Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meeting Victoria Stillwell

Thanks to P.A.L.S Atlanta, I had the opportunity to meet Victoria Stillwell.  Most people would recognize her from her Animal Planet show "It's Me or the Dog".  She's just as honest and straight forward in person as she is on the show.  When I arrived, I had the chance to get her newest book signed and to briefly chat with her.  After a while, though, she sat down and spoke to everyone about her experiences and show(s).

She talked some about how her show came about.  Apparently, she married and moved to Manhattan with her husband.  She realized that there was a serious problem in the area with pets being dumped at the shelter, abused, etc.  It made her mad, but she wasn't sure what to do.  At some point, they moved out toward Jersey and she had a little girl. She was watching a new show called "Super Nanny" when she came up with her answer.  She typed up her idea and sent it off to the producers of "Super Nanny".  A couple of days later she had a response wanting a preview.  She made a brief tape of herself working with a family training their dog and sent it back.  Not long after, she had her show.

While filming the pilot episode, she was sitting on the couch with a family.  The wife turned to the husband and stated "It's me or the dog.".  Ms. Stillwell knew that had to be the name of her show.

Now, she's working with PBS on a series of shows.  She has been taping in Gwinnett County with the K9 unit.  She has plans of going north and working with an arson dog unit as well.  She is updating her web site and is also filming webisodes that will be released there starting next month.

At the end, we were given a chance to ask our own questions.  Ms. Stillwell was quite candid with her answers.  When it came to training a dog for a sport, she made suggestions to help the trainer find the answer he needed.  Ms. Stillwell is quite outspoken in her thoughts about breed specific legislation as well, making it known in no uncertain terms that she is against it and why.

As a 20 year dog trainer, Ms. Stillwell then moved to talking about training itself and the science behind it.  She is very much into the research behind how a dog thinks and why it does what it does.  There is always a cause behind an action, the key is figuring it all out.  Whether it's working on getting a dog to behave on a leash to aggression issues, figuring out the trigger is the path to retraining the dog.  She cited various stories from both her show and her individual training sessions as examples.  Much of it is given in her new book as well as how to work with your dog.

I look forward to reading my copy of her book.  With 2 dogs that each have their own opinions and attitudes, there are a couple of things we need to work on. 
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