CORRECTING HIGH DRIVE DOGS & OPERANT CONDITIONING Q&A with Pat Stuart, Operant Canine

Pat Stuart of Operant Canine spent 12 years in Australia’s Army Special Forces before diving into dog training full time. He has been mentored and coached by some of the world’s best dog trainers, most notably Michael and Bart Bellon and has studied everything from hands-off force free training to old school compulsion. He is a certified instructor for the NePoPo® system of dog training. The method “prepares dogs for the rigors of life and creates an active free thinking dog ready to engage with his environment. It also prepares a dog to receive a correction without ever dropping in motivation.” 

Pat is also an active competitor in PSA, a certified decoy and the PSA Assistant Regional Director for Australia. He also co-hosts a weekly podcast dedicated to dog behavioral training called 'The Canine Paradigm'.

We invited Pat on today to talk about operant conditioning, the importance of properly correcting our dogs, and figuring out what motivates our dogs, among other things.  

We cover:

- Operant conditioning
- NePoPo Training
- Why Corrections are Important for Dogs
- Aggression
- Leash Reactivity 
- "My dog snarls & gets aggressive with the prong collar. What should I do?"
- "My dog is never not chasing cats. Help!"
- Best uses for e-collar 
- Box Feeding
- Resource Guarding

Thanks so much for joining us, Patrick. 

For more info on Patrick Stuart, visit Operant Canine & check out his podcast 'The Canine Paradigm' with Glenn Cook!
 
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Can you talk a little bit about your experience prior to dog training?

 

Patrick: I joined the army straight out of high school and spent 12 years in a unit called Two Commando Regiments. I did myself a mischief in 2011 and broke my back, so I was on kind of borrowed time for the last couple of years in the army. 

 

I made the decision in 2015 to transfer out and become a full-time dog trainer from there. I've been on the tools professionally doing it just as my only job for you know probably five years but obviously prior to that i was into it as a hobby and it was a big part of my life. It was sort of a little side hustle gig while i was in the army but now it's my main thing now. 

 

I know that you are a NE-PO-PO instructor. Before we hop into that, because i know we're going to lose some people and the first time i heard of NE-PO-PO it went over my head. Pat, can you explain what NE-PO-PO is?

 

Patrick: I’ve been a student of Bart and Michael Bellon for about five years. It was just after I got out of the army that I linked up with those guys. NEPOPO is their system and the truth is, it's not this dark magic that people sometimes make it out to be. It’s just balanced training, but really using the full spectrum of balanced training. A lot of people are training in NEPOPO, using a lot of techniques without actually realizing that and they're not NE-PO-PO people but they're using their techniques and and the reality is the truth is as balanced trainers we you know we're gonna use motivational techniques to train the dog everybody knows that these days everybody's very pro positive reinforcement and that's legit, that’s the way you should train a dog. the problem comes when the dog doesn't then perform these behaviors that you know for sure that they want to do and the traditional method then is okay we say all right now we apply to correction now we're going to you know compel the dog in one way or another and the problem is that a lot of you know balance training prior to that doesn't prepare the dog for that correction so the dog doesn't actually know what to do with the pressure that we apply in that moment because usually people are using pressure in any form as a stopping signal along the way in their training and so when the dog you ask the dog to do something and it doesn't do it applying another stopping signal is not likely to make the dog do what you wanted it to do it's going to you know further stop the dog from doing anything so NePoPo is just remembering that and remembering to include some form of negative reinforcement in the learning phase there's loads of way people do that you know there's you know some people get right into it using negative reinforcement to teach some people it's a balance depending on the dog and what you do for me you know i like to start with puppies so it's a lot of positive reinforcement and then i have to somehow find a way to layer pressure over behaviors they already know but the the punchline is that if you want to be able to compel your dog using pressure when the dog one day doesn't perform the behaviors then you need to have included pressure in some form of learning phase along the way so the dog understands okay i know that that's a compelling action to complete the task that i've been asked to complete so that's that's sneak pop in a nutshell. 


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