Greendogs’ Daniela Cardillo is among the first international members of Victoria’s exclusive global network of world-class positive reinforcement trainers – Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training (VSPDT). I recently caught up with Daniela to ask her about the movement towards positive reinforcement training in Italy, and her training business near Milan.
Victoria: How long have you been training dogs, and have you always used positive reinforcement methods?
Daniela: I was a teenager when I had my first own dog and I immediately felt the need to buy my first training book in 1983 “complete guide for German Sheppard training“ . But I learned and used for the first time the positive reinforcement method in San Francisco CA in 1991, training a rescued greyhound. I was teaching the dog to “come when called” and I used food as the positive reinforcer. After only a few days, I decided not to use food anymore because the dog had learned how to come back to me… and I lost the dog for one hour. In Golden Gate Park! This is a common mistake that almost every person makes when first using positive reinforcement method. My clients also make this mistake within the 5th lesson. Then I tell them that positive reinforcement is used for two goals: teaching the behavior and MOTIVATING the behavior! My Greyhound knew how to come back when called…but simply didn’t want to do it for nothing (no motivation). She had something nicer to do, somewhere else in the Park, that better called for her attention!!
VS: How prevalent are dominance-based, aversive training techniques and philosophies in Italy?
DC: In Italy is prohibited to use electric/shock collars but I still see and hear about aversive training and dominance-based techniques. For example many “dog trainers” still use choke chains to teach the dog not to pull on leash and tie the dog till he can’t even breath. The first thing I do with my customers that use choke chains is to remove it and take a harness from my bag. Just to start. I work to promote more science-based dog-learning, dog-language, positive reinforcement training. For this reason I am also organizing a FIDO FESTIVAL called “QUA LA ZAMPA” in Barzio (Lecco – Italy) the 14th of August. It’s a full-day DOG festival with many scheduled events of culture and education throughout the day. We will talk about conscious adoption of dogs, slaughter in the “perreras" (Spain’s kennels), how to recognize heatstroke and how to handle it, the best dog-equipment to use when training and for everyday life, we will have a group training of exercises using positive reinforcement methods and lastly we will have a dog parade! (More details on www.daniela.cardillo.positively.com )
DC: Looking at Europe from the Italian point of view, it seems that England is the guideline for dog training in real life and dogs are really welcome everywhere also in the tourist reception. In some countries like Spain, the law allows terrifying things: dogs that are in shelters are killed after 10 days if not requested from old owners or from a new family. When they are put in the dead-list, no food, no water, no care a all is given to them and then they are killed with NO regulations… i.e. in the incinerator still alive! And many many other terrifying things like this. I’m personally involved to help those dogs in the “perreras” and the FIDO FESTIVAL “QUA LA ZAMPA” is to economically support these dogs.
VS: What made you decide to become a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer, and how do you feel it sets you apart from other dog trainers in your area?
DC: I decided to become a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer because I share the philosophy of positive reinforcement method and I want to share with you, Victoria, and your worldwide team, the goal of offering the best (ethically and technically) for family dogs, rescued dogs, shelter dogs… and their lives. I’m proud to be part of your Team and I’m ready to help dogs and their families with positive reinforcement training… for a better (dog)world.
VS: Tell us about your facility outside Milan, Greendogs. How did you come up with that name, what types of services do you offer and what message are you trying to convey to the local dog-owning public?
DC: The name “Greendogs” comes from the traffic light! Red you stop, Green you go!
My goal is to let dogs be: be free to be dogs, good dogs with no problem, safe dogs, friendly dogs, happy dogs, so…GREENDOGS are dogs that can go everywhere with no problem at all! I work in the Lecco, Brianza and Milano area exactly as you do in your TV program: I work in the house of the families, understand the problem from the human point of view and then from the dogs’ point of view. Then I make a schedule of number and type of sessions to do, write the goals end start with new rules and training exercises.
The families I work with, are mostly “distressed” for the problems directly and indirectly caused by their dogs… and too many times I’m the last chance for these dogs… So, an important job in my opinion! I also work for puppy training, as a prevention to dog’s behavior problems… and a good education of the owners! if I don’t see my puppy-customers anymore…it means that I have done a great job with them!! The message I want to give to the local dog-owning public is knowledge about the dogs, organizing the Fido Festival, training, seminars for learning dogs’ language, for a growing dog-culture.
Important appointment scheduled with Giorgio Guglielminotti (VSPDT) is a scientific seminar that will be held in Rome the 17th – 18th September 2011 with Roger Abrantes. This seminar is designed for dog trainers (www.greendogs.it for details).
VS: Daniela, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today. I look forward to getting over to Italy very soon and joining forces with you and Giorgio in person to help spread the word that there’s a better way to train… Positively – and that the concept of treating animals with the love, respect and trust that they deserve is a common language that we all share, regardless of nationality.