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

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

Medical Before Behavioral

When veterinary behaviorists and well-schooled trainers are attempting to understand a behavioral issue, they will always be thinking "medical before behavioral". Why, you ask? Well, because our dogs are just like us. When we are uncomfortable or in pain, we tend to behave less appropriately then we might otherwise. Same for our pups.

Why Rewarding Behaviors Works

If your dog does something, and then gets something he enjoys directly after doing that thing, he is very likely to do it again. This is what is referred to as Positive Reinforcement. Using this system appropriately can come in very handy for teaching your dog what you’d like him to do. Unfortunately the same Read More

Puppy Health Problems

Puppies are highly vulnerable to disease and other health issues. Every puppy parent should be aware of the most common health problems to affect dogs in their infancy. Parvovirus Parvo is a highly contagious virus that is potentially fatal for puppies, especially if not caught and treated immediately. Symptoms include lethargy, depression, diarrhea, vomiting, and sudden Read More

Predatory Behavior

Unlike other manifestations of aggressive type behavior, predatory behavior is not emotionally driven and is largely influenced by genetics. While aggression serves to increase distance, predatory behavior serves to decrease distance as quickly as possible. Many domestic dogs are skilled hunters and have been bred to exhibit certain parts of the 'predatory sequence.' Sighthounds such Read More

OCD Behaviors

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a potentially disabling psychiatric condition where obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions such as hand washing, cleaning, hair-plucking or hoarding take over a person’s life. Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) is very similar to human OCD in that dogs are also compelled to perform repetitive behaviors which eventually take over their lives. Read More

Potty Problems

One of the most difficult challenges a dog owner may have to deal with is a problem with their dog’s potty training. From potty training an adult dog to dealing with marking or submissive urination, there are all kinds of potty problems that you might be facing with your dog. The first thing to do 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

Dog Behavior

A dog’s behavior is deeply rooted in the way he is bred, socialized, and trained. You can have a social, confident dog that is able to cope in a human world if you take the time to teach basic cues and recognize the difference between minor nuisance behaviors and more serious behavior problems as they Read More

Behavior enrichment for rodents: how to have a happier, healthier pet

Enrichment is a big buzz word in the field of animal behavior. According to the Encarta Dictionary,” enrichment” is defined as “to enhance or improve the quality of something usually by adding something else to it.” Whether this term is applied to the behavior of a dog, cat, bird, fish, or other animal, the notion Read More

Can Spaying Make Dog Behavior Worse?

On an episode of “It’s Me or the Dog,” Victoria Stilwell tackled the problem of a bull terrier that exhibited mounting behavior. The first solution was to send the dog for a time-out when he mounted. However, the mounting was so severe that the trainer finally recommended neutering, which solved the problem. This case raises Read More

Extinction: Bad for Dinosaurs, Good for Canine Behavior

The dictionary offers a few definitions for the word “extinction.” The first is, “the death or ceasing to exist of all members of a species or family of organisms.” That describes what happened to our hapless prehistoric friends. The one that applies to canine behavior is, “the decreasing or dying out of a behavioral response Read More

Puppy Knowledge

Bringing home a new puppy is a fun and exciting time, but in order to avoid problems down the line and to ensure a lifetime of happiness and enrichment, you must do your research first! A puppy is a major responsibility and it is important to arm yourself with as much puppy knowledge as possible Read More

The Importance of Remembering That You Are Only Human

Through my work as a trainer and behaviour consultant I work with a lot of dogs. I also work with lots of humans, more humans than dogs, as most dogs have several humans in their lives. I have spent time sharpening my people skills and feel that I do a good job of making people 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

Consider the Source

Before I started my career as a dog trainer, I studied broadcast journalism in college. I remember one of my professors constantly repeating the phrase "consider the source." That phrase has stuck with me throughout the years, and I've found it to be quite relevant to my work as a trainer. 

Reality Check: Nine Things That Your Dog Wants You to Understand

Knowledge in all forms seems to wax and wane according to the dynamics of the times that we live in. This is consistent on all subjects but in particular, with dog behavior knowledge. We have come so far with an understanding of dog behavior and how to modify it, yet old school techniques and thought Read More

Your puppy is not a blank slate

Here’s why… Your puppy is a product of its parents’ genes. These provide the blueprint for appearance, temperament and behavior.  This is why a Jack Russell looks and acts like a Jack Russell, and a Labrador looks and acts like a Labrador.  If you want a dog that will look and act like a Labrador, you Read More

What You Can Do to Prevent Compassion Fatigue

Following the suicide of my friend Dr. Sophia Yin (in 2014), and several higher profile veterinarians – the profession, in unison, said we need to do something about this. It’s out of the closet and I believe that is a good thing.

Rescuers or Fanatics? The Dark Side of Animal Rescue

Say the phrase "animal rescue" in any given circle of people and watch for a variety of reactions. Some people’s eyes will light up with hope and delight and others will start backing away with narrowing eyes, faces drawn with suspicion. The latter is unfortunate, but the truth cannot be denied that some of the Read More

See the Victoria Stilwell Academy In Action!

Our first class of students are past the halfway point in their Dog Trainer Course, registration is underway for VSA’s next US-based class this fall, and spaces are quickly filling up in our first UK-based class this September. And we’re just getting started!

Setting Kids & Dogs Up for Success

A wonderful relationship between kids and dogs can be facilitated by knowing what your dog is saying when interacting with kids, while teaching kids how to respectfully and safely interact with your dog.

Terrier Shmerrier!

I thought I knew how to train dogs. Then I adopted a Terrier/Chihuahua mix puppy and named her…..Tricky! People warned me when I named her Tricky, jokingly and affectionately telling me she would likely embody the name I gave her. They weren’t kidding.

Positively Dog Training Episode 510

Victoria and Holly close Season 5 with a discussion on a disturbing video of Rottweiler growling at a child that is persistently trying to hug him, and they chat with award-winning working dog sculptor Austin Weishel.

“Why Can’t My Dog Be Normal?”

It may seem sometimes like everyone else has a “normal” dog while you struggle to make minute changes towards the better with your own. How can we cope?

We Are Not Who You Think We Are

We ARE just like you. Our dogs are not monsters. They are just dogs, just like any other dogs. Just like people are all individuals, so are dogs.

Positively Dog Training Episode 502

Victoria and Holly talk about their experiences in Greece, where there is a massive stray dog problem. They interview Victoria Stilwell Dog Training Academy Director Tia Guest, and Victoria answers some tough Ask Victoria questions.

“He Never Does That!”

Any additions and changes to a routine can add a layer of stress that creates a reaction that is not typical of the dog in question.

Train Proactively Instead of Reactively

The problem I frequently observe is that people train reactively instead of proactively. Clients call after a serious behavior issue already exists. Understandably, clients want to know how to stop the dog from doing something they don’t like.

Holistic Summer Guide To Safe and Happy Cats

With a little commonsense and mindfulness, our cats can enjoy summer as much as we do. There’s nothing like a cat on a lap to help us slow down to smell the roses. Have a safe, happy and healthy summer!