Why I Went Positive

Almost 17 years ago, I adopted a Pit bull. Her name was Claire. She came into my life like a cannon shot and left this world the same way. BOOM! Claire made such a significant impact on me that I created a whole career out of my experiences with her.

Why Is My Dog Peeing On My Pillow? (Or Revenge Of The Turds)

Improper elimination in the home stirs up lots of emotion in humans. Bafflement, anger, frustration, are a few that come to mind. But for some, the explanation that comes to mind is revenge on the part of the dog. Once this explanation enters our thoughts, it becomes our nature to defend our view. We create stories around other events that seem to confirm our perspective and it can be very difficult to unlearn what we think we know.

Why I Love VSA

Just last week, we concluded another successful in-person intensive with the Victoria Stilwell Academy’s Dog Trainer Course students. As I sat there in the back of the room, I watched our awesome faculty member, Nichole Smith from Working With Dog, absolutely rocking this super-important lesson and content. Just about every day during our six-month course, Read More

Why Should Your Dog Listen to You?

Does your dog listen to you when you ask him to do something? Does he listen half of the time? What about only when you have a treat, or only if you’re inside the house?

Why I Sympathize With the Grooming Dog Trainer

This is not about dog training and behavior. This is about human sympathy. And a mission. And justice. A couple of days ago, I was forwarded a public YouTube video of a dog trainer working with a dog who had previously bitten and shown aggression, especially while being bathed and groomed. I'm writing this to express my sympathy for the trainer. I mean that without an ounce of insincerity – I truly feel bad for him and what he has gone through since the video of him working with that dog has gone viral.

Positively Success Story: Chevy

Until Wednesday, walking Chev was like walking a plow horse. There's no indication she's had much, if any loose-leash training. We decided to take the time to do it right.

Positively Success Story: Paisley

First off, thank you so very much for being a ray of light in such a dark world of training methods. I'm 20 , and I've had dogs my whole life, Boxers. So when I decided to get a dog of my own, it had to be a Boxer. To me, it's just not home Read More

Why Are Dogs Aggressive

Defining what aggression means is not easy, because there are so many variables associated with what is a highly complex behavior. But by investigating the function served by an aggressive act as well as why it occurs and what result it achieves from the dog’s point of view, we can begin to gain a better understanding.

Social Bullying

Have you ever received negative comments or been bullied on social media? If you have then you understand how bad it can make you feel and how damaging it can be. This week’s post is not about dogs, but this is a conversation we all need to be having right now, and that is why I am sharing what has happened to me since I became known in the media world.

Does Your Dog Respect You?

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” In the film ‘The Blues Brothers,’ Aretha Franklin sings about her need for some respect. The words of the song are as applicable today in human relationships as they were then, but what does the word actually mean?

Today I Was Called a Snowflake

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.

Labeling Dog Behavior

Every dog lover uses labels to describe their dog’s personality – my dog is ‘aggressive’, ‘stupid’ ‘highly driven,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘stubborn,’ ‘happy,’ or ‘dominant,’ but labels can be misleading and limit a dog’s potential.

Obedience

I don’t participate in competitive dog sports or obedience trials, but I do love watching dogs and their handlers having fun, and appreciate how much time it takes on both sides to become proficient.

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

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

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

Raymond Parke Coppinger 2/7/1937 to 8/14/2017

Raymond Coppinger, 80, professor emeritus of biology and author of various books on dogs and about 50 published scientific papers passed away Monday, August 14, His Ph. D. thesis in biology at the University of Massachusetts is on the effect of experience and novelty on avian feeding behavior. He joined the founding faculty at Hampshire Read More

Yes, Your Dog Needs a Microchip

Each of my lost animal cases is unique as far as the type of animal, location, breed and the reason they went missing. I’m a big proponent of supplying your dogs with as much identification as possible just in case they go missing. However, many of my clients don’t provide any form of identification for their dogs.

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.

Nag Nag Nag (It’s a Dog’s Life!)

We humans do like nagging our dogs! Whether or not the dog has been trained to 'obey commands' or 'respond to cues' depends upon the method of training, but some people can't drop it once the word has been learnt. They seem unable to resist constantly directing their dog.

The Bloodstained Terrible Towel

This was not the kind of behavior that our beloved Steeler organization would support. This is not the value system that we expect from the Rooney family.

Shelter Work: It Takes a Village

There is only so much you can address behaviorally in a shelter environment, and it takes very committed people working together to make the biggest impact.

Help! My Puppy is Deaf. What Now?

Ultimately, what I’ve realized is that living with and training a deaf dog isn’t harder, it’s just different. Here are a few tips to help new deaf dog pet parents get started. I hope these help ease your anxiety and fears during this transition.

What’s safer: a tennis ball, or a ball made specifically for dogs?

If you have an active, ball-obsessed dog, you may have concerns about how safe those tennis balls are. Are tennis balls safe for dogs, or are dog toys safer? You might have heard stories about how tennis balls aren’t safe for dogs. These stories may include concerns about enamel abrasion, or perhaps something about what 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.

A Dog Died Today. Because of a Trainer.

Or trainers. I can't clearly put this in any one person's lap. Let's back up and see where we are. First off, I am not going to identify the trainer(s), the dog, or the family. My purpose is not to belittle or attack anyone. Instead I want this to be a learning experience for other trainers and a warning to owners.

Reality Check for Carers/Owners of Dogs with ‘Issues’

LOSING HEART Why do so many clients with fearful or reactive dogs, who often have started off so well, lose heart? The reason is because they just don’t fully accept the time and work that changing fear-based or guarding behaviors in particular can take. Teaching people is the easy bit. A large part of my Read More

Fatal Dog Bites Share Common Factors

The Journal of the American Veterinary Association has released the most comprehensive study to date regarding fatal dog bites and the common factors that link them. The authors of the study found that there were some significant errors reported by the media in certain stories, so rather than relying on a potentially biased media source, Read More

Have You Been Bathing Your Pet with a Cancer Causing Shampoo?

We all want the best for our canine and feline companions, but sometimes we owners may unknowingly be sickening our pets. One of the most glaringly obvious circumstances where pets were sickened or died as a result of the recommendations of animal-health professionals is the 2007 melamine pet food crisis. Dogs and cats that consumed dry Read More

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.

Victoria Talks With Steve Dale

Victoria Stilwell:  Hey Steve! We last met up at American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards in L.A. – What have you been up to since then? Steve Dale:  I emceed an American Humane Association animal assisted therapy dinner, celebrating the work of many dogs and their volunteer handlers in Denver. I’ve contributed to a couple Read More