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Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM

Veterinary Behaviorists Take a Stand Against Cesar Millan

By July 7, 2009

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Military Working Dogs © gopal1035 on FlickrIn recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk on Twitter about Cesar Millan, otherwise known as The Dog Whisperer, and his dominance-based training methods for dogs.

In February 2009, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) issued a "position statement" about the use of punishment for behavior modification in animals, detailing 9 possible adverse effects of using punishment when training dogs. While not naming any trainers by name, the statement was written to counter Millan's techniques featured on his National Geographic channel show, The Dog Whisperer.

According to an article by Timothy Kirn for the VIN News Service:

"The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians not refer clients to trainers or behavior consultants who coach and advocate dominance hierarchy theory and the subsequent confrontational training that follows from it," the position statement says.

That statement was initiated with Millan in mind, says Dr. Laurie Bergman, of Norristown, Pa., a member of AVSAB's executive board.

"We had been moving away from dominance theory and punitive training techniques for a while, but, unfortunately, Cesar Millan has brought it back," she says.
Read full article

In June 2009, Merial, the manufacturer of Frontline and Heartgard, announced a partnership with Millan to promote these products. The promotion included a free Millan training video with purchase and other prizes. Calls to oppose this partnership where issued by both the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB).

Why all of the fuss?
I do not watch much television, and haven't seen a full episode of The Dog Whisperer. A few days ago, I received an email from a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior, urging me to watch this Dog Whisperer video clip. I admit, it was a difficult video to watch. In this video, Cesar Millan uses a choke collar to subdue an aggressive dog, finally pinning it on the ground. Millan is bit several times in the process, and I question the health of the dog during this clip (blue tongue). Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, DACVB, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, offers her commentary of the video here: dog training gone bad.

Edit 09/06/09: It appears that the National Geographic site moved or removed the video clip. Here is a longer (3:25) clip of that episode from Comcast:
"Shadow, Jake & Riley and Norton"

Because so many people have asked:
To answer the "what else can be done about the dog-aggressive dog" question, here is a similar situation with an alternate viewpoint. It is narrated to describe what is happening.
Podee's Aggression

There are strong opinions on both sides of the fence. Millan has ardent fans as well as vocal detractors. Behavior is a complicated subject, one that we are still learning about. I believe that all behavior problems should be first evaluated by your veterinarian to rule out an underlying medical problem. Humane treatment is essential. Through education and awareness, people can make informed choices for an effective, non-damaging behavior modification program. It may be necessary to interview several trainers or veterinarians before a good match is found.

If a "professional trainer" such as Millan can be bit several times in a few minutes, so can you. Or worse. What are your thoughts on dog training methods? Are you more or less likely to buy products that feature a celebrity spokesperson? Please add your comments below.

Related Reading:

Update July 22, 2009:
Show what you know: Can you help this person and her dog? Let's put knowledge in action. Constructive advice welcome.

Got behavior tips?
Put them to good use here: Behavior training tips that really work

Photo credit: Military Working Dogs © gopal1035 on Flickr


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Comments

July 8, 2009 at 1:23 am
(1) CJ Anderson says:

Unfortunately, these “professionals” speaking against Cesar Millan, also don’t mention they spent money and time learning certain techniques that they themselves profit on, whose indoctrination leaves no room for any program but their own. It is always so sad when those who also have a vested interest in other choices, ignore the hundreds of easily accessible success stories of the dogs and owners that Cesar Millan has helped directly. This is easily verifiable by those dog owners in the Dog Whisperer Season 1-3 Episode guide available in any mainstream bookstore. The person who sent that clip seems to have failed to mention the documented long-term success of that dog’s rehab when all others failed! Cesar’s episodes are also about giving hope to those dog owners, who have similar extreme problem dogs. The whole point of showing Cesar being bitten (sometimes several times), emphasizing consequences for errors in overestimating personal skill or underestimating their danger with that dog (and therefore the frequent show recommendation to seek a professional for safety and most effective behavior changes in those circumstances).

The person who sent that clip to you also neglected to mention, that there are literally thousands of other success stories by those who are not “professional” and therefore have no commercial interest in anything but the well being of their dogs, and are willing to learn to apply the techniques of Cesar Millan’s solutions appropriate and correctly.

Those thousands of success stories are easy to find (personally owned) on the public archives of my (currently) over 3,000 member yahoo Dog Whisperer Fan email list . I have also personally saved 40 last chance dogs (my youtube.com/cjanderson) next to be euthanized for their “problem behavior” when local “professionals” would not help save their lives. (I am a 55-year-old college professor).

Cesar is the first to applaud “ANY solution which will help change a problem dog behavior”, and that the “LEAST amount of energy needed should be applied”. I am simply grateful for forums such as this, where the people with open minds can explore the many options available rather than give up on themselves and their beloved animals!

Thank you for opening up this forum for this discussion. All I ask is that for people to view the whole episode with an open mind, then read the follow up long-term success story by the owner. It would be so wonderful if those people who are not willing or able to help those kinds of problem dogs, would simply live and let live – (literally) for the thousands of dogs being saved by those of us using this common sense approach and solution applications (correctly and safely applied)!

July 8, 2009 at 2:48 am
(2) Kaelinda says:

Most of the people who complain about Cesar don’t watch him, but like you, Janet, watch a 30-second video clip (always the same video clip) and come to a judgment about his method. Cesar’s way is calm, balanced, assertive energy used to achieve calm, balanced, and relaxed dogs. He’s not a dog trainer; he rehabilitates dogs and trains humans. One of the big complaints about him is that he doesn’t have educational credentials. I have to remind folks that Thomas Edison didn’t even complete high school and had almost no formal education at all, but that didn’t stop him from inventing the light bulb, the phonograph, and a number of other things. Yet no one today would suggest that because he didn’t have any educational credentials, he wasn’t worth paying attention to. Cesar Millan may not have educational credentials, either, but he, too, is worth paying attention to.

I know that using his philosophy (he doesn’t have a particular ‘method’), I’ve been able to teach my dogs NOT to jump on people, NOT to attack other dogs or people, NOT to fight over toys or food, NOT to bolt out of the house when the door is opened, and NOT to bark all day even when I’m not home. Cesar says that all ways are good that do not harm the dog, and I believe him. There’s no reason to hurt a dog when you’re interacting with him.

July 8, 2009 at 3:42 am
(3) Susan Argyri says:

It would seem to me that people who are really interested in their dog’s health would go for a product where the company concerned cares more about promoting the research that has gone into the making of the product and the benefits of using their product as compared to a product that a celebrity spokesperson ‘approves of’. Reason would tell most people that a celebrity does not know if a product is beneficial long-term as they, like the average consumer, have to use trial and error too to decide if a particular product suits their dog.

Do we want a dog that is trained to live in a pack environment and follow the rules of the pack or a dog, an intelligent animal, that has adjusted to living with a family in a home environment and complying with a completely different set of rules. What child could domineer a dog in the Cesar Milan fashion to establish hierarchy!

July 8, 2009 at 6:52 am
(4) Carol says:

I have worked with dogs for over 20 years. I have worked with hundreds of dogs at our local humane society. I have always had a lot of success with dogs.

I happened across Cesar Millan on the National Geographic channel. I have been hooked ever since. Cesar reinforced my core belief, that is common sense and balance that works. I don’t like to get into a lot of jargon. The dominance issue to me is simply being the authority figure. When my children were young they had to respect my decisions and live by my rules. It is no different with my dogs. Also corrections may be needed from time to time.

I do not believe in average people confronting a dog that is threatening to bite. This is for a professional. I do know from experience that I can make a difference without confrontation. I use the walk, food and obedience training to deal with this with the Akita we got from our shelter. It is also a state of mind. I’ve learned from Cesar to always stay calm. This is where I’ve seen many people make mistakes. They get frustrated or angry at their dogs.

Cesar has an incredible ability to read dogs. He sees signs that most people wouldn’t catch. There are aggressive dogs that are too much for the average person to deal with. This is why it is important to bring in a professional.

Cesar has taught me a lot about the relationship between humans and dogs and this is really why we all have dogs. We want a great bond and love with our dogs. This also requires respect and trust on both ends.

I have seen an escalation in aggression in dogs in recent years and I believe Cesar’s message is very important. He is not the first or the only one to have these views. He is, however, very well known and can make a big difference. I have personally met Mr. Millan and found him to be a humorous, caring and humble man.

Sincerely,
Carol from Canada

July 8, 2009 at 7:12 am
(5) Leah Beamish says:

Dr. Crosby, it is unfortunate and surprising that you would opt to write a blog on this topic without watching at least a full episode (or more) of The Dog Whisperer. Your only reference for the show is one clip – selected and provided by Cesar Millan’s detractors – of an extreme intervention with a dog whose behaviour would have otherwise resulted in the animal being euthanized.

While I appreciate you raising this issue for discussion, doing so from the position of your professional credentials without more due diligence on your part seems irresponsible and inconsistent with your veterinary training. Your voice on the web likely touches many more pet owners than you would in clinical practice. And you have now, with virtually no research on the subject, added volume and credibility to the anti-Cesar Millan lobby led by ‘professional’ behaviourists.

As indicated in the thoughtful comments by CJ Anderson and Kaelinda, there are a bounty of positive experiences and outcomes from regular folks applying the Cesar Milan approach they learned on TV (Being calm and assertive with their dog. “Exercise. Discipline. Affection, in that order.”, etc.)

One of those positive outcomes is a growing number of dog owners who now devote more time to walking their dogs, based on Cesar frequently advocating a minimum 45 minute walk each day. If Merial (and the National Geographic Society, who broadcasts The Dog Whisperer) have helped that trend, I applaud them.

July 8, 2009 at 7:58 am
(6) Carol says:

Just a follow up to my previous post. I forgot to say if I would be more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a celebrity. This would really have no effect on my decision to use a specific product. I would take their opinion into consideration, however it would not be the deciding factor for me.

I do think it’s great if people receive a free dvd giving them valuable information to improve their relationship with their pet.

I would also urge you to take a better look at some of the episodes Cesar has done on the National Geographic “Dog Whisperer”. I don’t think you get the whole picture by watching on clip of a very severe case. One thing that stunned me in watching the show is how many people allow their dogs to bite them. I know the shows are chosen based on extreme circumstances, but I believe this is becoming more prevalent. One of the reasons, I believe, is that people don’t have the education on how to handle it.

Carol from Canada

July 8, 2009 at 9:12 am
(7) Tiffany says:

I have seen this episode you mention, in which you and many others have only seen a clip from it. What is missed is that this is not the first time that dog had acted that way. That is exactly why the owners had called upon Cesar Millan in the first place. They had tried other avenues of rehab or training, in fact that is a requirement of all potential clients on the DW show.

You also mentioned that Cesar pinned the dog down. I beg to differ. Even from just watching the 30 second clip I can see that while Cesar does use his hand as an initial touch to correct the dog and guide it to the ground (notice I said guide, not throw), Cesar quickly was able to let go and simply crouch behind the dog. The dog in turn did not move and was even looking to be falling asleep.

So many people focus on the ‘really bad dogs’ on the DW show. They point to 30 second clips like the one mentioned in this article which show severely aggressive dogs-dogs that were aggressive long before Cesar ever entered their life. Cesar does not work with each dog the same. There is one episode where he uses a banana to deter a dog from eating it’s poop. There is another episode where he instructs the owners to use a dog back pack and the pack walk to teach one of their German Shepherds to stop chasing and biting it’s tail, which stemmed from anxiety. I am currently fostering a dog which has anxiety and the walk and a quick two finger touch correction to break the dog’s anxious state of mind are the two biggest tools I a using. I learned them from Cesar. For the first time in this dog’s life, she is learning to relax and be able to enjoy life rather than pace frantically around not knowing what to do with herself. It is because of Cesar she is able to do this. Cesar teaches to use the least amount of energy needed with a dog. The way he rehabs a fearful or anxious or hyper dog is not he same way he rehabs an aggressive one.

I could go on and on with success stories, my own personal ones, ones from my friends and family members, and ones from the DW show, many of which have been documented in books, online forums, and various other places.

-Tiffany

July 8, 2009 at 9:37 am
(8) Angela says:

When Cesar advocates talk about him they always go on about how many dogs lives he saves, like he’s a dog god, and he is the only guy out there taking on last chance cases.

This is just incorrect, there are thousands of dog professionals out there taking on and saving last chance cases. The difference, these other professional haven’t chosen to televise their work. Cesar is Mr. Dog Hollywood!

Simply because Cesar’s *work* is very much in the media, and is constantly be driven by his pr/marketing machine, doesn’t mean that other professionals are not achieving success, and doing so without using outdated punitive *methods*

Other professional dog trainers and canine behaviourists do not blindly stick to a program as CJ Anderson wrote. We evaluate and assess each dog, and then write up and apply a tailored behaviour modification program, one that is most suitable to the dogs presenting problem, and personality.

We understand that in general behaviour problems, for example fear aggression, are driven by emotion, and not dominance. Therefore in order to change the emotion, you need to change the behaviour. (Change the behaviour and the emotion will follow).In order to change the behaviour you need to change the association a dog has to a trigger. We don’t do this through applying punishment. We do it by taking the dog through a systematic program of desensitisation and counter conditioning, even in extreme cases.

Cesar on the other hand labels most problems as being driven by dominance, he sticks to a program, he is not adaptable, a quote comes to mind:

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

I think it’s fair to say the major problem other canine professionals have with Cesar, is that he completely disregards learning theory, and he treats the symptom not the cause. He believes dogs behave like wolves, and that dogs live in packs with a dominance hierarchy. (I am aware that he is not the only one out there who believes this, but he is the only one out there promoting his beliefs to such a large audience).

The idea of dogs in a dominance hierarchy with an absolute Alpha leader at the top has its origins in ideology rather than in the real behaviour of dogs.

If he were to study dogs natural social evolution, he would know that dogs descend from families of wolves, not packs, and are looking for a parent, not an alpha.

July 8, 2009 at 9:47 am
(9) M Loney says:

I applaud and admire Milan’s methods of behavior training for dogs. They are after all pack animals. We often have a tendency to treat them as humans, to their detriment. I have been watching him for years and have used his methods in rescue work with dogs which has resulted in these dogs being adopted rather than euthanized. It is a sad world when many veterinarians and animal behaviorists put their own egos and profits ahead of the welfare of the animal. Many vets medicate animals with behavioral issues with side effects and health issues developing down the road. It is time for pet owners to rise up and question these methods. Do the research, understand your dog (breeds) and do not always take the word of a vet or behaviorist as gospel.

July 8, 2009 at 9:56 am
(10) Jeanne says:

I’m sorry, you all need to turn your TV off and get a life. If you are actively involved with your puppy from the day you chose to bring it home, you will find most of these issue never come up. I am always amazed at people who look to persons on TV like thy are family. It is all about ratings not about training dogs. It is about the money to be made. Think for yourselves, use common sense. If this video offends you, please be as vocal about how seeing eye & companion animals are trained. Most are trained with whatever method works. Dogs were not put on this earth to service mankind, man has chosen that path. Turn off you TV and go be with your dog. TV is social engineering, you are being sold acceptance of the latino culture through an acceptable medium, your dog.

July 8, 2009 at 10:22 am
(11) MaryMurray says:

We have worked in rescue for 12 years, bring in dogs that were last chance from high kill shelters that euthanize for space. We had been unwittingly been practicing Cesar’s way without even knowing it, as the dogs would respond positively.

Now with switching to German Wirehairs, a breed with no rescue available, and discovering Cesar’s Way through his books, dvd’s, and audio CD’s, we were able to put this all into place. Our success with this tough breed has been incredible. We have had the opportunity to save hundreds of this little known breed, and allow us to work with homes having a problem to work it out and keep their dogs.

One such dog was red zone Teddy. He had been to a purely positive behaviorist, with a complete 12 page report. Not only was his aggression increasing, but he had moved on to more behaviors that were undesirable.

It was recommended he be euthanized…..the owners contacted us, we did an inhome assessment. We took Teddy in and with strong Pack Leadership, addressed his issues by setting rules and boundaries.

Teddy, within 48 hours was a different dog. He was adopted by a wonderful couple that follows Cesar’s Way to the letter. He now goes to the dog park, doggie daycare, and to adoption events as an Ambassador for our group. Now, if this isn’t a success, I don’t know what is. Why on earth would anyone try to diminish the success of those of us that know it works? Those of us in the Animal Welfare Industry that do deal with animals of unknown origin, live with those animals, treat them with mutual respect, do not do alpha rolls…hang dogs…as this is NOT cesar’s way, KNOW it works. We can establish leadership without laying a finger on the dog. Energy, visualization, intent, and respect of thge animal and likewise is the key.

July 8, 2009 at 10:27 am
(12) Lee says:

Those who disagree with Cesar’s training do not have to follow it.
Sounds to me like a lot of other “trainers” are jealous that Cesar gets such widespread coverage and has books published.
Personally – I have learned a great deal from his shows (I work with 2 rescue groups).
If you don’t like his methods – don’t watch his methods. I won’t run down your trainer – don’t run down mine.
Let’s get back to the basics of taking care of all dogs.

July 8, 2009 at 10:49 am
(13) vetmedicine says:

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I am interested in hearing all angles.

I mentioned that I am not a TV viewer because that is the truth. I saw a dog who was choked and a man who was bit in the video. I know people have, and will, try this at home. I wanted to hear your comments on the subject.

Interestingly, the video clip is on the National Geographic site, and is a promotional video for Mr. Millan, it is not from a detractor site.

Thanks again for your comments.

July 8, 2009 at 10:57 am
(14) Jill says:

It has only been since 1993 that the American Veterinary Medical Association approved a specialty discipline in veterinary behavior. According to Nick Dodman as quoted in the AKC Gazette: “Behavior [is] no longer fringe medicine; it was accepted by the veterinary governing body to be part of veterinary medicine.” But long before the AVMA granted official recognition of the field and before the invention of the board-certified veterinary behaviorist, there was the dog trainer.

The considerable challenges of teaching and sustaining a dog’s obedience over time is at the core of this quarrel with the ‘board-certified veterinary behaviorists’. Find me one, just ONE of them who’s done the equivalent of a 12-year residency whereby they started with a young puppy, laid down the foundations of obedience, household manners, etc and then got the pup through adolescence, and *finished* the dog’s formal training by actually teaching the dog to DO something useful (i.e. earn advanced obedience or agility titles, tracking titles, SAR certification, service dog certification or the equivalent), and then sustained and maintained the dog’s level of obedience AND his attitude about the work over the span of the dog’s competitive career or working life.

And THEN (because ONE dog does not a representative sample make) do it more than once, and on different breeds. And THEN teach some other people how to do the same thing, relying on measurable and peer-reviewed outcomes (NOT customer-satisfaction surveys). And THEN come tell me you know something about how to truly make long-lasting behavioral changes in dogs and people.

One of the biggest challenges to providing behavior services is that in the veterinary clinic, we’re not yet agreed on what a trained dog looks like. In courts of law, owners are held responsible for their knowing, or their failure to know, but in the clinic setting, veterinarians are devoted to deceleration targets, that is, isolate the symptoms, and cure the disease. This is to have it exactly backwards.

Furthermore, this approach suggests that common sense and classical medical training are the only qualities needed to evaluate the physical and behavioral health of a dog. But personal experience may be misleading, and reading the context(s) of human-canine interactions requires something OTHER than a DVM and ‘common sense’ to evaluate the evidence.

Graduate degrees are all fine and good (I’ve got a couple of them too) but on their own they prove nothing.

Show me the doctor’s dog, and we’ll know all we can know about their skills at behavior modification.

July 8, 2009 at 11:24 am
(15) Tiffany says:

Decided I have some more comments to share!

In regards to the dominance theory people tout Cesar follows and that is an outdated method…

It depends on how you look at dominance. Cesar does not say your dog WANTS to dominate you. He says dogs follow a social ranking and there is leader that the rest of the pack follows. If there the leader dies, another dog will naturally step up into that position because of instinct. Dominance is different than aggression. The dominant dog, or rather the leader, takes on the responsibility of taking care of the pack. The other dogs must trust him/her to do what’s best for the pack. If you don’t want to use the word dominant, fine, then don’t. As for wolves living in family groups rather than packs….again, if you want to call them a family instead of a pack, then fine. But will there be a leader in that family? Absolutely, just like in a human family, just like in a human job field, just like in a group of humans anywhere.

Same theory applies to other animals-a herd of horses will have a stallion, a herd of elephants will have a matriarch, a group of apes will have the silverback male.

I find it difficult to understand why people refuse to admit that dog psychology is still imporant to dogs even after being domesticated for years. If I were to go into the jungle and study a family of apes, you better bet than I am going to study ape behavior and psychology beforehand. If I were to go to the zoo and work with a different family of apes that had been born and raised in that zoo, would I completely throw ape behavior out the window? Even if wanting to study apes that had been born in an environment with humans for years, they are still going to exhibit certain behaviors and have the same psychology, right? Same thing applies to dogs. Humans may be powerful beings but we’re not so powerful that we’ve taken away a dog’s instincts, and that includes existing according to a ranking system.

