There is a dog training show on Animal Planet called “Its Me or the Dog”. It features dog trainer Victoria Stilwell. I urge all of you with problem dogs to watch her show. I want to share with you why I love Victoria’s show. Victoria Stilwell’s method coincides with the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) humane guidelines. She, at the present moment, is the only dog trainer on TV that would be classified as using humane methods.
What humane dog trainers love about Victoria Stilwell is that she urges owners to put in time training their own dogs and exhibits in her show just how long it can take. In an episode you will see several weeks of training. What she doesn’t do is edit the show so that it looks like the problem is corrected in one session. She uses positive methods and positive reinforcement. She acknowledges that what works for one dog may not work for another. In some shows you will see her using the clicker method. The clicker is a device used to mark an appropriate behavior that tells the dog, “Good I like that. A treat or praise is on its way.” On other shows you will see her using the lure method. She teaches in her show how important praise is. She also teaches that it is important to touch your dog to calm them down. She teaches dogs boundaries by using a stays. A humane trainer builds up the confidence of the dog, by teaching dog and owner what is appropriate behavior. An old school dog trainer corrects inappropriate behavior and does not use praise. This teaches the dog to behave or they will be abused. Old school methods can be dangerous, because it can repress the behavior. Usually, the behavior erupts again resulting in serious damage to another dog or human. This can takes months or years. I call these dogs “Ticking Time Bombs” Owners usually say, “My dog was fine. This behavior was unpredictable”. That is because the owner never learned how to recognize what is the body language of a confident dog and that of a stressed dog. If you watch Victoria’s show you will see that the dogs are learning rather than “obeying”. Watch their faces. Their mouths are open and their heads held high. Their eyes are bright. These are signs of a stress free, relaxed, happy dog. Stressed and frightened dogs hang their head low, have their mouths shut and their eyes look dimmed and afraid.
Victoria is no-nonsense. If she feels like a client has created an unhealthy dog she will tell them. If she feels like a home is not right for a dog she will be honest. If you watch her show you will learn how to build confidence and how to recognize different behaviors and where they stem from. It is important to understand our dogs, teach them appropriate behavior and praise them for doing it right. Victoria Stilwell is the only trainer on TV that trains with respect and love for the dogs. I urge you to watch her show. You will see the methods that have been popular amongst humane dog trainers for the past twenty years. Victoria Stilwell is honest and trains with integrity. Her show is not just made for entertainment and ratings it is also developed to educate. You can find her on the Animal Planet channel and website or at her personal website www.victoriastilwell.com