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

“How Do I MAKE Him Do What I Say?”

How do you feel about someone who MAKES you do anything? Warm and loving or resentful and wary? Which way would you prefer that your dog feel about you?

What I’m Trying to Say

Positively Contributor and Colorado-based VSPDT Louisa Morrissey discusses dog body language and communication, and how you can better understand what your dog is trying to tell you.

What Our Pets Are Really Saying…

Ever wonder what dogs are saying to each other while they chill out in the laundry room? Or our cats when they tire of the scratching post.  How about why lizards lie around on rocks all day? I think these videos from Pets Add Life really hit the nail on the head. Of course, I'm Read More

Delta Airlines Bans Pitbulls

Delta Airlines is banning service or comfort dogs identified as pit bulls. According to Delta’s own website: Delta, which led the industry in March by updating its service and support animal policy, says it will further enhance its restrictions, effective July 10. The enhancements include introducing a limit of one emotional support animal per customer per Read More

Food Issues

Follow a positive trainer around for a few days and you will quickly come to realize that we humans have food issues. Of course he is doing what you ask. You have food in your hand! (As in, I am paying you for this?) You’re sure giving a lot of treats. (Usually said in a Read More

Fourth of July and Fireworks

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

From Fearful to Fear Free

Does it surprise you to know that too much fear, anxiety or stress can cause health problems in dogs? Some dogs are terrorized frequently, such as attending inappropriate aversive dog training classes, or even a sick dog who needs to see the veterinarian frequently. Some caretakers have no clue their dog is even fearful. “From 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

Introducing Positively TV – The Official Channel for Dog Lovers

The future of dog videos online has arrived! Positively TV – Victoria Stilwell’s exciting new premium subscription video-on-demand service – has officially launched and is available worldwide. Positively TV is a new subscriber-based platform which contains the entire library of Victoria’s Positively video content plus exclusive new videos that will be released only to subscribers Read More

Growth Mindsets in Dog Training

In some of my other worlds, parenting and school teaching, the idea of Growth vs Fixed Mindsets has taken off. You can read more here, but in a nutshell, you avoid labeling children as smart or not smart. You look for and acknowledge behaviours like effort, persistence, thoughtful choices, small steps taken and achieved; and Read More

Protecting Pets Against Coyotes

As the urbanization sprawls reach into places with wildlife, confrontations are more numerous, from skunk to coyotes to moose. Sometimes these confrontations may be potentially dangerous to us, but more often potentially dangerous to companion animals – unless we make a few easy adjustments. Arguably the most successful of all non-bird species is the coyote. Read More

Dogs and Wolves 14,000 Years Ago

The line that dogs have gone from the dog house into our house isn’t exactly true. Dogs have not only shared our homes, but our sleeping quarters for a very long time, around 14,000 years to be exact. The human-animal bond isn’t a new thing. It turns out that 14,000 years ago we were buried Read More

Owner or enthusiast?

I have a car. I love my car and I look after it well. I drive it carefully, clean it, get it serviced regularly and always enjoy looking at it and driving it. The thing is…I really know very little about how it works. I can check the water and oil and top them up. Read More

Keep A Close Eye On Your Animals At All Times

For over a decade, I’ve been blessed to work with all types of animals. People and institutions contact me to assist them with their domestic animals, farm animals and sanctuary animals. I work with them in numerous ways but, what I’m probably best known for is my work with missing animals. I have worked with 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

Delta Airlines on Airplane Animals

Limiting animals allowed on airplanes. This was bound to happen and has begun with Delta Airlines because so many people are taking advantage of the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding service animals. The law is a bit ambiguous because when the ADA was created the terms comfort animal or emotional support animal (ESA) Read More

Indoor Cats Vs Outdoor Cats

If cats are likely to live longer and healthier lives indoors – why are we still allowing them outdoors? Surprise, living indoors – though – has shortcomings too. Sixty years ago, indoors vs. outdoors wasn’t an issue. Most cats could come and go as they pleased. It wasn’t welfare issues that changed their world, encouraging Read More

Change a Dog’s Life…and Yours Too!?

A client of mine rescued a dog from a local county shelter. The dog was cute and scruffy tan terrier mix. Sort of similar to the famous movie star dog Benji. My client had gone to the county shelter hoping to find the perfect furry companion for her and her family. She didn’t have any Read More

Betty White Interview at 96

Betty White recently celebrated her 96th birthday. Privately, she’ll tell you that she’s glad she became an actress because she loves her work, but also because it’s given her a platform to advocate for animals. And, boy, does she adore animals, and she been advocated for animals – both wildlife and pets for about as Read More

Starting out with your new puppy

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

To Walk or Not To Walk

To Walk, or Not To Walk – It’s Not Even A Question Is It? All responsible dog owners walk their dogs once/twice/for two hours/three hours/45 minutes… per day. Everyone knows this, it’s what responsible owners do. But have we sometimes lost track of what purpose a walk actually fulfills – I think we frequently have. Read More

The Replacement Dog

Sometimes we have the amazing fortune of owning that awe-inspiring dog, the one you barely have to train, the one that knows your thoughts and feelings just by the way you move your body or a look in your eyes. No words are necessary to communicate with this dog and we feel they are incredible Read More

Baby It Is Cold Outside

To some dogs, the weather outside may be frightful. Other dogs my delight to romp and play in snow and ice, and how can you blame them? After all, Malamutes and Siberian Huskies live for the snow and cold. On the other paw, Toy Poodles would hop on a plane to Hawaii if they could, Read More

Positively Success Story: Kaylee

Our story is slightly different than others as I began positive training with my puppy from day one. Surf was 11 weeks old when we got him and my intention was to train him over time to be my service dog.

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. 

Talking Thresholds

Talking Thresholds When working with clients, dog trainers often refer to “thresholds”. This is a common term in behavior modification work when addressing anxiety, fear, aggression, and stress levels. It is also relevant in learning situations, such as a dog park, a group class or an agility seminar. What does it mean? “Threshold” refers to Read More

No Need to Declaw

Saving cats claws may also save their lives. There’s increasing data to demonstrate that once declawed, cats wind up at animal shelters due to behavioral problems. Or they may wind up in animal shelters because they do have their claws and are scratching in all the wrong places. To declaw remains an emotional issue, and Read More

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

Pet store sales California

California has become the first state to ban the sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits at pet stores. Pet stores will be able to adopt dogs, cats, and rabbits from reputable shelters or rescues, however. Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 485 on Friday, October 13. The Pet Rescue and Adoption Act was authored by Assembly member Read More

Terrie Hayward-Puerto Rico

“Are the conditions in Puerto Rico as bad as we’ve heard and seen? Terrie Hayward, certified dog behavior consultant and dog trainer in Rincon doesn’t hesitate for a half a second. “Yes, it is – desperate.” Prior to Hurricanes Maria and Irma impacted pummeling the island, life wasn’t easy, as residents were dealing with serious 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