shaping a trick


Experienced Member
I have a question on shaping. I am teaching my dog to back up just using a verbal cue.
(she already knows how to back up only with me moving towards her.) My problem is when she goes one step back and I want her to take two steps she sits down and will not do it.
How long should I wait for her to get the idea? I am just standing there and she is looking at me. I thought with shaping you wait till the dog does what you want and then c/t? How do I shape this trick?
Debby and Belle:msnblushing::msniwonder:


Well-Known Member
I think this one is better the way you did it - luring should be better. My dog sometimes back up on his own, so in this case, I would c/t. But if dog doesnt understand this trick only using a verbal cue, maybe you overhasted that. You should have some body gesture and probably it's best to train in narrow space. ANyways, if you already got your dog walking backwards, really just give it more time and I'd use clear body language, because imo with verbal cues it takes some time before dog understands what you mean by certain word. :dogwink: Not sure I'm any help here, but this is what I think.


Honored Member
Staff member
Sometimes they do this when they are learning this trick. Since she already knows how to back up with you moving towards her, utilize it---just fade it. When she takes that one step back, catch her before she sits. Step into her(not aggressively, just step into her space), so she moves back more. Click and reward with high value treats.
Basically the way I teach it is to hold a treat over their head and move it backwards, while leaning towards them just slightly. If that doesn't work, then I shuffle my feet towards them so that they have to move. It's not aggressive or rough at all, just gradually crowding their space until they move. Click and reward for just one step back. I gradually fade it, starting out shuffling or even taking steps towards them, and then maybe just putting one foot forward, then just leaning towards them, and then just using the verbal cue or a hand motion, or both. Since she's already learned to back up with you moving towards her, just fade it out.
Hope that makes sense. ^^ Good luck!


Experienced Member
I find it helpful to have a dog back up TO something. Back up to place feet on a mat, or back up to a raised book. Really the dog is focusing on getting its back feet on something but in the meantime you are also teaching the backing up.