The Rise and Fall of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer

You might have heard about all the controversy. Where exactly did things go wrong for Cesar Millan, TV's onetime top dog guru?

Why do people hate Cesar Millan so much?
Cesar Millan’s critics have piled on. By: adri021/Flickr

Few dog trainers have received as much attention as Cesar Millan, known to most as “The Dog Whisperer.”

What started in 2004 as a back-channel cable TV show led to millions of books and videos, a monthly magazine, a website and a foundation.

These days, however, Millan’s methods are hotly debated. Even some veterinary behaviorists don’t like The Dog Whisperer.

And the furor isn’t just online. A protest took place on January 15, 2012, for example, at a theater in Rochester, New York, where Millan gave a talk. “There has been so much attention to this that other cities … are doing the same,” says Ada Simms, Rochester protest organizer.

“Protests are being organized in Columbus and Akron, Ohio, where Cesar is performing,” Simms says. “There have been inquiries from as far away as Europe, where Cesar will be on tour after his U.S. tour ends.”

So what happened? Where did things go wrong for TV’s top dog guru?

How the Juggernaut Began

Millan is a self-taught expert. His real-world learning began when he was a kid in Mexico and was known as “the dog boy” because he had a natural touch.

Later, in the United States, he worked with aggressive dogs as part of a grooming business. He then created a canine academy, which attracted high-profile clients.

The TV series Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan premiered in 2004 on the National Geographic Channel and was a runaway success. The bestselling book Cesar’s Way quickly followed.

Don’t Miss: Cesar Millan Slapped With Lawsuit After Dog Attacks Woman

Millan’s training philosophy in a nutshell is this: Your dog needs strong “pack leadership” from you (the true “alpha dog”) in order to be healthy and balanced. It’s called dominance theory.

The longer version: He says to handle your dog with “calm-assertive energy,” giving him plenty of exercise, clear boundaries and rules, and lots of affection when the time is right. Your dog is a dog, not a human, and is to be treated like one, Millan says. On the TV show, Millan seems to think you need to put your dog in its place when the dog is aggressive, using force — finger jabs to the abdomen, “alpha rolls,” even choke collars — if required.

Here’s an interesting Wall Street Journal video interview with Millan:

Critics Begin Speaking Up

In 2006, the American Humane Society lobbed one of the first grenades, asking producers to cancel Millan’s TV show, calling some of his training methods “inhumane” and “cruel and dangerous.”

The society said it was especially disturbed by the way Millan subdued dogs with shock collars, by pinning them to the ground or by tightening their collars.

Millan defends his methods, saying he uses “minimum force” to correct behaviors in aggressive pets, and adding, “My way is not the only way.”

Don’t Miss: School in an Uproar After “Dog Whisperer” Gets Honorary Degree

The American Humane Society later made nice with Millan, saying that despite “sharp differences,” the group shares many “areas of mutual interest” with the celeb trainer.

“Laughable” and “Outdated”?

The criticisms didn’t stop, because plenty of others picked up where the American Humane Society left off.

A fall 2006 New York Times piece headlined “Pack of Lies” lambasted Millan’s methods as “laughable” and “outdated.” The writer concluded:

“Mr. Millan’s quick fix might make for good television…. But it flies in the face of what professional animal behaviorists…have learned.”

Two years later, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior issued a policy statement on dominance theory, which didn’t mention Millan by name, but denounced his methods, saying they lead to “an antagonistic relationship between owners and their pets.”

In article after article, positive dog trainers urged a gentler approach (such as clicker training) than Millan’s. And newer studies seemed to bear the critics out. For example, a spring 2009 report in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior showed that asserting dominance over dogs actually increases aggression in those dogs.

A Warning Label on the TV Show

The National Geographic Channel clearly was aware of the criticism, because the network cautions viewers against following Millan’s methods, inserting a warning on screen during every episode that reads: “Do not attempt these techniques yourself without consulting a professional.”

By 2010, an “Anti Cesar Millan” Facebook group was thousands strong. In April of that year, PBS aired “The Dominance Myth,” an episode of the documentary series Through a Dog’s Eyes, which stated, “Scientifically, dominance makes no sense.”

More and more attention was now being given to mainstream criticism of the Dog Whisperer juggernaut. Take this local newscast, for example, which aired in January 2009:

That brings us to the recent protest in Rochester. Dozens of trainers passed out fliers advocating force-free training. Says Simms, the organizer of the protest: “[Cesar Millan is] charming, and it looks good on TV that he’s this ‘master’ over dogs. But then you see the credits: ‘Don’t try this at home.’ Why? Because it’s dangerous.”

So, Is Cesar Millan a Bad Guy?

No. In fact, he has done a lot of good for animal welfare, including advocating against breed-specific legislation and puppy mills, and in support of spay/neuter programs.

And Millan is actually right about quite a few things, such as:

  • That you are responsible for your own dog’s behavior
  • That your pet needs lots of love and exercise
  • And that chaining dogs is awful

As Brent Toellner of KC Dog Blog explains, the Cesar Millan controversy — which seems to polarize so many people on all sides — isn’t so black and white. Toellner says blind accusations that Millan never uses positive reinforcement are just plain wrong, and he concludes:

“Sometimes I think, in efforts to discourage his training practices, people become too anti-Cesar Millan. They have become so frustrated with the people that are ‘doing it wrong’ that they feel forced to break down the man they feel represents that training style.”

Additional Resources

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1,096 comments

  1. Leah Roberts Reply

    Millan has caused so much harm to dogs and destroyed so many relationships between dogs and their owners that I dedicated a whole section of my website to him. There are links to articles and videos from respected experts on why you should NOT get your dog training advice from a TV celebrity posing as a dog expert.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Thanks Leah — your site has a wealth of resources for people seeking to gain more understanding of why Cesar Millan has been so controversial.

