This article is part of an ongoing series for our blog on how to teach a chihuahua to use a scratch board. If you have never worked with a scratch board before or don’t know what that is, start at the very beginning here.

Requirements for This Behavior:

A step stool or other raised area (stairs, couch, etc)

A scratch board

Treats

Clicker

The dog knowing the trick Two Paws Up

Mirror (optional)

How to Teach The Rear Leg Scratch

Place the scratch board so it is leaned up against the stool or other raised area and ask your dog for two paws up. The dog should do two paws up over the scratch board, with his rear legs facing toward the scratch board, as seen in our pictures.

Show your dog a treat and hold it just out of reach. It’s easiest to get the correct response by sitting across from the dog, the dog in paws up facing you. Try to draw the dogs nose towards you and up, not so much that they jump on the stool, but that they feel the need to wiggle their feet a bit to reach it.

The goal is for them to scrabble a bit with their back legs trying to reach the treat. At any movement of the rear legs, no matter how small, click and give the treat.

Teaching this behavior requires some patience, because dogs seem to be born onto this Earth completely unaware of the fact that they have back feet at all. Trying movement with their back legs is the farthest thing from their mind.

Shape the Leg Movement

It may take quite a few tries before your dog moves his back feet. You may have to use a very tempting treat to get them enthusiastic for it. Think chopped up chicken breast or small bits of hotdog. It’s helpful to have a mirror here, to help you watch their back feet better so you can reward even the tiniest movement.

Once your dog is regularly moving his back feet when you lure him, you can start shaping the behavior for bigger movements, more contact with the board, etc. If you’ve tried 5 or 6 times and the dog still won’t move their feet, reward the hardest lean for the treat they will do to keep the pup encouraged.

From there, you can shape it by rewarding the biggest movements, the ones closest to the board, or some other small step toward your goal.

Name the Command

Eventually your dog will be scratching regularly with one leg. Go ahead and give it a name and keep practicing until he will do the command without needing to be lured. I recommend naming it something unique, because your dog will most likely scratch with one back leg.

You’ll want to put his other back leg on a separate command. To teach the opposite leg, start from the beginning as if your dog doesn’t know anything about scratching with his rear legs, and lure again with a treat.

This time, instead of luring straight back though, angle the treat slightly so he has to put his weight on the leg he normally scratches with to get it. This will encourage him to begin waving the other leg around, and you can build him up from there.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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