Dogs are very versatile creatures and they love to play and be played with. They can be trained to perform a variety of tricks and stunts by their owners. In recent years, many popular television shows have depicted dogs performing the most amazing tricks for their human owner. One of these includes the dog walking backwards on stage. This looks so strange because we don’t often see many pooches performing this motion very often. If they do, then it likely means there is something wrong and it needs to be assessed.
Any change in your pet’s body language should be investigated, especially if the habit is becoming a repetitive behavior. It might be quite normal for a dog to use lateral movements in its walking or daily exercise from time to time. There are a verity of reasons why your dog might have started using reverse steps when he is walking around.
Can Dogs Walk Backwards?
Yes, a dog can walk backwards without any specific training. They will likely do this for a variety of reasons on their own which are discussed below. Dogs have most of their strength and balance in their shoulders and front legs, however, so a dog would not likely choose to do this very regularly for no reason at all.
So why is my dog backing up? One of the most common reasons dogs do this is out of fear. You should always try and investigate the reasons why a dog is backing up when you go near him if this is the case. Your pet may be a rescue dog who has trauma and psychological problems based on its past experiences. This behavior needs to be monitored if you want to have a happy and healthy relationship with your dog.
If your dog doesn’t engage in this behavior and you want to train him how to walk backwards, then this is explored further down too. Dogs find this action physically demanding and tough, however, so you should never push him beyond his natural capacity.
Being a dog owner, you are likely to have seen your pet moving backwards in a variety of different circumstances. There will have been one of several reasons your dog chose to do so. One of the most common reasons is simply to manoeuvre himself out of a tight spot.
Why Do Dogs Walk Backwards When Scared?
According to many dog experts, dogs walk backwards when they are scared. This behaviour is supposed to make the dog look bigger and scare off the threat. A dog is most vulnerable when they turn their back on someone or something that they perceive as a threat to themselves or their pack. A dog will be unwilling to take their eyes from their target when they feel threatened.
This behaviour may be a learned response, when a dog feels threatened and has been backed into a corner. Dogs that have been abused or have been raised in a hostile environment, react with aggression and do not have a choice in whether or not they want to stare down their opponent. They will do this whilst reversing.
Dr. W Fox is a well-known dog behaviorist and veterinarian. He has successfully worked in the field for years, and specializes in behavior problems of all kinds. Here is an excerpt of the training he gives to handlers of aggressive dogs. It is important to note that most dogs will not react in this way, but there is always the chance that a dog may feel threatened enough to walk backwards.
Is It Normal For Puppies To Walk Backwards?
Puppies may walk backwards sometimes for no apparent reason. These dogs are very young and are still learning what they can and cannot do. They are testing their strength, so to speak. If your puppy seems happy and is not specifically staring down a particular target then you should just let them get on with it. If the behavior becomes repetitive then it may be time to investigate another cause of their lateral motion such as those listed above.
If you have trained your puppy to walk backwards then this is likely the cause of them doing it spontaneously on their own. Their young brains are simply processing the information and they are trying to adapt to their new skill.
Your pup may be adjusting to their new home
Another reason puppies may back up whilst walking is that they are unfamiliar with your home and want some time to get used to their surroundings. A 6-week old puppy walks backwards sometimes to practice balance and coordination around your furniture or even your back garden. Moving to a new home is a big change for a young dog and there are a lot of new rules and different mental stimuli for them to take in and get used to. This is not normally a cause for concern with a young puppy. Chihuahua’s in particular are notorious for moving like this.
Elderly Dog Walking Backwards
A dog that walks backward very often is a dog with a problem. This is especially true in an older dog. If your senior dog is walking backward, it’s a signal that he is having trouble moving forward, either because of a mobility issue or because he’s experiencing pain. If you see your dog walking backwards, it is probably a good idea to get him checked out by a vet just to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on. It is quite likely that your dog is developing arthritis, hip-displasia or even a loose patella. This type of reverse walking is your animal’s way of handling the situation. After all, he cannot simply tell you with words what is going on.
It is important to keep an eye out for these strange dog behaviors so you can better understand your pup and what they are trying to tell you. It can be difficult to understand what your dog is trying to communicate to you, but patience and understanding will help you get through it.
What other strange dog behaviors have you noticed your dog doing?
Do you think you have figured out why your pup is doing it?
Let us know in the comments below!
Emma Charles, DVM, was born and raised in Brownwood, TX. She leads the editorial team at FunDogFitness.com where she shares some of the vast amount of personal and professional expertise she has gained over the years on the subject of dog care. A proud graduate with a doctorate from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, she now shares her advice online for anyone who owns, or is considering, a dog.