July 8, 2009 at 11:34 am
(16) Guy Esten says:

Those that describe Cesar’s techniques as punishment are off base. Punishment is action taken after the fact, in retribution or consequence for previous action. Cesar’s techniques are corretions and limits on ‘right now’ behavior. Going to jail for robbing a bank is punishment, posting a bank guard to prevent the robbery, or stop it in action is not punishment.
Additionally, those that say Cesar’s techniques are negative reinforcement and not positive reinforcement are forgetting that the cases you see on The Dog Whisperer are the worst of the worst. Cesar’s techniques with normal and balanced dogs are very positive reinforcement based. The extreme cases he handles on TV are well past the level of pats and kisses modifying their behavior. My golden retriever was raised on pats and kisses and responded so well, she could be taught anything in short order. No one calls Cesar for a dog like my golden.
Too many people, even ones with PhDs in veterinary bahavior and such, impose too much of the human way of thinking on how they view canine response. The twisted psyche of an emotionally damaged dog, resulting in aggression and behavior rendering that dog unfit for existance in human society (were all pets must reside), actually has that animal in a state of distress and emotional pain. They are much happier when successfully dominated in their own understandable ways. Their behavior is not only modified, but their emotional angst and torment is greatly eased. Not only are they saved from the grim fate of antisocial dogs in our society, they are truly happier. Cesar’s opponents would have these dogs in pounds and uethenized because they won’t respond to the pleasantries of hugs and kisses, because those humans don’t have the stomach to provide the tougher measures needed for these extreme cases.
Go Cesar!

July 8, 2009 at 11:39 am
(17) Wendy says:

I am neither a dog trainer nor do I work in the pet industry. I am, however, very happy to have two wonderful dogs sharing my home. I used to watch Cesar Millan’s program on a regular basis and at first I enjoyed it and was impressed with his work. But the more episodes I watched, the more uncomfortable I became. The use of choke chains? Ridiculous and unnecessary. Complete and rather tyrannical dominance? Again, not necessary. There are better ways to train a dog that do not involve the overbearing and, frankly, unkind methods that Cesar Millan uses. As I saw more and more of these methods being used by Cesar Millan, I stopped tuning into the show. It just feels to me that Cesar Millan’s ego and “I am the alpha-god” attitude has become the show, rather than the opportunity to help these dogs and their families.

Training with positive reinforcement absolutely works. We found a trainer locally that uses that method and in fact does not even advocate use of gentle leaders or harnesses for walking (much less choke chains) and the results we’ve seen have been outstanding. Positive reinforcement should always be the first step in dog training.

July 8, 2009 at 11:57 am
(18) Jane says:

It is very disconcerting to see Milan et al using negative reinforcement techniques for training. It of course works but harkens back to the days of child rearing where beatings were promoted to shape behavior. It is not always clear why humans are drawn to abusive behavior but many are as anyone can see when reading the newspaper. Hopefully education will prevail. Negative reinforcement techniques are a result of ignorance when it comes to training either dogs or humans.

July 8, 2009 at 12:30 pm
(19) Shaamex says:

I’m not saying at all that other trainers and behavoirists don’t experience success. And you don’t have be an avid tv watcher. I just think if you can see it working there might be some merit to it and dismissing it as fan worship or naivete won’t work for everyone. Ilusion Millan Cesar’s wife once said people don’t come to us from a star struck point of view its because we are helping their dogs.

July 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm
(20) Linda says:

Cesar reads dogs well, something most people can not do. His methods are disrespectful to the animals and for the most part will cause more harm than good. Every creature deserves to be treated with respect! Personally I would rather have a thinking dog than a broken spirit dog that simply complies to my demands. If you look into the eyes of a dog trained by Cesar you see emptyness in their eyes. Any manufacturer using this man as their spokes person would send a clear message to me that all they care about is the money and I would go out of my way NOT to use any of their products!

July 8, 2009 at 1:11 pm
(21) Courtney says:

Wow…would the dog that Cesar worked with rather have been put to sleep? I think productive training would be preferable to the dog.
I have a 120 lb Airedale who was trying to dominate and until I saw a Dog Whisperer episode about restraining the dog until he “gave it up” I was worried I would not be able to keep my dog. When I followed Cesar’s example my dog was transformed. Fortunately this was when he was still under 6 months otherwise I would never be able to hold him down now…we weigh the same.
Finally, to decide to ignore the inate character of dogs with a new “psychology” is stupid. Dominance is part of the dog’s nature. Deal with it productively and have a great pet.
p.s. husband is a Veterinarian

July 8, 2009 at 1:37 pm
(22) Suzie says:

Hello, I have had a huge success rehabilitating dogs inspired by Cesar Millan, a Terrier with severe dog-dog aggression is now a contented canine member of my family – pack of 14 dogs who live with me in my home.

I see Cesar help many dogs using many different accepted behaviour modification methods, not just the same one over again as implied by some! Some refer to his ways as “old ways” – they are the ways animals co-exist in nature, so they are neither old or new they are just the “way it is”. The old dominance methods using force, punishment and angry energy are NOT Cesar’s way!

I have just returned from USA where I was lucky enough to watch some of the current episodes – have you who do not support Cesar seen the “Puppy Mill epsiode” – Surely watching this one who can say Cesar does not care for and help dogs, he does and shows like this can only promote saving lives and ending such dreadful places, Cesar can do this as he can reach the “people”, this is a great bonus of his celebrity status one refers to.

I have met dogs Cesar has helped, they dogs are fully recovered now and balanced dogs.

I say though I do not understand why any one professional would be so outwardly critical of another who helps animanls, of another whom they have not met or worked with do do not truly know, Cesar does not so this, why would others feel the need to do this to him I do not understand, unless it is for business competion reasons, even then it seems a shame on the human species to me :-(

My pack are my family, as Cesar does any way that does not harm the dog may help the dog, my dogs are proof of this – they respect and trust me, if I harmed them or was a dictator type dominant then that would not be Cesar’s way and we could not all live together in balance! The DW show has my full suppport and that of many here in the UK, we welcome his philosophy and inspiration, “Hail Cesar” is the headline of a recent dog magazine in the UK, we understand what an incredible gift to dogs Cesar is.

July 8, 2009 at 1:59 pm
(23) Harry Nguyen says:

Positive reinforcement works with most dog and is more than enough to modify or teach dogs new behaviors with out the use of moderate or severe corrections. Positive reinforcement coupled with some mild corrections (for certain dogs) is my preferred methods for trainging dogs.

However, the dogs on Cesar’s show are the most extreme of extreme cases. These are dogs whose owners have exhausted all other means available to them.

I remember one episode where the owners were advised by their Vet and professional trainers that there is no hope for their rescued coon hound.

The hound was used as a test dog in a laboratory for experimental drugs and, as a result, was very fearful of human. It would tuck tail and ran away at the sight of its owner.

The vet told the owners that they are contributing to the dog’s unhappy life by rescueing him and that the best thing for the dog is euthanasia. Yeah, I was shocked too when I heard the owners shared that during the initial interview with Cesar.

Cesar, within several hours was able to get the dog to trust not just him but the owners as well. He did this without using any type of corrections. He used a lot of modern training techniques, including positive reinforcement. He also used some operant conditioning and counter conditioning as well. You’ll see some racoon pee too. LOL

I don’t think Cesar ever advocated against or say positive reinforcement type training don’t work. He uses them regularly on his show. He also urges that you consult with your vet or professional trainer first before trying his methods at the beginning of every show.

The core teaching of Cesar, and he empisizes this in every episode, is that you remain calm and assertive in every situation. Exercise, disipline (set rules and boundaries) and give affection to your dog…in that order.

July 8, 2009 at 2:31 pm
(24) Eric Goebelbecker says:

The comments encouraging people to watch an entire episode rather than just a “30 second clip” seem to think that in context it will appear to be acceptable to take a dog over threshold, kick him in the inguinal area, and then literally choke him until he falls to the ground.

I don’t think so. There is always a better alternative to deliberately eliciting aggressive behavior and then abusing a dog for displaying it.

(And I have, by the way, watched entire episodes.)

Also, in regards to CJ Anderson’s remarks about people with a “vested interest” in the techniques they have invested time and money into learning: Yes. Absolutely.

This is the case with every skilled profession I know of. I’m not going to be ashamed for learning the science behind what I do and training with the leaders in my field. Quite the opposite – I’m going to be very clear when I see something that runs completely against the current science and accepted practices on canine training and behavior.

July 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm
(25) Theresa DePorter, DVM says:

Veterinarians often focus on prevention of medical problems, rather then only there treatment. Infectious disease, arthritis due to obesity, parasitic infestation or pancreatitis due to poor diet would more profitable to treat than prevent. Still veterinarians are focused on wellness care, prevention of disease and education that prevents illness. There are veterinarians specialized in treatment of behavior problems who are diplomats of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (www.dacvb.org). There is also an organization for veterinarians with special interests in behavior called the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (www.AVSABonline.org). Together these organizations promote research and scientific based principles of learning as the model for behavioral care by veterinarians. Euthanasia for behavior problems continues to be the leading cause of death for pets so advocacy of appropriate, life-long, family-friendly and scientifically sound methods is indeed the responsibility of veterinarians trained to this level of expertise.

Visit the following website for videos and podcasts which illustrate appropriate principles and techniques. http://abrionline.org/videos.php

Working with on-leash aggression
Jean Donaldson

Response Substitution with Fearful Dog, part 1-3
John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB

Improving Aggressive Behavior in Veterinary Exam
By: Gary Landsberg DVM, DACVB, BS

Managing Barking at the door
By: Karen Overall VMD, PhD, Diplomate ACVB

Conditioning an Emotional Response
Jean Donaldson

These same methods may be applied to more aggressive dogs and quite responsibly the handling of vicious, dangerous animals is not illustrated on this website. Prevention of severe aggression, education about appropriate behavior modification methods and illustration of sound scientific principles does describe the role of a veterinarian dedicated to pet behavior problems. My goal is to prevent behavior problems be education of families and veterinary professionals about the necessity of early socialization, positive reinforcement training and classical conditioning. Behavioral health and obedience are not synonymous. An obedient dog may be anxious, fearful and suppressing aggression whereas a socialized, emotionally sound dog may be rowdy and playful but enjoy the antics of children, be unafraid of fireworks, relax while left alone and enjoy a car ride in the country. Behavioral and emotional health for their pets should be the goal of every family and their veterinarian.

Theresa DePorter, DVM

July 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm
(26) Lucy Garduno says:

Let me raise my hand to plead “guilty.” I am guilty of getting help from Cesar Millan.
Cesar brings his own style which has helped many of us to understand how to interact with our dogs. Cesar establishes himself as a pack leader. His ability to calm animals and train people is truly remarkable.
The Dog Whisperer show is not a “how to show,” it’s a reality show that showcases humans unable to control their dogs and Cesar’s ability to help those people.
I have first-hand knowledge of this because I personally have had the honor of Cesar’s help. I’d like to assure you that the Cesar you see on the show is the same Cesar we see after the cameras are turned off. He does not treat dogs any differently whether the cameras are rolling or not. He is a very gentle person. I will always be grateful to Cesar.
Lucy and Schroeder

July 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm
(27) Jill from Canada says:

As a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, let me respond:

To call this video “disturbing” is plain ridiculous. To say that Cesar was “hanging” the dog is a blatant lie. If the dog was being hung, all four paws would have been off the ground. In fact, the dog was sitting for much of the altercation. The only time the dogs front paws left the ground were when the dog CHOSE to jump up. Cesar used the leash to keep the dog at arm’s length — a safety precaution that every trainer who works with aggressive dogs knows how to do. The dog was displaying re-directed aggression at Cesar — the dog wanted to go after the other dog, and when he couldn’t, he tried to go after Cesar instead.

Further, Cesar did not “pin” this dog. He placed his hand on the dog’s neck and held, while the dog CHOSE to lie down on the ground. How can I say this with confidence? Because if a dog that size wanted to stay standing, Cesar would have had to tackle him, football style, and even then, it’s doubtful that he would have been able to keep the dog down. That dog successfully got his redirected aggression out of his system, and was relieved the situation was over, and that was easy to see by watching how calmly he laid in one place. If he were still angry, or fearful, he would have been fighting to get back up, and as I said, it’s doubtful that Cesar would have been able to keep him down.

What I saw in this video was a professional doing his best to minimize the potential damage that could have been caused by a poorly behaved dog — a dog whom, by the way, ALREADY had behavioural problems, and as such earned a space on the show. Meaning, the problems existed before Cesar showed up — the aggressive behaviour in the video was not “caused” by the training. And for the record, that video shows management of the situation — NOT training. Training happens when the dog is calm enough to learn. Cesar was containing the behaviour to bring the dog back to a place where learning and training could take place.

One thing you should know about the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior — they are working hard to become the ONLY source in America for dog training. That is, they want to shut down all trainers who are not veterinary behaviourists or Certified Applied Animal Behaviourists. The AVSAB has a vested financial interest in debunking dog trainers, because by limiting who is and is not allowed to train dogs, they’re going to line their pockets in the process.

Just some food for thought.

July 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm
(28) Eric Goebelbecker says:

Well, as a CPDT myself….

“To say that Cesar was “hanging” the dog is a blatant lie. If the dog was being hung, all four paws would have been off the ground. In fact, the dog was sitting for much of the altercation. The only time the dogs front paws left the ground were when the dog CHOSE to jump up. Cesar used the leash to keep the dog at arm’s length — a safety precaution that every trainer who works with aggressive dogs knows how to do. The dog was displaying re-directed aggression at Cesar — the dog wanted to go after the other dog, and when he couldn’t, he tried to go after Cesar instead.”

So, “hanging” technically involves all 4 paws off the ground? I guess that means it’s impossible to “hang” a big dog? OK. He choked the dog without hanging it.

Changes my view of the situation completely! The scales have fallen from my eyes!

” And for the record, that video shows management of the situation — NOT training. Training happens when the dog is calm enough to learn. ”

Well, at least we agree on the training part.

Actually it shows pathetically inept management of the situation.

You have, by your own admission, a dog with well-documented leash issues. Do you walk up to another dog on leash and then correct the dog for growling? NO. You stay the heck away from the other dog in the first place.

If you can’t avoid the other dog and your dog does react, do you kick him, (poorly) leash pop him, and make your magic ‘ttst’ noise? NO. That would be stupid…he might redirect on you.

If you manage to completely screw the situation up, do you at least tell the cameraman to stop filming? Apparently not. Being bitten is cool and the rubes love seeing it.

July 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm
(29) Hazel says:

I watch DW regularly, I don’t work or live with dogs, so I can’t comment on what works and what is best for them. But what I do know is people. I see the positive transformation that the owners undergo in the process and how that promotes calm and consistant ways of dealing with their dogs which I think can only be beneficial for those dogs, their owners and other family members.

In my experience, reasonable rules and boundaries combined with respect and affection, consistantly applied, work with the human animal, so I have no reason to doubt that the same formula works with dogs.

Although I have never met Cesar, his own non-verbal communication and behaviours suggest a man who is passionate about what he does and someone who has great respect for others. I have never seen cruelty, anger or spitefulness in any of his actions.

If I ever had a dog, I wouldn’t hesitate to use his methods myself and if he ever wanted to change career and work just with people, I think he could empower so many and I for one wouldn’t hesitate to work alongside him.

July 8, 2009 at 5:34 pm
(30) Cheryl says:

OMG I just watched the clip thinking it was going to be something horrible.

What are people complaining about? There is absolutely nothing wrong with what he did…especially since it’s a BITING dog…I thought it was very appropriate, not cruel at all and amazing really….

SHEESH. …this is almost as bad as not killing mosquitoes….Go find something real to complain about…

July 8, 2009 at 5:46 pm
(31) Scott says:

Like the drug companies, they don’t want anyone to cure anything so they can make more money. Ask your grandma or par how much they pay for drugs to keep them alive!!! You can have all the letters after your name but when it comes to common sense, well there is none. Cesar’s techniques are very basic & natural with one thing in mind & that is taking a dog from the point of no return to a happy balanced dog. We have used his techniques with our dogs & couln’t be happier.
There will always be someone out there trying to put another down because they don’t agree with their way & have their own opinion. The AVSAB should get off their high horse & actually go more in depth with Cesar & see what he really does. Yes he has made money, but nowhere near as much as Vet’s can make for a behavioral visit or visit’s. I am not a fan of Cesar Milan, but I do relate to him, my wife on the other hand will gladly leave me for him in a heart beat. All the best to Cesar & what he does, everyone should get of his back & let him do what he does best. HE JUMPED THE BORDER FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!!!!

July 8, 2009 at 5:53 pm
(32) Jules Nye says:

Being an animal behaviorist and dog trainer for the last 10+ years, I completely agree with the AVSAB and AVCB. CM does not use positive reinforcement techniques. And there are lots of ways to get an end result to change behavior. However, the process is just as important, and sometimes more important. Let me ask you this. If you want to loose weight, would you go to the gym or go anorexic? You’ll get the same end result.

July 8, 2009 at 6:40 pm
(33) Joe White says:

I have seen aggressive dogs many times in my life, i also own one. I have a pit bull that once was a very mean owner when we rescued him from an abusive owner. I used techniques shown by my old trainer and some that i have seen “CM” do. This saved my Pit Bull from euthanization, i am very greatful for this. Those who speak agenst these techniques don’t see the whole picture, and have no credible experience and therefore should not add their 2 cents if their coins are hallow.(metaphorically speaking)

July 8, 2009 at 7:26 pm
(34) James Webster says:

Finally Veterinarians are speaking out against dominant training techniques. C.W. Meisterfled tried for fifty years to get the point across that dominant training destroys the human/dog bond. His publications gave evidence to the dangers of using dominant training and gave an alternative positive reinforcement training solution.
I have been trying for fifteen years and finally I sent the scientific study to several veterinary professionals.

I read some of the comments about the veterinarians wanting to make money off of the science they have put together. Not to worry ask your librarian or do a search on the internet for information about positive reinforcement dog training.

Scott says “HE JUMPED THE BORDER FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!!!!” CM should jump back
As for these books and trainers They still don’t under the spiritual connection humans have with dogs
Working with on-leash aggression
Jean Donaldson

Response Substitution with Fearful Dog, part 1-3
John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB

Improving Aggressive Behavior in Veterinary Exam
By: Gary Landsberg DVM, DACVB, BS

Managing Barking at the door
By: Karen Overall VMD, PhD, Diplomate ACVB

Conditioning an Emotional Response
Jean Donaldson

July 8, 2009 at 8:15 pm
(35) Patsy says:

What’s not mentioned in the short video clip is that Cesar had been called precisely BECAUSE this is a big dog who has no inhibitions about biting human beings.
If the method seems harsh, well it’s much more harsh at the animal shelter where many dogs like this end up and are killed since who wants a large, biting dog?
Cesar has saved many dogs from that fate – dogs with behavioral problems caused by clueless owners. People these days have the unfortunate belief (that’s getting dogs killed in huge numbers) that dogs are furry children who should never be aggressive, fight, kill cats etc. They are animals – predators and carnivores with a strict hierarchy in the wild. Cesar uses nature’s methods to rehabilitate dogs who have been made unstable by improper handling, no training and no exercise. He tailors his methods to each dog in question and uses force only when needed, such as in this case. Should he have allowed this dog to maul him? The dog wasn’t harmed and maybe was saved from the blue needle by CM.

July 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm
(36) Eric Goebelbecker says:

Joe White: Wow! You saved one dog and you have the arrogance to tell at least half of an industry that we have no experience. You have an ego that must be a wonder to behold in person. Here’s hoping I never have the pleasure.

Patsy: dogs like this are helped every day without these harsh methods. Cesar shouldn’t have let the dog maul him – if he really knew what he was doing, the dog would never have wanted to. He screwed up, plain and simple.

July 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm
(37) Harry Nguyen says:

The video shows the dog has an erection while biting Cesar. This dog enjoys biting human and other dogs. He’s not doing it out of fear or anxiety. The very act of biting gives him pleasure.

For the more “humane” training methods to work, you would have to find an unconditioned reinforcer that this dog desires more than biting. I highly doubt, food lures, toys or praising is going to do the trick with this one.

There are certain extreme behaviors that positive reinforcement and counter conditioning can not overcome. It’s sorta like giving a lion food treats so it would not bite people. Um, hello, you are the food treat.

July 8, 2009 at 11:55 pm
(38) Harry Nguyen says:

Oh, one more thing. For those who think Cesar is a cruel person or his methods too harsh. I challenge anyone to find me a pack 30-40 formally troubled dogs, of different breed, size, and temperament, that are more balanced and happily living together than the ones living at his center.

