How Do Dogs Feel When They Solve a Problem?

The feeling of accomplishment we get after solving a difficult problem (also known as the "Eureka Effect") may not be unique to our species. As research into dogs' cognitive abilities continues to unfold, we're learning more about the emotional life they lead. Recent studies have shown that dogs have the emotional range of a 2 Read More

Becoming a Dog Trainer

Since It’s Me or the Dog first aired back in 2005, I have received thousands of emails, letters, social media messages and phone calls from dog lovers around the world who saw me working with dogs on TV and wanted to do the same (but usually not on TV).

Wolf In A Dog

I am sick of seeing commercials, print ads and even suggestions made on pet food packaging itself, about caring for the wolf in your dog. There isn’t as much of the wolf in your dog, at least advertised. In fact, there is very little grey wolf in any domestic dog! Several studies, including one from PLOS Read More

The Many Gifts of Sharing Your Home with a Dog

Pet parents often don’t realize that effective dog training can be very hard work, and that behavior change in their dog will only come after behavior change in themselves. Doing anything well isn’t usually easy.

The Problem with the “Pack Leadership” Mentality

The "pack leader" label just won’t seem to die a natural death. Instead of analyzing why people are so attached to being pack leaders, I decided it would be easier for me to uncover why I dislike it so much. Here is my interview with myself.

When Good Rescue Groups Make Bad Dog Training Decisions

Dog is abused, abandoned, neglected. Dog is rescued. Dog has behavioral issues stemming from a difficult past. Rescue group calls in a trainer, who puts a shock collar on the dog to "fix" him and make him adoptable. While the above scenario may be oversimplified, it happens all too often in the rescue world. I worked on Read More

A Dog Died Today. Because of a Trainer.

Or trainers. I can't clearly put this in any one person's lap. Let's back up and see where we are. First off, I am not going to identify the trainer(s), the dog, or the family. My purpose is not to belittle or attack anyone. Instead I want this to be a learning experience for other trainers and a warning to owners.

Dognition

Dognition is a user-friendly, scientifically-based online tool designed to identify the cognitive abilities and key personality traits in individual pet dogs while providing users ongoing support specifically tailored to their dog’s unique strong suits. It is the brainchild of Dr. Brian Hare, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University and the driving force behind Read More

The Truth About Dominance

Dogs are not on a quest for world domination. They are not socialized wolves who are constantly striving to be ‘top dog’ over us, and they are not hard-wired to try and control every situation. Contrary to what traditional training ideologies and much modern media would have you believe, most canine behavior problems stem from Read More

How To Find A Good Dog Trainer

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

Why Are Dogs Aggressive

Defining what aggression means is not easy, because there are so many variables associated with what is a highly complex behavior. But by investigating the function served by an aggressive act as well as why it occurs and what result it achieves from the dog’s point of view, we can begin to gain a better understanding.

Why BSL Doesn’t Work

I am a mother. I am also a dog owner and dog trainer who has committed my life to helping people find the most effective, humane and responsible way to live in harmony with their dogs while also affording them the respect they deserve. Over thousands of years, these beautiful creatures have gradually been domesticated Read More

What to Do if Rover Raids the Litter Box

Newsflash! National pet food marketing firm reports, “Next to week old fish, decaying road kill, and napkins from a woman’s monthly you know what, dogs vote cat poop favorite flavor.”

Should Dog Trainers Offer Guarantees?

Serious behavioral problems can't be boxed into a specific time frame. So why should dog trainers offer guarantees that they can fix a behavior within a certain number of sessions?

Canine Cognition

Canine cognition is how a dog’s mind processes the world around it. Knowing your dog’s cognitive style will help you understand what drives him, how he learns and what he needs from you to make learning easier. Cognitive science is the study of the mind and intelligence, embracing philosophy, psychology, linguistics and anthropology. Cognitive scientific Read More

Coping With Fear

I’m flying to Portland, Oregon, from Los Angeles and the pilot has just told us that there will be turbulence the closer we get to Portland. It is 53 degrees at our destination with rain and gusty winds. He tells us that our descent is likely to be very bumpy.