    2. Elaine Harrison Reply

      I don’t believe this man should kick dogs, and at the end of the day this is what he does. You cannot train a dog when it’s scared to death of you. Where, pray tell, is the respect? If a dog doesn’t respect you, then you have nothing. How can a dog respect anyone who treats it the way this person does? Sorry, but can’t stand this person. He claims he loves animals… Yeah, RIGHT.

      1. Pets Adviser Reply

        We respect your opinion, Elaine, but this is a good example of how polarized the debate can become. To declare that he doesn’t love animals is pretty extreme in our opinion.

      2. Jayson Reply

        I’ve never seen him kick any dog. You’re making something up out of thin air?

        1. Dogly Reply

          I’ve seen him kick several dogs in the belly!

          1. Jayson Reply

            Kicking a dog is winding up and *boot* like a soccer ball and they travel some distance.

            All I’ve seen is a nudge to get their mind off the detrimental focus at the moment. He has described it numerous times we are 3-4 feet above them but our feet are there. They are an extension to perform the rectifying nudge. Never has a dog been propelled off a swinging kick but always a side foot nudge.

            Choose to see what you want to see but it’s different than reality is.

            1. Dogly

              I know that there are “good touch” and “bad touch” , but is there ever a ‘good kick in the guts’?

    3. confused Reply

      You seem very angry in your posts. I honestly would like to listen to what you have to say, but your tone seems to be belittling everyone that even disagrees with you. You should run for the GOP nomination for president.

      I would just offer a little advice (from a possible customer). Instead of attacking everyone who disagrees with you, don’t belittle them, and explain your methods. Saying someone is stupid probably won’t get them to want to listen to you.

    4. Debra Reply

      As Nicholas Dodman says, and I paraphrase:

      If you can train a killer whale to jump out of a pool and pee in a pot in order for his urine to be tested, using positive methods, you certainly don’t need to use aversives on a dog.

      Sorry, Nicholas, for not the exact wording, but I think the picture is clear.

    5. Jayson Reply

      wrong wrong wrong.

      There are too many irresponsible dog owners out there abusing them. Cesar does nothing abusive. He’s been a dog handler long before he became a celebrity. A reporter wrote an article on him because he could walk a dozen rotties that came from different backgrounds and then show producers came knocking on his door.

      I used his methods minus the extreme rolling them and choke collars and without realizing, it works. The extreme cases I can see needing those methods but not every case does.

  2. Anne Springer Reply

    I’ve been an outspoken critic of Millan since the beginning.

    Thirty years ago, most trainers were using similar techniques to his. Then, there was a gradual shift toward more dog-friendly methods, largely fueled by the experiences of zoo and marine mammal trainers, who had to find other methods aside from manhandling when they attempted to train animals such as whales and tigers, which are not nearly as easy to subdue as dogs. Landmark books by Karen Pryor (Don’t Shoot the Dog) and Jean Donaldson (The Culture Clash) gave us a new perspective on canine cognition and learning, and suggested new ways of eliciting behavior that did not require choking, pinching, or shocking.

    There were more and more trainers coming on board until the Dog Screamer showed up on the scene (whispering implies softness and calmness, and getting pinned to the floor or hung with your front paws off the ground, to me at least, implies screaming — there are many videos showing CM engaged in that kind of “training”). The tide began to turn back, and our tears began to flow at the suffering we knew would come to dogs. Most people don’t know what “learned helplessness” is, but the type of activity he promotes encourages dogs to simply give up, which is what that term implies. (See Martin Seligman’s 1967 learned helplessness studies on shock and dogs). How much better it is to work with a dog whose question to its owner is “Did I do it right? Do I get my reward?” than a dog that must ask the person it is supposed to trust, “Are you going to hurt me this time?”

    “Do it or I will hurt you” shouldn’t be a training mantra for dogs any more than it should be for kids. Look up authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting styles. Authoritative is the most successful, and that’s what clicker trainers are. Sure, there are consequences if the dog doesn’t exhibit the correct behavior. It’s just that none of the consequences equal pain. I commend Ada Simms for her desire to bring legitimate knowledge to her community. The slings and arrows she is taking for this are undeserved. The Earth is NOT flat.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Thanks so much for your comments, Anne. Well put!

      We weren’t aware of the blowback that Ada Simms has been getting for being outspoken.

    2. Jill G Reply

      Well put.

    3. Jenn Reply

      Yes, Anne, you are correct; the earth is not flat. I believe there are two sides to every story. Black. White. Grey… blah blah blah. It seems this debate is similar to the one of spanking kids vs. “timeout” — some agree, some do not. There will always be a pro and con to big issues such as this whole Cesar Millan debacle. This is simply my opinion. I am entitled to one, just as you are. I enjoyed reading what you wrote.

    4. Jayson Reply

      Cesar applies nothing of the Circus training ideas. They use hot irons on the paws of dogs and bears and wild cats etc. Your comparison disgusts me.

      1. Dogly Reply

        Yes, circus training is horrifyingly abusive! Bull hooks, electric prods, tiny cages, whips, starvation, deprivation of water, thousands of miles in hot, or cold, unventilated train boxcars. As a Ringling elephant “trainer” says, “Beat her ’till she screams!”

  3. Joanne Brokaw Reply

    I was with Ada last night, and we stayed for the show (got free tickets). I’m working on my review, but here’s an article I wrote that offers dog owners some information on why the pack leader/dominance method of training is outdated:

    http://barkaroundtown.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/whats-wrong-with-cesar-millan-and-dominance-based-dog-training/

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Joanne, when you’re done with your review, drop us a quick comment here and let us know how it went last night. Did CM take any questions from the crowd, and were there any hardball questions? How about the fliers — was the response to the fliers from the crowd negative (as we’d expect from fans paying money to see their favorite celebrity dog guru) or particularly nasty, as Anne suggested in her comment?

