Can You Really Trust Your Dog Trainer?

A common theme I've heard from pet parents who fell victim to "bad egg" dog trainers is that they all had a feeling that something wasn't right. But they trusted their trainer (they were a professional after all, right?), and assumed they knew what they were doing.

Trust

I am lucky to have 35 acres to share with my dogs. But it is wild land. There are chipmunks, deer, elk, and turkeys. There are bears. There are mountain lions. It is a thick wood of shrub oak, aspen, fir and spruce with an under brush of various shrubs and flowers. My 35 acres Read More

Why We Love Dogs

I have just returned from walking my dogs, which is always a social experience, judging by the amount of people I talk to while I’m out. I usually walk in the local park, which takes me past a playground.

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.

Relationship Goals: Precision or Good Parenting?

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

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Exceptionally Fearful Dog

The world that we live in, especially in the United States, is a scary world for many dogs but none so much as the exceptionally fearful dogs out there. The expectations placed on dogs here can be exhausting to their emotional state. The amount of fear/anxiety that dogs who are worried about people/things/animals in their Read More

Dogs Want Us To Know: The Reality of Choosing to Live With Dogs

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

Positively Dog Training Episode 802

In this podcast, Victoria and Aly share great ideas on how to provide enrichment for your dog when it’s cold outside. Aly shares some great canine fitness ideas, how to play hide and seek with your dog and making meal times more enriching.

The Hand That Feeds: There Are Better Options Than Hand Feeding

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

Tell It To My Heart: What Heart Dogs Mean To Us.

Heart dog. Say those two words to any dog lover and their eyes will go soft. They will look wistful. They will be fondly thinking of a dog they currently share their life with if they are lucky. If they are less than lucky, there will tears in their eyes. They will be thinking of 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

5 Little-Known Puppy Training Tips You’ll Be Glad You Found

I spend much of my time as a trainer working with young puppies. They’re little sponges, absorbing every bit of information we send their way – both good and bad. You’ll hear the same puppy training advice over and over: make sure to socialize your puppy, start potty training immediately, and the like. But in Read More

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.

Isn’t It Amazing?

I firmly believe that any decent trainer is always learning – we should never feel we know ‘enough’, and I thoroughly enjoy being inspired, educated and challenged by our amazing roster of presenters at this conference year after year. It has developed into one of the most sought-after dog behaviour experiences available in the UK, and I’m incredibly honoured to be able to bring such a diverse, passionate, educated, engaged, and dog-literate group of people together in the name of better understanding our canine companions each June.

Your new puppy – 9 steps to get it right from the start

“I wonder if I’ve done the wrong thing … Perhaps I’m not capable of looking after a dog.” I don’t know exactly what had caused such a devastating loss of confidence in what 30was clearly a capable individual. But Gwen voiced a sentiment I come across from time to time. Her family had left home Read More

Letter From The Dog

Since when does “just a minute” only apply to humans? We dogs say it too, except when we do, you humans get angry. You let us off the rope thing to go run around and play and then you ask us to come back at the most inconvenient of times, just when we are having the best fun – playing with other dogs or chasing small fluffies. When we don’t respond, you get mad and tell us how bad we are, but apparently you don’t understand that when we hear our name, look back at you and then continue with our game, we’re also saying “just a minute”. By the way…..how long is a minute?

VSA’s First UK Course Is Complete. Who’s Next This Summer?

If now seems like the right time, let us help you on your journey. If you’ve been thinking of a career working with dogs, trust us – it’s worth it. Whether you’re just starting your working career or are stuck doing something you don’t love, join us this summer and allow yourself to chase your dreams. Enroll in the Victoria Stilwell Academy.

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.

Consent: It’s Not Just for People!

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.

5 Ways to Show Your Dog Training Clients Some Love This February

“Should I send previous clients thank you cards?” “How often should I send them?” “What should I say in a thank you card?” I often hear these questions from new or even experience dog trainers. While they are well intentioned, we can and should strive to create better ways of showing our support than a thank you card every once in a while.

Helping Your Dog Feel Safe During the Holidays

The holidays can be an exciting and festive time for humans, but for many dogs, they can be a cause of anxiety. It’s important not to forget your dog’s behavioral health during this time.

Tips For Decreasing Reactivity in a Competition Dog

In the competition sport of agility, there are many variables to manage. When I created a behavior modification program for my own dog, here were some of the things I considered to help set him up for success.

Can My Dog Be Stressed? [Part 3]

Here is the third excerpt from my forthcoming book - Building Confidence in your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog - which points out an area which will be affecting your dog much more than you may imagine. You may want to read Part One and Part Two of the series first.  While you’re doing your best to Read More

So…. you want to be a dog trainer?

When someone finds out I work with dogs they always seem to say “you are so lucky!” ... and indeed I am. I wouldn’t choose to do anything other than what I am doing. But it’s not all cupcakes and butterflies.

Police K-9 Officer Surprises Local Neighborhood with Ice Cream

It’s not often you see a police officer buying a person ice cream from an ice cream truck, let alone an entire neighborhood, but that is exactly what Officer Shawn Humphreys, from the City of Lawrenceville Police Department, did when out on patrol last week.

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

How About a Little Love for Our Pet Sitters?

Professional Pet Sitters Week is coming up! I’ll have the honor of being the keynote speaker at this year’s National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) Education and Networking Forum and Annual Conference. I know this will be a great conference with all the dedicated pet sitters attending and learning more about ways to better Read More

Positively Success Story: Tia

When I lost my husband 4 years ago, I turned to my 2 yr Boxer Tia for comfort and to share my overwhelming sense of loss. We both grieved together.

You Can’t Duct From Social Media!

The best twist that came out of this whole situation was a young man who photographed his Rottweiler being offered a peanut butter stuffed bone, with the caption that “this is what happens when you won’t shut up”. Win/win for both sides of the equation.

Positively Dog Training Episode 507

Victoria and Holly talk about the viral story of a military working dog and his handler that were injured during a building search and chat with founder of Mission K-9 Rescue, an organization helping similar dogs and handlers.

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.