Choice Training

Choice training involves catching actions and behaviors that you like in your dog and marking them with rewards your dog finds motivating. These actions and behaviors can then become your dog’s ‘default’ behaviors that he or she can choose to use in certain situations. A default behavior gives your dog an alternative to unwanted behavior Read More

Growth Mindsets in Dog Training

In some of my other worlds, parenting and school teaching, the idea of Growth vs Fixed Mindsets has taken off. You can read more here, but in a nutshell, you avoid labeling children as smart or not smart. You look for and acknowledge behaviours like effort, persistence, thoughtful choices, small steps taken and achieved; and Read More

Choices: Do You Offer Them to Your Dog?

As a society, humans revel in their ability to make choices. We make them every day, many times a day. Cream or sugar or both? Hot or iced? Shower or bath? Do you want fries with that? Walk this path or hike that trail? TV or book? Cable or Netflix? We decide what time we Read More

Food for Thought: Using Food in Dog Training

There’s a lot of negative talk about using food in training. Even when people are prepared to use it in a class or at home, they often refuse to carry it when taking the training 'on the road'. Comments include; it’s bribery; I want the dog to work for me; the dog ‘knows’ what I Read More

Balanced Dog Training: There’s Nothing “Balanced” About It

If I had to think of an example of a dog that was truly "balanced," it would be a dog that - regardless of age, breed or drive - was confident, had been guided into making the right choices, and was allowed to think and learn without constantly being corrected.

Using Food in Training

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

What Is Positive Training?

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

Puppy Housetraining

Successful housetraining is one of the first things parents of a new puppy need to accomplish, and even though the process can be time-consuming, it does not have to be daunting. With a combination of consistency, common sense, and positive reinforcement protocols, you can quickly train any puppy to toilet appropriately. There are a number Read More

Clicker Training

Clicker training is a method that uses a unique sound, a click, to tell a dog that he has done something right. Because the click sound is hard to replicate in daily life it is a distinct sound that can be used to mark any action or behavior a dog does. The sound is made Read More

Training Methods

There are many different methods when it comes to training dogs and everyone has a different idea for the best techniques to use, but what is now becoming clear to much of the dog loving public is that even though there is more than one way to train a dog, there is a right way Read More

A Positively New Year (pssst, it’s not just for dog training)

  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

Snake Avoidance-Making Wise Choices

How can you keep your dog from being bitten by a venomous snake? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer and there are no guarantees. Seal Your Yard Neither your family nor your dog is safe from venomous snakes. Many snake bites to dogs occur on their own property. Remove food sources, such as: rodents, mice, Read More

Teaching A Leash Reactive Dog To Make The Right Choices

When Sadie first came into my life four years ago, she was what I would call a reactive dog, lunging towards and barking viciously at any dog that walked past or came close to her. Fortunately I was able to temper her reaction and teach her a new way to cope and behave in similar situations. The techniques I used meant I could change her behavior without physically punishing or imposing my will upon her in any way. I just gave her choices.

Positively Dog Training Episode 320

Global Pet Expo, the Oscars, Dr. Marty Becker's fear-free vet visit protocol, Victoria's Swedish dog training seminar, the Miami Dog Bite Prevention conference on April 26th, and Victoria's recent inclusion on the board of directors for Canine Assistants.

Human Ego & Dog Training

Check your ego at the door!  EGO, this funny little word has such a huge affect on people, it changes people for the worse. When working with animals you cannot have an “ego” of any kind.  Animals know, they can feel the kind of love and energy your putting off and when ego gets involved Read More

Do Companies Teach Reward Based Dog Training to People?