    2. Dogly Reply

      Calling yourself a dog’s “OWNER” is also outdated. They are our friends. Can’t we be theirs?

  4. Joanne Brokaw Reply

    I’ll definitely send the link. In general, and Ada was outside longer than I was, people either ignored the folks handing out flyers or took them and read them once they got inside. We were in the balcony, and looking down we could see people reading them.

    Apparently there was one very angry man who really gave it to her with both barrels, and I think it may be on the new clips (one of us will send that link, too, when it’s up on the TV site). One woman stopped to take a flyer and praised Ada for the WAY she went about it. There was not one single moment when anyone in the protest group was critical of Millan, or did anything confrontational. We just said, “Would you like some information about local dog trainers?” or “Here is some information about dog training.” I really have to give Ada props for being extremely courteous, well spoken, and gentle in her approach. And understand, she is not a pushover kind of woman; she’s just polite and generous and understands that negativity isn’t the way to get what you want. Which, of course, is the basis of positive training. 😉

    And yes, Millan took questions, and I’ll write more later, but he seemed stumped and irritated at that point, LOL.

    1. Jayson Reply

      So you guys were showboating piggybacking on top of Cesars show? Classy.

  5. Debbie Reply

    I don’t think there is any “1 right” way to train a dog any more than there’s any 1 right way to train a child.

    I think the best way is to know your dog (child) and learn the many theories available (and the logic behind them) out there, and decide what works best for your own situation. I’ve learned a lot from Cesar, but certainly wouldn’t/couldn’t do everything his way. You need to pick and choose and evaluate depending on the circumstances and variables/personalities involved.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      That’s a good point, Debbie. No two dogs are exactly alike, and each will respond differently.

    2. Leah Roberts Reply

      Of course there’s not just one way. There are many methods and techniques. But they are only valid if they are built on the science of behavioral modification and learning theory.

      Millan bases what he does on mythology and makes it up as he goes along. It’s a TV show, folks. If one were to try to televise one of the correct, scientifically based, humane, effective ways to deal with aggression, people would fall asleep or turn the channel. It’s not exciting, it’s not sexy. Millan is not about dog training. He’s about exploitation for the purpose of fame and fortune.

      1. Susan Davies Reply

        This is absolutely the correct response. Let’s all just remember to use positive methods to dispel his theory.

        1. Jayson Reply

          They are all positive methods. Implying he’s a socialpath is disgusting.

      2. confused Reply

        You say there isn’t one way, but then you say it needs to be a certain way. Isn’t that contradictory? I’m really confused.

        1. Michelle Reply

          There are many ways to train, but it’s never right to train using pain or intimidation or force.

          You can use lure/reward, shaping, or capturing all to train one behavior. For instance, I could use a treat and hold it up over a dog’s head. When the dog sits (a natural reaction to that), I can then reward with the treat. I’ve just lured the dog into a sit and rewarded him for doing it. Repeating that many times and removing the food as the lure turns that into a hand signal. Then I can add the verbal cue, and the behavior becomes complete.

          Or I could capture the behavior. Without luring the dog, I can just wait until he sits and then reward him for it. Soon he’ll be offering to sit every time he comes up to me. At that point I can add a verbal cue (or a hand signal, or both). I’ve now captured the behavior (sit) and put it on cue.

          Both are valid ways to train the same thing; both are different methods. But neither uses pain, force, or intimidation to get the dog to do what you want. Does that make any sense?

          1. Jayson Reply

            which Cesar uses. the show producers chose the extreme cases which lure/reward etc isn’t enough. get over yourself.

        2. Sherry Reply

          Confused, no one is saying it needs to be any one certain way. There are a number of approaches to training that have a firm foundation in learning and behavior science, and do not involve dominating the animal or using force, coercion, intimidation, or punishment. These ways of training are pleasurable for the dog, and strengthen the bond and communication between human and dog.

          All we are suggesting is that people choose a method of training that is founded in solid science, is effective, and is pleasant for both dog and owner.

        3. Dogly Reply

          There are many Nonviolent ways. The certain way it needs to be is nonviolent.

      3. Clare Hayward Reply

        In the UK there is a dog training TV show called It’s Me or the Dog, which is based completely on clicker/treat/reward training. It is not boring and is extremely helpful, and I have learned a lot about how to train my dog from it.

        1. Sherry Reply

          Yes, that is Victoria Stilwell’s program. It is also available in the United States on Animal Planet.

      4. Jayson Reply

        Wrong.

        He’s done his methods of various ways long before tv came knocking. They didn’t make a tv show then brought him out of acting school like most reality shows have done.

        The tv show DOES showcase the extreme cases which the rolls and such are likely required, otherwise owning your space and giving permission with exercise and having them as part of your everyday life is all that’s needed and people don’t realize that. it’s the core of what Cesar describes. You can’t ignore that.

    3. Nan Arthur, CDBC, CPDT-KSA, KPACTP and Faculty Reply

      Debbie, you are correct that every dog is an individual, and that is also part of the problem with CM’s methods. He has pretty much the same answer for every problem—the dog is trying to dominate the owner, other dogs, cats and I believe there was an episode where the dog was dominating an inanimate object.

      Trainers that use positive methods have many, many tools in their toolboxes and approach all dogs as individuals, building training plans that match the dog and the need to modify behavior.

      With that said, you never have to intimidate, hurt or use any force to train a dog, but you should have a very deliberate education in behavior and training to ensure success.