July 9, 2009 at 12:12 am
(39) Jackie Cassada says:

I will try again to leave a comment. The one I left early this morning did not appear, so either I said something unacceptable or I goofed in trying to send it.

I have watched Cesar Millan from the first episode and doing so has changed my life. We had recently rescued a Plott Hound that we found emaciated — literally skin hanging over bones — and dying at a gas station on New Year’s Eve. Because of her situation, Eve had severe food aggression and resource guarding. Being a hound, she also had a strong predatory drive toward our cats, trying to tree them on top of bureaus and then holding them at bay with her resonant bawl!

By using Cesar’s methods, we were able to change her behavior from resource guarding to one in which I can place my hand in her bowl while she is eating and take food out of it to give a special treat to one of my cats.
By using Cesar’s methods, we were able to channel her predatory actions toward our cats to one of attempted playfulness — the cats don’t always understand it, but she no longer has that “hunter’s” edge toward them and accepts them as members of her pack, of which my sister and I are the leaders. (Actually, our alpha cat thinks he’s the leader, but that’s another story…)

We were temporarily sharing a house at that point with a woman who had three other dogs and two cats and who strongly believed in the “pack” model. We saw pack behavior among her dogs — and we saw how Eve was integrated into the pack after a fashion, since hounds, I’ve heard, consider themselves voting members of a pack and often act “sorta-kinda” with a pack, but not entirely! My point is that the dogs did form a pack among themselves.

When we moved into our own house with Eve as the only dog, we had five cats to keep her company. The youngest cat was found in the empty lot next to our house and Eve immediately decided it was her “puppy.”

Were it not for using various aspects of Cesar Millan’s methods — primarily his attitude of calm assertiveness and his emphasis on our leadership to create a sense of balance and harmony — we would not have the atmosphere of relative calm that currently exists among our animals. (Usually any “fights” occur between cats as they jockey for status in their own little hierarchical battles.)

We give our animals plenty of affection and enough “discipline” so that they don’t run all over us but so that we all share the same space. We have trouble exercising Eve because both my sister and I have mobility problems due to arthritis (me) and osteoporosis (my sister), but fortunately, hounds are great couch potatoes when they are not “on a hunt.”
My story is not a drastic one anymore. We used the parts of Cesar’s methods that worked for us — and we also used positive reinforcement and classic conditioning WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT TO CALL IT! Mostly, we did what seemed natural and instinctive.
The result is a bunch of happy, loving animals who do respect us but who also do not fear us or cower in submission.

Were it not for watching the Dog Whisperer, we would never have been able to absorb the philosophy and energy to deal with a very damaged Plott Hound. I am now retired from 30 years of work for our public library system — and incidentally, I do not have a library degree but would pit myself against those who do in terms of general knowledge, customer service, accuracy of reference information and everything except an intimate knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System. Unfortunately, my lack of credentials hampered my career advancement even though I write a sf/fantasy column for Library Journal (which judges me by my ability not the letters after my name).
Cesar reawakened my love of animals and my commitment to help them, so now I am a volunteer with our local animal shelter — which does use classic conditioning and reward based training — and am also studying adoption counseling and hoping to serve as a foster for geriatric shelter dogs or cats and, eventually, to help problem dogs become candidates for adoption.

I mention this, because over the years, I have noticed Cesar Millan broaden his repertoire of techniques to include positive reinforcement, classic conditioning and the use of specialists in clicker training, teaching retrieving and consulting an acupuncturist for help in relieving a dog’s stress.

I have never seen Cesar harm an animal. I have seen dogs choke themselves by pulling too hard on a leash just as I have seen cats do the same thing when confronted with wearing a collar! No one accuses those who collar a cat of causing the cat to choke itself or get its claws hung in the collar!

I believe we have grown overly sensitive to physical interaction. We have so over-reacted to cases of physical abuse with both children and animals that we now term any sort of correction, even the mildest of physical touches, as “abuse” when there are real cases of abuse that need to be stopped. Cesar does not abuse animals. His methods are corrective, not punitive, and no matter what “they” say, the two words are not interchangeable. Correction is like editing a manuscript to make it better; punishment is like burning a book.

I would also like to think that Merial knows what it is doing when it chooses to partner with Cesar, who is NOT an “actor” but a professional animal behavior modification expert who also includes modifying the behavior of the owners, the ones who have most often caused the problem to begin with — often by positively reinforcing the wrong behaviors in their dogs!

Victoria Stillwell has admitted that her “leather-girl” persona was an “act” because that’s what the British audiences wanted; for her shows located in the US, she was much more low-key. She is as much an “actor” or more of one than Cesar is — and no one blames her for being popular!

I must also mention that I am particularly disturbed by two comments that have appeared — one claiming that by watching Cesar Millan’s show, we are being sold “latino culture.” This borders on ethnic prejudice. As someone who is half Hispanic (mother’s side) and half Scotch-Irish (father’s side), I find that particular comment troubling. Cesar is not selling his culture, he is showing people how to save the lives of their dogs — and these are people who have asked for his help!

Additionally, although Cesar did enter the country illegally when he was young, he has gone through all the proper channels to correct that — he has paid a fine, gone to the “back of the waiting line” and has become naturalized — and therefore a citizen of the US.

Because of Cesar’s influence in my life, I am now trying to get to the point where I can open a sanctuary for geriatric and problem animals in which I can provide good, safe care for animals based on the principle that, as Cesar says, all methods are good so long as they do not harm the dog!

It would really be nice if those who criticize Cesar would realize that he is on the side of animals — just like they are — and that only by everyone working together can we save dogs (and cats) from unnecessary euthanasia due to behavioral problems. Cesar’s methods are appropriate for certain dogs — and should be used on those dogs. If dogs respond to other methods, then those are also good for the dog. Where’s the problem?

Sorry for such a long comment but I had a lot to say.

July 9, 2009 at 4:39 am
(40) Kathleen Clohessy says:

I have watched Cesar only a few times, and overall have not found him to be violent with dogs-although he does often seem to take an aggressive, confrontational stance with them…which belies his claim that what is needed is a “calm assertive” attitude.

In the video, I believe that he is using what many other trainers believe is the proper way to train an aggressive dog. I know, because a violent trainer not only restrained my aggressive dog with a choke collar-he HUNG him with it. Literally held him 2 feet off the ground choking the life out of him. He did it twice..telling me to stay away because I didn’t know what I was doing-until I told him to get away from my dog and took him home.

But it was too late. That bastard took a fear aggressive dog and turned him into a monster. I hired a private trainer who worked with him for almost a year, and she could simply not get him to calm down…At the sound of any command-especially “Heel”-which is what the former so-called trainer kept telling him to do before he choked him-he would attack..He attacked the trainer, and he attacked me ..biting me so badly through a winter jacket that I had bruises from my shoulder to my wrist. Another time I had to fall on the ground, face down, and stay there until he stopped attacking me. Still, I loved the dog. The new trainer stated unequivocally that the first guy’s abuse caused him to become this aggressive, and that she could have helped us if it had not happened.

In the end, though, it was just too much. He bit several other people-just nips really, but the people involved were not happy. My vet tried him on Ativan and female hormones as a last resort, and when that actually made him worse the dog had to be put down. As my trainer said, he was “A tragedy waiting to happen.” Nevertheless, it broke my heart.

So, my take home message here is never, ever let anyone use a choke collar to subdue or punish your dog. Maybe Cesar can get away with it. But an untrained moron like the one who scared my dog 1/2 to death can destroy the possibility that anyone can work successfully with your fearful dog and ultimately cause his demise.

July 9, 2009 at 4:55 am
(41) Connie Price RVT, CPDT says:

Um, Harry, I think you should learn more about canine physiology! Humans may get aroused from hurting other beings but not dogs. An erection in a dog can be caused by several things-a female in heat is the most obvious one, but they can also happen from stress and anxiety, even over stimulation from too wild of play. To say he was “turned on” from biting people is incorrect and impossible. In fact, I have watched the video in question (the whole thing as well as others) I didn’t see this “erection” then again I wasn’t looking at his penis I was looking on in horror at a dog struggling to breathe.

I have worked with dogs that have been on quarantine for biting-and have been successful at helping them and their owners change their behavior without using such methods.

Watch the show without the sound on with this cheat sheet of canine body language and you will see a different story-if you actually open your eyes and minds.

http://www.dogscouts1.com/uploads/Dog_Body_Language_101.pdf

I ask this question in general-would you go to a doctor who performs surgeries the same way they did 30-40 yrs ago? Or prescribed treatments from 30-40 yrs ago? No? Why not? Is it because there are more advanced surgical techniques that are less invasive and more successful, and treatments that are more effective and with less side effects? So why would anyone want to use methods to train their dog that are outdated, and based on faulty, and refuted research, and have the potential of causing harm.

To paraphrase a quote from Pamela Dennison from her book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Positive Dog Training, why would anyone think a dog would need more punishment (i.e. corrections) than an up to 6 ton Killer Whale. And the old “well, they aren’t whales they’re dogs” argument cannot be used-the Laws of Learning apply to EVERY living thing-to say they don’t is like saying the Laws of Gravity do not apply to some people. Do you know what would happen to anyone who would try and “correct” a Killer Whale or other exotic animal? They would be horribly maimed and/or killed.

Personally, I want my dog’s cooperation rather than their capitulation. Dogs are opportunistic which goes hand in hand with their scavenger history, can it be mistaken for “dominance” -sure. Is it? Rarely. Fear is the most common cause of aggression.

And for the record, I use to use methods very much like CM’s in the past, and believed very much as he does. I had an epiphany over 12 yrs ago because of two significant occurrences-one involving my own dog who became very dog aggressive because of these methods. Because of which I took it upon myself to learn about canine behavior, the Learning Theory, body language, etc. Am I jealous? I may be horrified, sadden, frustrated, and angry, but I am not jealous.
Since when has being educated and informed become such a dirty thing. I have watched the show, I DO understand what he is doing-which is why I am concerned as well as most everyone else who has voiced a concern.

NG sent copies of the show to Andrew Luescher, DVM, Veterinary Behaviorist before it even aired and were informed that the show was not a good idea because of the punishment based methods and outdated theories-but did they listen-no. I guess they figured with all the controversy it would be a real money maker-all from an organization that use to pride itself for presenting the most current and up to date research and science in both their magazine and in their specials-then they present a show that is the antithesis of that-go figure.

No one doubts CM loves and cares for dogs-it is the methods and outdated theory that is used to justify those methods we are against. If he made an announcement asking for someone to teach him about Positive Reinforcement and the Counter Conditioning & Desensitization methods because he wanted to change there would be so many volunteers it would silly-including those that have spoken out against the methods.

I trained professionally many yrs using those methods, until one day there was a major fall-out and another dog was nearly killed- by my dog! Once was enough for me. But then I have wondered over the yrs how many others were there that I wasn’t aware of that were just surrendered or killed because my training just suppressed the behavior not changed it-and that is what punishment does-suppress-which can look like it worked until you get a nasty surprise when it returns with a vengeance as it did with my dog. I have since “crossed over” to Positive training and have never looked back and have experience more success as a professional trainer with lasting results.

And Jill, an AVSAB conspiracy? Really?

July 9, 2009 at 7:50 am
(42) Rebecca says:

Thank you for this article. There ARE methods available to solve behavior problems without the use of punishment, fear and force. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people who would rather verbally attack you than to do the research on these methods. If both methods work (and one may work but cause aggresssion), isn’t it our job as trainers and behaviorists to use the method that causes the least amount of physical and mental distress as possible?

July 9, 2009 at 8:21 am
(43) Paulina says:

Cesar is a good trainer-unfortunately like all polically correct people today I want to see them sucessfully train these dogs. Vets are not trainers and trainers are not vets. What is their solution – either rehome(to where)???or ??? The dogs that he trains are the worst of the worst and would otherwise be euthanized.

He is correct in many of his premises.

July 9, 2009 at 8:27 am
(44) A. MacRae says:

Instead of listening to Cesar as he talks the good talk about his love for dogs etc., try watching the dogs’ body language when they are interacting with him. They are often SCARED! look for tucked tails, slinking bodies that are close to the floor, lip licking, whale eyes (where you can see the whites). These are all signs of fearful dogs and given that 90% of dog aggression stems from fear, it is no wonder that the man so frequently gets bit on his show. I have watched many episodes of the DW and I continue to be amazed that people accept this as a humane way to train their dogs. If I was just in the business of dog training for the money, trust me I would want Cesar to stay on the air because the vast majority of the money I make comes from repairing the relationships between people and their dogs who have been mis-led by National Geographic. I have been in this business for over six years and have worked for the local animal shelter where we see worse case scenarios and I have never been bitten because I respect the dogs and don’t push them past their limits. I can tell you about four dogs in the past year who were PTS after biting their owners. What were the owners doing when they got bit? Alpha rolls! Cesar’s techniques may work with 75% of dogs without negative long-term consequences but his fan club doesn’t seem to care about the 25% of dogs that won’t tolerate this type of training.
Cesar fans please learn the truth about pack theory and dominance before you believe everything the Dog Whisperer has to offer. Look to scientific journals for facts. The articles may be more boring to digest than a well-edited episode of the Dog Whisperer but you need to EDUCATE yourselves and not accept everything that a celebrity is spoon feeding you.

July 9, 2009 at 9:56 am
(45) Joyce kesling, cdbc says:

Regarding “penis crowning.” Penis crowning outside of the context of a bitch in season generally is a sign of arousal, often associated with anxiety and/or stress. In the case/video referred to and without a history, it’s hard to say what the reason for the dog to respond in this context. However, given what I viewed, the owner had already tried using what they perceived/thought were appropriate “dominating” type communications.
This probably caused (cause/effect) the dog to react using auto-protective aggressive responses; the context then trying to force the dog into submissive positions then becomes a learned behavior (response) to that type of treatment from a human. The penis crowning may simply be unique to that individual dog, quite possibly he’s using it to signal submission, but as we all know it’s typical that owners/(some) trainers ignore/miss these signals while continuing to use aversive signals/methods to make their point.
Whenever we are handling dogs and/or any animals, we are communicating. The actions/responses that go back and forth are signals. A smart trainer/owner should immediately recognize signals of stress/avoidance/anxiety in a contextual setting and act proactively. What was I trying to do, what was the animal signaling back to me using their body language and unique communicative signals? Then it’s up to the human to determine how to avoid creating a conflict between themselves and animal in that specific context i.e. clipping a dogs nails. This is what good trainers and/or behavioral specialists do.
Contrary to this type of communication and/or analysis, uninformed individuals create the very problems they have with their dogs! A true relationship between animals that one either lives with and/or has to work with should be based on mutually meeting each other’s needs as well as being cooperative. Cooperation is not achieved very successfully by force.
I suspect in many instances what owners get is a relationship not unlike what some humans endure. The problem for the dog is, they have no choice in the matter. It’s probably very similar to what many children endure in homes with dysfunctional parenting based on fear rather than cooperation. Unfortunately, this is a societal problem, much deeper than I’ve even hit on here. Therefore, to continue debating who’s right and/or wrong is like beating a dead horse. There is and will always be those individuals who simply don’t want to learn better ways and/or perhaps they simply don’t view animals in the same sense as many of us.
It’s a fact, animals are mere symbolic objects for many individuals. Sure many of these individuals purport to love their pets, the pets serve the purposes of the individuals controlling the animal rather than the relationship being a mutually cooperative one where both parties are understood, and their needs are met.
Bottom line is the pet will either be able to handle the forced living situation and/or they will try to avoid and/or escape depending on the individual animal’s personality/temperament. When forced to live in these dysfunctional environments many of these animals will succumb to medical related problems due to chronic stress and/or anxiety.

July 9, 2009 at 11:07 am
(46) Joe White says:

Eric Goebelbecker: how dare you insult me with your ignorance!!! I am appalled at the arrogant stupidity you seem to show by thinking that you know everything and insult other people for having experience. I used just one dog for my example i have helped to save many, get thoroughly educated on ALL POINTS OF VIEW before you start to point out the wrongs of others! Cesar Millan uses these methods that have been proven to work in more cases than you, of all people, could ever imagine. He was being attacked and he stopped the dog didn’t he?! Without having it put in a shelter and euthanized. When people call upon amazing trainers like Millan it is because they have tried other methods and they obviously didn’t work, therefore he is their last resort for hope in rehabilitating their animals. If you think you know it all think twice, i have thought twice and still thought again. I know i do not know it all and i am willing to admit it (though you may not). Get a clue and stop feeding your egotistical attitude by telling others that they are wrong without knowing for yourself. I am a self motivated person, open to new ideas and thoughts when they are comprehendible and understandable. No one cares about individual job titles, so stop shoving yours around to get respect because you aren’t getting any by doing so. So look who’s talkin when you say something because it may very well come right back to you, and i don’t think you would be able to handle it. When it comes to the safety and well being of animals i will always do my best to help.

July 9, 2009 at 11:40 am
(47) Eric Goebelbecker says:

Joe….you say that anyone who criticizes Cesar has no experience and then you cite a single dog as an example of his techniques working, and then call me arrogant for calling BS on you?

Read the article. See who is criticizing him. You want make some kind of a folk hero who forces dogs into submission, go right ahead, but there are people with experience and knowledge who can get results with choking, pinning and kicking dogs. Maybe someday you’ll include them in your ALL POINTS OF VIEW.

But I won’t hold my breath, I might need it if Cesar gets near me with a leash.

July 9, 2009 at 11:47 am
(48) MaryMurray says:

Eric Goebelbecker: As usual I see many familiar names posting here…Hiya Joyce!

I see this discussion is going the same route, and although I have learned much from this particular blog and seeing some mutual respect…it is the bashing, ramming in my face “We have science, we are right!”

Never mind those that have stuck to rehabilitation that has not harmed the dog, never mind that we use many methods and open our mind to learning/implementing new methods. Cesar has done so much for actual owners, dogs have been saved and adopted, people feel good about themselves and believe in themselves.

All of our dogs were set for euthanasia….all 250-300 of them

July 9, 2009 at 11:51 am
(49) Joyce kesling, cdbc says:

Joe, sounds like you know Eric based on your comment and it’s personal and that you have less than a professional manner in which to discuss your differences. I am not excusing Eric’s arrogant comment. However, there are instances when we all get frustrated when we can’t seem to communicate on the same level! I can say this because I was a passive pet owner 8-9 years ago and i’ve spent the last 8-9 years learning about dogs and training methods through an educational process. So there are times when i can recognize others frustration, including yours.
However, I’ve personally seen enough examples of CM’s methods of what not to do with a dog to completely negate anything he may do right. The problem as I see this is those who choose to continually defend his methods, and ignore what is blatant inhumane treatment of dogs in many cases. His supporters continually espouse how many dogs he’s saved, but the problem is there really is no proof, no real evidence to support these statements, rather it’s simply rhetoric. Even you only offered up one example and no one can corroborate your success, you and his supporters expect us to blindly believe you.
If CM and his supporters offered up some type of statistics on successful rehabilitation cases, how they arrived at their statistics, what methods they used, how many subjects etc, perhaps then CM and his supporter’s words would have more meaning. This includes shelters/rescues that use his methods, but when I challenged them to offer evidence using the scientific method, all I continued to get was more rhetoric.
Contrary to what CM supporters suggest, there is scientific evidence that supports methods unlike his and more in line with his detractor’s methods. I know this personally because I‘ve read enough of these studies to know. I’m not bragging, simply stating facts.
Also, I completely understand that some people may not have the where with all to pursue such endeavors of educating oneself but this does not excuse them when they have alternative resources available. Rather what I see as part of the problem is and I stated in a previous comment, a societal problem. Many individuals expect instant gratification, they are attracted to the wrong role models, and they are followers and not leaders. These are just a few glaring examples, you can’t be a leader if you aren’t educated in what you do, your appeal will be limited only to those who are willing to follow your lead which means making a choice, and impulse control versus instant gratification is often a skill one has to learn.
If you can’t be a leader and you don’t understand the concept of leadership, then how am I to presume you can successfully integrate a dog into a human environment and/or train them without using methods that force the animal to endure the relationship rather than having a more mutually exclusive one.

July 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm
(50) MaryMurray says:

I am taking all of these posts from the blogs from the supporters of the AVMA sending to them and asking them if this is the type of support/abuse of others that they condone.

Is this where they stand? Is this what they support?

July 9, 2009 at 12:49 pm
(51) k9mythbuster says:

Those who are defending Cesar are using the same tired and debunked arguments that have been thrown at critics for years.

1. “You’ve obviously never watched the show.” Many of the professionals who have spoken out against the methods on the show have watched and can site multiple episodes.

2. “You’re just jealous of his success.” If that were the case, wouldn’t we just call ourselves ‘dog whisperers’ like so many so-called trainers who are attempting to profit from the success of the show?

