Frequently Asked Question About NePoPo®

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“What does Bart teach at his seminars?”

Answer: Bart teaches the NePoPo® System. People are ripe to understand more and more each time they attend a seminar. It is like listening to music: at first, you hear a song you really like, and you just like it,… But you don’t know exactly why. When you hear it again, you notice that the percussion gives it a wonderful rhythm. The third time you notice the guitar solo. The fourth time you hear it, you notice the structure provided by the bass… Pretty soon you love the song and all it’s parts and you understand the music enough so that you can hear the parts individually as the song is played or together and you notice exactly how the instruments fit together. You appreciate the music more and more. You hear the harmony of all the pieces working together… NePoPo® is that song. NePoPo® is that harmony.

 I train in NePoPo®. I have trained done box training and tactile commands and my dog is still slow and looks like there is no drive.

It sounds like you are missing perhaps the most important ingredient in NePoPo®: hope. You need to go back and build hope in each exercise and position. Jackpot training works for building hope. Long sessions with communistic rewards are a waste of time. The dog learns quickly when the reward is big!!! There is more incentive. Be the drug dealer. Also, note that in the beginning, the results are not spectacular. Remember the four steps of dog training! The first step is teaching the dog what he must do: in low drive and with a clear head. Speed comes later with hope and frustration and expectation.

What do I do if my dog becomes too dominant for me in this system?

In the NePoPo® system, all dogs become more stable and more confident and they feel like they are in control. For some dogs, this will express itself  in the dog becoming more dominant. Sometimes even more dominant in relation to the handler. For us, we can read our dogs very well and have a good relation, but it is important that a person feels comfortable with their dog. If someone feels that their dog is getting too dominant, they can decrease the hope and decrease motivation. One can also make training more personal: where the handler is more in the picture and the dog learns that not just the behavior but the handler is the key. This is a rare occurrence that a dog can get to be too much for the person. Don’t use the pinch collar too much. Don’t use e-collar too much. Use the choker to calm them down. If the choker works, you can use classical conditioning to teach, “no” and pair with the choker. Bart and I like our dogs right on the hairy edge: only a hair away from showing too much dominance. This is the picture we like and this is the personality of the dogs we like to work with so it does not bother us. When we say “team”, our dogs are 49.99% of the team. We keep only a slight edge for safety. Many people are more comfortable with their team is 80% handler and 20% dog. If that is what you desire, you can have that in NePoPo®. Everyone needs to add their own salt and pepper to the system to bring out in their dog what works for their team.

What are some examples of negative reinforcements for certain exercises? 

Negative reinforcement is any command specifically on the dog which makes a behavior more likely to happen and stops when the animal does the behavior. Lifting the dog’s paw up on your lap at the vet’s office can be negative reinforcement. Guiding a dog with a leash can be negative reinforcement. Yelling at your dog to be quiet can be negative reinforcement (if it actually makes your dog be quiet and you stop once he is quiet). Many people are under the perception that negative reinforcement is punishment and tactile commands means hitting your dog. These are the perceptions of the uninformed. We communicate with babies with tactile commands! When babies start rolling around on the changing table, most parents put their palms on the baby’s stomach to make sure that the baby does not roll off. With time the baby becomes calm on the table (they stop trying to roll because each time the negative reinforcement makes it impossible). There a million examples of negative reinforcement that we use in our daily lives. Negative reinforcement in relation to dogs should stop being treated as a bad word.

I train for zoos. Can I use NePoPo®?

Yes. We add the salt and pepper that we like in the system. In a zoo or a sanctuary or for service dogs, we want dogs that will behave calmly. We are not aiming for stimulus control because we will always be in a position to reward our animals. We want to cut down on the passion, frustration and spontaneous aggression. We add our own salt and pepper to the system to get what we want. We can use avoidance training for animals where that system would be appropriate (like for service dogs). Avoidance training is reliable, the behavior is the reward, and we see an increase in concentration and less motivation in avoidance training (the behavior is slower and calmer). When using positive reinforcement, we can still use existential food, but we can reward communistically and every time so there is nothing unpredictable about the reward. Rewarding an animal every time and with the same quality and quantity of food makes slow and steady behavior because it is boring. Extinction of the behavior will not happen, however, because of existential quality of the reward. In the case of unsatisfactory results, we can give the consequence of negative punishment. Traditional NePoPo® also works for zoo animals when we provide the appropriate spice for the goal in mind. A rhinoceros trainer at a zoo uses a successful program of NePoPo® in order to train the rhino for veterinarian examinations. The rhino was taught to sit and kneel and leg up on a pedestal all with traditional NePoPo® training. The special sauce was that the “po” (the second reward) was never a jackpot and the rhino was never too eager to get it. This is good for slow and sure responses that do not look spectacular but get the job done which is exactly what you want in this situation. This is a safety and practicality exercise with no emphasis on design.