      Trainers across the county work in zoos and marine parks with animals that could easily kill them, and yet they are able to train amazing behaviors to animals that have no affiliation with humans. This is all done with positive methods. If training animals that might eat humans to do the things they do is possible, working with dogs that actually care about us is pretty easy. No pain needed.

      1. Dogly Reply

        Zoos and marine parks do use abusive methods. Food deprivation, electric prods, etc. They are, by there very nature, abusive. They capture wild animals, cage them for our amusement, and force them to perform demeaning, painful, and unnatural feats. They make Milan look like St. Francis of Assisi!

    4. Carole Reply

      Hi folks, I’m from Scotland and cannot believe someone is comparing a dog to a child? Maybe things are different in the States — I don’t think so — but a dog is a dog. No aggression, no need for a prong collar, no need to be kicked in the arse.

      One little man, having misused TV, stage and all other media, and nobody questioning this? I would love to post now how bizarre that you all let this happen. No, I repeat no dog should suffer, just because some idiot thinks they can teach you how to train a dog.

      OK, it’s late here in Scotland, but not to worry, all the children are safely tucked up in bed, lights are out — oh, but wait, the CM man is telling me I have to dominate them before I can go to sleep. Wake up America… Happy dogs are out there. No need for dominance, prong collars, kicks up the arse. I can’t believe I have felt so strongly to respond to this. May all our dogs sleep tightly, under the blankets, covers and sleepies bought by their owners. You can all give me such a bollo**ing tomorrow on my site, http://www.happyhounds-cl.co.uk

      Scottish rant over now!

      1. Sherry Reply

        Carole, most of us here are with you 100%!

      2. Michelle Reply

        The implication that this is just an American thing is rather wrong. I’ve seen people talking about him from all over the world.

      3. Beth Burton Reply

        Here, here, Carole!

      4. Anne Springer Reply

        Actually, I do compare children to dogs. Not because I don’t value children, but because even humans are mammals, and all mammals learn in a similar way. Therefore, the same principles of operant and classical conditioning apply.

        I also think that we should treat our dogs, who generally live with kids, with as great respect as we do treat our children. Why? Because studies show a correlation between violence and aggression toward animals with violence and aggression toward people! We certainly want children growing up in humane households where they do not witness violent acts or get encouraged to act out on innocent animals. I don’t see how anyone could disagree with that and still profess to love children.

      5. Jayson Reply

        *eye roll* get over yourself. Talking down others to bring your self righteous self up and add in self promoting on top of that. Not classy.

    5. theresa kjær Reply

      And that is what he does.

    6. Holly Reply

      There are many ways to train a dog, but all have consequences beyond the training. I chose the methods I use not only because they are positive but they create calm, happy, confident dogs, and I don’t see even that in all positive training. The total package is more important than the “obedience” since every method can teach a dog to sit. I don’t like what I see in dogs who have been worked with by Cesar.

  6. Nadine Natle Reply

    Cesar Millan has more knowledge of dog understanding and how it works in his little pinkie than most people will ever understand. He has never proclaimed to be a “dog trainer” — he has named himself a “dog rehabilitor.” Quite a difference.

    I have applied his methods many times; and although there are some dogs that need a different way, his way works better than anything else. In this age of a quick-fix society, no one wants to take the time it takes.

    Most problems can be helped will lots of exercise, being able to see the subtle changes that dogs display, and not waiting till the worst happens. His newer version this year shows him breaking down his episodes so the general public will have a better understanding of what he sees.

    He is so in tune with these animals, it’s scary. His track record speaks for itself. Let me see any one of you try and teach a charging pit bull to stop with a cookie. Or a click. Good luck.

    No, the world is a better place for dogs because of Cesar, not in spite of him.

    1. Leah Roberts Reply

      You’ve gotten away with it so far because dogs are very tolerant and forgiving. Ever wonder why people don’t use those kinds of training methods on killer whales or zoo animals?

      1. Jayson Reply

        Uh get over yourself is my first response to your analogy. Different mentalities altogether you can not lump into one.

      2. Dogly Reply

        They DO use cruel training on killer whales and zoo animals! Where do you get the idea that they don’t? From Marine Parks’ and Zoo’s propaganda. Be skeptical about what goes on being those bars. It’s brutal!

    2. Stacy Greer Reply

      This is the first response just about all of (or many of) his followers say: “He has never proclaimed to be a ‘dog trainer’ — he has named himself a ‘dog rehabilitor.’ Quite a difference.” The problem is that you cannot be a good “rehabilitator” (which isn’t a real term, by the way) without being a very good dog trainer first. It’s like you can’t play Mozart if you can’t even play Chopsticks first!

      So, for those people who want to use that defense, this only shows that sadly he’s not even educated enough about behavior and training to be a “rehabilitator.” That’s pretty scary in my opinion. Would you hire a dog trainer/behavior therapist to help with your aggressive dog if he couldn’t even get your dog to sit or lie down on command? If you asked him how to train a recall and he had to take you to another trainer (this was one of his episodes), you’d really think that was OK?

      Sorry, but if I can’t train a dog, then I sure as heck better not try to rehabilitate its problem behaviors!

      1. Stacy Greer Reply

        Oh and yes, I’ve actually trained a charging pit bull, to be exact, with a clicker to stop, and he’s now a marvelous family dog. So unless you are very familiar with clicker training and its ups and downs (because every method has both!), then it’s not really fair to make this bold statement.

        I’ve also trained a charging 200 lb. English mastiff to stop and leave kittens alone with a clicker. And… would you like me to list the others?

        His actions don’t speak for themselves because you don’t see the dog after 6 months, 1 year. You see what you see on an edited TV show, which appears as magic. Go sit on a set of any TV show, reality or otherwise, and you’ll be amazed at what they leave out and what they add in for entertainment!

        1. Sherry Reply

          Stacy, make that a heavily edited TV show!