3. “You would just have those dogs rehomed or euthanized.” Considering the vast library of continuing education seminars, books and DVD’s by professional trainers outlining specific techniques to modify aggressive behavior without the use of pain, fear or force, this claim is also untrue.

4. “It worked great on my dog.” In research, this is called n=1, meaning the research is based on the reaction of one subject. If a medication didn’t cause a serious problem for 1/100 people, would you trust it?

5. “He works with dogs other trainers won’t/you don’t have experience working with ‘red zone’ dogs”. False and false. Aggression is not a mystery – because of the research done both in labs and in the field, we understand the most common causes of aggression. Aggressive behavior is normal, not ‘red zone’ and it is rarely the result of dominance (some old veterinary texts say otherwise, but those were published before the resarch of the last decade).

Yes, we watch the show. Yes, we work with serious aggression cases. No, we don’t immediately recommend euthanasia because a dog is aggressive. No, we’re not jealous or promoting our own agenda (also known as scientifically proven methods).

What many of the posters on this thread fail to realize is that the vast majority of trainers speaking out against Cesar’s methods have extensive experience using those methods 10, 20 or even 30 years ago and have seen first-hand the problems they can create.

There is a whole world of canine behavior available to those who want to learn more than the over-simplified explanations of dominance and submission. If you are willing to put aside your beliefs as I was 10 years ago and be open to learning more, think of the good you can do for your dog and others.

July 9, 2009 at 1:22 pm
(52) Joyce kesling, cdbc says:

Mary,
I hope that you do take all of the comments including the CM supporters. It may wake the veterinary community up to this problem. Many vets are not trained in behavior, they specialize in medicine, treating organic problems. Many of them I suspect don’t even realize this rift exists! We don’t expect them to understand behavior either. What we do expect is they recognize a difference does exist and being educated themselves, they are doctors after all, should look to science to help them make informed choices about where they refer behavior cases.
I know this to be a problem, I live in a community where several vets and shelter/rescues endorse and/or refer training and/or behavior work to a trainer who uses e-stimulus devices (shock collars) exclusively to train dogs as well as modify behavior!
So please Mary, do that, I would love to wake up the veterinary community to what is going on outside of their medical practice.
And you would be mistaken to think veterinarians don’t argue over matters of importance to them, however, when they do, I suspect they are coming from an educated level rather than using pseudo science to make their point.

July 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm
(53) Jett Wyatt says:

For me it boils down to:

Cesar himself says he’s not a trainer.
The program starts with a disclaimer “Don’t try this at home”.
There is no evidence, other than what we keep being told, that these are “last chance” dogs he is working with.
He calls himself a “dog psychiatrist” which means absolutely nothing in any professional sense.
There is no basis in science for his dominance theory/wolf pack model.
He gets bitten every show (well, probably not every show, but a significant number of shows).
Trainers, Behaviorists and Veterinary Behavorists that I respect and who *do* actually have credentials in the field (and have rehabilitated countless dogs with behavior problems) do not endorse his methods.

I have heard arguments on both sides ad nauseum and it is just no contest for me. I prefer to have a healthy relationship with my dogs that is not based on dominance, fear, mutual aggression or punishment.

July 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm
(54) Leigh in NYC, CPDT-KA says:

Joe, Jill in CA, the woman who’s hubby is a dvm, et al:
in a just society, such as I like to think ours at least strives to be, the accepted social standard is that might does not make right. I’m bigger and in many cases stronger than most of the dogs I’ve trained. Plus I have tools at my disposal, from opposable thumbs to collars, tethers, food, and my big brain, to name a few of the most powerful ones. Force need never be necessary even to subdue a scared, even a viscious dog with such tools at my disposal. I am certainly capable of it and have used it when I wasn’t smart enough to prevent the dog from resorting to aggression in the first place, if only just to get out of the grip of a jaw. I’m not proud of those mistakes, but they happen. I do not intentionally provoke such reactions, but Mr. Millan does. It’s one of his many frequent mistakes, in my opinion.
just because one can stop aggression with doesn’t mean one should; it’s never the only way. It might be the fastest or easiest, true.
As for Eric Goebelbecker, I know him personally, and Joe, ya couldn’t be more off base about him if ya tried. He’s a great guy and a skilled, intelligent trainer. And a military vet. Buy not violent or arrogant. He’s just good

Not to make people scream, but isn’t it also at least possible and therefore worth considering that some dogs lives would be worsened by continuing to live in such a heightened state of arousal and aggression, and that the
kindest act we could take would be to end that suffering? There’s a reason why euthanasia is also known as “mercy killing.” Just a thought to consider, as opposed to alpha rolling, electric-shocking, and strangling a dog into submission or even to subjecting a dog to the stressors of a long- term R+ behavior mod plan with minimal results.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day.

July 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm
(55) Amanda says:

The problem all the CM supporters keep missing is that the average person IS learning about dog behavior and training from him. I hear it all the time.
I’m a nobody, got an undergrad degree in Animal Science focused on behavior, with a minor in psych. Not even a dog trainer. But I can tell you a couple things, because I discovered them for myself using the power of observation.

1) people ARE learning from his show. It may not be active learning and taking notes, but words and concepts that we are exposed to on a regular basis become part of us, actions that we see work for other people we are more likely to try (social learning, and why people in casinos think certain slots are HOT) Or look at the massive increase in DIY home repair after HGTV and others put out repair/ remodeling reality shows several years ago.

2) Following from that, the problem is not all dogs are going to respond the same to punishment techniques. Because they have different thresholds. I have 2 dogs: a German Shepherd and a Staffordshire/ greyhound cross. Both were rescues. The GSD had dog aggression, the Staff X had no real problem listed, but in time I discovered he has some funny anxieties (nail clippers, birds, gunshot sounds) I expect he was a trained birddog using punishment, and it didn’t work. He also used to never eat from my hand – when I tried to feed him he cringed. In fact, it took 3 years and a near starvation / dehydration from bacterial infection to get him to the point where he consistently eats every meal I give him!
Now that their background is established, I’ll admit something. I punish the GSD to teach him to sit, leave it, wait, whatever. Works great. I punish him a few times a week at least ;-) Well, we still get on fine, and we’re happy enough with our relationship with each other.
But the Staff X, I only REALLY punished once. He was running around crazy, knocked me off my feet and left me with a minor concussion (figured that out later) so as soon as the wind was back in me I rained fire on him. So now for the most part if he starts running around, I just say “no” quietly and he heels. BUT! I can’t trim his nails for the life of me. I tried to punish him to get them done, but I saw something in his eyes, and realized I couldn’t push him that far, he wouldn’t take it.
See, dogs will generally let you physically dominate them. Because they don’t seem to really care about the pain unless you truly injure them. Unless you try to force them to do something that absolutely terrifies them. Then they’ll say “enough is enough. I’ve put up with your violent tantrums this long, but I’m not going to do THAT.” Hitting your dog and worse just tells him you don’t have the brains or confidence to do anything else. When it comes to an important decision (crisis) I doubt he’ll look to you for guidance.
3) To the person who said the dog “got off” on attacking people: My GSD gets an “erection” when it’s hot out. I certainly don’t believe he’s aroused in the way you suggest whenever the sun hits him in the afternoon.

So there’s an “uneducated” person’s view of all this. Stop saying it’s all just a bunch of PhD’s looking to pad their wallets.

July 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm
(56) Amanda says:

I don’t think I’d buy a product based on a celebrity recommendation alone.
But if the celebrity knows something about the subject, I’m more inclined to listen to them.
And if I have a choice of 2 products, one which gives me just what I buy, and the other one gives me a free DVD of a show I like and would buy anyway, well then it’s simple economics that I’ll take 2 for the price of one. Especially since as a consumer I don’t see the difference between the 2 products. And in the end I just buy what my vet sells me anyway. It’s more convenient.

July 9, 2009 at 5:09 pm
(57) mel says:

I had an american bulldog and had no idea what I had, which is very common, I treated her like I did my labs, she ended up with a biting problem, and I was required to put her down, and it broke my heart. I got another one, started watching DW and found out not all dog breeds can be treated the same. I have a big male AB and he is wonderful thanks to Cesar! I am eternally greatful to him, we use his methods on all our dogs and everyone comments on how well “trained” they are. Now, like kids, we just have to tire them out, and they behave! Best dogs we have ever had! We have NEVER had to do anything “bad” to our dogs ever! They know who owns the house though!

July 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm
(58) Nancy L. says:

As a total nonprofessional (just a long-time dog person), here’s the basic message I came away from The Dog Whisperer with. Dogs are pack animals and they don’t like a vacuum of power. If no one’s in charge, the dog will try to take charge. So, the dog needs to understand/believe that it can trust the human to be in charge — and to make this happen, the human needs to consistently command the dog’s attention with instructions that the dog can understand, praise (or some other reward), and a confident physical demeanor. That, it seems to me, is the basic message of that TV show.

July 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm
(59) Kristin says:

I also did not see any evidence of “hanging”, but instead saw Cesar using a short leash to prevent the dog from having the freedom to continue biting Cesar. The “kick” was more of a touch, nothing that would cause any physical injury to the dog. The dog was lying down on its own will, respecting the dominance by Cesar, which is normal canine behavior.
Additionally, let’s be clear on semantics. Negative reinforcement does NOT equal punishment, they are different terms. Negative reinforcement is removing a negative stimulus when the subject engages in a desired behavior. Punishment is the application of a negative consequence to reduce a behavior(reinforcers increase behaviors while punishers reduce behaviors).

Finally, to say that Cesar does not use positive reinforcement is rather ignorant. Either you don’t understand the term or you don’t watch the show. He has used positive reinforcement many times in his shows: rewarding Gabe the Labrador for facing thunder by providing a romp in the pool, giving food to the dogs at his center who display calm submissive behavior, encouraging owners to give affection when a dog is exhibiting appropriate behavior, these are all examples of positive reinforcers.

July 9, 2009 at 8:16 pm
(60) Roberto says:

NOTHING WRONG WITH WHAT CEASER DID.

July 9, 2009 at 9:32 pm
(61) Marc Sayer says:

Thank you Jill from Canada!!! Thank you for looking at this video and this issue dispassionately and evaluating things based on what you see, rather than some preconceived opinions on the subject. I know how hard it can be to dare to say, wait a minute, maybe the Emperor is naked.

To Eric Goebelbecker, I think maybe you should take a few deep breaths, put your professional’s hat on and reread what you have posted here. The APDT Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility specifically says we shall “Be respectful of colleagues and other professionals and not falsely condemn the character of their professional acts.” Now, I read your comments here and I have to say, without any rancor or enmity, that your comments here appear to violate this portion of the APDT Code (both in terms of what you have to say about Cesar and in terms of your response to people here on this list such as Jill from Canada). And if true, this could could potentially cost you your membership. I am sure this was not your intent or desire. Perhaps you simply got carried away. I’d suggest that an apology and a rethink of how you conduct yourself on public forums like this is probably in order. On a personal note, I have to say that your comments seemed to indicate a great deal of unresolved anger. I am sure this is not what you want to communicate to potential clients. So perhaps, if for no other reason than the financial health of your training business, you may want to rethink what you’ve said, or at least how you’ve said it, and how you comport yourself in public. Just a helpful suggestion. Your website portrays a very different ethos and mindset than your comments here. I am sure you will be better off all the way around if you stick to the kind, polite, nurturing approach to life and working with dogs, that your portray on your website.

Is Cesar always right? Of course not. He applies his observational skills, his experience, and various approaches to try and fix what he sees as the problem, the way he sees best, under the circumstances. Anyone else can do the same. And their solutions may be very different. Who cares what school they went to, what “school” of thinking they come from, or what sort of methods they used, as long as the dogs are in a better place when it is all said and done. Isn’t that the real criteria by which we should judge any intervention or training?

Jill, I don’t always agree with Cesar. But I have to agree with you (and others here) when you describe how you see the events in that video clip. I do not see a dog being choked. I see a very aggressive dog being controlled so as to limit the damage he does to the handler. I do not see a dog traumatized or scared, when it is all over. In fact just the opposite, I see a dog who is relaxed. I do not see Cesar forcing the dog to the ground, I see him guiding the dog down. I guess the fact that a number of trained professionals can all look at the same video and see it very differently, proves that observations are often very subjective. And that the “science based” proponents can be just as subjective in how they view events (and the structure and results of the experiments they create and conduct) as anyone else. That knowing the scientific method does not eliminate one’s ability to see things the way one wants, or confer on someone a cloak of objectivity or infallibility.

I have never seen Cesar badmouth trainers who see things differently. I have never seen him engage in childish, mean, immature tantrums, or launch attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. Sadly I can’t say the same about some of the professionals who are his detractors.

You can’t always judge a book by it’s cover, but you can generally learn a lot about a dog or a person by watching how they interact with others. Based on what I’ve seen and read here and elsewhere, I would have to say that Cesar and his supporters are at least as professional and are more open minded than his detractors. Based solely on his detractors’ behaviors here (and as any behaviorist will tell you observed behaviors are all you really can go by), I have to say the kinder, gentler, more responsible group appears to be Cesar’s, and I’d be more inclined (again based on what I’ve seen and read) to trust him than I would some of these “my way or the highway” professional trainers/behaviorists.

I agree with the person who said Cesar’s claims and positions would stand up better if there was scientific data offered to support them. But I also understand (as a trainer with over 40 years professional experience, a former psychology major with a focus on behavior modification, someone with 5 years experience in the field of Special Education, and 8 years experience as the director of a dog rescue that focuses on giant breed dogs with special needs, including deaf and/or blind dogs plus dogs whose aggression or behavioral problems were too much for other trainers, behaviorists, and rescues) that sometimes a person will focus on results and working with their clients, rather than focusing on the academics or showing scientifically that they are having success. Perhaps this would best be served by someone in the academic field offering to help Cesar document his results. Of course this would require someone who has an open mind and can be truly objective. Otherwise the data will be invalid.

All in all this video is disturbing to watch, as it should be. I don’t think anyone involved in producing it felt otherwise. Frankly I find it refreshing that someone is willing to show us what handling a problem dog is like, rather than just focusing on idyllic images of happy pets and owners. As a rescuer, I get to see the other side of things, and I wonder sometimes what world these trainers and behaviorists live in. I’ve seen the starved and beaten dogs (and kids) and I know that life is often rough and unpleasant. But if we are going to talk about working with these “problem” clients, we have to be open and honest about it and about how disturbing it can be. Sometimes problems like these can’t be solved by avoiding them (as someone here suggested). Sometimes they have to be faced head on and dealt with. And that simply isn’t going to happen without some sort of confrontation. At least not without years and years of work and the expenditure of thousands of dollars. And even then the outcome may be euthanisia. In the lab that sort of pure positive approach looks and sounds great. But in the real world that is simply not possible for many dog owners, and an insistence that it is the only acceptable way to approach these problems is quite literally going to be a death sentence for a number of dogs.

Now I am not advocating abusive methods. But frankly, while Cesar’s method on this video is confrontational, I do not see it as abusive. Nor do I see the dog suffering any long term “damage” from it. Frankly in my years working with dogs, I have found that the dire predictions of serious or permanent damage to dogs by so called harsh training techniques has been vastly overstated and over estimated. I regularly get in dogs who have literally been abused. I am not talking about harsh training techniques here, I am talking about real, continued, and life threatening abuse, dogs who were burned, shot, beaten, starved, and worse. And amazingly enough, the largest percentage of them recover completely or never do show long term signs of this abuse. OTOH I have seen dogs who were never mistreated at all who show signs of having been abused. So I really have to doubt the reality of all this predicted “potential or possible harm” that may stem from rational but harsh training techniques.

I am not advocating the use of harsh techniques. Far from it. As an APDT member I agree with and adhere to the APDT’s goals: “The APDT is dedicated to building better trainers through education, promoting dog-friendly methods and encouraging their use. Our membership is composed of trainers from across the spectrum of training philosophies who have an interest in furthering their knowledge of positive training. Membership in the APDT does not necessarily ensure all members employ similar training methods, nor does the Association set standards of skill or competence.”

I believe in using the least punitive, most rewarding methods possible when working with dogs. Even the APDT, one of the premier rewards based training organizations, admits that punishment can occasionally be needed: “Dog-friendly training is training that utilizes primarily positive reinforcement; secondarily negative punishment, and only occasionally, rarely, and/or as a last resort includes positive punishment and/or negative reinforcement.”

Of course we’d all like a movie type outcome where we offer the dog some love and all the issues melt away. But I also realize that in some cases some level of confrontation (as was used by Cesar in this video) or even outright use of punishment, is going to be needed. And it really serves no purpose to blindly attack anyone and everyone who suggests or uses such techniques. Cesar was working with a dog who was pretty much out of other options as I understand it. And so he chose to use this confrontational method to get the dog to stop his outbursts. He did not use punishment, he simply refused to allow the dog to control the situation or be allowed to escape this situation. Once the dog gave in, then he was very non confrontational and let the dog take back control (of himself). If this was in fact the dog’s last chance, this is far less harsh than the alternative. These things must be seen in context or they have no meaning. If the background on this dog was that he was a friendly happy outgoing secure dog, then this video has one meaning. If the dog was so out of control and so dangerous that his next stop was the needle, then it means something totally different.

At the very least, we as professionals need to employ some of our vaunted pure positive techniques and stop punishing those who see things differently. If we can’t even employ our techniques in dealing with our colleagues and other people we encounter, how can we possibly berate trainers for not suing them with the dogs they work with? If you don’t like what a trainer or other professional is doing, don’t employ their methods. Offer alternatives (without attack them or their methods, remember, pure positive, right?). And try to show how well your ideas work to as many people as possible. TV is not the only medium. Anyone can put together some videos and broadcast them on the net. If folks really have a better alternative (in identical circumstances), prove it. Show us your video of how you do it better (again, without attacking others).

July 9, 2009 at 10:14 pm
(62) Joan Sinden says:

I am so interested in Cesar Millan’s training concepts and his show that I’ve read through all these comments! I’ve been watching his show everyday for about the last year, so I’ve seen a lot of Cesar Millan – and I’ve been following his training for philosophy since I first heard about him because his idea of “discipline, exercise, affection” in that order has seemed so foreign to the way that I’ve personally found has made my own multi-dog – rescued, many issued, multi-layered and very interesting canine household home a happy one. Cesar has gone so far as to say that love is not required to make a dog a balanced dog – his exact words are “Many clients I work with are surprised to learn that dogs don’t need love and affection to lead healthy, balanced lives.” ( http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-information/cesar-millan-dog-whisperer/article_let_dog.aspx )
That is such a shock to North American people who are so used to giving love to their animals – I know that’s why I personally have dogs – because I have a lot of love to give. and that’s why I just can’t give myself to Cesar Millan’s training methods.

As well – I wanted to comment about something that Harry Nguyen said – “For those who think Cesar is a cruel person or his methods too harsh. I challenge anyone to find me a pack 30-40 formally troubled dogs, of different breed, size, and temperament, that are more balanced and happily living together than the ones living at his center.”

I’ve had this same problem myself in my own home – I’ve had fosters that could live in my multi-dog household really well, and they’d get adopted out to seemingly really great homes – but they’d get returned for fighting with the other dogs in their new homes – and there was always this question – “why can they live with no fights in my home – yet in someone else’s home they become aggressive?”

If you notice on Cesar’s show – a lot of dogs come to the “Centre” for training for a couple months, and then go home – and start their old bad habits again – and at the end of the show what happens is that Cesar keeps the dog and gives the people a new, easier to manage dog – and their original dog stays at the Centre with Cesar as a permanent resident.
Maybe it’s not because Cesar has been able to “rehabilitate” the dogs at his Centre, maybe – could it be – he’s able to “manage” the dogs at his Centre?

As a person who is just a dog owner – I’m just going to throw that out there for all of you – dog whisper fans, and professional behaviourists, alike – to chew on.

Cesar is a trainer who appears to want to control every aspect about a dog’s life – and want the dog to ask before he can do everything – including when he can take a pee. That’s a lot of responsibility for the average dog owner. Some of us are up to it, and some of us aren’t.

If you’re interested in a couple more links of Cesar like the one that sparked this article – you can check them out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&hl=en&v=9TRE7Zv7xdE&NR=1 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iUeD4oxGLs&feature=channel

July 9, 2009 at 10:15 pm
(63) sabroza says:

Today it’s considered child abuse to correct your child, after several passive approaches, and give little hit with a belt or a hand on the butt. Maybe that’s why some kids these day’s are so rebellious.

Now they are going after poor “Milan”. Are we now being mean because he is training a dog not a human. Now we can’t train a dog to behave, be obedient and to protect with just a “Whisper?” COME ON PEOPLE WE ANALYZE TOOOOO MUCH

July 9, 2009 at 11:01 pm
(64) Debbie Jacobs says:

I do not purchase products based on celebrity endorsements, but neither will I purchase a product which supports and advocates the training techniques of Cesar Millan.

