What does the training term “back chaining” mean?

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Back chaining in training refers to teaching a dog the last step in a sequence of tricks or commands first, and then working backwards to get to the first step in the sequence. Back chaining is normally used when talking about dogs that are training for competitions, agility tests or an obstacle course. The hope is that as a dog learns each step of the chain, the process will become exponentially easier.

When teaching a dog using back chaining, the trainer will start with the very last behavior or action that needs to be completed. Then, the next-to-last action or behavior will be taught, repeating the last behavior as well. This action of teaching and repeating behaviors or actions makes them more routine in a dog’s mind and helps her to remember the chain of actions that are expected.

As more and more steps of the behavior chain are taught, the complete sequence of behaviors will add up to one continuous series of movements, behaviors and actions. Training a dog with this technique allows the trainer to break down the actions into easy to understand behaviors. It also reinforces the actions with repetition and consistency.

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