At what age can I start the dog in the system?

Dogs can be started at six weeks old in the system. The important thing is to do observation (rather than orientation or determination) of the small puppy. Playing, socialization, learning to be active and learning to learn are the most important things for a puppy to learn. Monkey drills can wait. The coordination of a small puppy is also not suitable for learning monkey drills. Puppies should not and need not be made reactive with training. The assumption in the old school system “compulsion builds drive” is true for only a certain class of dogs (the wild dogs who lived on chains to guard properties in the old days). The idea that technique kills drive is also incorrect.  Technique actually should build drive and passion when taught properly.

I have a significant physical handicap: can I train my dog in NePoPo®?

Yes. Absolutely. Others have done it with excellent results.

What do I do if the dog chews on sleeve or dumbell?

With our foundation of the NePoPo® forced fetch, we now have the antibiotics for chewing. The dog who has learned the NePoPo® forced fetch already understands the meaning of the tap on the top and the bottom of the muzzle and the meaning of the choker. The dog cannot chew when the choker is being pulled. This is part of the language the dog understands well and can be easily incorporated into the bitework picture.

Isn’t it always good to be friends with your dog?

You must have a relationship with your dog and you must treat your with respect. Work with your dog and friendship will come. The dog needs to initiate it, not you. In the movie “Buck”, Buck says essentially: don’t make the priority to try to be friends with your horse. Set up rules and friendship will come automatically. It’s the same with a teacher. The teacher does not try to be friends with the students but with mutual respect and learning about one another and preferences and individuality, friendship comes.

Must I always reward my dog? I want him to work for me without bribes!

We hear this a lot from old school dog trainers who come from a negative reinforcement model. Those dogs are reliable. No, you do not need to reward your dog. Positive reinforcement, however, creates the dancing and the pretty picture and the happy attitude. The extra “po” in NePoPo® is what gives the dogs the ability to be corrected without submission or demotivation. If you want those things, you must reward your dog. If you petting your dog is enough to make him dance, then that is great! In that case, you need give no extra reward (food or toy). If you do use food or a toy, to need not use it forever. For the exceptionally well trained dog, the behavior becomes the reward. For the well trained dog, the withholding of reward creates frustration and more dopamine. Rewards can be few. In the NePoPo® system, we can achieve stimulus control without rewards. But this is all a process that begins with strong hope.

Isn’t making my dog active and rewarding spontaneous behavior going to make him a hooligan?

Yes. Hopefully, it will. But only as much as you can handle! This is exactly what makes training a dog so fun!

When do I use food and when do I use a toy?

Food is the easiest thing to use as a reward for dog new to the system because food is a positive reinforcer that is high value for every dog who wants to survive. A dog does not need a toy to survive. And, many dogs do not have strong enough toy drive to make a toy an adequate reward. Also, to use a toy properly as a reward in NePoPo® the dog must understand the rules of toys before you can begin using it in a game or as a reward. The dog must learn to hold it, give it, take it, retrieve it, play with it… Food can be a reward that brings less high drive than a toy and is an excellent reward for stationary behaviors. (This is not always true.) Toys are only good to use when the terms of use are well established so that there is harmony in the play.  The toy must be high enough value. Both the toy and the food must be out of sight: active dog, reactive hand (with food or toy).


Why does Bart suggest using existential food?

Existential food is the most powerful reward you have in training your dog because he needs that food to survive. Dessert training is not as effective because the dog gets satiated. The dog also does not need desserts to survive. Sometimes when people use dessert foods for training, the dogs are not interested in their existential food anymore. Because the dog does not need the dessert food, sometimes he will get pickier and pickier and you will move from hot dogs, to cheese, to liver, to hearts to steak. When dogs are trained on existential food, they are getting nutritional food while they are training. If the dog decides he won’t work for it, that is no problem: no food until tomorrow, my friend. Dogs who work on existential food are serious workers, and they learn quickly.

My dog does nothing when I wait for him to be active and I always end up having to lure him or help him.

