General Training


In Agility you could use backchaining to teach one of the more complex obstacles. For example, when teaching the Dog Walk you might start with the dog on the DOWN contact then have it move off. Progress to moving down the ramp to the contact. Then start doing the horizontal section, the down ramp, the contact etc. By starting at the end of the obstacle the beginner dog would always be progressing from the new (and distressing) part of the obstacle to the part that was familiar. This way there will be less balking and/or jumping off in mid obstacle during the training phase. (Gary White)

Backchaining is teaching the dog to work a sequence of obstacles, beginning with the last obstacle and working back to the first obstacle.

If the only thing you ever backchained was jump, tunnel, jump, jump, table, of course, that is what the dog would learn to do. Hopefully one would vary this to different obstacles and different configurations. Throw in a slight curve to the "chain" and gradually increase it until the dog can do a complete 180 turn to the last obstacle. There are an infinite number of variations.

What this does more than anything else is teach the dog to look ahead of him at what is coming up next. It teaches him to be comfortable working ahead of you and not having to check back with you (visually) for directions on what to do.

Another variation of the backchaining idea is to set up your sequence, and train your dog through it, then vary it by sending your dog through half of the sequence, then with a sharp body turn, call him to you, and reward him with the food or whatever you're using as a motivator for coming to you rather than completing the sequence. Courses are always different, and you want to be able to call your dog off an obstacle as well as send him to an obstacle if that becomes necessary. (Jo Ann Mather)

Back-chaining is the fastest and most reliable way to not only teach sequencing, but to also increase the dog's ability to work away from the handler. It takes patience on the part of the handler since it's backwards to our way of thinking, but it's well worth the effort for the dog. It's easier for them to see. You know where you want to go, they have to figure it out. The light bulb goes off more quickly for them. (Katie Greer)


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