Victoria Stilwell Book Review: The Pet Professionals Guild.

Victoria Stilwell Book Review: The Pet Professionals Guild. Victoria Stilwell, star of the hit Animal Planet TV show, It's Me or the Dog, and CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training, unleashes the power of Positive Reinforcment training with her new book, Train Your Dog Positively (TYDP). Stilwell, the passionately vocal dog training expert, delivers a concise, thorough, scientifically-supported and referenced discourse with a message that has far-reaching implications.

Stilwell hits her stride right out of the gate and delivers her trademark TYDP Cover 533x800straightforward advice and insights with a fresh new eloquence while meeting a formidable challenge-providing clear theoretical explanations with practical applications in each area of dog problem solving.

In it’s first week of publication, sales topped the “Dog Training” category with the major online booksellers. TYDP is a well-organized, pioneering treatise on the path to becoming a classic. In a personal message to Pet Professional Guild (PPG) members and readers, Victoria, tells us, “I wanted to create a widely-available option that every pet parent could pick up, read, and understand while providing airtight documentation from the scientific community as well.” And that she has. Academically on point, TYDP is written in unfettered language, making sometimes complex behavioral topics easy to understand. Every pet parent, dog trainer, behavioral consultant, veterinarian, animal activist, dog sitter, dog walker, groomer and dog lover should have a copy of TYDP in their research and pocket libraries.

Ringing endorsements include such notables as Dr. Patricia B. McConnell, PhD, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, renowned behavior expert and author, and Robin R. Ganzert, PhD, President, American Humane Association. Stilwell credits the greatest minds in modern dog training, “as well as the thousands of trainers fighting this fight on a daily basis”, for inspiration.

She notes that the call to change in the contentious field of dog training is urgent. The absence of a “Do No Harm” professional ethic, and lack of industry regulation leaves the door wide open for promotions from purely profit-driven training companies, widespread misconceptions, and not only outdated but often damaging and dangerous dominance-methods practices. Victoria tells the PPG, “I believe we’re in the midst of a tragic epidemic of fundamental misunderstanding regarding how dogs think, feel and learn most effectively. What sets good positive trainers apart from punitive trainers…is how they manage to stop unwanted behaviors while still using humane training techniques instead of punishment.”

If you’re a positive reinforcement trainer looking for succinct supporting arguments to enhance your practice, it’s all here– challenging and dispelling the myth of dominance and pack theory. TYDP may be used as a source-book of quotes, research and resources about the science and effectiveness of positive reinforcement method training. TYDP is a well-honed treatise of domestic dog behavior, aimed at addressing and treating the underlying causes of problem behavior, as well as providing a comprehensive toolbox.

Stilwell dispels the myth that dogs are on a mission to dominate us. TYDP explains the world from the dog’s point of view and explains how they learn. What is perceived as a struggle of wills is simply normal canine behavior that, once understood and approached from a positive training point of view, is often easily modifiable. Indeed, so-called “red zone” dogs, even more so than other dogs, need gentle training methods in order to prevent dog bites and improve behavior.

Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 12.21.08 PMTYDP is a gift to pet parents seeking practical help making sense out of all the diverging advice about dog training, “So many pet parents want to do the right thing, but have been infected with the dangerous, less effective and downright inhumane training techniques popularized by certain pop culture media phenomena” Stilwell well says. This book teaches pet parents to celebrate the relationship they have with their dogs through training, and that raining should be fun.

In addition, TYDP contains practical applications in each major area of problem-solving, from frustrating, persistent nuisance issues such as housetraining to frightening multi-dog household aggression. Stilwell’s use of case studies for elucidating problems and solutions captures the reader’s heart by putting a real-life fur-face on the problem.

Stilwell has truly come of age with this discourse, and continues to let the reader know she’s not to be tangled with. “All of us on this mission share a strong passion for not only sharing this information, but for helping to actively change people’s minds about how they think of dogs and the type of relationship they want with them,” she says. “The most important thing is to not give up.”

Stilwell lives in Atlanta with her husband, daughter and rescue dogs, Sadie and Jasmine.

Linda Michaels, MA Psychology, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email:[email protected] for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us at

© Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Originally pulbished in Barks From the Guild, Vol. 2, No. 2. Summer 2013.

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Positively Expert: Linda Michaels, MA

Linda Michaels is a VSPDT trainer, dog training columnist, and owner of Dog Psychologist On Call in Del Mar, CA. Linda holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology with research experience in Behavioral Neurobiology. She is a Behavioral Advisor for the Wolf Education Project (WEP) in Julian, CA and Art for Barks in Rancho Santa Fe, CA.


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