Pet Tales: Saying ‘No’ Positively

Victoria Stilwell is the famous face of “positive” dog training and the star of Animal Planet’s show “It’s Me or the Dog.” For two hours last Sunday, Ms. Stilwell charmed, entertained and informed 200 people who paid $40 to $125 to learn the tricks of her trade.

I think we also learned why Ms. Stilwell is a star. She is pretty, with long brown hair swept up atop her head. She speaks calmly with one of those English accents that enchant so many of us. She’s a lot smaller than she appears to be on her TV shows, and she is oh so enviably thin. Her bio mentions a background in acting, and that shows. She is not only at ease in front of an audience, but also she is very funny.

Ms. Stilwell believes that children and dogs “should be raised in a force-free way.” Positive training “does not mean we do not say ‘no’ to a dog. It does not mean there are no boundaries,” she said at Duquesne University’s Union Ballroom, Uptown.

“If you like a dog’s behavior, reward it. Positive training is about motivating a dog to love learning. Whatever your dog likes, use it — food, toys,” praise and petting, she said. “When you go to work, do you get paid? Food is not bribery. It’s powerful. Just don’t use it all the time. Use it sometimes.”…

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