I still find it hard to comprehend how anyone can justify teaching a dog through pain, force and fear, when decades of research and a mountain of scientific and observational evidence continues to prove how destructive these methods can be. Teaching people to train their dogs in a humane way is not just a moral issue; it has become an issue of public health and safety.
Harley winning the Hero Dog Award sends out a loud and powerful message that dogs' lives matter, not for the money that can be made from them, but simply for being themselves.
Positive reinforcement in dog training can go by many names, most of which are valid and worthy: reward-based training, science-based training, force-free or pain-free training, etc. Regardless of the terminology, the general theory behind this line of thinking remains the same. So what exactly is positive reinforcement? If you give your dog a reward (praise, Read More
If you treat fire with fire, you will get burned. This concept is not rocket science, but it is still science. A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior concluded that confrontational training methods such as hitting dogs, intimidating them with punitive force and using techniques of restraint like the 'alpha roll' actually Read More
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the pros and cons of engaging (publicly or privately) with people in the dog world who hold views different from your own. This can be an especially thorny topic when the opposing (or at least not compatible) viewpoints relate to a core belief of yours – beliefs that we often safeguard and protect more dearly than anything else. This got me thinking about the best ways to handle such situations, and I figured I’d share my thoughts with you here.
After an article about the use of shock collars in dog training appears, the same questions inevitably come up. Usually, the person asking the question is not really seeking an answer. Instead, they are posing the question as a rebuttal to our position, which is that shock has no place in dog training. Here are a few of the actual questions we receive, edited for clarity, with answers.
Does your dog value you = Does your dog hate you? Big question, right? It’s at the root of so many of the struggles with dogs and relationships that we’ve come across. It’s the question we have to think about when there may be a recall problem, struggles with chase, lack of focus or even lack of self-control.
We can actually make our dog’s feel both calm and confident about their surroundings AND teach them a better way to cope when they do experience those emotions of overexcitement and overarousal.
The whip-it game involves building real desire and harnessing your dog’s desire to chase, using a horse lunge whip with a toy attachment! We then apply real-life impulse control to it! We show you how to play it in our latest training video.
Consent is a right of every living being. We expect to be asked prior to being touched. But we give consent to strangers to touch our dogs without asking the dog.
Is it possible that that today’s elephant species – long persecuted by man – will one day go the way of the mastodon? Sadly, the answer is yes.
How can one expect the suits, whose business it is to look for ratings or financial success for their company, to stand up for the animals they're responsible for and take note of the thousands of voices that are telling them that what they are supporting is so wrong?
I've been asked many times, "Why deaf dogs?" and it's a good question. In searching for the right words, I’ve been thinking a lot about my deaf dog Edison and the deep connection I feel with him.
Of Dogs and Men is a powerful new documentary that explores the recent surge in law enforcement officials shooting dogs. I had to chance to chat with Director Michael Ozias about the film, and what went on both behind and in front of the camera.
Breed traits are important. But these breed traits certainly don’t mean that only a very small segment of society should parent those particular breeds.
Our clients were pleased, their dogs were happy, and our business was successful. Surprisingly, in the face of all this success, I was feeling unsatisfied, exhausted, and had what I learned to call “the burnout of compassion fatigue”.
Xxon is a nominee for the 2014 American Hero Dog Award. Xxon is a Fidelco Guide Dog who has helped retired Air Force SSgt. Michael Malarsie lead a normal life despite life-changing injuries. CAST YOUR VOTE FOR THE 2014 AMERICAN HUMANE ASSOCIATION HERO DOG AWARD! Here's Xxon's story: "'Because of Xxon, I’m part of society again. He’s my Read More
The Positively team has been working for over a year to identify what was missing from the online dog world and develop the best resource for dog lovers around the world. The end result is a complete web-based learning, sharing and entertainment platform about the world of dogs and dog behavior. We're very proud of what we're launching today and hope that you will find it engaging, educational, and helpful while learning to harness the unique power of the Positively Community to help you and your dog live a happier, healthier life and change the lives of others around the world at the same time.