Fourth of July and Fireworks

It’s not that dogs aren’t patriotic, but many dogs, and also some cats are terrified of the loud and sudden bangs we call fireworks. It’s actually adaptive to be hard-wired to be afraid of sudden loud sounds. We jump at such surprising sounds, and we might also run the other way or hide if we 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

What We Can Learn From Kill Shelters

Despite the fact that walking into such an institution is enough to make many dog lovers' stomachs turn, there are actually a few things that can be learned from high-kill shelters.

When and How to Train Your Puppy or New Rescue

Q. What are some of the benefits of training my dog? A. Training makes home life more manageable and fun for you and your dog. Next to basic health care, it’s the most important thing you can do for your pup. Best of all, training the dog you love is one of the best ways Read More

Mr. Licks-A-Lot

   Do you live with a Mr. Licks-A-Lot? You know what I mean - a dog who, for reasons that he is not readily sharing, will suddenly and obsessively begin to lick the floor, the couch, the wall? Note that I am not referring to the dog who licks you, a behavior that usually communicates appeasement, affection, or in some cases, Read More

Myth vs Fact

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

Breed Specific Legislation

Breed-specific legislation is being proposed and enacted all over the world, and targets so-called 'aggressive breeds.' German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and pit bull type dogs are common victims of this discriminatory and ineffective legislation. Why Doesn’t BSL Work? Banning specific breeds fails to get to the root of the dog bite problem—irresponsible ownership. Any dog can Read More

Aggression

Aggression in dogs is a massive issue. From dog bite prevention and public safety to the pet overpopulation problem due to over-capacity animal shelters, aggression is a leading cause of many of the major problems in the dog world. Dogs aggress under many different circumstances from leash reactivity to territorial issues, and aggression can be Read More

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is one of the most difficult behavior problems to deal with in dogs because successful modification relies on people being present at all times during what can be a long training process. It is a hugely important problem to solve, both for dog and owner, as separation anxiety is one of the main Read More

Positive vs Punitive

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

Victoria Develops New Training Products

Victoria Stilwell constantly promotes the power of positive training methods through the many platforms she has developed during her career as a well-known dog trainer. Now she is taking her commitment to helping people and their dogs to a whole new level with the announcement of a new line of dog training products specifically designed by Victoria herself to help dog owners around the world. With her Positively Training Treats, Positively No-Pull Harness, and Positively Double-Connection Leash, Victoria aims to help dog owners tackle some of the most commonly-encountered dog behavior problems.

Victoria Featured on SiriusXM’s Cover to Cover Live

Victoria Stilwell was featured on SiriusXM's Book Radio. On the "Cover to Cover Live" show, she gave dog training tips and talked about the importance of using positive reinforcement dog training. She also discussed her new book, "Train Your Dog Positively."

Victoria’s Books

Jump to: The Ultimate Guide to Raising A Puppy The Secret Language of Dogs Train Your Dog Positively It's Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet Fat Dog Slim: How to Have a Healthy, Happy Pet The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy: How to Train and Care for Your New Dog Read More

Change is Powerful

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.

The Value of Redirection

My eight-year old daughter loves school so much that when the last day of school arrived a couple of weeks ago, she and her friends were borderline devastated to face the fact that there would be no regular contact with each other and their beloved teachers for a few months. We knew from previous years Read More

Victoria’s Interview with Italian VSPDT Giorgio

Il Cane Norma’s Giorgio Guglielminotti Garmot is one of the first international members of Victoria’s exclusive global network of world-class positive reinforcement trainers – Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training (VSPDT).  We recently caught up with Giorgio to ask him about the movement towards positive reinforcement training in Italy, his training center outside of Rome, and Read More

Nevermind the Bollocks

Since last week's episode of It’s Me or the Dog aired in the US featuring Eric and his Presa Canario Caspar, I have been inundated with people asking if Eric listened to my advice and finally had Caspar neutered.   For those of you in other parts of the world who haven’t seen the episode yet, here is Read More