Because I am a concert pianist, the delightful video above has arrived in my inbox dozens of times. No matter how many times I watch it, it always brings a smile to my face. It is part of the  Volkswagen “Fun Theory,” based on the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest Read More

Positive Training

Do you want your dog to follow you because she wants to or because she’s scared of what will happen to her if she doesn’t? To most people, the answer to that question is clear. Positive training is the only way to develop a common language based on mutual trust, respect and love which guides Read More

Leash Aggression

Leash lunging, leash reactivity and leash aggression are all behaviors that are caused by a dog feeling restrained, frustrated and uncomfortable in a social situation while attached to a leash. In normal circumstances, an unleashed dog would be able to put sufficient distance between himself and a fear source. But if the same dog is Read More

Catching Behavior

When training your dog, there are a number of easy ways you can get her to perform the desired behavior. One of the easiest force-free ways to teach your dog a behavior is by 'catching' her in the act of the behavior. The concept of catching a behavior is that you identify and reward behaviors Read More

Dogs Want Us To Know: The Reality of Choosing to Live With Dogs

We as humans have made such progress with how we view dogs, but it seems with so many steps forward, we take a few more steps back At one time, dogs were given far more freedom than they have now, many having at least the daytime run of their neighborhoods. But that freedom also came Read More

It’s Me or the Dog Free on YouTube!

We're very excited to share the news that full episodes of It's Me or the Dog are now available on YouTube via the @ItsMeOrTheDog channel. It's been quite a while since we broke ground on that series back in the early 2000's, and I never would've guessed that we'd end up shooting over 100 episodes and have the show airing in over 200 countries.

The Hand That Feeds: There Are Better Options Than Hand Feeding

It used to be standard operating procedure for some dog professionals to advise new rescue dog parents to hand feed said dog in order to effectively create a bond. In some cases, it still is standard. It depends on who you ask. The same protocol is also suggested by some trainers for dogs who resource Read More

Shocking Answers to Shocking Questions

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.

Owner or enthusiast?

I have a car. I love my car and I look after it well. I drive it carefully, clean it, get it serviced regularly and always enjoy looking at it and driving it. The thing is…I really know very little about how it works. I can check the water and oil and top them up. Read More

Where You Lead, I Will Follow

Be a leader. Not a phrase that you would expect to be uttered by a positive dog trainer, right? We spend so much time preaching about how to listen to your dog, give your dog choices, respect who your dog is, that it’s unexpected that I should be talking about leadership. It’s the elephant in Read More

No Need to Declaw

Saving cats claws may also save their lives. There’s increasing data to demonstrate that once declawed, cats wind up at animal shelters due to behavioral problems. Or they may wind up in animal shelters because they do have their claws and are scratching in all the wrong places. To declaw remains an emotional issue, and Read More

Beyond the Fairy Tale

And they all lived happily ever after… I’m a sucker for those stories too. I love to see the heroes and heroines overcome adversity and wander off into the sunset for their fabulous forever. Sadly we all know that happy ever after is just a fairy tale ending to a fairy tale. Neither are real, Read More

Are you teaching or testing?

They aren't the same thing. Testing MEASURES what the learner knows/ can do. Test: measure; check the quality, performance, or reliability of something; reveal ... capabilities by putting them under strain; evaluate the abilities, aptitudes, skills, or performance of an individual or group.  A test asks your dog the question; what can/ will you do right now in this situation? Read More

Value = Love

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.

Why I’m Not (and never have been) a Purely Positive Dog Trainer

First of all, I’ve certainly never referred to myself as a ‘purely positive’ dog trainer, but I’ve heard many others – usually pretty vocal opponents of humane modern dog training – label me and others with that description. It seems to be somewhat of a dog training unicorn, in that there are those who still Read More

Is Your Dog Optimistic or Pessimistic?

When presented with something new or slightly unusual, does your dog respond positively, presuming it to be good (optimism), or negatively, presuming it to be a bad thing (pessimism)?

“Reactive” dog? It’s time to turn struggle to strength!

Naughty but nice dogs are often termed aggressive, reactive, angry, overconfident, EVIL - but - you know your dog isn’t any of those things really, they just need to be taught to make better choices and be happier about the things in their life! In fact, many of the things that NBN dogs do are often motivated by FEAR!

Consent: It’s Not Just for People!

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.

Creating a Kinder Future for Elephants

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.