Positive Reinforcement

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

Using Positive Reinforcement on Dogs vs People

Everyone knows I use positive reinforcement in my dog training. You’re probably sick of hearing me go on about it. But an issue that comes up more frequently than you might think is the idea of using positive reinforcement in the human side of dog training – and let’s be honest, the human aspect is the biggest part. The dogs are usually pretty easy – it’s the humans that need the most help!

Positively Success Story: Kerry

Thank you for enabling me to have the dog of my dreams, and helping me form a strong bond with my boy (he is my baby, but he's definitely my dog not humanised!) It was hard work, but worth it.

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

Positively Success Story: Life in a Muttshell

My wife and I are proponents of positive reinforcement training, and our situation gives us a unique opportunity to practice and observe the results on a daily basis. One of the first questions people ask is "do you have to break up a lot of fights?" The answer is no. We've kept dogs of all shapes, sizes, and dispositions, and there's seldom more than a brief snark and deferral.

Positively Success Story: Aaro

I hope Aaro's story gives hope and inspiration to all who struggle with a more demanding dog. Positive methods DO work.

Positively Success Story: Duke

We adopted Duke, our Staffordshire Bull Terrier crossbreed, when he was 10 weeks old. His mother had been adopted and the family shortly after adopting her found out she was heavily pregnant! Along came Duke! I'd like to tell you taking on a beautiful puppy was easy, but the truth is it was not! Duke Read More

The State of Positive Gun Dog Training: Who Will Take Up the Gauntlet?

I truly believe the only way for positive gun dog training to gain any kind of ground in this country is by developing good hunting dogs, strong hunt test results and some field trial wins. There are indeed positive trainers already making strides, but the numbers comparatively are very small. This must change, and it is fair for those who advocate traditional gun dog training to demand proof.

Positively Success Story: Seeley

In August this year, I adopted Seeley, a 1-1/2 year old Great Pyrenees. He was purchased as a puppy by a young couple who beat him with a steel flashlight. Once, they knocked him unconscious and the woman's father stepped in and took Seeley away. Seeley grew too big to stay in his apartment, so he Read More

Positively Success Story: Scarlett

After losing my longtime canine companions, I decided to bring a new dog into our home when the time was right. I was looking for an older pup who was already trained and a breed that did not have many well-known health issues. I like to say that I found Scarlett but I really think 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

Study Shows Lower Stress Levels in Dogs Trained Positively

A new study released in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior reveals what many of us in the dog behavior field have long known to be true: that positive reinforcement training is beneficial for a dog's overall well-being and the canine-human bond, and that aversive training has detrimental effects on both. For the first time, trained Read More

Positively Success Story: Magic

I adopted an 11- month old Yorkshire terrier from a rescue group in March 2009. The rescue group warned me that she was very shy and had not had the best of starts for a puppy. I had trained several dogs and was confident that with a little patience, she would be fine. After only Read More

Positively Success Story: Jambo

Jambo is the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be a Trick Dog Champion. Trained with Positive Reinforcement and helping break the Bully Breed stereotype!
He has his own Facebook page, Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog. He likes to promote doing Dog Tricks and Positive Reinforcement Training. He also likes to do his bit for 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

Victoria Demonstrates Positive Training on Good Day New York

Victoria Stilwell was featured in a live segment on Good Day New York, which aired on March 22, 2013. In the segment, Victoria discusses and demonstrates her success with using positive reinforcement to train dogs. Victoria stated, "I don’t believe you need to dominate your dog into submission, you just have to motivate your dog Read More

Problem Parrots and Progress With the Positive

Birds are screaming. People are screaming back. Every spring, as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, birds scream more. While some pet parrots scream every season, many scream more during spring when their hormones get revved up as they are looking to breed. Wild parrots scream, too. They scream at sunrise to Read More

Positively Dog Training Episode 314

Recaps of new year's eve, re-giftmas, an interview with expert trainer Pia Silvani, the concept of 'dog psychology' in training, housebreaking Great Dane puppies, grieving dogs and more.

