Air Bud: Back Chaining in Action

I use a lot of different training methods when it comes to teaching Odin tricks. Some are taught using luring, some with shaping, and some with back chaining. Since Odin and I have started doing the titles for Do More With Your Dog, I have been using a lot of back chaining to teach the retrieve style and behavior chain tricks. After posting the video’s on Facebook and Reddit, I have received a lot of questions in regards to how I taught the retrieve style tricks. I searched the internet and was shocked that I was unable to find a video or article that used back chaining to teach the tricks!

So first we should discuss back chaining. So what is back chaining? Back chaining is teaching the dog the last behavior of the chain first, and then the behavior before that and then the behavior before that. So essentially you are training the behavior backwards.

Here is the behavior I want in action:

Here is how I use back chaining to teach it:

(1) I first build a strong reinforcement history of the dog putting the ball in the basketball hoop (the final picture). Every time the ball drops into the hoop, the dog is rewarded. Also this is setting the dog up for success. It would be very hard for the dog to not get the ball in the hoop as their head is directly above it.

(2) After this reinforcement history is built, I position the dog so they need to move their head or take one step forward to put the ball in the hoop. Make sure that you are in line with your dog (positioning) as this will help the dog learn to do the trick without you being right next to the hoop.

(3) Once that behavior is built, I ask for two steps, then three, then four, etc.

(4) It isn’t until the final step that I actually put the ball on the ground and expect them to successfully get it to the hoop.

This is also the exact way that I taught my dog to do ring stacking (like the baby toy, not the show dog term). I built a strong reinforcement history of the dog dropping the ring onto the stick (the final picture) by making the behavior as easy as possible. I placed the ring right above the stick asked by dog to bite the ring then drop the ring. Once the reinforcement history was built, I started making it harder for Odin. Taking one step back, then another and another (not moving onto the next step until the previous one was perfected).

HAPPY TRAINING! Please comment below and let me know how you have used back chaining with your dog and your experiences with it! Or if this is your first time using back chaining, let me know how your experience was with it!

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