(Click photo below to watch Victoria’s interview with CNN.)
Victoria Stilwell is the famous face of “positive” dog-training and the star of Animal Planet’s show “It’s Me or the Dog.” At a recent lecture in Pittsburgh, she shared some tricks of her trade.
Stilwell believes that kids 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.
“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.”
Confrontational methods and abusive handling don’t work in the long run, she believes, and they may make dogs behave aggressively. Training tools she dislikes include prong and shock collars, electric fences, long hours on a chain or tie-out and the “alpha roll,” in which trainers force a dog down onto the ground and hold it there to prove they are in charge…
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Whether she’s teaching a Pomeranian not to bite his owner when he gets in bed with his wife or treating a Wheaten Terrier with severe OCD, trainer Victoria Stilwell always thinks positive.
The star of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog and a judge on CBS’ Greatest American Dog, Stilwell — coming to town for two local events — preaches the virtues of training dogs through positive reinforcement. Think praise and treats instead of shock collars and physical punishment.
“People want quick fixes,” says the author of Train Your Dog Positively (Ten Speed, $14.99 in paper). “If you’re teaching dogs something, you can do it quickly. But changing a habit takes longer. You can suppress those behaviors with punishment, but they’re still there.
In the book, which she’ll sign from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Stilwell offers solutions for behavioral problems including separation anxiety, housebreaking, leash pulling and excessive barking. (One tip: A walk each day does wonders for your dog’s well-being — and yours, too.)…. [MORE]
Victoria Stilwell calls electronic shock collars abusive.
“If I, say, put a shock collar on a child, people would look at me with horror,” says the host of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog.” “But dogs feel pain just as we do and have the same emotions we do. I think it’s equally as abusive to use shock collars on dogs.”
There’s been renewed interest in these collars — which give dogs an electronic jolt remotely — following an appearance by actress Eva Mendes on “Late Night with David Letterman” March 21. On the show, Mendes said, “All he (her Belgian Malinois) wants to do is to prove his love to me. I’d feel terrible if he hurt a little thing (such as a squirrel), so I use a shock collar on him.” She added that people “yell” at her for using the collar, so she tested it on herself. After trying the collar on her arm, Mendes conceded that the shock was more than merely a tingle. Still, she defended the practice.
Stilwell doesn’t agree, calling the use of shock collars “lazy training.” She added that there’s a good reason why Mendes didn’t try to wear the collar around her own neck.
“Try wearing one around your own neck, and not knowing when that shock is going to come,” she says. “The effect would be enough to drive you crazy, literally. You can change the electrical energy in the brain. Some dogs’ brains get fried because again and again these awful contraptions are used,” Stilwell added… [MORE]