My Take on the “Real Horror” of Beverly Hills

Update 6/3/15: Kingsley has now been involved in another alleged attack, this time against a woman who was visiting the home. The woman says she will suffer permanent scarring as a result of the attack. I sincerely hope that Kim will consider using a trainer that utilizes science-based humane training methods who can attempt to reverse the damage done by the highly aversive trainer she has used in the past. Again, I'm disappointed to see that the use of aversive methods has resulted in negative press for pit bull-type dogs. Read more.

Update 11/10/14: I'm sad to say that Kingsley was involved in a serious attack on Richards' niece, Alexia. Richards is also being sued by another woman who was bitten by Kingsley. This dog not only bit the trainer that was shown kicking him and yelling at him on the show, but has bitten other people in at least three other incidences. As I've said time and time again, while suppression of behavior may look glamorous and 'like magic' on television, it can be the precursor to even more devastating behaviors. Unless the family can look to other training solutions that do not use force, fear, or intimidation, the future for Kingsley looks uncertain. I'm sorry to see that the use of these dangerous methods has resulted in more negative press for pit bulls. Read more. 

Original story 11/15/13: If I'm not traveling or working, I'm spending time with my family, so that doesn't leave much time for watching TV. I knew of the Real Housewives series, but had never watched it myself. However I couldn't ignore the flood of emails and messages I have received this week about the latest episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. After watching the footage in question, I came away feeling so disappointed, disheartened and disgusted at what I saw.

Real Housewife Kim Richards' Pit Bull, Kingsley.

Real Housewife Kim Richards' Pit Bull, Kingsley.

The dog at the center of the scene is a young pit bull mix named Kingsley, who is owned by Real Housewife Kim Richards. Pit bulls are an energetic, excitable breed that need intense physical and mental stimulation. They are also highly sensitive and eager to please people, which makes them excellent candidates for training.

This show had a great opportunity to showcase the incredible intelligence and gentle nature of the pit bull breed by using a trainer that employed positive methods, but  instead a trainer was chosen that put on a theatrical disaster for the camera. I could only sit and grind my teeth as I witnessed a stressed out, highly aroused dog be subjected to kicking, yelling, scruffing, and pushing. Everyone on camera is very lucky they weren't bitten.

When you fight fire with fire, you're going to get burned. When trainers use physical and mental intimidation to "dominate" a large, powerful dog, you're not only asking for a bite, but you're also completely bypassing the root of the problem. The only way to truly change a dog's behavior is get to the bottom of the underlying stress or anxiety causing it.

After so much progress has been made regarding dog training on TV recently (including the decision by Real Housewife of NYC Jill Zarin to appear on an episode of It's Me or the Dog), I'm so disappointed that these ineffective and dangerous methods were highlighted on such a popular television show. I'm also proud of the people I saw stand up for what they knew was wrong and who raised their voice in protest of these training methods. I can only hope that Bravo and other networks will take these calls to action seriously and will not make the same mistake again.

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44 thoughts on “My Take on the “Real Horror” of Beverly Hills

  1. Charlotte Landolfi

    Victoria... I didn't see this episode..but, have regrettably seen parts of these 'crazy' ladies... I did last year see that Kim got her Sweet Kingsley...and I didn't like what she was doing with him then on her own.. I also have had the misfortune of seeing parts of the Kardashian family... Bruce Jenner... 'CLAIMS' to be a Dog trainer... He is an IDIOT.. with his dogs and then taking on 'training' Khloe K's Dog.... A beautiful Boxer Puppy.... I was appalled... He needs to be 'trained'.... I had respect for him and his accomplishments... but, after seeing his idiotic behavior has definitely changed my mind.... BRUCE JENNER's Dogs need HELP..
    Thank you for all that you do.... around the world.

  2. Chris Carter

    I don't watch that kinda stuff, so I'd have been unaware until I read this. THANK YOU for speaking out!

