Monday, April 27, 2015


April 27, 2015

A behavior chain is an event in which units of behavior occur in sequences and are linked together by learned cues. Back-chaining, which means teaching those units in reverse order and reinforcing each unit with the cue for the next, is a training technique. We use this technique to take advantage of the intrinsic nature of the event.
Thanks to Karen Pryor, from her Clicker Training website:

This was my chain:
  1. I received an email from Tammy with the dates of our next monthly visit to the UP prisons. That was my initial "cue."
  2. I accompanied her on the long drive north.
  3. We worked with the inmate raisers and their puppies, and sometimes furloughed puppies.
  4. I took photographs and notes.
  5. I returned home to process the photographs and notes.
  6. I wrote and published blog posts.
Each event in my chain was cued and reinforced by the previous event. Getting Tammy's email meant that soon we'd be meeting on I-75; driving north meant we'd soon be working with the guys and puppies; taking photos and notes meant I was getting ready to return home and process them; getting that work done meant I could write and publish my posts.


Here are some breaks in my chain:
Step 1. Emails from Tammy stopped after September 2014, when Leader Dogs for the Blind stepped in to get a handle on what was happening in the growing-too-fast program. While it is true that I received emails from Leader Dogs (I was, after all, allowed to accompany Deb during her October and December 2014 visits, and later, Tammy and I were asked to cover the January and March 2015 visits), communications were not consistent. I have no clear definition of what to expect in the future.
Step 5. Too often when I returned home life got in the way and I was unable to get right at the photo and note processing.
Step 6. I was not consistent in publishing posts! The more "behind-er" I got the more overwhelmed I felt; the more overwhelmed I felt the less motivated I felt, even though I challenged myself a few times to catch up.

So, I'm going to try "back-chaining" to build myself a new chain. I'm going to start at where we are today, and work backwards until I bring things back to where I left off in 2014.

Here we go...wish me luck!


  1. I've always looked forward to your posts. Don't beat yourself up about having gotten behind. Life can be overwhelming at times. Know that we are all looking forward to "looking back" at the stories you will posting. No pressure!! :)

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Noel!