Patrick O'Connor worked his first police dog in the early 1970s when he was an apprentice dog trainer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since then he has worked with literally thousands of police dogs and their handlers. He was the civilian K9 coordinator for the city of Colorado Springs from 1986 thru 1995. He became an instructor for the International Police K9 Conference in the early 1990s and trained at approximately 20 conferences throughout North America. In 1999 Patrick and his wife Lorna, took over management and training at the K9 Academy for Law Enforcement in British Columbia. While there Patrick ran 12-week police K9 academys as well as shorter refresher courses for departments in the northwestern United States. While in BC, Patrick started a pilot program for the training of wood-rot detection dogs to assist in the major problem of "leaky condos". He recently finished a wildlife detection dog for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for the detection of poached game animals.
Patrick worked for years at the conferences with the foremost muzzle training expert in North America, Brian Amm, then president of the Canadian Police Canine Association and is now considered an expert in muzzle training in his own right. He is adept at using operant conditioning techniques and allows dogs to learn in a natural progression. He fully understands K9 behavior and uses this knowledge to great advantage in his training regimen. He also has a strong background in his personal hobby of Schutzhund and therefore is fully qualified to train for either the find and bite or the bark and hold philosophy. This background gives him great experience at trial preparation which police dog handlers can benefit from if they enter into any K9 competitions.
At various times in his career he has instructed at seminars hosted by the United States Police Canine Association, the North American Police Work dog Association, the Western States Police Canine Association, the Washington States Police Canine Association (where he is an honorary member), and the International Police K9 Conference.
"My philosophy is that a dog should be approachable, socially well-adjusted and willing to work on a first command basis under any level of distraction. The key to the relation ship is communication and mutual respect. I believe that the handler should be dominant but not intimidating and that the dog should have a crystal clear understanding of the rewards and consequences of its behaviors."
"I believe in motivating behavior whenever possible, especially when building new behaviors. Once a behavior has been learned it must be controlled and proofed. Controlling the behavior means to get a first command response from the dog rather than having to tell the dog a command repeatedly. This can be done through repetition and correction for refusals. Proofing is then done to get this first command response even under extremely distracting conditions such as those a handler might encounter on the street. Proofing is a long process and is the cornerstone of my system. By the time we are ready to proof a dog it completely understands what is expected of it when it receives a given command. We set up a situation that will put the dog into a conflict of some sort. It will want to do something other than what it is commanded to do. When the dog makes the wrong choice, it will be corrected appropriately for the circumstances. This will make the dog fall back on the correct behavior (which it has learned is always safe) and it will be rewarded profusely. As the training progresses, the distraction increases to incredible levels. Over time and repetition, it is possible to get extremely reliable performance with a very positive attitude from the dog."
More complete information on Patrick O'Connor's training philosophy and techniques can be obtained by contacting him directly.