The doggie backflip is an impressive trick, and teaching it requires a good deal of patience from the owner, but you should first be sure it’s the sort of thing your dog is willing and capable of doing. Owners of breed with long backs, such as dachshunds and corgis, should avoid teaching this, as the action can aggravate existing back problems. Small, agile breeds are best suited to this trick.
The first stage of the trick is the jump. Use a tasty treat as a lure and hold it just out of your dog’s natural reach. Encourage him to jump for the treat and, as you do, give the verbal command, such as “flip.” When he gets his nose to to the treat, let it go. Give lots of verbal praise at this stage to reinforce the behavior. Gradually increase the height of the treat so he has to jump higher.
The Launch Pad
By bending your leg at the knee and pointing your toes, you turn your upper leg into a doggie launch pad. You may need to pat your thigh in order to encourage your pooch to jump onto it, but he’ll soon realize he can jump higher using your leg as a launch pad. Once he’s figured this out, you can start to move the treat away from his natural trajectory.
Once he’s mastered the use of your leg as a launch pad, move the treat to a position that forces him to arch backward once he’s jumped. At first, you’ll need to do this once he’s taken off, otherwise he’ll simply adjust his starting position to grab that treat. Continue rewarding him verbally for jumping, but only release the treat when he gets his nose to it.
The final stage of the trick is to get your dog to complete a full mid-air roll. To do this, move the treat further back still. He may abandon his jump a few times. When he does this, don’t verbally reward him and don’t give the treat. When he gets close to completing the flip, increase the intensity of the verbal praise. When he executes a flip correctly, give the treat.
A capable and willing dog will eventually master the flip, but you can’t rely on treats each time you want him to perform it. When he’s mastered the move, use hand movements but no treat to encourage him. Gradually reduce the frequency with which you use the hand movements, and just use the command and verbal praise to encourage him to do the trick.
Your dog must be able to execute a flip with a comfortable landing. If your dog doesn’t have the agility to land safely, there are plenty of other tricks to teach, such as the weave or spin. Don’t persist in teaching this trick if your dog yelps or whines when landing. Similarly, find another trick if you spot signs of discomfort in your dog after flipping, such as a limp or impeded mobility.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.