          1. Jayson Reply

            Like every other show.

        2. Jayson Reply

          Well done. Cesar has no say in the show production as much as create the material for them to pick and choose what to use.

          BUT the layman dog owner DOES learn the dog behaviour and can pick and choose what methods they use like own your space and give permission etc. That’s all I used and my Schnauzer went from being a runner of the neighbourhood to an offleash walking companion just a foot away.

          I never understood dog behaviour until watching his show and that’s all I needed. I don’t need a dog trainer to train the dog, it doesn’t help when the owner doesn’t understand dog behaviour when the dog gets home and it’s the same bad owner habits all over again.

          You focus on the wrong elements of Cesars message.

      2. Jayson Reply

        *eye roll* you need an understanding of dog behaviour before you can even have a dog companion. he has it, I know to many people who don’t get it and have out of control dogs because of it. They are NOT seeking trainers or anything. I know watching Cesar will benefit them learning the behaviour of dogs much more than what they are doing now – nothing. They aren’t going out to do dog training or anything but they can watch tv and they will learn. I don’t see any of you nay sayers creating a tv show with impact like Cesar has done.

    3. Sherry Reply

      Most problems can be helped with lots of exercise, being able to see the subtle changes that dogs display.”

      That last is actually funny in a sad/scary kind of way. If Cesar Millan were able to see the subtle changes that dogs display, he would not be bitten as often as he is, and he wouldn’t be caught by surprise when it happens, as he obviously has been numerous times. In every clip I have seen of him getting bitten, the bite was 100% predictable based on the signals the dog was sending, and in quite a few of those cases he clearly did not see the bite coming.

      Dog handlers, trainers, behaviorists, “rehabilitators” — whatever you want to call them — who can “see the subtle changes that dogs display” are able to anticipate and avoid bites (knowledgeable, qualified handlers / trainers / behaviorists / “rehabilitators” also know how to accomplish their goals without putting themselves in a position to be bitten).

      Cesar Millan not only misses the subtle changes, he doesn’t recognize the strong and obvious ones. He also misinterprets the behavior he sees in ways that would be laughable if the consequences to the dogs and owners were not so unfortunate.

      1. Jayson Reply

        Looks like he has a strong connection to me PLUS he teaches the layman owner to understand dog behaviours no trainer/other show does. get over high and mighty self.

    4. Sharon Normandin Reply

      Wow, are you ever off-base! His philosophy, understanding of canine behavior and how they learn, and training (or rehab) methods are 30 years out of date.

      Yes, he has some good things going for him — the benefits of exercise, the need for calmness in the trainer, the need for the dogs to understand boundaries in their daily lives — but his statements about dominance in dogs were based on studies done a long time ago on wolves, and were proven to be flawed, and effectively recanted by the original researcher who studied the wolves.

      His methods may work briefly, but the unwanted behavior will return tomorrow, and they may also work for him, but the average pet owner, even the average dog trainer, does not have the talent and skill for using punitive, intimidating and domineering methods that a very few individuals have. Scientists, behaviorists, and top-level animal trainers have shown over and over again that the use of predominantly reinforcement based training is far superior to methods that rely on harsh physical and verbal punishers. And they do so while saying “positive is not permissive,” pointing out that dogs do need boundaries, and they are “punished” for undesired behavior, but only after a very strong history of reinforcement for the desired behavior has been established, and the “punishment” actually is a mild removal of the opportunity for them to earn rewards, or continue playing the game.

      Rehabilitation of “aggressive” dogs is best accomplished with a combination of desensitization to the object of their reactivity, and counter-conditioning, to help them associate the object of their reactivity with good things happening to them, and alleviate any fears that led to what we see as offensive behavior, but what in fact is really defensive behavior in their minds.

      Two of the best resources for understanding canine behavior are Ray and Laura Coppinger’s excellent book “Dogs,” and James O’Heare’s equally excellent book “Aggressive Behavior in Dogs.” Add in Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog,” and Dr. Pam Reid’s “Excel-erated Learning,” and also Pam Dennison’s “How to Right a Dog Gone Wrong” and “Bringing Light to Shadow: A Dog Trainer’s Diary,” and you’ll understand why so many of us find CM’s methods ineffective at best and potentially dangerous.

      1. Tracie Reply

        The facts remain that of the cases he has implemented, any kind of forcefulness is few and far between. What he has done is to educate people that:

        1) Their dogs need exercise.

        2) If the dog has a behavior issue, it’s quite possible that it arises from something the owner is doing.

        These are the kinds of cases that he comes in, changes the way people think, and they are able to rehabilitate their own dogs. I’d like you to tell us how you were able to subdue a charging pit bull with a clicker. Did you just stand and click while it ran up to bite you? I’m sorry, but without any backup information, that just sounds ridiculous.

        1. Sherry Reply

          The cases he has implemented, any kind of forcefulness is few and far between.

          That is the exact opposite of reality. You show me any episode at all of his program, and I will show you multiple uses of force. They don’t always take the form of the extreme violence we see in many cases, but it is most assuredly force.

          What he has done is to educate people that: 1) Their dogs need exercise. 2) If the dog has a behavior issue, it’s quite possible that it arises from something the owner is doing.

          And those are things any decent trainer knows and can tell you.

          I’d like you to tell us how you were able to subdue a charging pit bull with a clicker.

          Well, that is just it. Force is used to subdue animals (and people), and that is what Millan does. Clickers are not used to subdue anyone; they are a teaching tool. And yes, they can be and have been used to teach a pit bull to stop and refocus on cue.

          On the other hand, if you have an untrained pit bull that is in mid-charge, you do not use a clicker; you use whatever means necessary to stop the charge. Then you use the clicker to teach the pit bull self-control so that he does not charge at all.