The fact that his techniques MIGHT have an adverse effect is reason enough not to employ them. There are other techniques which work without the potential for unwanted or dangerous fallout. Just because the trainers using and advocating these techniques don’t have TV shows and CM fans are not aware of them, doesn’t mean that their success, safety and efficacy is not real.

Quite frankly I’d rather debate evolution with an evangelist then try to talk about dog training with a CM fan. Those of us who disagree with his methods, understand them, something which fans often seem to disregard. CM’s techniques are not new, he has taken 19th century training techniques, couched them in new age lingo and dragged them into the 21st century.

July 9, 2009 at 11:02 pm
(65) Annette says:

I am not surprised in any manner by the ridiculous assersions made here. It’s sad really that PROC people obviously feel so threatened. They have good reason, their methods don’t ‘always’ work either, but they continue to stand on their soap box and insist that they do – doing EVERYONE a diservice.

I’ve worked with dogs for over 20 years now, and I believe deeply in balanced training. Giving my dog all the information, i.e. this is good, here’s a cookie, or your favorite toy, etc.. AND this is bad, there are rammifications for this behaviour, minor leash correction, verbal correction, or direction change. Some dogs respond well to food, and some couldn’t give a flying fig (sorry, it’s as close as I can come to what I WANT to say).

I currently have 3 rescues, all slated for euthanasia for different reasons (1 fear, 1 strength/unable to control & returned to the shelter 3x, & 1 for biting 6 people). My rescues all have CGCs, CDs, RA, and working on RA & CDXs. This is all with balanced training. The fearful one does not respond well to physical corrections, but my simply clearing my throat ellicits sufficient response and a change in attitude. Big/strong dog – a physical correction he responds very well too, quickly looking to me with his tongue lolling out and tail wagging as if to say ‘what?’. He immediately and happily switches to whatever I need him to learn. The little biter, he’s gotten leash corrections for trying to snap at kids & other dogs since day one – he passed his CGC & they said they would easily pass his TDI at the same time, but I don’t have that time to devote to it, so I didn’t bother! I’m too busy working problem dogs who have been kicked out of PROC classes – seriously. They have been told their dogs ‘can’t be helped’ and they have no other choice but to euthanize. Seriously??? That is ridiculous. Please keep in mind the 3 problem children listed above are far from all of the dogs I’ve owned, they are only the ones share my life/house now. I’ve owned much much more aggressive and dogs that had lived their life on a chain & never gotten any direction. I regularly take rescues out of the shelter to compete alongside others in obedience & rally trials. I still maintain, if you really want to check the merit of a trainer – see what titles they’ve achieved & see how their dogs perform/behave. People have choices & I pray to God that they continue to have them. This fanatical belief is insulting to other trainers and dangerous to dogs in the long run.

Yes – there are dogs that work fine for PROC and succeed and excell, but there are dogs it DOESN’T WORK FOR!! Problem is that you can’t admitt it, and its irresponsible. I’ll give you a real life true example or two (I could give you more, but need to go to bed):

First case, Belgian Tervuren bitch socialized since 3 months, actively shown in conformation to her championship in 2 countries by 11 months old! At 14 months she became dog aggressive – off the charts dog aggressive, would attack any dog that made eye contact & hated anything with non erect ears. Dog had NEVER been attacked or injured by another dog in her entire life, but her parents had a history of serious animal aggression which we found out after this all started! Owner tied LOTS of things, including a prong collar (which I recommended against) and the dog did redirect aggression at that point. Owner signed up for Alan Bauman seminar on dog aggression, I went too, but after observing his ‘one size fits all’ explanation, my aggressive Beauceron went into the car to prevent him from being bitten… He asked for the most aggressive dog in the place, we handed him the Belgian. He waited with cookies, liver, and treats while someone simply moved a dog about 10 feet away. She hit the end of the lead with such force, it almost took him off of his feet, when she turned to look at him, he treated her. Light bulb went off, she lunged at the dog, turned got her treat, but was slowly working her way across the floor. This went on for about 25 minutes, the aggression never abated, the dogs drive didn’t drop at all, & and some point, she stopped worrying about the treats all together. After she almost took out the Dalmation with him attached, he gave her back to her owner, and mumbled something like, “this is going to take a bit longer, and this isn’t the time or place”. The woman lost 3 months of training, because it had been established lunging at dogs was acceptable (and occasionally rewarded). The owner worked with a traditional trainer, and, after about 3 months, got her CD. An amazing waste of money, & more importantly TIME for that owner.

Other story, a mix shar pei/whippet with dog & people aggression. Woman has multiple children and just wants to walk her dog while pushing her stroller. PROC class talks her into front clip harness (I think it’s still in my car). Multiple classes, and woman dragged into the street as dog lunges at another dog across the street, tumbling baby & stroller. Woman falls, gets hurt, calls trainer – trainer sighs & suggests euthanasia…..impressive. Woman loves the dog, but even with harness unable to stop lunging/barking/darting out after other animals when kids are with her. Woman also considers euthanasia, calls the vet, vet refers me (that GOD he’s sane). Met the dog, watched it interact, took harness off dog immediately as it didn’t have any effect, put nylon slip lead on the dog, & we went for a walk. Literally 3 houses down from her house, and maybe 4 pop corrections later, walk past a baying Beagle the owner dreads seeing, dog whines a little, but never strains at the leash (I walk dogs on loose leads only) and moves along with us. He did not spin anyone around, run around the stroller or me, and did not redirect any aggression. Owner still regularly tells me I’m a magician (and that was over a year ago).

Keep in mind, I’ve taken ALL types of training collars off of dogs as much as I’ve put them on. I believe you have to be experienced (not by on line tests, or doctorates in a sterile environment) to be able to see what will work for a given animal…. Yep, I said animal, humanizing dogs is one of the worse things we do to them. One of the most common thing I say to people when working with their dogs is “this is not your child, you did NOT give birth to it, as you would be both rich and famous”.

Dogs are animals, and they are not looking for PARENTS!! If they were, it COULDN’T be us. My dogs adore me, when my little biting dog got his 100 score in Rally Advanced a couple of weeks ago, the judge told me what a PLEASURE it was just to watch him work…. That was one of the best compliments I’ve been given. She said his tail never stopped wagging, his eyes never left me, and he knew exactly what was expected of him…..and I think that is the most ‘fair’ thing we can do for our pets.

It’s sad that people can’t be respectful for things that do work even if you don’t understand or necessarily agree with them. If it is extending dog’s lives, making them fuller/richer, and allowing owners to ENJOY having them in their lives – let it be!! I have used PROC, still do – DEPENDING ON THE DOG! There is no ONE WAY to teach EVERYONE – or all children would learn the same, all of them would have straight A’s and succeed in life the same way. Some times people (and animals) think differently, and you should have EVERY OPTION open to you to help them!!

See, now you have me RANTING, & I should be in bed. Seriously, I could tell you about Shar pei I’ve worked with, Akita’s I’ve worked with, etc, etc, etc….

Be fair to the dogs, give them all the information they need, & help the owners any way you can….

Good luck to all!

July 9, 2009 at 11:48 pm
(66) Mary Sorenson says:

I walked dogs for years as a child and dog sat and have owned dogs for most of my adult life. I have set Cesar Milan’s techniques in full play with my dog,with no force at all. My dog walks better,doesn’t rush on his food when feeding him,doesn’t bolt off the front porch,he waits for me until I say he can go down. With somethings forcing the dog to submit is needed,but Cesar’s techniques are not abusive. The techniques are from observing and learning from wild dogs,and similar to what wolves do in the wild,when a wolf misbehaves all the pack or most of the pack disciplines the wolf making it submit on it’s side or back. Wolves are more abusive that Cesar. they will run off a wolf that won’t submit or kill them. Cesar is always open to incorporate different things to training as well as in the Sit And Stay Cesar’s Way DVD,which has three well know trainers giving tips on training dogs. What Cesar does is for the benefit of dogs.

July 10, 2009 at 12:53 am
(67) Eric Goebelbecker says:

You nailed it, Marc. I have unresolved anger.

“Those who speak agenst these techniques don’t see the whole picture, and have no credible experience and therefore should not add their 2 cents if their coins are hallow.(metaphorically speaking)”

Not only does this statement make me angry on its face, I find the fact that it is somehow acceptable while my calling it arrogant is…arrogant.

However, I have recently discovered that belonging to the APDT forbids me from critiquing TV shows and comments made by other trainers on public forums, even when they use terms like “ridiculous” and “blatant lie” to describe what other trainers are saying, so I have to go now.

Have a nice day anyone, and for heaven’s sake be careful what you say!

July 10, 2009 at 1:41 am
(68) vetmedicine says:

Thank you for your comments, everyone. I am learning a lot here.

I just received an email from someone asking why their comment didn’t show up. I haven’t deleted or edited any comments – they have gone through as posted.

In this case, there were more than two URLs in the comment, so it is automatically held in moderation as potential spam (spammers typically load up a comment with tons of links). Unfortunately, I don’t receive an email for the posts in moderation, so I didn’t know it was there.

As soon as I received the email (thank you!), I checked the moderation area, and there it was. I approved it, so the numbering starting at #62 is now one more down the list. Hopefully that makes sense.

I will now be watching the moderation queue more carefully! ;-)

Now back to the discussion…

Please be respectful of others posting and visiting here.

Thanks!

July 10, 2009 at 2:52 am
(69) Marc Sayer says:

Jules Nye asked “Let me ask you this. If you want to loose weight, would you go to the gym or go anorexic? You’ll get the same end result.”

I think a more apt analogy would be, would you rather go to the gym, or have your stomach stapled? Both are weight loss methods (anorexia isn’t, it’s a mental illness), so the analogy works better, And one is certainly more harsh and severe than the other. Of course most sane people would prefer the gym. But the fact is the gym doesn’t work for everyone and some people need their stomachs stapled. This doesn’t mean everyone should do it or needs it. Nor does it mean this should be a first option. Because of how harsh and severe a solution it is, it should only be used as a last resort. Thinking people will question the doctor who always prescribes it, and they will question the doctor who never prescribes it. Because it is appropriate in some case and is not appropriate in others. Any doctor who ignores this or lets their personal feelings and private ethics get in the way of giving the appropriate treatment, is not doing a good job.

If the argument were that Cesar always uses punishment and harsh, confrontational methods, then we might have something to discuss. But it isn’t. The issue is that he uses them at all. And that is extremism. As with anything, moderation is best. Allowing as how these approaches might be needed on a last resort basis, as the APDT does, is taking a moderate approach. And that makes sense to a lot of people.

On a purely pragmatic vein, you will get a lot more done and “convert” a lot more people if you work on convincing them that there are almost always better ways to address behaviors than using harsh and confrontational methods, and that those should only be used by professionals as a last resort. That will find a much wider and more open audience both in the profession and in the general public than the argument that those methods are never appropriate. And that will create common ground and get people to start listening, which can only help reduce the use of such methods. So you have to ask yourself what’s the goal in arguing so passionately about this? Are you trying to reduce the use of harsh methods as much as possible, or show how right you are and how wrong “they” are? Come on folks, even Ian Dunbar uses corrections and punishment when appropriate. I have a video of him using corrections and PP to rehab dog on dog aggression. And very effectively I might add, with no horrid repercussions.

July 10, 2009 at 10:53 am
(70) Eric Goebelbecker says:

Well, I guess an explanation, if not an outright apology might be in order.

A conflicting interpretation of the video was referred to as “ridiculous” and a “blatant lie.” I found that remark offensive and responded in kind. I apologize for responding in kind. I should have taken the higher road or better yet just recognized the remark for what it was and ignored it.

I don’t apologize for my conflicting interpretation though. Maybe the fact that there is a disagreement should have been recognized before the producers at NGC decided to use the video.

I characterized the situation the dog was put in as one that should be avoided. I don’t apologize for that.

I called correcting the dog for reacting to the situation stupid because it can cause redirection. Stupid was a poor choice of words. I still feel obligated to point out that it is exactly what happened.

I said Cesar screwed up and lost control of the dog. I think some of his supporters have even said that he lost control, or at least that he did what he had to regain control….which means it was lost. Is saying that Cesar screwed up the problem? Does TV make you perfect? (It certainly seems capable of negating critical thinking and overruling science.)

I then accused NGC of airing the clip for ratings. Nah, not going to apologize for that one. I think it’s what they are in business for.

Later, the assertion was made that anyone who disagrees with Cesar is automatically inexperienced, or words to that effect. I took the bait when I should not have. Pulling out the n+1 sample that was cited in the troll was a cheap shot too. I should know better than to get sucked in by trolls. I apologize.

Here’s where quite a bit of unresolved anger comes from:

1) Supporting Cesar is open-minded. Criticizing him makes you close-minded. In addition to being just a one-sided and obnoxious argument, I would like to cite “ridiculous,” “blatant lie,” and “no credible experience and therefore should not add their 2 cents” as exhibits 1, 2 and 3.

2) Cesar saves dogs, so not only is anything that he does justifiable but anyone who would criticize him is somehow willing to compromise on saving dogs. This is also not only wrong but really very insulting to those of us who employ very different methods for the same cause.

3) The idea that using science as a counter to CM’s methods is a dodge, or a weapon, or…whatever. Animal training and behavior modification is a scientific endeavor. Full stop. This isn’t negotiable.

3.5) Being educated is somehow a liability?

4) People are criticizing Cesar just to support their methods and/or sell their books. Please. Is there anything that Cesar or NGC does not sell with his name on it?

That’s it. I apologize for doing my part to lower the quality of debate. But I can’t say that I am optimistic about it improving. I’m going to return to helping the dogs I can actually reach now.

July 10, 2009 at 11:49 am
(71) bob smith says:

i don’t care who it is all dog whisperers are rediculous!! that is the most stupid thing i have ever seen…and im not talking about a 30 sec video clip. train dogs like normal people…with discipline/correction…but NOT abuse…my dogs are all just fine and so are 90% of dogs and owners using this method!

July 10, 2009 at 3:03 pm
(72) George says:

I would LOVE to see how any veterinarian or the person writing this blog would have reacted at the dog on the clip.. I mean what would they have said about him after being attacked by him.. most probably they would have said “he is really dangerous because after seeing him attacking me, he could attack anyone, so my advice is euthanize him” I am almost 100% sure they would have said that, either that or give the dog drugs to calm him down, when Cesar (if you watch the complete episode) by applying dominance (which dogs do that between themselves) calmed that dog. There’s one thing that professional vets and professional dog trainers NEED TO LEARN, DOGS ARE ANIMALS, NOT HUMANS, I understand they sometimes act like humans (or look like it) but the truth is that they are not humans, they are not different from a pig, or a chicken (referring to the fact that they are not humans) so it makes sense that if you treat them like humans they are going to feel frustrated and develop issues.

July 10, 2009 at 3:21 pm
(73) George says:

Well, just and advice to the person that wrote this blog, and to the many veterinarians and trainers that are against Cesar’s methods cause you saw a 30 second clip is:

AT LEAST WATCH A COMPLETE EPISODE, how can you say his methods don’t work or that he shouldn’t have that respect he has if you haven’t even seen how he works with dogs, nor read his books about his life, nor knowing how the people who owns those dogs are very pleased and erased the dogs issues?

you just watch a 30 second clip and judge his work by that… by the way, I volunteer at an animal shelter and let me tell you that some workers treat “dangerous dogs” with more aggression that Cesar did on the clip, the dog was attacking him, and Cesar NEVER lost his cool, he remained calm and just put the dog into a submissive position, and then let go.. the dog then remained there by his own means, Cesar wasn’t pushing him towards the ground to make him stay there, his calm, assertive state did.

So please veterinarians and trainers, learn your facts before judging someone’s career and beliefs by watching a 30 seconds clip.. when you do that it just makes you look dumb and lose possible clients because it just shows that you are ignorant.

July 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm
(74) Marc Sayer says:

Okay this is going to be my last comment. I am sure after this a number of people are going to be confused as to which “side” I am on. And that’s because the right answer is neither.

I have chastised some of Cesar’s opponents here and stood up for some of his proponents. I said I saw less mud slinging from his “side” and applauded that. But as this discussion has progressed, I have sen as much mud coming from the pro Cesar camp as from the anti Cesar camp. And my comments about what’s wrong with letting the debate sink to that level apply no matter which “side” is doing it. You can’t win a debate by getting emotional and stooping to name calling and the use of emotionally laden terms. All you do is loose respect and diminish the message you are supporting. If you think Cesar is good, just say so and explain why. if you think there are better options, explain that. Attacking those who disagree won’t get you anywhere.

I am well versed in the science behind LT and BM, and in the methodology of the scientific method. I see real benefits to it. And like many, I also see pitfalls and problems if we blindly follow it or any doctrine. But we can’t completely reject it, any more than we can completely accept or reject any human endeavor or idea. Moderation is the key to balance (a term Cesar uses a lot and one that I for many reasons, only some of which fit with Cesar’s, like a lot). Until the recent upsurge in terrorism, extreme was beginning to take on a positive connotation. That is bad. Extremism always leads to problems, as it has for portions of Muslim community. Extreme is bad. Moderation is good. Polarization is bad. Cooperation is good. Extremism is the same as going overboard. We see it every day in our normal lives, our American politics are crumbling under the weight of the (D vs R) extremism and polarization. The Middle East is dying under it. Ireland has suffered for decades because of it. We need to share info and ideas in non polarizing ways. We need to allow for differences and keep to our beliefs but in such a way as to allow for learning and cooperation, and not alienate those who see it differently. We need to be balanced and moderate.

Cesar is controversial and good minds end up on both sides of the argument. Neither side has a monopoly on the right of it, or has absolute moral superiority. But the most important part of it all is that as a group, we will never improve if we keep fighting over this, or focus our debates on name calling and insults. Passion about the underlying core values (caring for dogs the best way we can) is great. Devolving into personal attacks and name calling is counterproductive.

I called Eric out in my first post. That could have been a risky choice. But from what I saw in between the lines of his comments and on his website, I felt there was a better man there than he was showing in this debate initially. And there was. He did the right thing (to my mind). He certainly didn’t like me or what I said at first, I am sure of that. But he clearly thought it over (maybe talked it over with people he trusted) and looked at things from the bigger perspective. He showed some real character by stepping back from the bickering and name calling. We could all learn from that. He didn’t turn all sniveling and submissive. He didn’t claim he’d changed his core beliefs. But he did consider that how we argue a point is as important as the point itself.

I do not pretend to know what motives drive this or that group. Clearly a TV show is produced to draw viewers and earn its sponsors money. Just as clearly groups like the AVMA, the HSUS, PETA, the AKC, and even the AVSAB, can (I am not saying I know they do, just that I recognize that they can and therefore sometimes maybe do) take stands on issues to garner supporters and bolster revenues and/or influence. All that is simply off topic for me so I ignore it. As I said in a previous post, the bottom line for me is whether the dogs are in a better place when it is all said and done. That is the real criteria by which we should judge and debate any intervention or training. IMNSHO

July 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm
(75) Angela says:

In response to Harry Nguyen who wrote:

The video shows the dog has an erection while biting Cesar. This dog enjoys biting human and other dogs. He’s not doing it out of fear or anxiety. The very act of biting gives him pleasure.

Angela’s response:

Many dogs get erections when at the vets, do you think it is because they enjoy being at the vets. Dogs can get erections for many reasons, fear and anxiety included, oh and asphyxiation!

In response to Harry Nguyen who wrote:

For the more “humane” training methods to work, you would have to find an unconditioned reinforcer that this dog desires more than biting. I highly doubt, food lures, toys or praising is going to do the trick with this one.

Angela’s response:

A humane behaviourist would first evaluate and assess the dog, take a full history (whatever info is available). This is of course done for many reasons, but one would be to find out what motivates the dog, what does the dog find rewarding, what can be used a reinforcement +

Once all this info is known, the dog would then be taken through a systematic program of DCC.

In this video Cesar starts off with the trigger (other dog) very close, and then actually stops just in front of the trigger, this dog had no other choice but to look at the trigger close up. Well of course he’s going to react.

A positive approach would be to have the trigger at a comfortable distance so as not to elicit any barking,etc., then gradually decrease the distance. Reinforcement can be whatever motivates the dog, it does not have to be food. Simply moving away temporarily from the trigger to create more distance can be reinforcing.

July 10, 2009 at 7:05 pm
(76) Marc Sayer says:

Okay I said it was my last comment. So I lied. Sorry. But this really will be my last. In keeping with a rewards based approach, I just had to chime in here.

Angela said” A positive approach would be to have the trigger at a comfortable distance so as not to elicit any barking,etc., then gradually decrease the distance. …”

See this is exactly what I was talking about. This doesn’t degrade anyone. It recognizes what Cesar did, and offers an alternative solution that is more positively oriented. Any thinking person reading that, whether they think the video showed abuse or not, will have to see the logic of this alternative and at least want to try it before moving up to something as confrontational as what Cesar did. This is good debate. Debate the gets something out so folks can look at it and consider it without all the emotional baggage. This sort of thing can only help make things better. And it has to leave the author and the reader with a calmer mind, a happier disposition, and a better balance in their lives.

