How to Teach a Dog Rear Leg Awareness for Agility

Dog agility is a fun and entertaining sport, and has numerous health benefits for both the owner and pet. However some of the obstacles (such as clearing jumps, ramps and weave poles) require your pet to be aware of its back legs so you don't lose points. Here are some of the ways you can teach your dog rear leg awareness for agility.


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    If you haven't already, try gathering information from books, the internet and other agility dog owners about training techniques. There are many videos on YouTube specific to certain exercises and tricks.
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    Enroll in an agility class. Although these can be quite pricey, you can always take the basic beginner lessons to learn and ask any questions you have about the sport. This is fundamental to your own learning as it isn't just your pooch pal who has to try new things. After this you can begin to buy your own equipment and set up your own practice area.
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    Socialise. Going to lessons is a great way to meet both new and experienced competitors. You can also meet like minded people at the competitions, even if you aren't competing on the day. Many areas have local, free dog agility parks where you can train and talk to people who can tell you about their learning experience.
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    Practice often- the preferred way to teach your dog awareness of their back legs is to teach them the 'back it up' command:
    • Start with your dog standing in front of you, have the treat or toy reward hidden so they don't get distracted (they may not want to move away from you if they can see the reward).
    • Slowly start to walk forward, using a hand gesture specific to this command and clearly stating 'Back it up!' The dog will instinctively walk backwards. Once it does this give it a reward. Try to get it to maintain eye contact so it cannot look where its back legs are going.
    • Once you have this handled, begin to walk less and do the hand and voice command more, until you no longer have to walk for the dog to back up.
    • Begin to space out rewards, you don't want to always have to give food, but verbal praise can be used every time as motivation.
    • Narrow it down to either just a hand gesture or just a vocal command.
    • Once you and your dog are confident with this, start placing stands behind the dog, so it has to step its back legs up while walking back, vary the height of the stands. This will cause your dog to think about what it is doing with its hind half.


  • Agility lessons and equipment can be very expensive: try researching online and going to your local dog park as they will provide as much information as other methods.
  • Purchase a treat pouch from your local pet store to conceal rewards when training your dog. Present the reward immediately after it does what you want, to avoid confusion.


  • Be patient. Some dogs are better at agility than others and herding breeds will have more awareness than toys. Every dog learns at its own pace so understand that your pet has limits and gets tired like you. If it gets distressed or bored the training will have a negative effect. Always keep sessions short and positive.

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Categories: Working with Dogs