||This biographical article is written like a résumé. (March 2011)|
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20 July 1969 |
Notting Hill, London
|Occupation||Dog trainer, Television presenter, Author, Actress|
|Employer||Animal Planet, Channel 4, CBS|
|Known for||It's Me or the Dog
Greatest American Dog
|Height||5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)|
Victoria Stilwell (born 20 July 1969 in Wimbledon, England) is an English dog trainer, author, and television presenter. Stilwell served as a judge on the CBS show Greatest American Dog and presents the Animal Planet dog training TV show It's Me or the Dog, counselling families with problem pets and solving their dogs' behaviour problems.
Stilwell originally trained as an actress, playing roles in Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1992, ITV1's The Bill in 1994, and onstage in London's West End theatre, as well as several commercials and voiceovers. She received a BA honours degree in Theatre from Middlesex University. In order to supplement her income as an actress, Stilwell's veterinary nurse sister suggested that she start a dog walking agency. Within a month she was walking 20 dogs per day – 10 in the morning, 10 in the afternoon – and immediately recognized the need for qualified professionals to help her clients with the training process. She then expanded her focus to dog training and after moving to the United States with her husband in 1999, Stilwell co-founded several dog training companies up and down the East Coast.
Stilwell has become an advocate of science-based dog training. Stilwell rejects dominance-based, traditional training techniques, instead, promoting positive reinforcement techniques.
In 2010, Stilwell created Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training – a global network of positive reinforcement dog trainers dedicated to spreading the word about positive reinforcement techniques and behaviorists.
Stilwell is currently certified by the Animal Behavior and Training Associates, and is a longtime member of the US Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).
Stilwell created the Victoria Stilwell Foundation, whose mission is "to provide financial support and canine behavior expertise to assistance dog organizations and small animal rescue shelters while promoting the concept of reward-based, positive reinforcement dog training philosophies in organizations and households throughout the United States."
With a particular fondness for rescue animals in need of behaviour rehabilitation, Stilwell devotes much of her time and energy to a number of animal rescue organisations around the world, serving as a behaviour advisor for shelters in Atlanta, New York, the UK, and Hong Kong while giving regular seminars on the subject of dog rescue, training and rehabilitation. She worked as a volunteer adoption counsellor for the ASPCA, and has been featured in numerous magazines and journals including The New York Times, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, the Daily Mail, MSNBC.com, Psychology Today and The Sun. Stilwell is a regular columnist for The Bark, Dog World, American Dog and Dogs Today magazines, and she has appeared on numerous talk shows, news broadcasts and radio shows in the US, Europe and Asia as a dog training expert.
It's Me or the Dog
Since 2005, Stilwell has worked with unruly dogs on her TV show, It's Me or the Dog, which airs in over forty countries. The show features Stilwell as she counsels families with problem pets and uses positive reinforcement training techniques to help them learn how to correct their dogs' behaviour. Originally produced for Channel 4 in the UK, the show premiered in the US on Animal Planet in April 2007, and over 90 episodes have been aired worldwide. A typical episode involves a family struggling to cope with their misbehaving dog(s). Stilwell initially observes the problems in situ, then presents the family with her opinion regarding the causes of the issues. She then works with the family and their dogs to restore balance.
Greatest American Dog
Stilwell was one of three judges on the CBS show Greatest American Dog, in which 12 dog-owner teams compete for the title 'Greatest American Dog' and a $250,000 prize. The series debuted on CBS 10 July 2008.
Stilwell was honored with the prestigious "Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contributions to the Pet Industry Award" at the 2011 Global Pet Expo and was named 'Dog Trainer of the Year' by DogWorld Magazine at the 55th Annual Purina Pro Plan Show Dogs of the Year Awards Presented By Dogs in Review. She was named among 2009's '100 Best & Brightest' in the dog world in The Bark magazine. Stilwell won a 2009 CableFax award as Best Host in the Animals & Nature category. In 2009, It's Me or the Dog was nominated for a People's Choice Award in the US, and after its first season in the UK, It's Me or the Dog was nominated in the 'Best Factual Entertainment' category in the UK's TV Quick Awards. Her first book, It's Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet was voted one of the 50 greatest dog books ever written by Dogs Today magazine.
She advocates animal rescue and supports Paws Atlanta, "Atlanta Pet Rescue", Stray from the Heart (NYC), Hong Kong Dog Rescue and Greyhound Rescue West of England (www.grwe.com), Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project, the Waterside Action Group, Deed Not Breed (campaigning to re-write the UK's Dangerous Dogs Act to remove breed-specific legislation) as well as Vets Get Scanning, promoting mandatory pet micro-chipping and scanning by vets.
- "Train Your Dog Positively: Understand Your Dog and Solve Common Behavior Problems Including Separation Anxiety, Excessive Barking, Aggression, Housetraining, Leash Pulling, and More!" (Random House LLC)2013
- It's Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet (Hyperion)
- Fat Dog Slim: How to Have a Healthy, Happy Pet (Harper Collins UK), 2007
After many years without a pet dog of her own (due to work commitments), Stilwell adopted a rescued chocolate Labrador named Sadie. In early 2011, Stilwell fostered a Chihuahua/Miniature Pinscher mix named Jasmine and decided to adopt her in Late February/Early March 2011. Prior to that, she had spent her time since 2000 fostering dogs due to be euthanised by local municipal shelters. Stilwell and her husband then gave the dogs a home while rehabilitating them and eventually finding suitable homes for the animals. She has explained that, until recently, owning a dog would have been irresponsible and not fair to the dog, considering how much the whole family travels. The couple has re-homed over 50 dogs and cats.
- It's Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet (2005)
- Fat Dog Slim: How to Have a Healthy, Happy Pet (2007)
- Victoria Stilwell Foundation Website
- Who Invited the Dog – Fashion and Style – New York Times
- Chaining Dogs Unleashes Bad Behavior – Lifestyle – USA Today
- Who Let the Dogs Pig Out? – Health – MSNBC.com
- Jail Owners of Killer Dogs – News – The Sun(UK)
- Victoria Stilwell honored at Global Pet Expo – PR Web
- Victoria Stilwell named 2009 Dog Trainer of the Year – PR Newswire
- Bark's 100: the Best and Brightest – The Bark
- Victoria misses England – Film and tv – Entertainment – Manchester Evening News
- It's Me or The Dog – The Victoria Stilwell Interview for K9 Magazine
- Official Website
- Animal Planet Website
- Victoria Stilwell on the Mother Nature Network
- Victoria Stilwell at the Internet Movie Database