  3. Deb Mattakat Stevens

    I don't watch that show but that is terrible - I have a deaf pit mix I would never train her that way. How awful. I have fostered a lot of pit puppies too and never had to ever do something like that.
    I do have a TV challenge for you a dog that eats a house when she can't get to the owner. That is my pit mix who is deaf. She was a foster failure because no one wanted her and we have had her for 4 years now. We have come so very far with her but I need help on the house eating. She is causing me anxiety over it. I could send you an email of exactly what she does - I am also hoping to got to school to be a trainer soon. the Animal Behavioral College.
    I would never ever bother someone as busy as you but I am so desperate that I don't know what else to do

  4. Anne Caouette

    I hope the Dog in question will get better training than being kicked or abused. I am a true believer in gentle firm commands with positive rewards. Victoria Stillwell "s methods or control and training have worked so well for my dogs. The reason for unbehaved dogs are usually due to Owner's not treating their Dogs with respect.

  5. Darlene

    I don't care to watch trash tv myself so only learned of this through your description here when it popped up in my newsfeed on Facebook. As a GSD breeder, and having trained dogs myself for over 25 years using primarily only positive reinforcement methods (only the hardest, alpha, working lines Shepherds that belong to myself have had any coercion techniques used in training for sport) it troubles me that people who clearly do not know what they are doing are demonstrating the wrong example for the average viewer\pet owner to then attempt to duplicate on a dog of their own, often with disastrous results as you are well aware.

    It is frightening that this aired for the public to view. Apparently, nobody had sense to realize that people cannot differentiate between good and bad techniques for training. Humans anthropomorphize their pets and truly believe that they can understand conversational English. With the majority of pet owners being sorely uneducated regarding animal behavior, pack behavior, length of time a dog can successfully make the association between action and command, etc. airing a segment demonstrating dangerous "training techniques" is highly irresponsible on the part of the network.

    Most people cannot understand that to successfully train you must have at least a minimal understanding of how canines perceive the world; and to be honest, without a very good grasp on this subject, you are destined to be ineffective and possibly harmful to a dog. Behavioral modification techniques that work come about by having a total and complete understanding of "the world according to dogs".

    I cringe as you do when watching a train wreck of a "training session" by the clueless. I spent many years in rescue trying to rehabilitate dogs for adoption and the things people do to their pets without consideration of the lasting effects or consequences is disheartening.

  6. Jan Hankins

    I'm very glad I do not watch this show. If I did, I would stop watching after this episode. If you're a fan (or even if you're not), perhaps a respectfully worded letter to Bravo pointing out the problems with this type of training would be helpful.

  7. Danette

    Can you try get a contract with Bravo for future dog training episodes? This was just wrong on so many levels! He was an idiot!

  8. Andrea Reilly

    To Deb Stevens and anyone else with a dog with separation anxiety. We adopted a 7 mo old pit on the euth list. He broke through 3 cages/ crates, we finally found a a crate for $800.00 called the Houdini and it works. He barked and cried when left alone and hurt himself trying to get out of the cage. We took him to our wonderful vet and asked for HELP, he put him on Prozac and Buspar. They worked and after eight months we weaned him completely off Prozac and if we are going to be gone for awhile or if he seems anxious we give him a half of Buspar a day. He's almost two now and we adore him. Also always have your dog fixed, it calms them down and is so much better for the dog. Don't be afraid of drugs for your dog, you have no idea the difference it makes, just follow a vets instruction. If one vet won't give it you, go to a different vet.. 🙂

  9. Jill Freifeld, CPDT-KA

    I'll admit my guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives of BH. I haven't seen the episode in question yet but I'm going to write to Bravo immediately to express my disappointment with their willingness to promote old-fashioned, outdated training methods. How sad that coercive training is once again "validated" by popular TV...