The most powerful thing we can each do as individuals is understand, care for and train our dogs in a way that builds a relationship based on trust and inspires others to adopt the same force-free, positive philosophy. "We have created the positively pledge as a way for each of us to show our commitment Read More
The Canine Noise Phobia Series (CNP) is a 4-CD compilation of specialized audio recordings and innovative training protocols specifically designed to reduce and prevent noise phobias and anxiety in dogs. “In my work as a dog trainer both on TV and in private practice over the past 15 years, I have seen countless dogs suffer Read More
We all know that the modern dog's sense of hearing is far more powerful than our own, but when attempting to develop and maintain a positive relationship with your dog, it's critical to put the importance of this incredibly powerful tool in perspective. In short, a dog’s auditory system is amazingly effective. The human ear Read More
Although a dog’s brain is just one-tenth the size of a human brain, the part of the dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is forty times greater than that of a human's. A dog’s sense of smell is therefore estimated to be a hundred thousand times better than ours. Dogs use their nose Read More
Reiki (pronounced ray-key) energy healing is a gentle, painless, yet powerful modality that works on animals and humans alike. I use Reiki on many of my canine clients and have always seen wonderful results. Reiki can be used in conjunction with all other holistic medical or therapeutic techniques as well as with traditional medical treatments Read More
There is a fierce debate raging in the dog training world between traditional dominance and punishment-based trainers and the positive training movement. Common Dog Training Myths: There is more than one way to train a dog. Positive training methods don’t work on 'red zone' dogs. Dogs only 'respect' leaders who assert their 'dominance.' Positive trainers Read More
When Christina Summitt served a customer at the bar at the Holiday Inn in Clinton, New Jersey, she had no idea she would be the recipient of a life-altering gesture. It all started with the pawprint tattoos on Summitt's wrist. Summitt is an avid dog rescue volunteer and a huge animal lover. A couple she Read More
Successful positive training relies in large part on determining exactly what motivates your dog the most. While each dog is different and some may be turned on by praise, play, toys, or life rewards like going for walk, very often food is that primary motivating force and can be a powerful tool for shaping new Read More
Positive training is not a scientific term. You will not find it in any scientific journals, and you will regularly hear it being mischaracterized by those who do not fully understand it. When we at Positively refer to the power of positive training or you hear Victoria describe herself as a positive trainer, we are Read More
Bringing home a new baby to a household with an existing dog (or dogs) should be done with great care and a good amount of foresight. Too often, new parents are so consumed with the needs and exhilaration of the new baby that they overlook the impact that this new tiny, loud, smelly creature may Read More
There is much debate on whether a dog’s experience of emotion is similar to that of a human’s or if a dog’s behavior is simply influenced by an inner drive to survive. While we cannot claim to have all the answers yet, science is helping increase our understanding of how the dog’s brain works, producing Read More
Positive training does not only work on small dogs with minor obedience issues – it is also by far the most effective way to treat severe anxiety and so called ‘red zone’ aggression cases. (The term ‘red zone’ has become synonymous when describing severely aggressive or reactive dogs.) On It’s Me or the Dog, her Read More
Being a professional positive dog trainer can be one of the most rewarding occupations in the world. Many great dog trainers (including Victoria herself) have found their life's calling as a second career. In the vast majority of cases, this is motivated at its core purely by a passion for helping dogs and their owners Read More
For the majority of modern dog owners, choosing the right dog trainer is one of the most important decisions they will have to make regarding their dog. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult decisions to get right. Assuming you have already determined that you need the help of a trained professional Read More
Victoria Stilwell has the most awesome fans. You are passionate about animals, care deeply about promoting positive approaches to animal training, and want to make this world a more compassionate place. Take a moment and congratulate yourself (in our culture, it isn’t always easy to follow the positive path.) Many of my clients (I’m Read More
Update 6/3/15: Kingsley has now been involved in another alleged attack, this time against a woman who was visiting the home. The woman says she will suffer permanent scarring as a result of the attack. I sincerely hope that Kim will consider using a trainer that utilizes science-based humane training methods who can attempt to reverse Read More
Who was to blame for the recent fatal attack by a pitbull on a six year old boy in California? The dog, the child or the parent or relatives that were responsible for the child’s care?
FINDING A GOOD TRAINER One of the most important decisions you will make in paving a path to happiness with your pet is choosing a competent and kind dog trainer. The absence of standard credentials required by law, or established professional ethics, makes it problematic for pet parents to find a great trainer in an unregulated field. However, Read More
Like Dr. King, the battle to change people's perceptions of how we should interact with our dogs is an uphill fight. But as the evidence from the scientific community continues to mount and our collective willingness allow others to treat pets more like livestock than cherished family members erodes, it becomes clearer and clearer that there is no alternative in sight but to win the fight.
I don’t know why, but October always seems to be one of the busiest months of the year for me. It’s also one of the most fun and rewarding, and this October has not let me down! Between my filming schedule, the Hero Dog Awards in LA, my trip to Savannah for a school and jail dog program visit, a cat training session in Denver for the winner of the InFURvention contest, the APDT conference, ongoing development of new projects, my work with VSPDT, and of course being a wife and mom, it’s been a pretty full few weeks.