Working at reception in the office means that I can listen to the radio clearly, unlike when I’m at my usual desk at the opposite end of the room straining to hear. A couple of weeks ago, I sat there while the receptionist went out for fifteen minutes. I happened to catch the end of an interview on Today FM, with dog trainer and behaviourist
She was talking about the only Irish seminar she was giving, and it just happened to be in Letterkenny in Donegal on Saturday 7th July.
Victoria Stilwell has been training dogs for the past fifteen years. It all started when she set up her own dog walking business, where she noticed the increasing need for professional trainers to help pet owners manage their dog’s unwanted behaviour. Since then, Victoria has become one of the leading behaviourists in her field, working all over the world, setting up and helping many organisations, and even creating her own TV show ‘its me or the dog’, which is currently showing in fifty countries around the globe. What makes Victoria’s work so popular is her positive reinforcement based dog training, where the dog is never dominated by a human to behave in a particular way. As you can see, attending this positively dog training seminar was an opportunity not to be missed.
Victoria’s seminar was organised by Clare Boyle from
Lupanast Dog Training an organisation in Donegal which I had never heard of but was delighted to have discovered. I hope to learn more about what they do in the future. Nicky and I brought Ralph and O J, and we all couldn’t have been looked after better.
I was a bit concerned that Victoria’s seminar would be quite out of my depth since I’m so new to dog training, but I didn’t get that impression at all. Victoria captured everyone’s attention instantly, and maintained that until she left the stage at half five that evening. Her admiration and respect for dogs was obvious, and her relaxed and often humourous delivery made her a pleasure to listen too. Three dogs were brought on stage during the day to demonstrate different behaviours, and O J barked at the first one. I was so embarrassed! Topics discussed included body language, a dog’s senses, separation anxiety and dog aggression. There was opportunities to ask questions, and footage from ‘its me or the dog’ was used effectively to demonstrate some situations that owners and their dogs find themselves in. Children were made very welcome, and Victoria gave important tips on how they should interact with dogs, especially when meeting them for the first time.
When Nicky and I were returning to our seats after lunch, Victoria came over to introduce herself. It was lovely to meet her and have an oppourtunity to ask her a few questions. I kept mine to a minimum because I would have kept her there all day! We were both interested to hear her opinion on guide dog training and how they are used as working animals. She said that she doesn’t agree with certain aspects of training, but her foundation has worked with, and raised a lot of money for assistance dogs. As long as the dogs get enough free time out of harness to just be dogs, then its all good.
Victoria encouraged her audience to se the world from a dog’s point of view. This will help us all to better understand our dog’s behaviour, and to get the best out of these great animals.She mentioned O J and Ralph briefly, as examples of how dogs can help people so much, which is why we humans should always treat them positively with the respect that they deserve.
I came away after the seminar feeling inspired, and very glad I went. I purposely didn’t look at Victoria’s website
beforehand, but have spent a lot of time on it since. It’s a great resource for any dog lover, with articles, newsletters, a podcast and lots of advice on positive dog training. Victoria is also regularly on facebook and twitter, so you can follow her there. And if, like me, you ever randomly get the opportunity to hear her speak, make sure you go, because its definitely worth it.