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

Positively Dog Training Episode 707

K9 officer Shawn Humphreys talks with Victoria and Holly about the world of police dog training, its challenges, and the changes he’s noticing with his move towards more positive training. Also, new VSA course dates, how to find a licensed trainer as well as leash-walking and separation anxiety issues.

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

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

Positively Success Stories

The power of positive training is undeniable both in terms of scientific proof and when considering the countless dog owners who have contacted Victoria and many other positive trainers over the years to express their relief that they discovered positive training. Both for their own and for their dogs' well being, many people may have Read More

If Your Dog Could Talk: Reward vs Punishment Dog Training

There's a raging controversy in the field of dog training centered around dog training collars and methods--Reinforcement vs Correction and Treats vs No Treats. What's a pet parent to do? If your dog could talk, your dog would surely ask you to listen to the experts in animal behavior. As it turns out, it’s scientifically Read More

Fact vs Fiction, Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the first part of my 'Fact versus Fiction' blog.  There are so many myths and misunderstandings out there about the science and reality of dog behavior, I thought I would try to help clear up a few more things here in part II. (See the Myths & Truths Read More

Fact vs Fiction, Part I

I want to dispel a few myths about positive reinforcement training methods.  There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what positive reinforcement really is and about which dogs and behaviors it is useful for.  For example, I have heard people say that positive reinforcement trainers only deal with obedience training, but 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

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.

Why ‘Dominance’ Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word

It’s understandable that people in the dog training world get so agitated when the word “dominance” is mentioned, even when used in the right context. The idea of dominance in dogs has been so misunderstood by some trainers in popular media for so long that it has now become a dirty word, such that even when trainers and behavior experts use the word correctly, they risk a backlash from people that are – let’s face it - exhausted from having to continually reeducate the public about what dominance really is and what it isn’t, particularly when so much damage has been done because of the way the word has been used by some people in the dog training world.

Don’t Do Me Wrong: Rescue Groups and Dog Behavior Knowledge

Cue the wistful music before starting the video rolling and many dog lovers just see what they want to see in a video making the internet rounds. When you accompany sweet music with an overlay of words meant to convey what you want people to see, as long as the opposite isn’t glaringly obvious to 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.

How I Stopped My Dog’s Leash Aggression

If you’ve ever had a leash reactive dog, you know the feeling of dread that I had before going on a walk. Learn how I stopped my dog's leash aggression--positively.

Resource Guarding

  Resource guarding is when a dog controls access to food, objects, people and locations that are important to him through defensive body language or overt aggressive display. This is a relatively common canine behavior and is influenced by a number of environmental and situational stimuli, including a dog’s natural instinct to survive. The dog Read More

Dog Bite Prevention

In Her Own Words: Victoria on Dog Bite Prevention: As a mother and a dog trainer, I am dedicated to raising awareness about responsible pet ownership and preventing dog bites. My public platform helps put a spotlight on the issue and my Dog Bite Prevention Task Force, comprised of veterinarians, lawyers, canine bite investigators and Read More

Preventing Behavior Problems

The wonderful thing about positive training is that when used correctly and at the beginning of a dog’s life, it can prevent all kinds of common behavioral problems from ever developing. If you are about to bring home a new puppy, you have the opportunity to get started on the right track by utilizing positive Read More

Puppy Training Basics

A puppy needs a good learning foundation in order to be a confident adult. But learning is more than just teaching your puppy basic cues such as sit and stay. The most important aspect of the learning process is to introduce your puppy to the environments and situations she is likely to experience throughout her Read More

Fear of Children

It is very normal for dogs to be scared of children or one particular child, especially if they have not been raised with children or have been teased by them in the past. Even one experience can create an aversion or fear that is hard to erase and this causes all kinds of issues, especially 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

Dog/Human Aggression

Dog-to-human aggression can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially when there is an extensive history of aggressive behavior. Dog bites account for a large number of hospital admissions each year and cost insurance companies millions in claims. While most dogs live in harmony with their families, dogs of all breeds and breed mixes have the capacity 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

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

Canine Emotion

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

Humane Discipline

Positive does not mean permissive. Discipline is an important part of the learning process, but the form of discipline used in positive training differs greatly from the types of discipline used in dominance training. Traditional trainers often argue that positive trainers do not believe in or effectively use appropriate discipline in training, but that is Read More

‘Red Zone’ Dogs

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

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

Behavior Problems

While nuisance behaviors like barking, jumping, and nipping can be troublesome, they generally do not carry the same damaging potential of some more serious behavior problems like aggression and separation anxiety. If you have a dog that suffers from a more severe behavioral issue, the best thing you can do is to avoid the use Read More

Nuisance Behaviors

Dogs can bring so much joy and happiness to people’s lives, but they also have the potential to wreak major havoc. Lack of training and socialization, pent up energy, and stress can all cause a dog to act out and engage in various nuisance behaviors. From potty problems to chewing, and nipping, there are a Read More

Myths & Truths

Has anyone ever told you that if your dog goes through an open door ahead of you it’s a sign that he’s asserting his dominance? Or that if a dog walks in front of you or pulls on a leash he is doing so because he wants to be pack leader? What about lying on Read More

Why Should I Train My Dog?

People used to think that dog training was only about teaching dogs obedience commands, usually through the use of heavy-handed punishment-based techniques. It was viewed as somewhat of a luxury for pet parents and was often wrongly considered to be something so straightforward and simple to achieve that anyone could do it on their own without 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

Dog Bite Prevention & Awareness Conferences

The Dog Bite Prevention and Awareness Conference presented by VSPDT (DBC) is a one or two-day multi-speaker seminar designed for and open to all animal industry professionals, child educators, shelter workers, medical professionals, first responders, police  and animal control officers, lawyers, lawmakers, public safety professionals,  delivery personnel, trainers and dog lovers. The DBC is a 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.

My Busy October!

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.

Introducing the Canine Noise Phobia Series!

My husband often asks me, “Do you really get new ideas from hearing other trainers speak at seminars and conferences? How much more can there possibly be to learn about how to be a better dog trainer?”  After having been married to me for the past 11 years, he fully understands that the field of Read More

A Conversation with Victoria Stilwell

In my recently published interview, Victoria Stilwell discusses the major differences in dog training methods... and explains why "methods matter" to all pet parents and to every dog. Victoria goes directly to the heart of a "hot" issue in dog training that is too often misrepresented to people searching for help with their beloved pup. Read More