  10. Molly Sumner

    I saw the episode and I was incredibly bothered by it. This is what I wrote to Bravo:
    "So I admit my guilty pleasure was to watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but after tonight I think that is going to end. On this past week's episode Kim Richards hired a "dog trainer" that choked, kicked and hit the dog and not just subtly, but quite harshly. I have put up with forceful training on TV before but this was down right clear abuse. I'm highly disappointed in both the woman for allowing and even participating in the "training", as well as BRAVO for airing the footage. Not sure I can stomach another episode...
    And on the other hand, what an awful display of how so many pet owners will allow uneducated abusive "trainers" anywhere near their dogs. I feel sick to my stomach."

  11. Cindy Barbier

    I don't watch that show so was not aware until you posted about it. I am by no means an experienced trainer but I love my dogs with all my heart and we are a pack family so It sickens me to think there are still so many "trainers" out there that think the only way to teach a dog is through abuse and dominant aggressive physical discipline or what I consider abuse. I have tried some of your gentle approach methods with my labradors and I can see how well they respond to patience and gentle but firm leadership training and the positive rewarding. This negative abusive training contributes to so much psychological damage to these poor dogs and sometimes the effects are irreversible! Thank you for bringing this to light and being such a strong advocate for pawsitive canine behaviour and training!

    P.S. Please come to Las Vegas!

  12. Michele

    I just watched it last night and was just appalled. I have commented on Kim's blog, the RHOBH FB, and So glad to see you comment on this. APSDT works!


    Years ago I had this boyfriend who had a young Springer Spaniel. Well, the doggie ate one of my high heels, so this man decided to punish the dog by tying the shoe in the puppy's mouth with a belt and leaving it all night. I was horrified and told him so. The man became incensed that I questioned his actions; I knew better but kept my mouth shut. Just one of the times I could kick myself because I didn't stand up for what I knew to be well as deck that arrogant thing that passed for a human.

  14. Angela Mintier

    As I watched the show as it aired YOU were the first person who came to mind. I was so upset when he kicked her dog! He made no attempt when entering his (Kingsley's) house to make friends/good with him like I know you would have. He entered Kingsley's home like it was his own & he was just protecting his owner. Then when he put him in yet another stressful situation with his own dog it made me even more upset. Kim definitely needs YOU & she needs trained big time. My dogs are fully trained by your methods & I couldn't be a happier pet owner. Thank you for all that you do to help us & teach us how to be rightful pet owners.

  15. Donna Leonard

    I saw this episode and was so horrified at the treatment of Kingsley. Truly I could not believe what I was seeing. I would hope that Bravo would apologize and find the right trainer to help Kingsley. I couldn't believe how that so called trainer entered the house and his reaction to Kingsley told me right off the bat that he had no idea what he was doing!!! Bravo you screwed up big time!!

  16. John

    How can we attempt to address this to try to make the greater public realize just how wrong and dangerous these actions were? I fear that unless there is a backlash loud enough to be noticed by the people who watch this show that people will come away believing that what happened WAS training.

    What happened to Kingsley was indeed horrific. But consider how much worse it will be if people start imitating this en masse because they think it is how one trains a dog?

  17. John

    I lack words. I just obtained a copy of the show and watched the segment. It is about 4 minutes long and starts somewhere around 30 to 32 minutes into the show.

    How, how, how, HOW can people, especially someone who claims to be able to read a dog's behavior, be so completely and dangerously wrong?

    I could see one way this segment might be useful. If a group of respected dog professionals who actually know something about dogs and training dogs were to annotate it with a step by step explanation of just what is going wrong at each horrific step, maybe this could be turned into a teaching tool.

    Would that be legal as a "fair use" excerpt under current copyright law? It feels to me as though it should be, but I am NOT a lawyer.

  18. Laurie

    So glad that most of us don't watch the show. I don't hold my breath for Hollywood to do much that would be appropriate. They thrive on controversy. Hollywood listens to money. If it makes money or ratings they'll do it.

    Thank you for sharing. I wasn't aware until this posting.

