State Farm™ Sponsors New "Guardians of the Night" Series
Victoria Stilwell brings viewers into the world of law enforcement and police dogs
There are more than 3.5 million first responders in the United States. Standing alongside many of them is man’s best friend. The relationship between human handler and canine is the focus of Guardians of the Night, a new eight-episode web series.
Renowned dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, spent the past several years embedded with the Gwinnett County (GA) Sheriff Department K-9 Unit. Her work resulted in the Guardians of the Night series. It brings viewers into the real lives of police K-9 teams. A new episode airs every Tuesday (Feb. 21-April 11) on Victoria’s Facebook page and her YouTube Channel.
Working dogs help law enforcement search for and apprehend criminals. They also detect guns and explosives; locate drugs, and find evidence used in criminal investigations. Guardians of the Night follows the team of sheriff’s deputies and their two German Shepherds. They track wanted criminals and try to balance family life. The series breaks the emotional wall law enforcement often shows. It shares the officers' sense of humor and the raw emotion following the loss of a canine partner.
“I was fortunate Sergeant Paul Corso and Deputy Sheriff Jason Cotton allowed me to film with them,” says Stilwell. “You can’t understand what these amazing dogs and their handlers go through without living in their world. I spent four years filming the ultimate ride-along!”
For Stilwell, filming the series was a passion project. It shows humane training techniques to be effective with high-drive working dogs, like police canines.
“I have always been an advocate for positive training – teaching without the use of any techniques or equipment the dog finds intimidating or causes pain or fear,” says Stilwell. “While the companion dog world is embracing more humane training techniques, the working dog world is far behind.”
"People often tell me working dogs can’t be trained positively. That they need a heavier hand because of their energy and drive," Stilwell says. "I successfully train many high-drive dogs in the companion dog world. So why is the working dog world so averse to using methods that are more humane? To answer this question, I set out to explore whether working dogs could be trained in a kinder way. There was no better dog to prove it with than the ‘Ferraris’ of the dog world – police dogs.”
State Farm has a long history of supporting first responders and working dogs. For a quarter of a century, State Farm has funded training of arson dog teams across North America through the State Farm Arson Dog Program. In 2014, State Farm worked with Stilwell to create a web series called Arson Dogs. It depicts the training of accelerant detection canine teams.
“My journey into the police dog world has opened up so many doors. Among them, working with the exceptional State Farm Arson Dog Training Program and seeing what it’s like to be in the world of law enforcement. During filming, we had unique perspective into the lives of these handlers and their dogs. Along with my colleague Alex Andes, we set out to tell their stories."
"Guardians of the Night shows one side of law enforcement. However, the series also shines a light on the courage and dedication of all first responders. To be able to tell their stories, with the support of State Farm, has been a true honor," Stilwell continues. "Through Guardians of the Night we are giving back. It is a thank you to all first responders for their dedication and service.”
Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer, TV personality, author and public speaker. Best known as the star of the international hit TV series, Greatest American Dog and It’s Me or the Dog, through she reaches audiences in over 100 countries. The torchbearer for force-free positive reinforcement dog training methods, Stilwell is Editor-in-Chief of Positively.com and is the CEO of both Victoria Stilwell, Inc. and Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training (VSPDT): the world’s premier global network of positive reinforcement dog trainers. A co-founder of the National Dog Bite Prevention Task Force, Stilwell is also committed to helping the cause of animal rescue and rehabilitation, working closely with organizations around the world to increase awareness about puppy mills, dogfighting, animal abuse, pet overpopulation, dog bite prevention, breed-specific legislation and other animal-related issues. Appearing frequently in the global media, Stilwell is widely recognized as a leader in the field of animal behavior. She has served as a National Ambassador for the American Humane Association and is on the Advisory Boards of DogTV, Dognition, RedRover and Canine Assistants. She is also the CEO of the Victoria Stilwell Foundation, providing animal behavior expertise and funding to smaller rescue shelters and positive training-based canine assistance organizations.
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