          1. Jayson Reply

            BUT the layman dog owner aren’t getting dog trainers are they. BUT They are learning from the tv show.

            Every trainer uses force in one way or another. Saying otherwise is lying.

            Cesar is at the point of an untrained dog where they aren’t in a relaxed state and the owner has no idea how to implement a clicker. He’s ‘resetting’ the dogs mentality and training the owner to take it from there. It’s pretty ignorant to say otherwise.

        2. Jayson Reply

          Nice, gave me a chuckle with these high and mighty nay sayers.

      2. Jayson Reply

        Your totally missing his message. He isn’t teaching the dog anything. Think of it more of a reset and teaching the owner dog behaviours and then have a manageable dog from a baseline to start a new direction in their lives.

    5. Holly Reply

      “Dog rehabilitator” is an ignorant way of saying “behaviorist,” and he’s not a very good one. I am a positive trainer who specializes in pit bulls and work successfully with very aggressive dogs, though they are not usually pits. My methods and my cookies work just fine.

      1. Sherry Reply

        He’s not a very good [behaviorist].

        Holly, you are being too kind! He is not a behaviorist at all in my book. He has no education, formal or informal in behavior, let alone any kind of credentials, and his notions about dog behavior are based in ignorance, and invalid ideas.

      2. Jayson Reply

        Making new rules of what the work he does that is different from your idea. Unclassy.

    6. Jill Spurr Reply

      “He has never proclaimed to be a ‘dog trainer’ — he has named himself a ‘dog rehabilitor.’ Quite a difference.”

      No it’s not. The whole “I’m not a trainer” is just rhetoric, a get-out clause to excuse him to his critics and to make him sound special to his fans. As long as he is on the human end of the lead, teaching a dog that actions equal consequences, he is training it.

      Millan’s whole brand is peppered with its own language and cliches — “red zone,” “calm, submissive state,” “you’ve got to be pack leader” — that are designed to sell you the product. Your post is a perfect example of it. Rather than think about what you are truly seeing — man + (dog x unwanted behavior) = training — you just regurgitate his favorite phrases. Seriously, would a real behaviorist be so precious about what he calls his activity? No, he would just say, “Yes, we are training, dog and human.”

      1. Sherry Reply

        Well said, Jill. I would bet plenty that the “rehabilitator” label was brought out as a direct result of criticism of him as a trainer, and his training methods. Some spin-control genius thought that would be an effective way to avoid criticism. It’s not.

      2. Ann Reply

        You train your husband not your dog.

      3. Jayson Reply

        *eye roll* Hardly worth a comment.

    7. ILOVECM Reply

      Totally agree. Everyone here is behaving in a pack mortality — someone is against him, so everyone jumps on board. I have used many of CM’s tools, which to my surprise have worked beautifully. I do no HURT my dog at all. I ask for focus with good energy and am happy with his progress.

      1. Jill Spurr Reply

        Please, don’t insult us. There is a wealth of empirical evidence, even more personal experience, and thousands of fantastic behaviourists out there working daily with dogs that are on the point of pts, using non-aversive methods. We are well capable of reading their outputs and forming an opinion, which is what we have done. None of us is acting in a pack mortality as you put it, or even mentality. We don’t even believe in pack structure for dogs, let alone dog enthusiasts, so what makes you think we are doing it because someone (who?) is against him?

        1. Beth Burton Reply

          Jill Spurr, well said.

        2. crazykeyman Reply

          Yes, and I do believe the name of this blog is The Rise and Fall of Cesar Millan, so I do not think it is out of line for us that are +Rs to give our opinions.

        3. Jayson Reply

          I don’t see any averse methods in the show you speak of. He’s done much more for the layman dog owner than any costly dog trainer ever could. He shows the owners how to recognise the dog behaviours are. Trainers do not and just focus on having dogs do a few commands. Dog Whisperer reaches a massive more people where a dog trainer reaches the few paying customers. That’s where the controversy is based from, isn’t it.

      2. crazykeyman Reply

        What is a pack mortality?

      3. Jayson Reply

        My same feelings.

    8. crazykeyman Reply

      Yes we’ve all heard him say it a million times he’s not a trainer he’s a rehabilitator. And yet people say it over and over as if they are saying something new here for the very first time. It’s getting annoying.

    9. Jayson Reply

      Finally someone with a voice of wisdom on this forum.

  7. Diane Garrod Reply

    The fallacy is that positive training doesn’t work with challenging, aggressive dogs, when in fact, it does.

    Dogs learn to initiate behaviors, positive behaviors, automatically vs. under stress, duress and fear of pain. Giving up and learning to be helpless is quite different, and the body language is miles apart. Simply, aggression begets aggression and was put into a study by the University of Pennsylvania. Here is an article I wrote on this topic (one of many I write on aggression):

    http://www.helium.com/items/1524197-dog-psychology-the-effect-of-adverse-training-methods

    Working with aggressive dogs daily with positive reward-based, results-oriented methodologies with a basis in science reaps huge results and longer-lasting. The one thing that astounds me is the people who let Millan or similar trainers manhandle their dogs. I have to ask if you would allow someone to come in and inflict pain, I would hope you’d answer, “No way.” If you could see changes without pain, would you do it? Of course you would.

  8. karen ross Reply

    I think that, as usual, people just have an all or nothing attitude.

    The animals that we see on Cesar’s TV show are all animals with fairly big issues and need more than the ordinary tactics. I don’t think that anything he does is inhumane — in fact, I think just the opposite. To me, it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t had any formal training. I think that he has proven himself a great dog rehabilitator. If for some reason you don’t like him or his methods, then try something different that suits you and your dog.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Thanks Karen. This ties in well with what Debbie was saying above.

