Can Dogs Walk Backwards? Can All Dog Breeds Walk Backwards?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Should you be worried when your dog starts walking backward? Is it just a fun movement, or there is more to it? Read on and discover.

Dogs can do wonderful things. They can run, jump, keep people entertained, keep themself busy, and all that while being active.

Truth be told, there is so much about dogs that we still get to discover on a daily level and it’s so thrilling to learn what our furry friends can do.

Thanks to many dog lovers’ circles and online auditoriums, the world is flooded with videos of dogs doing the most surprising things.

That is how we know that dogs can stand on their back paws and dance, that some dogs can easily climb trees, and that some dogs have a superpower of walking backward.

It’s common to see dogs walking forward, so why do some dogs walk backward? Why do they do it?

Are they trained to do so, or they are just born that way?

Can Dogs Walk Backwards?

The short answer is yes. Dogs can be trained to perform many tricks, including walking backward. However, this behavior isn’t common for dogs.

Dogs were created to walk on all four and forward. Keeping your dog stable on all four is something that every veterinarian will advise you to do.

Never force your dog to perform anything that could harm his physical or mental health.

Always feel free to talk with your veterinarian if you notice your dog walking backward on his own.

If this happens it’s most likely that this behavior is provoked by a neurological disorder or fear.

In fact, neurological disorder or fear is the most common cause of walking backward. This is why knowing your dog’s regular behavior is important.

Dogs communicate with people through their body language, which is why knowing a dog’s body language is so important.

If you know that it’s normal for your dog to chill the majority of the day curled on your feet, and you notice him doing zoomies all day long all of sudden, you will know that something is wrong.

This usually means that you should contact your veterinarian.

Observing your dog and reacting on time can often save your dog’s life or help with a certain condition.

That being said, if you notice your dog walk backward, monitor closely if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Ears drop
  • Pain
  • Shaking
  • Tucked tail
  • Whining
  • Whimpering
  • Confusion
  • Easily noticeable disorientation

If you notice any of these symptoms next to backward walking, you should inform your veterinarian.

Now, let’s elaborate more on why is your dog backing up.

Why Your Dog is Walking Backward

As mentioned earlier, knowing your dog’s normal behavior is something that will help you understand better why your dog is walking backward.

In most cases, dogs are fearful of items that are located around the house.

Some dogs are super sensitive, and they may be scared of daily items such as slippery floors. When fearful dogs will act in a certain way. This means that you will notice anxiety in the dog’s body: the tail may be tucked, ears may be set down, the dog might cry or whimper, plus they will look intimidating.

When fearful, dogs may choose to hide. Also, when under a lot of stress or a lot of fear, dogs may look weak and disoriented.

These signs are serious and the only person that can help you in this situation is your veterinarian.

Why Do Dogs Walk Backwards When Scared?

Dog experts cannot point out enough just how important a dog’s body language is. The reason behind this, according to experts, is that it makes the dog look bigger, so he can scare off the threat.

Dogs are vulnerable when they turn their back to a potential enemy, which is why they choose to walk backward and make themself bigger.

Also important: Dogs will refuse to take their eyes from their target when they feel threatened.

Dog experts believe that this behavior is a learned response. This is maybe best seen in dogs who went through some kind of torture or have lived in a hostile environment.

Do Puppies Walk Backwards When Scared?

Puppies love to do silly things. They are just entering the world, and as such, they need a lot of space to explore.

As result, they will often do stuff for no apparent reason. As young dogs, they are just learning what they can do and what they cannot do. In a way, they are testing their curiosity and their strength.

If your puppy walks backward from time to time but seems healthy and happy, you should let him do it. It’s possible that your Fido just exploring a new movement.

Walking backward is something that puppies can see as a fun activity. However, if this behavior becomes a repetitive movement, make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

Be careful not to train your puppy to walk backward, because they may adopt it as normal behavior.

Puppies may often walk backward as they are adjusting to their new home.

When they want to adjust to new surroundings they may act extra strange and walking backward is something that puppies might do.

Moving to a new home is something that every dog has some hard time dealing with.

They need more time to adjust to their new surrounding, and different mental stimulation is what keeps them moving.

Does this mean that when you have a dog in your new home he may walk backward just to get to know the house better? Yes.

Do Elderly Dogs Tend Do Walk Backward?

Elderly dogs tend to have difficulties moving. Poor joint health, spine issues, or any other health issues that may cause many problems can force dogs to change the way they move.

Some dogs may have such a hard time moving their front legs, that they naturally start leaning toward them.

In practice, this means that your senior dog is experiencing some kind of issues.

