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?

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?

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

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

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?

10 Things to Consider When You Hire a Positive Dog Trainer

Working with a positive trainer is one of the best things that you will ever do for your dog. Below is a list of 5 things that may surprise you about your trainer followed by a list of 5 things you may want to remember when you hire a positive trainer.

Why Does My Dog Keep Pulling Me?!?!?!

“Why does my dog keep pulling me?”  This is the phrase I hear over and over from clients who are trying their best to walk their dogs on a regular basis.  Short of giving up, they suffer the embarrassment, danger and sometimes pain, of walking a dog who pulls like a freight train when on Read More

How To Find A Good Dog Trainer

For the majority of modern dog owners, choosing the right dog trainer is one of the most important decisions they will have to make regarding their dog. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult decisions to get right. Assuming you have already determined that you need the help of a trained professional Read More

Why Positive Training Is Not Bribery

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.

What to Do When Your Dog Won’t Listen

Punitive training techniques that center on gaining control of your dog by dominating her into obeying can damage the human/animal bond and cause your dog to mistrust you and essentially switch off. You want to ‘matter’ to her by being the source of good things in her life, so that whenever you need her attention, she will give it to you.

If Your Dog Could Talk: Reward vs Punishment Dog Training

There's a raging controversy in the field of dog training centered around dog training collars and methods--Reinforcement vs Correction and Treats vs No Treats. What's a pet parent to do? If your dog could talk, your dog would surely ask you to listen to the experts in animal behavior. As it turns out, it’s scientifically Read More

Why Dogs Bite Children: A Lesson in Preventing Dog Bites in Kids

This animation may seem shocking to some; however according to studies published in the journals American Surgeon and Pediatrics a majority of injuries in kids are to the neck and face. Furthermore dog bites are not uncommon. Nearly a million people—both adults and kids—are bitten badly enough to require a hospital visit. To some people Read More

Shocking Answers to Shocking Questions

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.

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 Value of Understanding Value

Our four legged companions have a much simpler value system based on the most basic aspects of life: food, water, shelter, territory, a mate. Then there are the secondary aspects: chasing things that move just because, following their nose because they can, shredding our belongings because it's fun, and on and on.

Canine Noise Phobia Series

The Canine Noise Phobia Series (CNP) is a 4-CD compilation of specialized audio recordings and innovative training protocols specifically designed to reduce and prevent noise phobias and anxiety in dogs. “In my work as a dog trainer both on TV and in private practice over the past 15 years, I have seen countless dogs suffer Read More

The Value of Rewards

Identifying and providing high-value rewards for good behavior is a crucial element to positive reinforcement – one of the four pillars of positive training. Often referred to as 'reward-based' training, the appropriate and timely delivery of a reward during training makes a dog more confident and able to manage successfully in a domestic environment. Importantly, Read More

Spay/Neuter

Whether or not to have a dog spayed (removing the ovaries and uterus) or neutered (removing the testicles) is an important decision you must make with the help of your veterinarian and the collective advice of other animal care professionals. There are many different opinions when it comes to spaying and neutering, and some people Read More

Thunderstorm Phobia

Thunderstorm phobia is a relatively common problem for dogs, particularly for those that live in areas where stormy weather is more frequent. Whether fear of thunderstorms is elicited by a singular traumatic experience or prolonged exposure, the result is often highly distressing for dogs and people. Without extensive behavioral therapy and management strategies, phobias become Read More

Loose Leash Walking

Contrary to popular belief, dogs that pull on the leash while being walked do not want to be pack leader, top dog, alpha, or dominant over their human. There is a much simpler explanation: dogs love to be outside, and the walk is a stimulating and exciting part of their day, so the desire to Read More

Leave It

The 'leave it' cue teaches your dog an invaluable lesson in impulse control that can be useful in many situations. The 'it' in question might be food that has fallen on the floor, something your dog picks up on a walk, another dog, or even a child. Like the recall this is an important safety Read More

Overcoming Thunderstorm Phobia

Thunderstorm phobia is a relatively common problem for dogs, particularly for those that live in areas where stormy weather is commonplace. Whether fear of thunderstorms is elicited by a singular traumatic experience or prolonged exposure, the result is often highly distressing for dogs and owners. Without extensive behavioral therapy and management strategies, phobias become deeply ingrained and even harder to overcome.

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

‘Vet on Call’ by British TV Veterinarian Marc Abraham

Apparently I decided to be a veterinarian when I was only three years old after using a twig in the garden to successfully tease out a maggot from my pet tortoise Speedy's leg wound! From then on all I wanted to do was to help animals. After my first few TV appearances as a veterinarian Read More

Don’t Take Their Word for It

Picture this: you’re walking your dog at the park when you spot another dog and owner coming toward you. There’s something about the dog that gives you pause. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but that little inner voice is saying, “This is not a dog you want your dog to greet.” As Read More

It Doesn’t Have to Happen

Last week I did an interview with CNN's Headline News regarding a four day old infant that had just been killed by the family’s pit bull in Jacksonville, Florida. Baby Justin was lying on the bed while his mother went to take a shower when the attack happened. The baby was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries and the pit bull was seized by animal control and euthanized the next day.

Positively Podcasts

Join Victoria and her co-host (and It's Me or the Dog alum) Holly Firfer as they discuss everything from the hottest dog-related topics of the day to the inside scoop from the set of It's Me or the Dog and everything in between. A fun, and informative look into Victoria's life and work, the Positively Read More

Fact vs Fiction, Part I

I want to dispel a few myths about positive reinforcement training methods.  There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what positive reinforcement really is and about which dogs and behaviors it is useful for.  For example, I have heard people say that positive reinforcement trainers only deal with obedience training, but Read More