Successful positive training relies in large part on determining exactly what motivates your dog the most. While each dog is different and some may be turned on by praise, play, toys, or life rewards like going for walk, very often food is that primary motivating force and can be a powerful tool for shaping new Read More
There’s a lot of negative talk about using food in training. Even when people are prepared to use it in a class or at home, they often refuse to carry it when taking the training 'on the road'. Comments include; it’s bribery; I want the dog to work for me; the dog ‘knows’ what I Read More
If you ask a group of dog trainers to define what an aversive means, you will get many different answers as well as some spirited discussion. Regarding behavior modification techniques, an aversive is ‘the avoidance of a thing, situation, or behavior that is achieved by using an unpleasant or punishing stimulus.’
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
Lure-reward training is a highly effective way to teach your dog new behaviors. It is easy and fun for both dog and human, and dogs can learn new behaviors quite quickly with this training. This type of training simply involves using a food reward to guide the dog into the desired position or behavior. If Read More
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
On Sunday 23rd March 2014 there was a great article about dog training in the Sunday Telegraph as well as in the Telegraph online. The article highlighted a study that found pets trained using aversive methods were 15 times more likely to exhibit symptoms of stress than those trained using "positive" techniques and that training Read More
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.
Holly's CNN shoot in Jerome, AZ, Victoria's resolution to for eat more healthily, how to feed your dogs a better diet, animal cruelty, MN-based VSPDT trainer Amy Sandmann talks about her therapy dog work with Pet Partners & more.
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.
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
By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS April 21, 2010 I went through the picture in my head. Chicken number one climbs up the ladder onto a one-foot-wide platform, makes a 180-degree turn and tightropes across a narrow bridge to a second platform, where it pecks a tethered ping-pong ball, sending the ball in an arc around Read More
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
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
Some techniques are so brilliant and simple that they end up "in the water" or in this case, in the water bottle. Today, I find myself in the position of wanting to ensure that those techniques, and one of their authors, get the credit she and her work deserve. I want to be clear: In Read More
'That's cheating!’ ‘That’s cheating!’. I looked up to see a man shouting over to me. He continued: ‘When your puppy came back to you then, you gave it a treat. That’s just bribing: they should do things because they want to please you.’ He walked off saying: ‘A pat on the head should be enough’. Well, Read More
A new study led by biologist Ana Catarina Viera de Castro of the Universidae do Porto in Portugal reveals that shouting at dogs and using punitive methods to train them does short and long term damage, while using reward based methods yields better results both for learning and emotional health.
A trainer’s most important job is to help people live harmoniously with their dogs and sometimes the only thing that is needed to create harmony is effective management.
As the modern dog’s role continues to evolve from that of working dog to companion animal, there is more pressure on all dogs to cope and behave well in an increasingly busy human world.
I lived with a Labrador. She was a hungry hound who was on a constant mission to find food wherever and whenever she could get it. When she reached the grand old age of 16 I thought her food obsession might diminish a little, but it remained as strong as ever.
If you live with a dog that displays aggressive behavior (lunging, growling, or even biting), using management to keep everyone safe is the first priority, along with a good behavior modification plan. What Is Management? One of my favorite descriptions of management is from the book “Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0: New Practical Techniques for Fear, Read More
But I bet that most of you knew that already. The dogs who live in fear or with anxiety, over people/things/animals that they see in the environment, are reveling in the fact that there are far fewer people who are trying to be up close and personal with them now. Their owners probably feel the Read More
What is Resource Guarding Resource guarding (also known as 'possession aggression') is behavior a dog may display in order to control access to a valued item or space. A valued resource includes anything of value to that particular dog. Just as people value different items, so do dogs. A dog may feel the need to Read More
It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy.
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.
The difference between mouthing and biting It is not at all uncommon for puppies to use their mouths in nearly everything they do. This behavior is called 'mouthing' and is a completely normal part of development. Though this is very similar to biting, the intention is different. Distinguishing between the two is very important. Why Read More
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
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
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.
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
It has been something of a thing recently in some corners of the dog training world to suggest that keeping an easily over-stimulated and/or reactive dog in his own home environment for a bit of time, along with enrichment toys, is a better idea than taking said dog out into the world to be walked. Read More
You’ve been planning for months, and at last your new puppy is here! Your expectations are enormous: this is going to be the perfect dog you’ve always wanted. And maybe that’s right, and your little puppy will become your Brilliant Family Dog. But for many of us - and for many of our puppies - Read More
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.
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
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.
We’re told as dog guardians that we need to be the "leader of the pack" and let our dogs know who runs the show. But, being a true “Leader” when it comes to our dogs may be very different than what you’ve been led to believe.
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
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.