  19. cynthia swain

    I do not watch tv any more. I miss very few shows and I miss yours the most! That said, as a canine service handler & trainer am apalled at what I have read about the treament of Kingsley! Pit bulls are my favorite choice for service dog work. Unfortunatley there are so many states and counties that have banned them. Plus home owners insurance or renters insurance is outraguos. This popular show as Victoria sais could have shown the loyal, loving and intellagence o the breed. Instead they chose to air what I will call animal cruelty. I pray that this is looked into by the proper authorities and the so called trainer gets help.

  20. Chris

    I was horrified by the episode and immediately hit their FB page with my thoughts. I was very pleased to see that many many people agreed with me. Unfortunately, I do not believe that our opinions count very much and am hoping and praying that a celebrity's (you) opinion and professional knowledge and training will have some effect on Kingsley's future. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a future episode showed Kim finding a REAL trainer and making a huge effort to correct the wrong she has done to this beautiful dog.

  21. Linda

    I don't watch the Housewives series, fortunately. I am appalled by what you describe. I volunteer as a dog walker and foster at our local HS and come into frequent contact with pit mixes. Usually I end up falling for their loving demeanor and often calm, dignified personalities. They are irresistibly sweet dogs, and they respond to being gently treated. I am sorry that this show saw fit to perpetuate the bad dog stereotype.

  22. Kim Waugus

    Not surprised. . A bunch of self-centered women and one got a Pit as a status symbol and because it "looks good." Won't be surprised if the dog get re-homed after it loses it's "bling." Everyone involved in the production of that show is to blame. No one stood up and advocated for the dog? Another reason not to watch it.

  23. Linda Boylan Miller

    I did see this episode and was horrified as well at the treatment this poor dog received! The worst part I think is that the scene was clearly set up. She should have had a leash on him when the trainer arrived. She did not and of course the dog reacted to the trainer. In addition, they take him out to the street to train him???? are you kidding me????? Disgusting to do that to that wonderful dog, just to make what someone interprets as "good TV". Clearly you can see he is a very sweet and playful dog that just needs the right training. Why on earth Kim adopted this type of dog is beyond me....My hope is that she gets the RIGHT trainer so that this dog can grow to be the great dog that he is.

  24. Melinda

    Moist reality shows just glorify idiots, in ridiculous, unbelievable situations. Very few are fit for viewing let alone appropriate for children to watch. Anna Nicole Show, The Kardashian , Honey Boo Boo, Tots in Tiaras and The' Real ' Housewives of ANYWHERE teach no moral values, how to be a productive member of society or how to respect and get along with your fellow humans. I can't believe this crap is actually aired and it slays me that intelligent people watch it.

  25. Alison

    I regrettably saw the episode and was extremely horrified by what I saw. I couldn't believe this guy was a legitimate dog trainer. Kingsley had good instincts regarding this buffoon and did not like him at all. I saw it as Kingsley trying to "protect" Kim. Yes, he needs proper training but not by being kicked and bullied. This jerk also told Kim she had created a "brat". I would have kicked this loser to the curb the second he touched my dog. I don't remember if his name was mentioned, but if it was, the word needs to get out about this man before he hurts more animals.

  26. Megan

    Thanks so much for watching this episode & speaking out. I was so troubled when I saw how they were ” handling” that dog, that is why I had to send you and Kim a tweet about how I felt. My border terriers are way more reactive than Kingsley was and I hated how they were roughing him up, not good at all. I'll continue to tweet Bravo to suggest they have a positive trainer work with this dog, and show it to their viewing audience. The ignorance has got to end!

  27. ashley

    I saw the episode, and as a pit owner and animal advocate I was absolutely disgusted by the way that 'trainer' behaved towards poor kingsley.