If you see your grey-coated dog moving backward make sure that you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Is your dog already diagnosed with hip dysplasia, because if the answer is ‘yes’ you should react as soon as you notice something unusual.

This means that you should contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice any hard movement.

Why Does My Dog Walk Backwards On Hardwood Floors?

Dogs tend to walk backward when they don’t feel safe.

For example, if you have just installed new hardwoods and your dog acts strange, as if he walks on a water surface, he may just need more time to adjust to that new surface.

Some dogs aren’t fond of new doors. There is something about doors that makes dogs feel unsafe.

Can dogs be scared of an entire room? As mentioned earlier, yes, they can and in that case, they just need some time to adjust to new surroundings.

If you notice your dog walking backward while he is entering the room, he may be scared of doorways and something that is located in that room.

Why Is My Dog Walking Sideways All Of A Sudden?

Have you ever seen a dog walking sideways? This may sound unusual but this is common in certain situations.

Dogs may walk sideways all of a sudden because there is a reason for that.

In most cases, dogs will walk sideways due to some sort of pain. If you notice this behavior make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

Can I Train a Dog to Walk Backwards?

Did you know that dogs are capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age?

This means that if you invest enough time, energy, skills, and treats you can teach your dog to do almost anything. That being said, you can even teach your dog to walk backward.

For dogs, walking backward is like mastering any other trick.

If you are interested in teaching your dog to walk backward, here is what you need to do.

1. Reduce Dog’s Movement

Monitor your dog closely when indoors.

You will see that he moves as much as the space allows him. The best way to decrease a dog’s movement is to create surrounding in such a manner that it stops him from turning around.

Place two large objects and train your dog to move within that small space.

2. Always Have the Right Command

Dogs love routine, structure, and rules. This means that if you want your dog to perform a certain task you need to provide the right command.

Use a word that will match the behavior. You can use words such as ‘reverse’ or ‘back’.

3. Repetition Is The Key

As mentioned above, dogs are creatures of routine.

If you want your dog to master any command, you need to keep on repeating the training process.

Repetition is the key when it comes to any successful trick.

How many times should you repeat command for a dog to memorize it? It all depends on the breed.

Some breeds such as Border Collie or Belgian Malinois usually need between three to five repetitions to master a single commands, wheel some breeds need up to twenty repetitions.

4. Always Reward

Dogs love treats.

Not only treats are great snacks, but they are an effective training tool. If you truly want your training methods to be successful make sure that you reward your dog with some delicious treats.

Training should start as soon as you bring your Fido home, and the right training gear such as training toys and treats should help.

Later on, you can add new commands. As your dog gets bigger and older he will be able to perform more complex tricks, even those that are physically more demanding. However, you should be careful when it comes to training puppies and dogs with sensitive joints.

Do not force them to perform any trick that could harm them physically. For example, jumping over the fence shouldn’t be an option because puppies are growing and their muscles are still developing.

Note: Never expect your dog to perform a perfectly straight backward walking.

Dogs are meant to walk on all four and straight forward in a line that can be described as straight.

Dogs use all four for walking, and for them walking backward isn’t a common movement scheme. Plus, both dog’s balance and coordination are heavily concentrated in the front legs.

In other words, walking backward will lead to unbalanced movement. A dog walking backward isn’t always a sign of playfulness, a current painful reaction, but it can be a sign of serious health issues.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD)

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is a common neurological disorder often seen in senior dogs.

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) strongly affects their loss of memory and disorientation.

The biggest downside of this disorder is that it creates erratic motor functions in dogs.

When CCD occurs dogs may walk backward. Why? The brain doesn’t provide enough signals for normal walking.

Is there a cure for CCD? Unfortunately, there is no cure. However, veterinarians can prescribe certain medications and advise you on the right therapy.

The Bottom Line

So far it should be clear that walking backward isn’t something that is considered normal for dogs.

Yes, they can do it, but they will do it in certain situations, like when they are moving from a certain object or they feel some kind of fear.

In some rare cases, walking backward can be a sign of an illness such as CCD, or a symptom of a certain disease.

In some extremely rare cases, dogs are trained to walk backward, although this percentage is really low.

Is this behavior normal? If it happens from time to time, and you stick to regular veterinarian check-ups that show that your dog is healthy, then it’s normal. However, if it becomes a daily occurrence, and you know that this behavior isn’t something that is ‘normal’ for your dog you should contact your veterinarian.

As a general rule, whenever you notice something unusual in your dog’s behavior you should talk with your veterinarian to get the best solution possible.