    2. Leah Roberts Reply

      Do you believe everything you see on TV? It’s a highly edited show. And if you don’t think forcing living creatures to the ground, shocking them, or kicking them is inhumane… well, I have nothing to say to that. Dogs with “fairly big issues” are in even more need of rehabilitation based on real scientific principles. There is never a need to use force, fear, pain or intimidation. Never.

    3. Beth Burton Reply

      “The animals that we see on Cesar’s TV show are all animals with fairly big issues and need more than the ordinary tactics. I don’t think that anything he does is inhumane — in fact, I think just the opposite. To me, it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t had any formal training. I think that he has proven himself a great dog rehabilitator.”

      The rescue center that adopted out Shadow the husky saw what he did to Shadow as inhumane, and took Shadow back.

      There have been many dogs that the only way Cesar could rehabilitate them was to replace them with one of his own dogs and put the other dog in his rescue center.

      He kicks, shocks, hangs, pokes dogs and forces them to the ground. How is that not inhumane? These ways that he uses are out of date and all too frequently end up with the dogs being destroyed because they have attacked someone or another animal and are therefore considered more aggressive than before his training methods were used.

      Any reward-based training can be modified for any dog without the need for any of Cesar’s outdated methods. Cesar has his good moments, but they are seriously overshadowed by the bad moments by miles.

      1. Sherry Reply

        Beth, that is very interesting about Shadow. I have often wondered what happened to that poor dog. I spent a lot of time analyzing that video, particularly the first part of it, and the poor guy tried to disengage and de-escalate the situation, but Millan would have none of it, and so the dog was forced to fight for its life. Is there any more information available about his fate?

        1. Beth Burton Reply

          Sherry, all I know is that Shadow is now living with people who are using reward-based training, and he is doing well.

      2. Jayson Reply

        Now you’re making things up out of mid air? There has never been any evidence of what describe and frankly that’s disgusting you even lay claim without anything backing it up.

    4. k9mythbuster Reply

      “The animals that we see on Cesar’s TV show are all animals with fairly big issues.”

      This is a common fallacy among the show’s fans. The cases on the show are everyday, run-of-the-mill cases of fear and aggression that I and thousands of professional trainers work with every day.

      As for proof, he hasn’t proven much. The editing of the show makes it appear that he is successful, but how many follow-up cases do we see? Not very many. The show’s producer once claimed an 80% success rate, yet didn’t respond to requests to release all of the dog owners from their very restrictive confidentiality clauses so that they could speak to the success of the methods for themselves. The only “proof” is what the PR team tells you and what the producers selectively show you. The show is a product, a multimillion-dollar industry dependent on you buying it.

    5. Sherry Reply

      I don’t think that anything he does is inhumane…

      You don’t think it’s inhumane to cut off a dog’s air supply until it collapses on the ground and urinates on itself?

      You don’t think it’s inhumane to shock a dog on the neck until it screams?

      You don’t think it’s inhumane to give a dog a sharp jab with the heel of your shoe so that it jumps and cries out in pain?

      OK, then, what do you consider inhumane?

      1. k9mythbuster Reply

        I think the disconnect comes from the inability of the average dog owner (and far too many “trainers”) to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal, whether it is body language or behavior. A reactive dog lying flat in the middle of the street, coughing and choking, looks very different when one realizes how abnormal that is. For those who don’t understand, it just looks like magic.

        If we could focus more on teaching people to see what we see, we wouldn’t have to focus so much on unmasking pseudo-experts like Millan. They would see it for themselves.

        1. Sherry Reply

          Great point. Now how do we do that?!

        2. Jayson Reply

          Anyone who works in the field for a number of years is considered an expert in the field. Guess what, Cesar is an expert. Claiming otherwise is ignorant.

      2. Jayson Reply

        We all agree that’s disgusting. I don’t see how it fits in the article context.

    6. Holly Reply

      The issues on the show aren’t “big issues.” These are the issues that dog trainers work with successfully every day and usually pretty simply without all the violence. One of my biggest beefs with the show is that it portrays what he does as something magical that regular people just can’t get, but he’s very wrong. This actually keeps people from seeking out trainers for help.

      1. Sherry Reply

        Holly, the dogs present with pretty ordinary issues that qualified trainers and behaviorists see and work successfully with every day, but after Cesar is done working his “magic” on them, they may end up with really big issues.

        1. Jayson Reply

          Another maybe, could, if scenario that has no substantial evidence.

      2. Diane Garrod Reply

        That’s right, these issues are ones that companion dog owners simply are not familiar with but trainers with positive intentions see every day. From big dogs to little… all the more reason to NOT do manipulative handling.

        Seriously, I’d like to see this guy handle a dog without touching them. He wouldn’t be able to. And yet, better results are produced by truly understanding dogs, body communication, and why they are aggressive in the first place (which means you have to understand behavior and how to change it). If you don’t get to the root of changing the why of the cause of the behavior, you will not change that behavior. You will mask it, and it will surface again. That is training. What this show does, however, is manipulation, force, make-my-day, angry, confrontational. That’s it. And that goes for the episode on “essences.”

        1. Holly Reply

          I tell my students that force always creates resistance. You may not see it right away, but it is there. I want my dog to work with me, to look to me for direction. I don’t want resistance.

      3. Jayson Reply

        “This actually keeps people from seeking out trainers for help.”

        That is the biggest argument against Cesar is it takes money out of trainers pockets. He reaches many more audience for free and teaches recognition of dog behaviour. It’s a lot more than any dog trainer does and that’s only for the paying client.

    7. Jill Spurr Reply

      I think that, as usual, people just have an all-or-nothing attitude.

      That’s rather presumptuous of you.

