The Constructional Aggression Treatment (CAT) shaping protocol, developed and studied by Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz and graduate student Kellie Snider, MS, at the University of North Texas, applies operant conditioning for modification of aggression and fear-related behaviors rather than traditional classical counter conditioning and desensitization (CC&D). CAT has stirred debate in the behavior community because it utilizes negative reinforcement. Positive trainers try to use positive reinforcement (dog’s behavior makes a good thing happen) and negative punishment (dog’s behavior makes a good thing go away), rather than positive punishment (dog’s behavior makes a bad thing happen) or negative reinforcement (dog’s behavior makes a bad thing go away). Dr. Rosales-Ruiz suggests that it’s not about which principle of operant conditioning is in play, but rather that it’s about the dog’s emotional state. The intent of CAT is to keep the dog sub-threshold in the presence of the stressful stimulus that triggers an emotional response – as is done in a good CC&D program as well – in order to change his operant response to a stressor. As Snider points out, these are often stressors to which the dog is frequently exposed over-threshold in daily life anyway, so exposure is going to happen anyway. The goal is to subject the dog to as little stress as possible while changing the dog’s operant response to the stimulus and greatly improving quality of life for dogs and their humans. A successful CC&D program changes emotional response in order to change behavior. CAT changes behavior in order to change emotional response. We invite you to watch “Juni’s CAT Procedure” and judge for yourself how CAT can change the behavior – and life – of a dog with serious behavior challenges, and of the human who loves him. Notes about this video: As a behavior professional, this was my first venture into the world of CAT. Since I hadn’t tried the procedure before I asked for volunteers, and Jolanta Benal, skilled trainer and friend from Brooklyn, New York, offered her dog Juni, who had a history of dog reactivity and aggression from early puppyhood. Although the ideal CAT procedure presents the aggression or fear-causing stimulus at “sub-threshold” intensity so the dog doesn’t experience undue stress, Juni’s reaction to other dogs was so intense that we were unable to work sub-threshold – so you will see some extreme responses from him until the CAT procedure begins to work. Also, because our initial intent was not to distribute the DVD commercially, we were not as meticulous as we could have been about documenting on-camera the movement of the stimulus dog (noted on the DVD as “DA” (dog approaches) and “DW” (dog withdraws), or noting the exact distance for each approach (some distances are noted on the DVD).