Back Chaining

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

Chloe,- KPA-CTP

Clearance Puppy - The best of them- all.
Barked: Tue Dec 7, '10 1:09pm PST 
Can someone please explain this to me =[

I don't understand where to start when I start backchaining, I'm not always clear what is the 'end of the behaviour'

ex. dog picking up toys and putting it in a bin

Is the last part putting the toy in the bin, OR picking up the toy to put into the bin

because obviously the last behaviour is putting the toy in the bin, but you can't teach it unless you know how to pick the toy up and bring it over...


we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Tue Dec 7, '10 1:46pm PST 
I back chained Asher's retrieve. I started with the take (of course), but made sure I caught it in my hand when he dropped it.

Then I moved to making him drop it in my hand, gradually moving my hand to different places and making HIM make the effort to be sure he got it in my hand.

Then I moved to picking it up off the ground right in front of him, then aside of him.

All of this was done with him sitting in front.

Gradually, I moved the item further away so he had to get up to get it, return with it, then drop it in my hand.

When he could do that reliably, I had him start in a heel sit position.

Then I added the heeling to a spot, sitting, out for the toy, return, sit and drop it in my hand.
Mocha Bear- (Mokie),- VGG, KPA,

CEO of Rewarding- Behaviors Dog- Training
Barked: Tue Dec 7, '10 9:39pm PST 
Hi Chloe,

A behavior chain is a sequence of behaviors which are linked together by cues with primary reinforcement being delivered at the end of the chain.

Each cue in the chain reinforces the behavior that preceded it, provided the cues have been taught with positive reinforcement. (Chains do not function with poisoned cues.)

I've been playing around with a service dog chain with Mokie that might be a good example. Because I'm horrible about losing my cell phone, Mokie is learning a find and report behavior. I'll break it down into cue -> behaviors

Cue: Phone rings
Behavior: Find mom

Cue: Finding me
Behavior: Target foot to indicate phone is ringing

Cue: "Where's the phone?"
Behavior: Find phone, target with paw

Cue: Phone
Behavior: Target with paw, wait for release

Each of these are individual behaviors that can be taught independently of each other. Once the behaviors are fluent, you can begin chaining them together in small pieces. You will want to practice small components of the chain at least as frequently as you practice the chain in its entirety.

Each cue reinforces the previous behavior.

The chain described above is a heterogeneous chain. A homogeneous chain involves repetition of the same behaviors - like weave poles - each pole reinforces the previous and cues the next repetition.

A behavior chain is not the same as a sequence. Whereas a chain is: cue -> behavior -> cue -> behavior -> cue -> behavior -> reinforcement a sequence is cue -> behavior -> behavior-> behavior -> reinforcement (like when you ask a dog to "sit" - one cue - and the dog sits, then lies down, then rolls over, then stands up). Does that make sense?


we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Wed Dec 8, '10 3:25am PST 
Duh, I didn't finish that. I would teach dropping a toy in a bin in a similar manner. I would actually teach the get it and drop it in my hand first, because from there, you can go a lot of different directions.

From there, I would move to holding my hand over the toy box and rewarding for dropping in my hand.

Then I would start pulling my hand during the drop so the toy landed in the box, with a huge deal when it did.

Then try it without you hand, but you still in the same position.

Then stand a bit off your position and see if she will still go to the box and drop the toy. If she does, it is time to start varying your position (gradually) with regards to the box.

I taught my bird to pick up his toys and play basketball in this manner (holding my hand above the basket for basketball).