! THANK YOU!!! And thank you and thank you!


I know that was shouting, but it was very very happy shouting!!


Granted, he doesn't have the behavior learned yet, but thanks to your replies, we have the key and it can happen now.


Before when I tried putting him in front of me and kind of "walked into him", he either sat and refused to budge or would get spooked and run away. (Not a good result!)


But I just tried putting two dining room chairs back to back with enough room for Speedy to go between, but not enough for him to turn around to move away.


Then I called him to me and when he was in front of me between the chairs I walked toward him and said "BeepBeep!" and he DID IT!! He backed up!! No problems. He was enjoying himself.


We did it several times with generous rewards with no "spooks" or confusion at all!


I'm thinking he's comfortable walking between the chairs. He must have felt "cornered" next to a wall.


We got to where he went back three steps and then we did some stuff that he's familiar with.


There will be no problem practicing this until he knows what I mean and doesn't need the chairs anymore. And he has never had a problem "translating" a behavior done in front to heel position once he knows the behavior attached to the command.


I really really really appreciate all of your input on this.


Oh, and yes, it is for Rally-O. We still need to qualify in one more Level 1 course to get our Level 1 Title, so we have scads of time to get this down pat - the main thing is having a way to practice it without scaring him!!

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Have you ever told him 'get back!' in an angry or frightened tone? Like if he was about to step on glass or touch something hot, etc. He might have remembered the word 'back' and gotten anxious when he heard it again.
I hadn't thought of that. Not that I can recall, but I can't say for certain that it never happened. That would be a logical explaination - very logical.
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Another thought: keep changing the place you try practicing - against fences, against outside walls, against vehicles (parked, of course!), etc. Maybe it was something in that one location, and it'll always spook him. Most dogs will back up if you just stand in front of them - obviously the challenge is to get them to back up straight, and then transfer that to the heel position.


Good luck!

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