  28. Suzanne

    I know that Victoria's method works miracles. I've seen it in our recent rescue (who is actually a rescue, from a rescue, from a rescue). Through a lot of love and patience, I've seen my dog (when we first got her) go from completely unruly to a quiet well behaved dog. So much so that she even obeys ordinary commands like, "Sit," "Stay," and "Down". To the not so ordinary commands that I've come up with like, "Go to bed". "Potty like a rockstar" (my fun way of telling her to go out back to go potty), and even (amazingly) "Get in the tub" - and no, she doesn't like baths, but she obeys. She even has the manners to sit when I'm presenting dinner to her, and will only eat when I tell her it's all right. If I had come at her the way Kim had, Kira would have probably had to find another home. While Kira is 8, and I can only imagine what she's been through to get to where she is now, my heart aches to think of what they're putting that poor pit bull through and that Kira may have been subject to the same treatment over the years.

  29. Darlene

    These "reality" shows are anything but. A lot of it is scripted and if this is what the writers came up with, it's just another reason I never have and never will watch any of them. A few weeks ago I saw a (not very friendly) neighbor across the street in the front yard "training" his dog. He would have his young daughter get the dog excited, run from the dog then he would whip it with it's own leash. The first time he did it I was in shock, when he did it again continually whipping the dog I did something I've never done, I screamed as loud as I could for him to stop and that I better never see him do that again. He said he had to train it as it's 185 lbs and needs to be in control. It's about 100 lbs and I told him it is going to backfire on him, that he is making a mean dog and someone will get bit. That he needed to get trained on how to property work his dog in a positive way. He jumped into his car and drove away. I fear he is still using these tactics, just where no one can see.

  30. Ashley Passino

    I know EXACTLY who your talking about, Victoria, I won't even give him the luxury of putting his name in here, either. I hate him, he even said himself he is making it up as he goes, and as far as the collar his wife made, it's only good enough for the trash can... I can say, though, that I am a HUGE fan of your work, and have been watching your show since the beginning. I often do comparisons on my Facebook page of you and the idiot trainer, via YouTube clips, and I point out the difference between your method/style, and his. An, often, people, (since my page is mostly animal rescuers), go with your method. I wish you could be cloned, so their would be more trainers like you, honestly, an I usually don't say that about people, (with over 6 Billion people, I believe we have enough), however, you rock and really get the job done, I love how you get the owners proactive, as well, I love your take no crap attitude!!!:)

  31. Cheryl

    It is such a tragedy that these dogs have a bad reputation because of the way people treat them and not because they are naturally bad dogs. It's just heartbreaking!

  32. Jill Duncan

    Don't watch the program - but I suggest they all wear the collar for a day each and Victoria could operate the remote control!

  33. Sarahj

    As the mother of a rescued APBT, I was also disgusted by how this innocent puppy was treated!!! I feel the main issue is that Kim shouldn't be allowed to even have a toy goldfish!! She's a disaster and I don't think that guy was a real "trainer"...Probably just some1 she met in rehab!!! Poor Kingsley deserves so much better!!

  34. Stephanie Delaney

    I do not watch this show but form what I have read here it sounds to me like there needs to be a public apology from the show to "real" dog trainers. And a statement that the dog in question is not as portrayed.

  35. Emily

    I just saw this episode today, as well as the newest aired where the dog was carted off by the same trainer in a muzzle. Disgusted is beyond the word. I have never really watched this show but went out of my way when I saw the image of a very serious, growling pit bull leaping at the trainer in the commercial. You see him panic, and just start screaming.... Once Kim has [somewhat] regained control of the dog, he lowers his voice and acts like he is not bothered by what happens. I've been searching the Internet all evening, I don't care how long it takes, I WILL get some sort of epic strongly worded letter to execs @ Bravo. I have two pitbulls, and by perpetuating the stereotype that causes people to cross the street when they see my lovable goons, Bravo has just amplified the pit bull hysteria by all the other ignorant housewives in this country who have nothing to do BUT sit around and watch this trash; "Did you SEE RHOBH?! THE VICIOUS PIT BULL?!" like it or not, that's what will happen.