Stop doing the homework for your dog. A close friend of mine, Ethan Hall, said to me once that he has been teaching NePoPo® and he tells his clients that they need to embrace the “uncomfortable silences” in the learning stages of operant conditioning. (Operant conditioning is initially spontaneous and the consequences of that behavior make the behavior more or less likely to happen again.) People always want to intervene and step in and lure or lead or give commands. When people do this, it is no longer operant (the preferred method of NePoPo®)! This is a fundamental principle! It takes a lot more patience to let your dog figure something out for himself. And dogs, like children, enjoy and remember behavior that they learn themselves much more than behavior that we make them do. An active dog is fun to watch as he is hyper and creative in his attempts. A reactive dog who is not in the system will likely do nothing and/or (at best) look only to the handler for guidance. Still, don’t help! Let your dog figure it out. Be sensible: don’t give the dog too hard of a job to figure out. Make sure it is easy enough. Limit your environment (especially in the beginning) with a back tie or a small vacant room so that you can improve the chances that the dog will succeed.

But don’t help. Don’t do the homework for your dog.

What is the best e-collar?

All good electronic collars should be on frequency band 869 in Europe (916 in U.S. with frequency hopping). Most brands are on 27 MHz (around the world) which is the old frequency where you have a lot of traffic, therefore, you need longer antennas and you need more output. To be be legal, you can only use a certain amount of output. This decreases your range which can realistically be 10% of optimal range (because we are often in no optimal conditions (with trees and maize and bushes, etc.) Also, you get poor signal–inconsistent response from the e-collar–when you are on 27 MHz. Secondly, the collars must have logical incremental steps in intensity level; pulsating electricity to decrease muscle contractions; hands free (otherwise, timing is impossible) ; receivers must be re-chargable (anything with a battery is not really waterproof ); multiple modes are necessary: flash, continuous, tone. When you consider all these necessities for what is required to have a good collar, the only option is Martin Systems electronics found in the Pro Trainer 3000 (PT3000) and the Chameleon® PT3000 set. In these collars, you find the aforementioned, plus: SSC (a patented system that measures the sensation regardless of impedance; a special feature that measures whether or not there is contact with the skin; and a rising stimulation mode. The Chameleon® (at the moment) is certainly the best electronic collar in the world in our estimation.

Must I demand perfection when I teach the dog so that he builds good habits?

You need not demand perfection when you teach your dog a new thing. In most cases, demanding perfection at the outset has only deleterious effects. An exercise can usually be broken up into at least ten sub-exercises which can be taught at first individually and then put together at the end. All parts of the exercise must be loaded in hope! That is how later we can press the dog for better execution and he will stay motivated and enthusiastic! Sometimes it is a blessing when a dog learns something perfectly and in its entirety from the beginning with heart and soul. That is rare and fortunate but not necessary. Remember: in NePoPo®, we do not do the homework for the dog and we do not do cheerleading. It is normal that the dog who is figuring out what to do (most likely through shaping) will not do it perfectly. We should not demand it. Successive approximations are the way to go. The most important thing is to make learning fun and to enable the dog to learn how to learn.

In NePoPo®, do you teach one behavior at a time?

Teaching one behavior at a time goes quickly but we like to teach many behaviors at once. Once the dog is ready to learn, we can teach many exercises at once which are approximately of the same difficulty. This is a slower process but when it comes together, all the behaviors are equally learned! If you teach one behavior at a time, the dog gets locked in that behavior and you have to overcome that every time you teach something new. Also, you get the primacy and recency effects.

For how long should I train in one session?

We recommend short and to the point training sessions that can be many times per day. Never keep training when your dog is no longer active and engaged. That is a waste of time.

 Do I need a special type of dog to train in the NePoPo® System?

You do not need a special type of dog to train in the NePoPo® system. This system is designed to enable the trainer to be the architect of their own system and where the salt and pepper you add makes the system your own customised  NePoPo® system.

Does Bart give e-collar seminars?

Bart does not give e-collar seminars. Bart is known all over the world as an expert in the tool of e-collar as communication. Bart only uses the e-collar as a tool in the NePoPo® system. In order to understand how Bart uses an e-collar, you must understand NePoPo®. Bart gives NePoPo® seminars and workshops and in those seminars and workshops sometimes the use of the electronic collar as a tool in NePoPo® is discussed.

How do I build drive in my dog?

In NePoPo®, the dog must be active and we are not cheerleaders. Because we stay out of the picture as much as possible, we do not insert ourselves into the learning. Rather, we manipulate situations where the desired outcome may happen spontaneously and then we insure that the dog finds his advantage in doing the behavior. More succinctly: we cannot build drive in our dogs. The dog must come up with it by himself. Most of the time, dogs with no drive have no hope or they are satiated (there is nothing that they desire). Drive comes from hope and desire and frustration.