July 10, 2009 at 8:45 pm
(77) L says:

Ok first of all on the video posted in this article what did you expect him to do let the dog bite him…that dog tore up his shirt and arm and he still worked with it…most owners would not tolerate an agressive dog like that and would have put him in a shelter which would have led to him being euthanized if these people are asking for help obviously other trainers couldn’t do what they said they could…I’ve seen a few episodes where people say they hired multiple trainers and Cesar was their last hope…and if someone attempts to do what he did then that would be their bad because it says at the bottom of the left hand corner of the screen “do not attempt these techniques yourself without consulting a professional” He always says that he is not training the dogs he is rehabing…people are hateful to other people who find a way to be successful in what they do.

July 10, 2009 at 10:16 pm
(78) Steve Robinson says:

I watched the video, and listened to Cesar’s explanation. It’s a bunch of gobbledy-gook. He hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about. “It’s not aggression, it’s dominance.” Huh? Something about the other dog’s energy. Huh? Stringing a dog up to save your a** is one thing, but setting a dog up so you can choke him out? It IS, purely and simply, abuse. It takes guts for National Geo to show this clip. It’s ignorance of the highest degree. I’ve successfully treated aggression problems for over 20 years. Not like this.

July 11, 2009 at 3:26 am
(79) Theresa DePorter, DVM says:

Euthanasia for behavior problems continues to be the leading cause for death for pets. I am a veterinarian and my practice is limited to behavior and I am in specialty training program to be boarded in behavior. Veterinarians are compelled to prevent health and behavior problems. My goal is to both prevent problems and diagnose/treat behavior problems. Preserving the bond between a family and the pet is as essential as preventing bites in any behavior modification program. Proper diagnosis and assertion of facts is critical; many families’s come to me presuming that their dog is ‘dominant’ and controlling them when in fact it is fearful, anxious or even compulsive. Some dogs have medical factors relating to their behavior problems. I’ve seen dogs for aggression that ultimately were diagnosed with hip dysplasia, panosteitis, food allergy, arthritis, seizures and blindness. The first sign of nearly any medical conditions is often a change in behavior and all of these diagnoses were made behavioral before obvious physical progression of these disorders had occurred. Assessment of a history, observations and physical examinations allow for logical diagnosis and then a treatment plan. Consider a few facts about wolves: research by David Mech on wild wolf packs reveals that wolf interactions in a pack are more like a “family”- the parents care of the young, feed them in times of scarcity, lead or follow, don’t control high places and don’t pin each other down. Wolves do signal by using appeasement signals – subtle signs like looking away, blinking, crouching or more obvious signs like rolling over or licking. When one shows appeasement the other one stops. Wolf biologists are avoiding use of the term “alpha”. See the newsletter links at the http://www.wolf.org There are research studies on wild dogs …and they don’t form a pack. They may form loose associations for short periods but not a pack. Dogs do learn to avoid some interactions with certain people or dogs…and seem to enjoy the company of others. The avoidance is not ‘dominance’ but learning any more than people avoid the neighbor that talks too much or borrows their tools. There is much new information in veterinary behavior and I am professionally obligated to share it. Furthermore, the question has arisen as to why veterinarian’s are so openly objecting – one because we didn’t for a long time and now we are compelled to educate people on the newest science available. The core theories are not new and not unique to CM – choke collar training and dominance theory has been around for a long time. Read Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. These are not new ideas and perhaps Cesar does them with more consistency and good timing. More people are considering how to train their dogs’ and of course that’s good for dogs. Perhaps the CM followers have witnessed abusive, poorly timed training and so perhaps these methods are on a progression to improving how we share our lives with our dogs. The training methods I would recommend for a dog like this, and yes, I have treated dogs like the one in the video, require safety, prevention of aggression, prevention of arousal, teaching coping skills and rewarding appropriate behaviors. Devices like basket muzzles and head halters can be wonderful for a dog like this when used properly. There are a great ways to work with a dog like this one that real people can employ with their dogs and obviously, despite the “don’t try this at home” warnings, a lot of people do indeed try this at home. Severely anxious or fearful dogs may seem to improve in the short term but constant vigilance is required by the ‘dominant’ training methods and after time people grow weary or guilty, the dogs habituate and require more assertive owner responses and then someone is bitten either when the dog isn’t controlled or during efforts to control it.

My thanks to everyone reading and posting on this topic! I cannot support my old favorite heartworm medication so I will be switching all my dogs to Iverhart by Virbac so I can support a company that is also doing great work on advancements for behavior problems like anxiety and cognitive dysfunction. We need to keep moving forward to offer the best behavioral care, human bond and health for pets!

July 11, 2009 at 10:59 am
(80) steve says:

What I see here is a professional putting an aggressive dog in his place in the ladder of hierarchy, the dog was not kicked, he was nudged, (corrected), the dog was not choked out he was controlled, he attacked Caesar numerous times, the dog was not unconscious, he was submitted and put in his place, if you see in the last bits of the clip the dog is very calm, I’m not sure where the urine is because the whole lot is wet as if it just rained out. I’m not too sure how else that situation could have been handled, with positive reinforcement???? Good dog for ripping my shirt and trying to kill me!!!!! Give me a break!!!! Dogs are pack animals and need to understand that they are, or at least should be below us in the pack setting and this dog was testing his positioning in the ladder of the pack, and learned quickly that Caesar is the leader therefore submitting. I am not a dog expert by any means, but have read many various dog books and also owned a potentially dangerous dog myself (140 Lb. Rottweiler) And admit I was tested by him and he too was put in his place and understood that even my children where above him in “the pack” and my dog was one of the gentlest dogs there was, but it came with a lot of work and positive reinforcement, as well as the odd submission. Just my 2 cents worth.

July 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm
(81) cmcgee says:

It’s great to see what works. we are not shown what does not work but as many Physician shows this is all for money and celebrity.,..kind of like Dr Phil, Millan justy has a good agent !

July 11, 2009 at 6:16 pm
(82) joe white says:

I have taken a short break from commenting because i see that it had taken me and everyone else nowhere.

I apologize that i said what i did because it obviously was out of terms and upsetting many people who are constantly quoting on what i blindly said.

I apologize for doing this, and i would like everyone to understand my point of view, to know where i’m coming from on this.

I believe that a dog trainer (or owner) will know when the right time and the wrong time for certain a training method is.

I feel that dogs are much like children, to a certain extent. When a child does something wrong repetitively then they need to know for sure that they are doing something wrong and to never do it again. This may mean punishment, but a dog initially doesn’t understand certain punishment concepts such as grounding, obviously. Having said that, once in a while you may need to “negatively enforce your rules”.

I don’t mean in any way that you should beat your dog half to death for pooping on the floor! But you need to correct them, assured that they know it is wrong, then you can be more positive and prove that you only do this as a last resort and show how much you really love them without over doing it.

When used properly this works very well, but many are misled by those who over do it, as in excess. Because of this the clear picture on what does and what doesn’t work has been distorted.

That is why you are reading this right now.

July 11, 2009 at 9:32 pm
(83) Pat says:

He was working with this dog after the family had consulted more than one trainer. Their wish was that Shadow not be returned after they had rescued him knowing that he would be put down. If you watched carefully, Ceasar loosened the leash as soon as the dog was down on his side. The dog was unharmed. I wish you would have seen the entire episode. He has saved other dogs from being euthanized, one of which now belongs to his oldest son.
I have started using many of Ceasar’s methods instead of using the rolled up newspapers or shoe or whatever to hit a dog that has screwed up in some way. He does teach patience. It does take some dogs longer to “get it”. He is firm when he needs to be, but never abusive. I have seen animals abused and this isn’t it.

July 12, 2009 at 1:36 am
(84) Theresa DePorter, DVM says:

When the leash is finally released the dog is hypoxic and cyanotic; this dog is gasping for air. The gasps are reflex agonal breaths that may be seen when a dog is dying or even after euthanized. Show the video to any veterinarian or technician.

July 12, 2009 at 12:39 pm
(85) Kimberleigh says:

First let me say I am a Cesar Follower. I have used his methods and will continue to do so on my dogs as his methods are the easiest I have come across in over 20 years!
Exerscise Discipline Affection.
Boy that was easy. :)
I walk my Rottweiler each morning,(Exerscise) expect her her to wait while I have my breakfast first,(Discipline) then I feed her (Affection).
20yrs ago I jumped into the Pet Industry, worked in Kennels, Clinics, Grooming Shops, you name it, I was there, I soaked up every bit of experience I could, and saw alot of handeling confusion, from alot of different folks.
I persued the Obedience trail over 10 yrs ago, and sought out a Dog Trainer, that was and is still highly recommended. He is an OTCH mega holder and I believe spans 30 yrs.
His methods were simple.

Dog resideds in crate not on humans bed.
Human walks out the door first.
Human eats first.

Boy, guess I have been following the right kind of influences for 20 yrs. Your never gonna convince me that these great men are wrong, harmful, iggnorant or cruel.

Cesar Millan, I applaud you and will be forever in your debt.
I work as a Professional Groomer and see thousands of dogs each year, and I treat all of them with a Calm Assertive Energy and they reward me with being Calm Submissive.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to walk the dogs.

July 12, 2009 at 10:37 pm
(86) Melissa says:

I am a professional dog trainer who works with aggressive dogs and am NOT a Cesar Milan fan. I have seen an entire episode as well as this video of Cesar Milan nearly choking this dog (or wolf hybrid as some believe) to death.

First, working with aggression means keeping the dog under thier threshold so that there isnt an attack of redirected aggression. This attack was provoked by Cesar Milan and his poor methods. AND he continually choked the dog after he stopped the attack MULTIPLE times.

Punishment based training increases levels of aggression in many species. This is the result of Fear, anxiety or frustration particularly if the dog does not understand why he is being punished. When he gets fed up with being punished, he may try aggression to make it stop.

Other problems for correction is that it is often associated with the trigger as opposed to the dogs own behaviour and therefore may increase aggression. The frequency and intensity of the punishment needs to be increased as the dog becomes desensitized to the level used, punishment damages the relationship and fear stops the learning process when the threat now comes from the source of learning.

THe majority of aggressive cases are based on fear even if the average pet owner does not recognize the suttle signs of fear-there using punishment is anappropriate. the TOP behaviourists in the WORLD are not speaking out against Cesar Milans methods because of jealousy. they recognize the fact that he has increased our incomes and made dog training cool-however because of Cesar Milan alot of innocent animals are recieving alot of punishment. There is a better way to train.

July 14, 2009 at 1:23 pm
(87) Shelley says:

I find all the comments in ‘support’ of Cesar Milan quite distressing. The entire canine behaviour community is against the man and his psuedo-science, and he has put dog training back 20 years to the days of compulsion training, pinning your dog against the floor, and having to be the ‘alpha’. All his theories are based on the now discredited Pack Theory and the man is massively out of date. He sees ‘aggression’ in dogs where anyone with a set of working eyeballs can see fear, and terrifying a fearful dog is not the way to go. Who wants to own a dog if that’s the way you have to treat it?! He may well have ‘helped’ some of these dogs, but who’s to say another trainer couldn’t have done exactly the same without having to resort to these horrific methods?

The word ‘dominant’ is used so freely these days, and is almost always used wrongly. I wish I never had to hear it uttered again. And certainly not as a justification for this kind of ‘training’ technique.

July 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm
(88) tmoore says:

just one thing, i have noticed is that veterinarian medicine, might be alittle jealous of the dog wisper, I mean vet. are suppose to teach owners how to be responsible and can barley do that. Ceaser does, I mean stop hating, he is a great dog trainer.

July 15, 2009 at 1:55 pm
(89) PW says:

I’ve watched Milan’s show, and he seems like a good and knowledgeable trainer. This video seems like an instance where he had to deal with a very dominant dog, and in my opinion took care of the situation in a very controlled and appropriate way.

That being said, I think debating the issue of negative reinforcement is a positive thing, as our techniques and training procedures can only improve when there is debate and discussion.

July 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm
(90) Lori Reynolds says:

I run a pet sitting business with a dog I rehabbed from dog aggressive to balanced assistant. We provide calm assertive leadership to the dogs in our care.

All of the dogs that come for daycare, boarding here walk, play, eat, chew bones and sleep together as a pack with rarely any instances of aggression, fear, anxiety or bad behaviour.

They don’t arrive that way…but they do leave that way.

I make the rules in my pack clear by calmly correcting (with leash, touch or sound) if they break them or praise and reward if they follow them. I lead the daily primal routine which provides enrichment and fulfillment to their animal / canine nature.

I find that the more I calmly correct with touch and sound, the more the dogs want to be near me. My clients call me the dog magnet.

Hmmmmm, if corrections create fear then how can this be so? Observers often state that the dogs look at me like they are star struck.
It is clearly admiration.

Dogs admire and willingly follow (submit) to calm assertive energy. That is how Cesar is able to rehab and change dogs so quickly.

Punishment happens when a human uses anger, fear or frustration while physically correcting a dog. This creates fear and intimidation and Cesar speaks out publically against it often.

My most affective correction is a simple snap of my fingers but it is actually my calm assertive energy behind the finger snap that the dogs is reading. (plus my confident body language).

In order to get respect, trust and love from a pack of dogs and gain willing obedience it is wise to use your instinct. FEEL the energy behind their action / reaction / communication and you will understand dogs.

Copy it, and you will communicate easily to them.

Thinking and intellectualizing only impresses other humans and may confuse dogs. It eventually works but takes alot of work and time.

If you are using “positive only” training methods and getting successfull results then I bow to you. You are truly a gifted dog trainer because you were able to get a dog to understand intellect.

I prefer to keep it simple, when in Rome do as the Romans do. I speak dog the way that dogs speak it and so does Cesar Milan. That is why Cesar is so successful within the canine community. (dog packs) and maybe why some humans just don’t understand him at all.
Humans tend to mistrust and malign what they don’t understand.

Lori Reynolds

July 17, 2009 at 11:01 pm
(91) jenn says:

Hi, I have just watched Dog Whisperer a few times and was looking around because I was suprised to see that some thought his techniques were inappropriate. I really will have to think about this more as I continue to work with my dog and his hyperexcitable behavior.

I actually saw this episode and the author of the article definitely did not. Cesar describes the touch method and actually corrects the owner that you don’t ever kick the dog, but merely touch it. In some of the episodes he touches the people the same way. When they started walking the dog, the owners had a choke collar with the prongs that dig in as it tightens. He actually took that off and told them it was hurting him and making him more aggressive. He then turned it around and used the handle to make a less painful lead (you can see in the clip that the free end is the end with the latch on it). He repeatedly says get the behavior you want, then reward.

July 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm
(92) snickdog says:

Please watch Mr. Millan with the sound OFF. When you watch anything (even a sports game) with a commentator, you take what the commentator says without totally registering what you are seeing (basic behavioral science). What your eye will see is very different from what he says you are seeing.

Please remember your high-school physics: cause and effect. You push something, it pushes back. As in humans, aggression only begets aggression — and we have seen this on this comment list, haven’t we?

To the folks who say those against Mr. Millan are ‘jealous’: it’s not jealously that drives us. We aren’t losing business from this controversy – quite the opposite! Our business’ are booming, due to those in the ‘try it at home’ segment of the population.

We are speaking out because we love dogs, and we want to see them stay in good relationships with people. Not a whole lot of us are in this for the money or fame… Many of us actually give away our services to rescues, shelters etc in order to help dogs become adoptable. A lot of us also foster troubled dogs for rescue organizations, helping them become great house pets.

But behavior issues are the number one cause of canine death in this country, and the numbers of aggressive behavior issues I personally see has tripled since this show has started airing (yes, I keep track). Cause and effect, folks, cause and effect.

And yes, I work with a lot of ‘hard’ dogs. My clientele is approximately 50% working breeds (bully breeds like AmStaffs and pits, Nordic breeds and working sled dogs, guarding breeds like Pyrs, Dobies and Rotties). My siblings have raised Dobies and Rotties, and I live with a houseful of sled dogs as well as my fosters. The difference in how our methods work vs dominance-based training is that they work with ALL breeds, and with ALL animals.

As I’ve said before, I’d like to see Mr. Millan use his methods on behaviorally-challenged cats, or bunnies. It’s well-known and proven true that the science of learning is the same across all species on the planet… from plants (they bend toward the sun – they do what works to get them what they need), to cats and dogs, to humans (we go to work, we get a paycheck – if we stop getting paid we stop going to work… therefore we do what works to get what we need). No one is saying that a dog can’t learn from his methods, but who wants to think about what the dog is learning???

July 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm
(93) Mary Lee Nitschke, PhD,CPDT,CAAB says:

I would expect a company developing products for the veterinary profession to rely on empirical, evidence based, published research sources of information. I would expect that these companies, as well as veterinarians, would only promote products, techniques, treatments, or referrals that meet these criteria. I can’t find that any of Cesar’s products/methods meet an evidence-based science approach to training. I wonder why we are even having the discussion.

July 21, 2009 at 3:08 pm
(94) Jane says:

I have watched whole episodes of The Dog Whisperer. I’ve seen numerous things that are good – such as recommendations for adequate exercise for your dog and consistency in interactions with your dog. I’ve also seen dogs exhibiting clear signs of stress. I’ve seen owners bitten.

I know that people imitate what they see on TV – even when advised not to do those things at home. I never have understood why the media continues to show things that are likely to end up harming someone from the viewing audience (well, I do understand – follow the money).

I know that there are ways to change a dog’s (or any other species) behavior without the use of punishment techniques. People have been training animals with positive reinforcement for ages – and fortunately it was scientifically explained and proven (in the 1930′s, 1940′s).

The information on this is out there, readily available, for everyone to learn. It’s not that difficult – it just takes a change from the typical quick fix with a hammer mentality to a thought process of planning how to train with the right tools that will accomplish the task without destroying something in the process.

I had to go through that process when I changed from ‘traditional’ dog training (choke chain and leash) to positive reinforcement based training (‘clicker’ training, though for me it’s more about understanding and using operant conditioning than about the specific use of a clicker). It was a mental struggle at first – the jerk on the collar was easy to do. And I had years of experience in doing it. Having to think through how to train without that jerk was challenging. Simple, but challenging. But now that I have some experience with it – it is just as easy for me to change behavior using positive reinforcement (actually, it’s easier and quicker) than it ever was when I used force.

As for the video-clip with the dog laying on it’s side after the neck was constricted: it’s not at all uncommon for a dog to lay ‘passively’ after an altercation. It’s a safety mechanism: one – the dog needed to re-oxygenate, two – the dog could be waiting for an appropriate time to escape, three – the dog is planning some other next move and waiting until ‘the coast is clear’ (a moment when the dog feels he will be able to get what he wants).

My hope is that all people involved with dog training will seek to educate themselves more on how animals learn so they can better evaluate what they see when watching a person work with an animal.

July 21, 2009 at 10:36 pm
(95) Veena says:

First of all you admit that you have never seen a Dog Whisperer episode and then have the audacity to judge him based on this one clip.

also Caesar Milan isnt using a choke collar. He uses a regular leash and brings it up to the jowl of the animal.

the animal in the clip is notbeing hurt, crying out from pain. Caesar is just holding the leash(yes high on the animals next) and the dog is the one doing all the twisting.

your article just exposes your ignorance of caesar millan and his methodology.

July 22, 2009 at 6:32 pm
(96) Rebecca says:

I viewed the show, never seen before, and I don’t see anything wring with it. I think that people have thier own opinions and that is all what they should remain. One can think of something negative negative to say about anyone if they look hard enouph. Everyone has thier own methods that they like best. I think that if we say positive things about people this world would be a much better place. Lets stop looking for negative and find soemthing positive in everyone. I am sorry that there are those of you that have nothing better to do with your time. I am having troubles with my own dog, Akita, and I need help and if I can get it from him I will. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get a dog to follow instead of lead then by all means let me know but lets not bash people. I think he has done a lot of good. If you get an illegal alien come across the border and commits a crime then he just gets sent back and gets talked about and if you get some one else from the same country do something good and actually make an honest living there are negative things said about him as well. When will it end. If he were to commit a crime then please by all means everyone needs to know. He is a good man with a good heart. And if anyone knew where he came from or even read his first book “Ceasers Way” then you would know where he comes from. Until then please just go back to your lives and let a sleeping dog lie.
God Bless everyone.

July 23, 2009 at 9:05 am
(97) Lori Reynolds says:

This comment is for Snickdog and folks that might say “watch the show with the sound off”

I don’t know where you have studied dog body language or what exactly you are seeing but you are confused and misguided.

There is a HUGE difference in FEARFUL and RESPECTFUL body language. The reason I know that is because I have spend many many hours studying dogs “with other dogs” interacting without human. I can tell the difference between fear and respect.