Positively Dog Training Episode 309

Thanksgiving recaps, cat quiz, VSPDT trainer Sam Wike, and Ask Victoria questions about bullying Pomeranians, a hat-stealing Collie, drugs for foster Terriers and unhousetrained Beagles.

Why Positive Training Is Not Bribery

To truly comprehend why food is so powerful, you must first understand the influence it has on the dog’s brain. Food has the power to not only enhance a dog’s ability to learn but also helps a dog overcome fear or anxiety by raising the levels of dopamine in the brain and stimulating the desire to seek or move towards the food reward.

Positively Dog Training Episode 107

Victoria describes her experience training a piglet named Mud for a recent episode of It's Me or the Dog, and also her time training chickens and recording rap songs with dog owners from the show. Also discussed: Victoria's exciting new global network of positive reinforcement dog trainers - Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training. Victoria answers Read More

Positively Dog Training Episode 106

In this episode, Victoria describes what it's like filming It's Me or the Dog in New York City, including visits to Frank Sinatra's boyhood bakery. Also discussed: Victoria's history as a dog walker in London during college Backstage at the Lion King on Broadway with Victoria's friend Fred Berman (playing Timon the meerkat) This year's Read More

Positive method dog training – why to use it and how it works

If you adopted a pound-puppy or an all-grown-up dog, brought a puppy home from the breeder, or have a family dog you'd like to get on the training bandwagon, be sure to consider positive method dog training. It's not only dog-friendly, but also the most effective method for training behaviors that last a lifetime, if Read More

Welcome to Positively!

Hello and welcome to the new online home of positive reinforcement dog training!  I’ve been planning the development of this website ever since it became clear to me that a unified voice was needed to help let the public know that there’s a better way to train their dogs… Positively! For the past five years, Read More

Positively Contributors

Victoria Stilwell Positively is honored to have the following distinguished guest bloggers contributing regularly to this site.  World-class behaviorists, trainers and veterinarians are among those blogging, as well as some amazing individuals representing organizations and movements helping to make the world a better place for both dogs and people. Here you will get a unique Read More

The Science Behind Positive Training

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong" Our understanding of how dogs think, feel and learn is constantly evolving. The more heavy-handed approaches that were so commonly used in dog training decades ago were borne out of an attempt to apply what people thought they 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

So Much Work To Do…

I was forwarded an article which basically claimed that while positive reinforcement was a nice tool for training nice pups, it was not a strong enough or effective enough tool to deal with aggression or so-called 'red zone' dogs. It is time once and for all to put an end to this myth, especially when the arguments being used to support it are so painfully inaccurate and the supposed claims are so completely at odds with what behavioral science has already proven to us time and time again.

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 Featured on the Joan Hamburg Show

Victoria was featured on the Joan Hamburg Show on WOR-AM in New York. She discussed her new book and why positive reinforcement is the most effective training method.

Victoria Featured on WGN Radio

Victoria was featured on WGN Radio, where she discussed her new book, "Train Your Dog Positively," as well as why positive reinforcement training works for dogs of all breeds and even for the most serious behavioral issues.

Victoria on 20/20

Expert dog trainer Victoria Stilwell will be featured on a special pet-related episode of ABC's 20/20 program on Friday, March 2nd at 10pm ET, where she will demonstrates how to use positive reinforcement training techniques to help a dog and his owner overcome issues with separation anxiety.

How My Dog Inspired Me to Learn to Become a Dog Trainer

I have learned so much over the months I’ve been enrolled in VSA's Online Dog Trainer Course. My dog and I have both grown in confidence and I’ve been able to live my dream of helping adopted dogs stay at home by working with shelters and training dogs and their families in my community. I marvel often about how my dog has blessed my life with love, challenges and a new career. I could never have imagined that day I walked into the shelter that I’d be writing this today.