    They brought the "trainer" in for a chewing problem, and by the time he left the dog was lunging at people and dogs alike. I always trust my dogs, and maybe Kingsley was just a good enough judge of character to peg the guy right off the bat as an a**. GRRR.

    Victoria- we know you have a billion other things going on, but please do reach out to SOMEONE at Bravo. I don't know how, but this idiocy needs to stop.

  36. Charlotte

    I just saw the episode in which Kingsley is returned to Kim and immediately felt uneasy. When I saw the dog on a choke leash with a muzzle being returned via the "trainer," my inner alarm was going off. When I saw the fear and sadness in the dog's eyes when he assumed the "down" position, I knew that there was something terribly wrong with the training process that occurred while he was with the trainer. I immediately began researching information on the previous episode and the trainer. I'm appalled that this show would voluntarily showcase and advocate this method of "training." I hope that Kim is no longer using this trainer and has found herself a trainer who actually knows what he or she is doing to address the chewing issue.

    I do hope that the reputable trainers have been in contact with Bravo (and Kim) to put an end to Kingsley "mis"training.

  37. Lorie K

    This guy is clearly not a dog trainer !!! This will only bring more damaging behavior to the dog not to mention the breed.

  38. Maria

    I thought that segment was just horrible!!!! Clearly the poor dog was being abused & Kim should not own a pitbull or any animal for that matter!!!

  39. North County Dog Training

    As with you, I was disheartened and disgusted by the whole clip. The trainer's body language from the moment he entered the home was adversarial. He obviously believed in the domination/force/punishment theories. The dog did not trust the trainer and felt uncomfortable in his presence. I have worked with Pitties and other dogs very much like this and know that positive reinforcement, desensitization and counter conditioning would have helped to change this dog's emotional outlook and helped to create a happier, more reliably safe dog. Media is a lot of what is wrong with dogs today. People believe archaic 'training' techniques because they saw them on TV. I have had to rehab many dogs that have had these techniques used on them and Lord knows there are many many more out there that none of us have heard about or worked to rehab. Many of them are dying on the streets and in shelters. I wish there was a nationwide way to really teach people about dogs.

  40. Kirsty Macfarlane

    First off her reason for getting a dog empty nest syndrome? Get a life and, yes I am judging a book by it's cover, a pit bull as a dog for a woman who looks like she's more interested in a mani pedi than the mental and physical care of such breed that was the first mistake, Getting in a trainer like that was the second and again allowing her to keep such a powerful dog after the first bite was the third. Now that poor boy is probably going to get destroyed because nobody was interested in his welfare in the first place and I haven't ever watched the programme because I wouldn't validate their desperation to become famous.

  41. Mattie Parsons

    I fostered a dog that had been trained with these methods, he was going to be pts if I couldn't foster him, I was his last chance. Bertie went to his new home 6 weeks after he arrived, his new owners continued the training I started and he became a very loving dog even with their 3 year old granddaughter. Before coming to me he put quite a lot of people in A & E and no other fosterer would take him. I used positive methods with Bertie as did his new owners, he never even growled at me.

    I now have a Romanian street dog who was pulled from one of the kill shelters in Romania, this boy was terribly traumatised, he was so bad that it took him 8 days to be able to be in the same room as my other dogs and they are used to dogs coming in. Nobody was able to get near Jamie, all he had known was abuse. Now he is turning into a very loving boy who loves attention and is now curled up snuggling next to me, he still has a long way to go but will get there thanks to positive handling and training.

    Maybe if these people who don't know they have brains and can't use them put themselves in the dog's position and saw their training from the dog's point, they may start to use their brains. We were given brains for a reason, pity so many people don't know how to use them.

  42. sukienyc

    I watched that episode when it first came on and knew this dog was in big trouble with that trainer and the home she was in. It is very said as it is not the dog's fault but he if he is not removed and placed in a positive training environment and with a new guardian he most likely will hurt or worse again.

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