Cesar gets the exact same respectful response that a dominant dog would get when it corrects another dog. I don’t see fear.
AT ALL and I have watched 4 seasons of his show.

I think that folks that mistaken respect for fear are looking through the eyes of a human and judging in terms of “human response” and not dog response. That is the only way I can make sense out of your misguided sensitivity.

I suggest that you watch dogs interact with each other without interferance from humans.

Sit back and watch a family pack of dogs. You will see a clear leader and you will watch her / him correct his pack members. You will see respectful body language and apologies for stepping out of line. You will see admiration for the leader and willing cooperation from the lower pack members.
You will also see calm content, secure and happy dogs.

That is exactly what I see when I watch Cesar deal with dogs. He copies the pack leaders attitude, actions, reactions and energy and he gets the same results the leader would with the pack.

take care all, Lori

July 25, 2009 at 9:56 am
(98) Laura says:

I just watched the clip. I’m not sure exectly what you “positive” trainers would have done in this situation….give the dog a treat? Cesar had no choice but to protect himself and those around him. The dog relaxed almost immedietly when place on his side.

July 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm
(99) Charlie says:

@ Laura, #98, what he should have done was not trigger the dog so heavily… there are comments above that are valid, I suggest you take time to read them, and also bear in mind that no competent trainer or vet ever puts themselves in a position to get bitten.

Dogs attack humans through fear – dispel that fear slowly and with love and respect for the fact that dogs live ina stark world pf life and death, and the need to attack will lessen, then disappear.

July 28, 2009 at 3:56 am
(100) Alex says:

What an amazing assortment of views this simple blog has brought up!

For my two cents, I’d like to say as a HUMAN psychological professional and a dog owner, a horse owner (another social animal), a counselor (another social animal), and a parent (a completely different species of social animal, most of you might agree!), I’ve noted many things that I find very admirable about Mr. Millan and which I have used with all the previously stated. But after having written them out, I’m going to attempt to stay simple.

~ I’ve noted that Cesar Millan stands out as one of those people (I have met a couple of trainers and counselors whom I can count on one hand who are capable of this) who can watch a situation and within less than half an hour, scaffold behavior of all parties involved. This means, that they are capable of looking at a behavior and see the actions or scenario which created the behavior and the ladder affect of behaviors, beginning with the smallest of “tells” all the way up to the final behavior which we often can see and react to. This allows him to break chains of behavior with a simple redirection and then adding, often, a replacement behavior – something all learning behavioral psychologists can tell you is so important that it is simple foolishness to not do so.

What is a replacement behavior? Well – what do we do for our dogs to correct chewing? We calmly say “No” (not screaming, but speaking it with assertive kindness) and then offer a acceptable chew or toy. How do we train our dogs not to bark at newcomers? We say calmly “No” or make a noise that we associate with this (I’ve heard of people hissing, using a hand direction, or even saying “Too bad”), and then offer the dog a replacement behavior such as “Sit” or “lay down” to give the dog something to DO. Cesar Millan does this to the umpteenth degree, but instead of reacting to the final action (which is reactionary behavior management and the worst type – also the most common), he speaks to the initial action along the chain – the humping of the shoulders, a pricking of the ears, tail tucked between the legs, etc as well as the initial actions of the human (often a preparatory behavior and ALWAYS a nonverbal behavior on their part; tensing of the shoulders, hunching of the shoulders, dropping of the head, quickening of breath, feelings of fear, pity, or anger, etc). Therefore, preventing the escalation of behavior to the next step in the ladder and thus, preventing the final outcome many times.

~ MORE IMPORTANTLY: As a psychologist, learning psychology states the following:

Positive reinforcement – Anything that, when done, INCREASES the desired behavior.

Negative reinforcement – Anything that, when done, DECREASES the desired behavior.

Logically the thought that follows is that anything can be a positive or negative reinforcer, depending on the behavior one is trying to increase or decrease – not following common speak but using professional speak, the word positive means an increase, and negative means a decrease as opposed to Praise or Punishment (both of which can be positive and negative reinforcers – often BOTH are negative reinforcers, amazingly enough). We also know that often, our attempts at being “positive” can instead have the opposite effect by increasing a negative behavior. Mr. Millan discusses this often in his mantra of never giving a dog attention when they display what he calls a weak state of mind. He is stating that a lack of attention or behaving which may in the end positively reinforce the fear or worry of the dog, is what one must do. He displays patience, control, and assertive discipline (not aggressive discipline) as well as an understanding that many problem behaviors can be dealt with in a (layman’s speak) Positive manner – ie, feeding the dog, touching the dog’s hindquarters (he even goes so far as to talk to a woman about how lightly the touch must be made), remaining calm, sighing (he doesn’t speak to this, but uses it often – I personally “yawn” to calm my dogs and horses – and often myself, heh), placing the dog into a different body position that the dog (often the lay down and sleep comfortably position on its side) and waiting for the dog to accept the norm for that position, which is calm, and many others). He often talks about the fact that owners do not know when to STOP and when to BEGIN… He doesn’t say it, but we often lack his talented skill in seeing the exact moment when a behavior should be dealt with. And unfortunately for us reactive people, he is very right. Not to mention his constant harping (without ever saying the word) consistency, consistency, CONSISTENCY!

Mr. Millan uses so much research driven learning psychology that it would take a page to write it out, let alone explain it to the lay person to truly understand it. Of note (if anyone wishes to look it up and learn about it more) he uses SCAFFOLDING (Vygostky) or chaining, OPERANT CONDITIONING (or positive/negative reinforcement – BFSkinner), EXTINCTION of operant behavior, FUNCTION OF BEHAVIOR, and REPLACEMENT BEHAVIORS – the last two are part of something called a functional behavioral assessment, or an applied behavioral analysis, when used correctly with scientific use of an operant description of an undesired behavior.

For those who fear he is choking the dog, please note that he reaches out and quickly works at pulling the leash less taut around the dog’s neck the moment the dog shows a lack of aggression. There are millions of other ways to deal with the dog’s behaviors (more than one way to skin a cat) and some of them will work faster, while many of them will work less quickly. More importantly, he gives a highly generalizable behavior changing experience (behavior extinction and negative reinforcement to DECREASE the behavior and NOT reward the behavior by withdrawing or allowing the dog his state) to a dog that is an extreme danger to humans and other animals, allowing the dog and human owner to see that this is not the behavior required of it.

July 28, 2009 at 3:58 am
(101) Samantha Weissich says:

I have to say one thing to you all who enjoy this man named the dog whisperer: you are all complete idiots. First off the man is a bully, also he is not a certified trainer, and his methods are a quick fix to make your dog behave, but later are a problem. I have spent 15 years studying the behavior of dogs, and I have always believed in positive reinforcement. Simply put “you reward the dog for the behavior you like.” None of this ” I am the boss and you will listen,” junk. A dog and a human’s relationship is not a tug of war, it is about friendship and understanding. I will admit in my ignorant years I enjoyed his shows. But it wasn’t until I used one of his methods on my non aggressive spaniel and got bit by her that I realized that this was not right. Now you might be saying,” oh well it was your dog,” you wrong. Dogs are people pleaser and if the dog isn’t getting it, then it is your fault. I feel sorry for anyones dog who is learning this stupid Dog Whisperer way, I hope you owners, oh sorry ” alpha dogs” get bit, and realize what a horrible mistake you are making. Would you like it if you were the dog? Like to be treated this way? Shame on you! Shame! You really outa be!

July 28, 2009 at 4:33 am
(102) Alex says:

Now the time has finally hit one thirty in the morning and I’m obviously far too tired to figure out how to completely delete my comments. I was, in essence, beating a dead horse. Now that I’ve gone back and read the final statements in the entirety of the discourse, I realize all I said prior is a moot point, a restatement of all of the most intelligent of you.

:) Please disregard and enjoy your dogs (or cats, or fish… whatever companions you may happen to have on hand)!

July 29, 2009 at 5:41 pm
(103) DCL says:

I never comment on blogs. Ever. But stumbled on this doing research for a new dog trainer. I have a dog, who is good with commands and was a sweet dog, but would not stop chasing cars on walks and got too excited when people approached to pet her. My Vet suggested a trainer how he saw a news clip about who he said “works with agressive” dogs. I told him there was no aggression with our dog, but the Vet said there could be so please think about it. I contacted the man, who claims to have trained extensively with Cesar Millan. I have emailed (through the report fraud link) Millan twice to verify and have received no infomation back. Odd that the trainer will not provide proof and Cesar will not confirm or deny. Irresponsible at best to put yourself in the public eye as a dog trainer in Celebrity Form, knowing people will imitate you and have no concern to protect the public. Anyway, the reason I am writing is because his method of training not only made my poor dogs neck raw, but changed her in a terrible way. This forceful, aggressive technique didn’t train my dog, it scared her which is not healthy and produces a mean dog. It is possible that the technique, which could be used gently on small breeds is valid, but on large breed dogs, that jerking and choke method is horrific. I finally told him I couldn’t train her like that anymore, to which he resonded unproffesionally claiming this is THE ONLY way to successfully train a dog. Rather than even consider another technique, he told me to get rid of the dog. Cesar’s following seems to call to “I”m King of the World” trainers. There is no science behind this technique that I have found, no schooling, no documentation in the Veternary world that this works or is healthy. Before you use a trainer with this method, please go the field and watch the technique for at least 3 weeks to see if you feel right about having your dog treated like that.

July 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm
(104) Sandy Taylor says:

I have been using Cesar’s tips and techniques with my 75 lb mixed breed shep/lab for the last few years and have had nothing but positive results. I am not as effective or consistent in my efforts as Cesar, but I have accomplished much in terms of creating a submissive dog, without experiencing confrontational behavior. My 9-year-old female dog has become much easier to walk, much more polite in terms of letting people handle her, and is just as happy and attached to my family as she was before I started adding limitations to her behavior. People compliment me all the time on my well-behaved dog.
I think the danger that exists within Cesar’s system is directly related to following ALL his steps: exercise, discipline, affection. If you try to enforce one or two, but not all three, then I think you COULD create a monster, rather than a happy, calm, submissive member of your family.
Also, I have always used choke collars when handling the big dogs I have owned and do not see a problem with them. I do see a problem with people who try to control their large, poorly-behaved pets with just regular collars on a leash that is either too long or too weak. Even before Cesar I discovered that my dog was much easier to manage with a wide four-foot nylon leash with an extra loop that is limits the leash to two feet in length. This enables me to maximum control during situations when someone else’s dog is not properly managed.
As an added aside, I did enroll my dog in an excellent agility class where she learned not just to do tricks, but to listen and respond to me as her handler and owner. I highly recommend agility, not for competition, but for socialization, exercise, and obedience. Besides it is not only fun for the dog, but with the right teacher, it is also fun for the handler/owner!

July 31, 2009 at 7:14 pm
(105) Nancy says:

I saw the episode you are referring to. I was amazed that the dog bit Cesar 6 times.
I have trained dogs for over 30 years. I called up a friend/acquaintance who has trained dogs for 40 years after the show to describe what I saw.
Neither one of us felt that a dog with this type of aggression should be handled or trained.
We both agreed that he should be euthanized.
Now, I can hear the behaviorists saying “wait for the desired behavior from the dog and reward that behavior.”
To which, I say, that is as wrong as any harsh tactics. The difference is that Cesar had a very difficult case, and he was trying to save the dog.
Your method is just as incorrect – but I have felt for a long time that the behaviorists have been waiting to pounce on the Dog Whispering for years, and you have seized the moment.
So tell yourself, ‘Good trainer’ and have a treat. Thankfully most of the country, who are definitely Cesar fans, do NOT agree with you.
Most of us do not buy your behavioral approach because in most of the cases Cesar intervenes in, they do not work.
ARF.

August 2, 2009 at 3:45 am
(106) Connie Price RVT, CPDT says:

Alex, I am sorry but you are incorrect about the definition of Negative Reinforcement-you wrote;

“Negative reinforcement – Anything that, when done, DECREASES the desired behavior.

Reinforcement is Reinforcement-whether Positive or Negative-will increase or reinforce the frequency of a behavior.

http://www.reference.com/browse/negative+reinforcement

# Positive reinforcement is an increase in the future frequency of a behavior due to the addition of a stimulus immediately following a response. Giving (or adding) food to a dog contingent on its sitting is an example of positive reinforcement (if this results in an increase in the future behavior of the dog sitting).

# Negative reinforcement is an INCREASE (capitals mine)in the future frequency of a behavior when the consequence is the removal of an aversive stimulus. Turning off (or removing) an annoying song when a child asks their parent is an example of negative reinforcement (if this results in an increase in asking behavior of the child in the future). Another example is if a mouse presses a button to avoid shock. Do not confuse this concept with punishment.

Punishment-whether Positive-which IS what CM uses a lot of whenever he jerks the leash, pokes, hisses, or kicks-it is to decrease a behavior, or Negative, which removes something that the dog desires which also decreases the frequency of a behavior.

Definitions of Punishment:
*Positive Punishment or type I punishment, an experimenter punishes a response by adding an aversive stimulus into the animal’s surroundings (a brief electric shock, for example).

*Negative Punishment or type II punishment, a positive reinforcer is removed (as in the removal of a feeding dish). As with reinforcement, it is not usually necessary to speak of positive and negative in regard to punishment.

This is Basic Psychology 101 and as a “HUMAN psychological professional” you should know this.

Dr. Sophia Yin has presented an excellent article about the Dominance Controversy and you may notice that she does say there is a time and place for Punishment but it should be as a last resort.

http://www.drsophiayin.com/dominance.php

August 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm
(107) Becky says:

Always – Millan tells people “DO NOT TRY THIS YOURSELF”! He trains the dogs the way dogs THINK. What kind specialized dog training techniques does a vet have? They specialize in medicine, not dog training. I have used several of Millans ways of teaching a dog with minor behavior problems and they worked great for me and my dogs! Just like any other profession – not any one does anything the same way and all have their own opionion and because he is on TV and is a great success in training “people” and “dogs” the others are greatly jealous of his success and that he didn’t got to college “to learn” from someone else who was only book smart in training. Millan has had YEARS of actual on hand experience with dogs, knows dogs, pack rules, etc… Just irks me when others who “got educated in school” thinks they know so much more. Even horse trainers vary in their techniques with horses – if they were all exactly the same no one would care. But because each has their own unique way and style of training, it makes them more popular with certain types of people. Millan also “teaches” people how to interact with their pets. The dogs behavior comes from their owners so he teaches “people” how to become one with their animals. Why are so many of you dog trainers so jealous? Cause he is making more money than you? Because he has his own show? Because he doesn’t have 10 degrees from some college? That is what it boils down too. He didn’t study at the proper school and spend $$$$$ on degrees and diploma’s. He isn’t a surgeon, he isn’t a space scientist – he knows dogs for pete’s sake and offers his help and knowledge to 1,000′s every time he is on TV. Get off your pedistal and learn from someone who has been at this for years with dogs – not in a school room with some professor who probably never even trained a dog!

August 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm
(108) Vadim Pavlus says:

Cesar don’t stop on what your doing, don’t let anybody be on your way to accomplish what you started. Humans should know that the animals cannot be treated as a humans. We need to balance the people, and put everything on its place.

August 5, 2009 at 4:02 am
(109) Lulabetti parker says:

I do not have a dog I have a fully well trained cat,walks on a lead,sit ,stay,down,come.My cat got out and attempted to face off with a mother cat.I hissed said come,she very quickly turned away from a chance to be badly injured be a protective mother cat and returned home fast and safe.The things I learned by watching him(cm)saved my cat.As I am disabled I cannot chase a fleeing animal.My trained cat and I live peacifully together.No vet bills because of fights,injuries from car tires.My cat is still a spirited happy anomal and very healhy well trained pet.THANK YOU CM

August 7, 2009 at 1:25 pm
(110) Gwen Lebec says:

It’s a legal technicality for DW to say “don’t do this at home.” When you put something like dog training on TV and talk constantly about how owners need to change, and Millan says he “trains owners” -you are showing people that they SHOULD try these techniques. No one knows how many people or dogs have been frightened or injured when things went wrong at home. No one knows how many dogs got dumped at the pound when home attempts to copy Millan failed. The behaviorists and hundreds of dog trainers are trying to make the craft more professional, more reliable, and safer for dogs and their owners. Performance animal trainers use more positive methods. If you can train goldfish, sharks, bears and lions using positive methods – why do you need to “dominant” dogs? Maybe the attraction of these methods is the human need to feel dominant and in charge?

August 8, 2009 at 3:52 pm
(111) Mary Ann says:

I have mixed feelings about the comments regarding the methods Cesar Milan uses. I do agree that the human needs to be the pack leader and have found this to be true with the many dogs we have had. Calm energy and never showing fear to the dog are extremely important, since dogs cannot tell the difference between fear and aggression. I am an older lady and quite small but I have twice stopped charging pit bulls with this demeanor and a very loud and sharp “NO” “SIT” command. Never let ‘em see you sweat seems to work as well with dogs as it does with people. And I did learn this from Cesar…

August 8, 2009 at 8:45 pm
(112) nancy says:

If you do not condone Cesar Millan’s techniques for handling an aggressive dog… what do you think is appropriate? I’m truly curious. You never offered your opinion for handling such an extreme case as was shown in the video.

August 10, 2009 at 1:12 am
(113) Connie Price RVT, CPDT says:

Good question Nancy, I have worked with extreme cases such as the one presented in the video as have others that have commented. I have worked with dogs that have been on quarantine because of biting.

Dr. Sophia Yin has a blog called the Dominance Controversy and actually has a video of her desensitizing and counter conditioning a dog aggressive dog-that goes from the dog lunging at dogs to playing with dogs-now not all dogs can be taken to that level but it can and has been done many times.

http://www.drsophiayin.com/dominance.php

I think you will find it interesting.

With my own aggressive dog (who became that way because of methods like these that I was using at that time) He only was able to play with his precious ball when other dogs were present (at a distance where he was sub-threshold) he eventually looked forward to dogs because with their arrival good things happened-like his ball. He eventually was able to run with and be around dogs WITHOUT a muzzle or his attacking them.

While not as dramatic as on the video it is more effective since his behavior was changed (not suppressed) by changing how he felt about dogs.

And for the record-Reinforcement is Reinforcement and it INCREASES a behavior whether or not it is Positive or Negative BOTH INCREASES a behavior.

Punishment DECREASES a behavior whether Positive or Negative. Think of the Positive and Negative in mathematics terms -Positive-something is added, and Negative something is removed.

Positive Reinforcement-dog sits, gets reinforced by receiving something he wants. A treat, toy, or praise is ADDED. Sitting/behavior will INCREASE.

Negative Reinforcement-Shock applied until dog comes then the shock stops. Something unpleasant is REMOVED-behavior INCREASES to avoid the shock.

Positive Punishment-dog jumps, gets a squirt in the face or knee in the chest. Something unpleasant is ADDED. Behavior will DECREASE (at least for those able to do it-so it will be okay to jump on Grandma or the kids because they cannot do this) to avoid the squirt or knee.

Negative Punishment-Dog jumps, person turns away-behavior causes something desired to be REMOVED-behavior DECREASES so as to not lose what the dog desires.

These are the correct definitions.

August 15, 2009 at 3:24 am
(114) April says:

If it was one dog and one clip then I agree he was having a bad day.
It is not one dog and it is not one day.
It is the many dogs he works with and his lack of skill and knowing what a calming signal is and helping a dog not flooding and oppressing it.
There is a case of a dog that he was working that he used shock collar om and it went to a redirected bite on the owner.
Only reason that it is know is that it got caught on tape by the American Humane and they sited him in Sept 2006 and they called for NG to get him off the air do to inhuman and outdated training technique. Also he was been sited for endangering children while working with a human/child fearful dog. Was an Aussie.
He is not saint to the dog world. He is an abusive trainer getting away with it cause he is cute and flashy.
If he is not afraid to let the world see what he does then he would let us to see it all the stuff on the cutting room floor, that he edits out as well as as it happens not as he makes it look.
He does not let independent observers in to make a statment as to their thoughts on his training. Tells me he has something to hide. If he did maybe there would be less of an un roar asto his hiden ways.
Open honest and striaght talk needs to happen before anyone trust someone that is hiding in the shadows right in ones face.
Let a Behaviourist on site. let the SPCA on site. Lets see what he reallly does out from under his rock.

August 17, 2009 at 12:15 pm
(115) John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB says:

I too applaud Dr. Crosby’s willingness to broach this topic. Dog training, like child rearing, politics and religion, can be seen as another one of those taboo topics not to be brought up with friends and relatives. However, in this case I feel the evidence is clear that in some of his episodes he is more physical than need be. It is inaccurate to assume that, because these dogs are aggressive, that Mr. Millan is their last hope. Similar dogs with just as severe aggressive behaviors have been successfully managed without the use of aversive techniques. For supporters of Mr. Millan, who feel that his techniques are in fact humane, I would have one question. Why is it that the producers of the show have not invited the American Humane Association, the organization that monitors the treatment of animals in films, to supervise episodes of The Dog Whisperer and therefore put this issue to rest once and for all? I know that the AHA has offered these services to the National Geographic Channel and have so far been turned down.

