Posts that got me kicked off Victoria Stilwell's forum


I just watched most of an episode (Bad Apple) featuring a young, active dog named Peanut Butter who was not well tolerated by other members of the family. First, I must say that the family itself seemed to be somewhat dysfunctional, so I admire Victoria for her patience and ability to do what training she could under tough circumstances. The mother seemed to be a single parent with three rather bratty teenage kids, and they also had an old Mastiff and two cute (and probably spoiled) Poms, and a cat. :shock:


So, they had many problems that were dealt with in a professional manner, but the family was unwilling (or unable) to take the steps needed to handle Peanut Butter, and ultimately they gave her up for adoption. But I do have some observations that may seem like criticism. :wink:

First, I noticed that Victoria essentially used collar corrections when she was trying to keep Peanut Butter from attacking the kids when they used the sliding board into the pool. They were not "collar pops" as traditionally used for correction, but it seemed that she was forcefully controlling the dog with a lot of tension on the leash. Peanut did have a lot of "prey drive" so some restraint was necessary. But I hear a lot of criticism of those who use force on a neck collar and I wonder what people think of this. :P

Second, when trying to reduce Peanut Butter's pulling when walking, Victoria gave them a head collar and showed them how to put it on the dog by offering her a high value treat to associate the collar with something good. This was OK, but I think the use of such a "gimmick" is not a substitute for proper training, and the dog still walked ahead of the handlers without paying attention, and often fought the collar until given treats. Then after Victoria left, the mother struggled to put the head collar on the dog, did not use treats, and put it on wrong. Peanut Butter finally got the collar off, and then walked as usual, and not really pulling all that severely. :roll:

Third, when trying to get PB to be non-reactive to their old Mastiff, Victoria kept PB's attention by feeding her lots of treats and blocking her from seeing the other dog. This may work as a management tool, but I don't think it addresses the core problem where PB will have to be able to tolerate the presence of the other dog. :(

Ultimately, all of Victoria's training and methods (except perhaps the use of pee pads for the incontinent Mastiff) were unsuccessful because of the clueless and apathetic family members. I am glad that they took PB to a no-kill shelter where she hopefully found a better home. :)

Car Safety

I saw part of an episode of IMOTD this evening where Victoria instructed the owners of a medium size dog on safety issues on board their boat and also in their car. I fully agree with her advice to have the dog wear a flotation vest on the boat, and also perhaps tethering the dog in a safe place especially when the water is rough or during bad weather or at night.

However, her method of securing the dog in the car did not seem to be sufficient. I did not see all the details, but it seemed that she just clipped a short tether from the dog's collar or harness to the seat belt, to keep him from wandering around or lunging at the windows and causing distractions for the driver. The dog was in a back seat directly behind the driver.

I have a fairly substantial harness that I use for Muttley when I drive with him on the highway or for any significant distance at speeds higher than about 35 MPH. I am not concerned about him distracting me or disrupting my driving because he sits very nicely in the passenger seat and either pokes his nose out the window or just watches the road ahead. He is not reactive toward dogs or people in other cars or walking by. Sometimes he will just curl up on the seat or even on the floor.

For highway trips, I use the harness, which has a large padded section that covers his chest, and straps clip around his abdomen to other straps on his back. I fasten it snugly, and then pass the seatbelt across his back and clip it securely. He can move around enough to get comfortable, but sometimes I have to stop to make an adjustment, and occasionally he has managed to wriggle out of the harness, disconnect a clip, or even undo the seatbelt. But mostly it seems to hold him securely.

The greatest danger I can see would be in the case of an accident or even a quick emergency maneuver that would cause him to slam into me, causing injury or loss of control. In a serious accident, I am also concerned about what the passenger side air bags might do, although I don't have them in my 1989 Toyota Pickup Truck. I would hope that he might slide onto the floor before the air bags deploy, as he might be safer there. But the seat belt and harness might keep that from happening.

Victoria's clothes - Woofstock

Woofstock is in Harrisburg, which is a little over an hour north of where I live. Not very far at all. I like Victoria, and it will be cool to see her at the festival, but there will probably be tight security and she probably has lots of "rabid" fans who will be thronging to be close to her. Realistically, I just hope to be close enough that someone might take a picture of me and Muttley with her in the background. But it would be great to have her meet Muttley and see what she thinks of my goofy dog!

Actually, air fares are pretty low right now and there are inexpensive places to stay, so it might be possible for you and others from thousands of miles away to come here and enjoy the fun. There is also an event on the day before which is more of a seminar where you might have a better chance of meeting and talking to her. I think she will be a an hours drive away in Intercourse, PA. Check her schedule on this website for details, or on links below:

I have a friend who stays and works at the KOA in Elizabethtown which is close to Harrisburg and Heshey Park, and I might stay over the whole weekend. I would probably get a Kabin and there would be room for several other people besides myself and Muttley.

I could possibly arrange to meet you and one or two others at the airport and go from there up to the KOA. Please send me a private message or email to discuss further.

Remember, these events are going to be fun, but they exist for the serious purpose of trying to end the abusive puppy mills in PA and elsewhere. We should support these efforts as much as possible.

IMOTD - Bad Apple episode

I've only seen a few episodes, and I have not found any of them to be all that entertaining, educational, or inspirational. The only other one I remember well was the one about the "unhappy camper". I hate to say it, but I find CM's shows to be better, because he seems so relaxed and casual, and the results seem to be so rapid and almost magical. I know that these shows are all "reality TV", which is not reality at all, but carefully filmed and edited for maximum entertainment effect.

I don't think the training methods are as important as the feeling one gets from watching the interactions of the owners, the dogs, and the trainer. And I usually come away from the Dog Whisperer with a good feeling and a sense that the lives of people and animals have been greatly improved. Perhaps there are other episodes of IMOTD that are much better, but I have found many more of CM. And I also have watched his DVD on dog aggression and I read his book which details all the episodes of the first two or three years.

Perhaps I have just been unfortunate to have seen the worst of the VS episodes so it may not be a fair comparison. I *want* to believe in her positive methods, and I realize that they might take more time and patience, but bottom line is that I'm going to watch what is most entertaining and educational.