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
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
The other day I was taking my dogs to the park. One is a rescue that had been kept in a backyard and a crate for most of the first year of his life. He is high energy and came to me with no impulse control.
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
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”.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 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
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
Obedience. Such a loaded word. It makes me cringe when it is used outside of the dog competition world. And quite honestly, I would love to see that word changed in that world as well, to something with a kinder connotation. It’s been the status quo word reserved for dog training for so long that Read More
Victoria Stilwell’s 5th book entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy: How to Train and Care for Your New Dog” will be released on October 1, 2019 in the US. The book is available to preorder now.
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
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.
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
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.
It has been something of a thing recently in some corners of the dog training world to suggest that keeping an easily over-stimulated and/or reactive dog in his own home environment for a bit of time, along with enrichment toys, is a better idea than taking said dog out into the world to be walked. Read More
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
Close your eyes and think for one moment what is the one thing that you absolutely love to do? No-one has to pay you for it, no-one needs to ask you to do it….it lights you up, makes you feel alive, excites you…. and if you could do it right now you would do it Read More
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
There is no lack of division in the dog world; training methodologies, training tools, cropping and docking, spaying and neutering are but a few potentially explosive topics. Complementary therapies however, are way up on the list of hot buttons to discuss. One person mentions something that even *might* fall into that category and everyone else Read More
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
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
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.
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
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)?
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 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.