August 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm
(116) Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM says:

Thank you for your comments, everyone. John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB is correct – this can be viewed as a “taboo” subject, but it is one that I think is important to discuss and get people thinking (and rethinking) our relationship with animals. Too many animals are euthanized, abandoned or abused due to behavior problems.

To answer the “what else can be done about the dog-agressive dog” question, here is an alternate viewpoint. It is long at 4:57, but narrated to describe what is happening.
Podee’s Aggression (Narrated)

August 20, 2009 at 2:05 pm
(117) Melissa Bain, DVM, DACVB says:

Debunking some of CM’s supporters’ myths:

1. Positive reinforcement trainers/veterinary behaviorists/etc. are jealous of CM.

He brings us more business because our owners have tried these techniques, either on the basis of trainers’ recommendations or from the television show (yes, despite what the TV show says), and they either get bit or make the dogs worse.

2. He is not choking the dog on this show, he is merely protecting himself/lifting the dog slightly/etc.

He is choking the dog. Immediately before the dog lunged at CM, CM tapped/kicked/pushed/whatever you want to call it the dog for no discernible “correctable” behavior seen on the clip. So if he was “correcting” the dog, what was it for? He looked as if he was walking pretty nicely. You can see on the video that the dog’s tongue is blue and he is gasping for air. You can also see that the clip was edited, as the position of the dog on the street has changed by the end of the clip. Additionally, you can see a stain of fluid (in my opinion, urine) at the very end of the clip right next to the dog. Not near the edge of the street where there is a sprinkler.

3. We only tell people to euthanize/rehome the tough cases.

Why would we? Then nearly 100% of my patients would be euthanized/rehomed. We give owners techniques that THEY can do, since the behaviors often do not occur, or occur to a lesser extent, with a stranger, especially one that uses fear-inducing techniques. My owners are relieved when they find out other ways to interact with their dog that does not involve physical corrections/punishment/redirections/whatever term you want to use.

4. CM treats the difficult cases/”red zone” cases/etc.

So do we. That is our bread and butter, the last hope for most of our patients. Just in the past couple of weeks we have had the following cases: dog killing another dog (improved); sudden onset of unpredictable aggression (severley mauling the owner…improved); aggression toward children and family members (bit owners while they were using dominance-based training techniques, including pinning the dog down…improved); aggression toward family members/strangers/dogs (improved). Should I go on?

5. You need to increase exercise for the dog.

We agree to a point. Dogs need to be exercised within their physical limits. I had a dog come in recently who’s owners increased his exercise, and the dog wore the pads off of his feet. Exercise (mental and physical) is good, but it doesn’t cure these dogs. What about other avenues for exercise, such as tracking, agility, etc.? How many of us that are fearful of spiders would be cured by jogging for 5 miles?

6. We have nothing better to do than bash CM.

Yes we have a lot of other things that we do. Is CM any worse than a lot of trainers out there? No, unfortunately. However, his television show is in the public domain for anyone to view. My clients come in with horror stories of other trainers but the trainers won’t allow us to come there to watch their techniques. Anyone can come watch me what I do (with the client’s permission, since veterinarians have to be held by legally defensible professional standards, which is lacking in the training field).

7. We haven’t seen him work in action/watch all of the episodes/know the followup for the cases?

Most of us who speak against his techniques HAVE viewed the shows. I have spent money on his DVD’s, since I do not have cable, and HAVE watched them. Have I seen him work in person? No.

8. There are many different ways to train a dog.

Yes, but then there are INCORRECT ways to train a dog. There are many ways to treat a medical condition, and then there are INCORRECT ways of doing it.

9. You cannot treat a dog like a child.

I actually disagree with this. If a parent raises a child appropriately, they have guidelines/chores/expected behaviors. If they don’t do these things, we don’t pin them to the ground, do we? We also (should) be telling them what IS expected of them, so that they can be rewarded (i.e. you clean your room and you get to play video games, as an expectation, not as a bribe).

August 21, 2009 at 11:16 pm
(118) HooLooJim says:

Children dont behave anymore. Schools cant control kids, parents cant control kids. Just as Cesar shows with his dogs, a little firm discipline can go a long way. Maybe our kids could use some slapping again from time to time too. This fairy world we live in now is doing to be the downfall of us all.

August 26, 2009 at 5:07 am
(119) Lesley Robertson says:

Cesar Milan ALWAYS points out his methods are for RE-HABILITATING dogs in their behaviour, and are NOT Training methods. He works using Dog Psychology and is always mentioning that there are dog training methods, and trainers available but that he ,is uses dog psychology to help rehabilitate the dogs’ behaviour, he is not “training” the dog.

September 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm
(120) Kristin says:

Why is the controversial clip (which might I add is at the hub of this article’s argument) nowhere to be found via the link provided?

September 5, 2009 at 2:02 am
(121) vetmedicine says:

Re: video clip link. Interesting. It looks like National Geographic moved or removed the clip. I will see what I can do.

September 6, 2009 at 9:53 am
(122) Ida May says:

I have two adopted dogs, both had behavior problems when I first got them. I trained both of them by only giving food if they did something to please me (they never got less than they needed), I distracted them whenever they came close to something that scared them. It took me less than a week to correct the behavior of one of them and about 3 weeks with the other. I also have experience using this method on dogs that didn’t belong to me and I’ve never been bitten by any of the dogs I have trained!

I have never taken money for training dogs and therefore I don’t gain anything by promoting this way of training or by criticizing Cesar Millan. I just like working with happy dogs that obey because they want to and because they trust me.

I have seen only a few episodes of the dog whisper because I don’t want to support him in any way but I still need to know what I’m criticizing. He does not speak the same language as the dogs, from what I can see. Grapping a dog by the neck is not domination that is what a dog does in a fight before it kills the other dog. If you observe a bitch with her puppies then you’ll notice that she gently bites the nose of a puppy when she wants to correct the behavior, which is domination and can be used IF you have done it from the beginning and you had the dog since it was max 12 weeks old.

Chock collars, choke collars, and other equipment used for training dogs are unknown in the dog world and therefore it will only confuses the dog even more. You may get a dog that is too scared to not obey by using these primitive methods, but I believe that a scared dog is a dangerous dog.

If you want to know how Cesar Millan’s training is then try turning everything around and put yourself in the dog’s place. If you look at the episode with the dog that has to learn to be with a cat. The dog is so big that the cat is the size of prey that it would hunt had it been wild, so all that is going through the head of the dog is FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. Now Cesar Millan puts a chock collar on the dog and chokes it every time is shows interest in the cat. All the dog knows is that every time it tries to get itself some food it hurts. So it starts to look for someone to blame for the pain and it bites the owner that is nearest. It must surely be her fault that it’s hurting because she is closest and therefore the only one that can have done it.
So what have the dog learned? Nothing!

September 6, 2009 at 2:16 pm
(123) vetmedicine says:

From comment #120, it appears that the National Geographic site moved or removed the video clip. Here is a longer (3:25) clip of that episode from Comcast:
Shadow, Jake & Riley and Norton
I have edited the main post to reflect this link change.

To answer the “what else can be done about the dog-aggressive dog” question, here is a similar situation with an alternate viewpoint. It is narrated to describe what is happening.
Podee’s Aggression

September 22, 2009 at 2:37 pm
(124) Mary says:

I have used this technique with one of my dogs that was aggressive and dominant with great success. Once he submitted, everything changed for the better. I know many frustrated dog owners that paid allot of money to trainers with minimal results. I watched this video again and I think it offers dog owners a solution to change unwanted and dangerous dog behavior (instead of euthanizing a healthy dog). Thank you Cesar! We love you!

October 6, 2009 at 2:03 pm
(125) Carrie says:

First of all I have seen the clip and I would like to know what these animal behaviorists would have done in that same situation? You have a large and aggressive dog trying to bite you and the only thing between you and that dog is the leash, what are you going to do? Let him bite you? Submit to him and let him dominate you? If that is your answer than I don’t believe that you are fit to be an animal behaviorist. Dogs are dogs…..not people and they should not be treated as such. Cesar Millan not only protected himself in this video clip but he protected the dog as well. I have been in the field of Veterinary medicine for 10 years now and I have seen so many dogs euthanized because of behavior problems a lot less severe than the dog in this video clip. Cesar Millan takes those that are “unfixable” and gives them a second chance. Instead of criticizing his techniques, I believe we should be praising and thanking him for teaching us how to be pack leaders and for teaching us that we as owners need to be balanced to have a balanced pack.

October 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm
(126) Darren says:

Watching both these videos is comparing apples to oranges. Both those dogs are in different state of minds and one is larger then the other. I have also had dogs that when they do get aggressive you can put a steak in front of them and they don’t care.
I’ve never seen Cesar Millan be extremely harsh to a dog and most of the time he is gentle. He is wonderful with the puppies he raises where his dogs never get to that point that he has to use dominance.
Whether you agree with his methods he does a lot of good for animals and he does his best to advocate against puppy mills and dog fighting.
I personally am eternally grateful to Cesar for helping me learn a few things where I haven’t had to be overly rough with one of my dogs. They now do not run out of the house when the door is open and they don’t go attacking anything out there and most importantly it is a joy walking them instead of a nightmare. I believe he has done more good then anything else.

October 16, 2009 at 3:59 am
(127) Steve says:

I am growing just a bit weary of all the so-called experts who criticize Cesar. The contention that his methods are cruel is absolutely absurd. Certainly, his methods do involve some physical contact, but for Pete’s sake, have you ever watched two dogs interact?! Cesar shows a tremendous compassion for all dogs, especially those that many veterinarians would recommend be euthanized. And for crying out loud, did you see how calm he was with that dog after he had been bitten several times? There was no retaliation, there was no anger. Cesar remained calm and kept on with his job. I for one, find this video clip a testament to both the skill and zen-like calmness that Millan possesses.

October 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm
(128) Alan Papszycki says:

For a time-line breakdown showing the inaccuracies that Mr. Millan adheres to, read the following blog post.

<a href=http://thespiritdog.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/cesar-millan-the-dog-whisperer-proof-that-this-guys-a-putz/

October 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm
(129) Joe says:

I have recently read Cesar Milan’s Book Leader of the Pack. It is very good for both those that have animals and don’t have animals in their lives. He always makes the point that the energy you have even if you are not aware of it, the dog senses and picks up on and will reflect back. For example, if you have a boss that always has a negative attitude in the work place, everyone will pick it up and then bring it home to their families.
Before I got my recent dog, and before I even heard of the Dog Whisperer, I always believed what you felt the dog felt. As an Iraqi Vet, sometimes, I go into fear mode or fight mode, and my dog senses it, but he doesn’t go into an aggressive mode, because I feel as i write this that he knows what goes through my mind. However, he is being trained to help me and since we have gotten him he is well tempered and loves everyone. I am also “training” myself to keep a calm-assertive energy 24/7.

There are lots of people like Cesar. Cesar, according to his own story, grew up in Mexico and preferred the countryside and to be with dogs. He understood them and has more intuition and knows how to read their body language, better than an average person.

Basically put, If you are aggressive, or have negative energy, so will your animals, regardless of type and vice versa. This has been known for centuries. We as humans today, have “lost” that way, and lost the way of being intuned with Mother Earth, since we are more busy about our daily lives making money, being the best, etc.

Everywhere there is Heirarchy, not just in the animal world, but in the human world as well.

Just because your an Animal Behaviorist, just like Cesar, doesn’t mean you should bad mouth him. Every one has different ways, each animal is different. It goes the same way with Vets. It’s also like a diet program-there are many out there, but not one is good for everyone.

October 27, 2009 at 3:54 am
(130) Richard Phillips says:

Having watched many Dog Whisperer progs over the last couple of years, I am at a loss to understand why anyone would oppose his methods. In my opinion the man is a genius who understands dog pschology (not to mention human psychology) better than any veterinary or dog trainer I have ever known. At the end of the rehab/retraining, virtually every dog Millan deals with is an all-round happier, more balanced, more obedient, more amenable, more socialized animal – and the same goes for the owners!!

Why anyone could gripe about that is beyond me.
Arguing with the amazing and beneficial results he always achieves smacks strongly of sour grapes – or in other words – jealousy.

October 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm
(131) Adrian Snare says:

I have been a pet owner in the past, but am not one now. And, I was NOT a successful pet owner. The Dog Whisperer show interested, even fascinated me.
I have heard of the horse whisperer, and I believe there is a connection, a similar philosophy.
I could not understand Milan’s techniques, right off , I am a slow learner, and I do not feel bad about this..
But, this gentleman is correct, his distractors wrong..They seem to be driven by fear and ignorance, which results in jealousy. But they are human..
Is Cesar Milan 100% correct..??…no man is.

November 2, 2009 at 8:39 pm
(132) Jack_Jones says:

The scene in that clip was not accurately described. Cesar was trying to break the dogs focus. In response the dog decided to pick a fight. While his heel may have made contact with the animal, it did so while being accompanied by a “hiss” intended to break the animal from his fixation. I think that Ms. Horowitz chose the words she used to describe this scene poorly.

What I find most interesting is that somehow, it has become more acceptable to apply human based psychology toward training animals. I don’t see anything wrong with what Cesar did.

November 5, 2009 at 12:47 pm
(133) Shauna K says:

I see nothing wrong with the way Cesar Millan trains dogs. Any dog can bite anyone at anytime wheather you are training it our not. I have been bitten a few times by dogs I was just petting. Cesar trains based on how dogs act and think. Dogs are pack animals just like the cousins the Wolf. Wolves have a very organized family where the Alfa Male and Female disapilne the others of the pack. So if the human who owns the dog shows the dog that he or she is in charge then the dog will fall into the place where it should be. And the biggest issue is those of you who think your dogs are your kids (which there is nothing wrong with that) but you shouldn’t treat your dog that way. Dogs are pets and yes pets are part of the family but they are still pets!

November 10, 2009 at 12:12 am
(134) mitch nickolson says:

No one is ever going to win this argument, do cesars methods work for some people(and their dogs) yes, do other methods sometimes work yes. Is my personal experience going to sway you probably not, all i know is that i trained my rescued pit with the methods taught by cesar and she is the most well behaved balanced dog i have ever met, yes that s like saying my kid is the smartest but so what. He uses things dogs understand that is dominance and leadership structure. I have read his literature and he never suggests using certain collars (either pinch or static) over others he says what works for him and he always uses the tools present. I do like his show but i know that he always maintains that each dog is different , hopefully some people will go out of their way to find out what works for their dogs and that exercise, boundaries, limitaions and affection are what he’s really trying to teach people

November 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm
(135) Don says:

Well this setup of Cesar Milan on a shortened clip is the best you so called animal behavourists can do. My parents were very successful breeders of Standard Poodles and have sold them all over the world. Growing up in the kennel business you really appreciate the animals and their personality from individual to the more dominating pack traits. Cesar gets this big time and deals with it in a very constructive and positive manner in order to build a positive, loving and respectful relationship between dogs and people. He is a breath of fresh air taking on the most challenging and never giving up. From examining his episodes he has tremendous respect, intellect, and compassion for dogs. This type of lacadaisical academic attack on Cesar is nothing short of ignorance. There is clearly an underlying tone to the critisism of Cesar.

Mr. Millan, keep up the great work. You have the respect of millions . Knowledge is power and if it wasn’t for NG television you would be crusified by these types of articles but the rest of us have observed fully and seen different. Oh yes and for those of you who have not raised multiple canines for over 25 years, they are clearly pack animals. They are the most loyal and loving creatures when they know their place and no they are not human.

November 14, 2009 at 11:22 am
(136) Jackie Franklin says:

“I admit, it was a difficult video to watch. In this video, Cesar Millan uses a choke collar to subdue an aggressive dog, finally pinning it on the ground.” Cesar DIDN’T use a choke collar, he used a loop from the leash if you would bother to look. It took one gentle hand to lay the dog down and no touching to keep it there to calm it down – the dog was never “pinned”. (edited – name calling not allowed)

November 17, 2009 at 12:56 am
(137) Cathy says:

HERE! HERE! To Cesar Milan! He’s our hero and his show is my 2 year old Cocker Spaniel’s favorite show. He doesn’t care to watch anything else with dogs except Cesar’s show. I ask Spats often, if he’s learning anything. He looks at me as if to say, “I’m trying Mom, but you have to help too.” And of course, we do.
Just wished I could find his dog food still available in my area. All 3 of my cockers loved it and did great on it, too.

November 21, 2009 at 11:29 am
(138) Bruce says:

Your take on what took place in the video clearly shows your bias against Cesar, and not what actually took place in the video clip. I have had several dogs and have found that in general, veterinarians know little about dog behaviour and generally do little more than refer people to trainers.
Cesar does not choke the dog, throw it to the ground nor use physical means to restrain it once it’s down. Unless he’s also the world’s strongest man, there is no way he’s going to be able to hold a dog of that size down so easily with one hand.
I also noticed that the video clip you offer as an example of a different training technique doesn’t even deal with the same problem. Cesar is dealing with a dog that attacks the person holding the leash, while your counter argument deals with a dog that is focused on another dog up the road. Apples to oranges. It speaks volumes that you could not even take the time to take an honest and unbiased look at what Cesar was doing and offer a similar problem for comparison.
While I’n not a fan of Cesar Milan, he has had great success with dogs that would have otherwise been euthanized and I think you should step back on the criticism if you don’t have a proper alternative to offer.

November 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm
(139) Theresa DePorter, DVM says:

Actually, this is not an attack just on Cesar, aversive, punishment based training and handling methods have been around for a long time and utilized on dogs, horses, even elephants. Just because something works doesn’t mean we should do it. Besides, if euthanasia for behaviour problems is still the leading cause for death in dogs than how well is it ‘working’? How many children are being bitten by man’s best friend? Children are more likely to be bitten by a familiar dog. See this research on dog bites: 66% of dogs that have bitten children attended obedience classes.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17916894

Punishment based training results in a dog which appears ‘under control’ but may have underlying anxiety, stress or fear. Children can rarely intimidate a dog as thoroughly as an adult man so as a result, the child is bitten doing what the guy on TV showed him how to do. Most kids won’t read the fine print about not trying this at home.

Cesar’s version of punishment based training may be better than what his follower’s have witnessed before. A calm, quiet collected demeanour while putting a dog in a lateral position on the ground may be an improvement over other methods Cesar fan’s have experienced observing dog trainers efforts to make a dog submit. The following is taken from the Veterinary Clinics of North America quoting popular dog training books. Aversive punihsment methods are not new:

Popular Training – VCNA, Donaldson, Sept 08

 Most, Konrad Training Dogs:A Manual 1954
 Snarling – Whip dogs with switch until dog ‘‘submits’’
 Koehler, William The Koelher Method of Dog Training 1962
 Digging: Hole filled with water and dog’s head held under ‘‘until he is sure he’s drowning,’’ repeat next day whether dog digs or not
 Margolis, Matthew and Siegal, Mordecai Good Dog, Bad Dog 1973
 ‘‘Corrective jerk’’ on choke chain. ‘‘The dog may whine or cry . . More than likely animal is trying to manipulate you.’’
 Volhard, Joachim and Fisher, Gail Training Your Dog. 1983
 Sit/stay. Choke collar jerked harshly upwards ‘‘
 Bauman, Diane Beyond Basic Dog Training 1986
 Come: Leash abruptly ‘‘snapped’’ toward handler after cue given
 Monks of New Skete The Art of Raising a Puppy 1991
 Dominate puppy. ‘‘Shake down’’: sides of neck grabbed, front lifted, dog shaken several times (more ‘‘dominant breeds’’ firmly cuffed under chin)
 Benjamin, Carol Lea Dog Training in Ten Minutes 1997
 Walks….change direction abruptly and unexpectedly (‘‘clotheslining’’)

There is also a new website which has assembled an abundance of expert opinions on the same site. http://beyondcesarmillan.weebly.com/ Someday those who choose not to punish dogs will be considered the enlightened and pioneering, and not criticized by followers of a TV show. Also, the video clip discussed in this thread was not a clip created by behaviorists: it WAS on the National Geographic site. It seems to be missing now, anyone wonder why?

Theresa DePorter, DVM

November 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm
(140) LaFrance Hart says:

Thank you Ceaser Millan!! You are like those very few special people in life that we meet that teach millions of people how to live our lives with more purpose, conviction, commitment, freedom and love…you just do it through the medium of canines!

Its a pitty that whenever “truth” is given to the people to be free, the monster of anger, jealousy, and resentment will alway stick its very ugly head out to try to destroy what works well.

Thank God millions and millions of dog owners see the truth that the messenger Cesar Millan gives out like a tree gifting us with ripe fruit!

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