      Of course it’s fantastic that Millan promotes neutering, is a positive advocate for bull breeds, etc., etc. The cynic in me wants to say this is a clever marketing ploy, like an organization that causes deforestation in South America sponsoring a school in that country for deprived children. It’s called corporate social responsibility. But whatever his motivation, it’s good that he does them. However, just because he does them doesn’t make it okay to do the negative stuff. It doesn’t make it okay to tell people that a highly stressed dog is calm and submissive. It doesn’t make it okay to use pain, shock, psychological trauma and fear to instigate circumstantial change in dogs. It doesn’t make it okay to constantly work above threshold (a state that the dog cannot truly learn in) just because it makes for a more dramatic program. And it certainly doesn’t make it okay to tie a dog to the source of its fear and terrorize it into total shut down of the deep-rooted natural instincts. That is abuse.

      1. Jayson Reply

        Making stuff up out of thin air. I’ve never seen any of the scenarios you describe.

    1. k9mythbuster Reply

      Great review, Joanne. I read it earlier after a colleague posted it on FB. Excellent observations and a very fair review. Good job!

      1. Pets Adviser Reply

        Agreed. It’s good to get a first-hand, fairly neutral account of one of his talks. And yep, he is like a rock star for some folks.

    2. Stacy Greer Reply

      Very excellent review! Thanks!

      I only get saddened by the defensive followers of his as I fear for their dogs, especially those that have truly harrowing issues that need professional help from an educated professional in dog behavior. We can just try to keep educating!

      1. Jayson Reply

        I’ve never found Dog Behaviour and Psychology being taught at any accredited institution. Where is this Educated professional program you speak of?

  9. Janet Velenovsky Reply

    I, too, was one of the group who raised concerns about Mr. Millan early on. I’ve had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Luescher, Dr. Sophia Yin, and many others collaborating with AVSAB to bring awareness to the situation.

    While it does appear Mr. Millan is able to handle dogs himself, our concern is two-fold. Many times, the methods he uses are unpleasant or unsafe for the dogs he handles and in demonstrating his tactics, he puts dog owners in danger. Dogs pressured with force, shock, pain, and discomfort become unpredictable. As a behavior consultant, I have had to help dogs and people overcome the damaging fallout from non-professionals trying the ideas at home.

    Anyone working with dogs or cats on a regular basis should be responsible enough to study what science has been able to prove about body language and learning before giving advice. It is my considered opinion that Mr. Millan’s fame took him to situations beyond his understanding and training, which now has become dangerous. Those of us who have spent years and years studying documented science only want to help educate others (and Mr. Millan, if he’s willing) to use the safest and most effective methods to improve pet behavior and support the human-animal bond.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Agreed that it’s scary to think of pet owners trying this at home, for example:

      Just because there’s a warning on the screen saying not to try it at home doesn’t stop people from believing they can try these methods.

      1. Really Reply

        He is gently restraining the dog and trying not to get bitten. I do not see the big deal in this clip.

        1. Pets Adviser Reply

          The big deal is that the dog is clearly about to rip the skin off his hand. And the point was that people trying this themselves at home are running a huge risk.

          (And what’s with Cesar’s talk about “winning”?)

        2. Michelle Reply

          The “big deal” is that he has clearly pushed this dog far past its threshold. Once there, an animal cannot learn. And I mean any animal, including humans. Try learning math problems while being confronted with something that scares you (e.g., I could not learn if someone was dangling a tarantula in front of me). Try learning something while in a high-stress situation (e.g., in the middle of a traffic jam with people weaving in and out of traffic). In order for this dog to learn anything, he needs to be kept below threshold. You confront the fear slowly and from a distance, working closer little by little.

          1. Jayson Reply

            But yet the dog does. You make assumptions from a small part of the whole package.

      2. Jill Spurr Reply

        Worse still, people think that they are part of some special club, and can do things Cesar advocates despite the warnings not to try this at home, that it’s people who don’t understand who can’t try it. But they do understand, because they are fans… I’ve had fans say that to me!

        I had a very disturbing lesson at my training club once, when a chap with a lovely rottie turned up. He had no rapport with the dog, and when she was constantly looking to other people for attention, help, relief, she was jabbed in the neck. She was “tsshhht”ed, and even when she didn’t sit straight, a “foot movement” to the soft area behind the rib cage was given. I complained about him. Not only were his horrible vocalisations and aggressive manner making every dog there stressed, there was a 9-year-old child in the class taking all of this in, and the prospects of the child copying were high. Not acceptable on any planet.

        1. Beth Burton Reply

          They put the warning “Don’t try this at home” on the screen because they know that people will try it and will get bitten. And because the show has put the warning up, the people have no right to sue National Geographic for getting bitten. N.G. and Cesar know that this is going to happen.

    2. Sherry Reply

      Many times, the methods he uses are unpleasant or unsafe for the dogs he handles.

      Well said. The only thing I would say different is that the methods he uses are unnecessarily unpleasant, or unsafe for the dogs. They are also frequently unsafe for him, and demonstrated by the many bites he has received. In a number of cases I have watched how he was handling (or manhandling) a dog, and my first response was, “Good way to get bitten, sir” — and sure enough, a few seconds later, the dog bit.

  10. Silvia Jay Reply

    I wish there would be a Fall of Cesar Millan, but I fear dogs won’t be that lucky anytime soon.

    He is very popular with masses of dog owners — who should question why people who have studied any of the behavioral sciences are critics, and laypeople or ones who grab a leash and call themselves trainers are supporters. And no, we are not all jealous of his success, but we actually know a thing or two about dogs and behavior.

    In my opinion, Cesar Millan is a TV action figure and nothing but. And yes, he hurts dogs — the ones he has shocked, kicked, strung up and intimidated, and the countless ones he doesn’t see but who have owners who follow his methods blindly. I challenge every person to learn basic dog communication, then turn the volume down when watching Dog Whisperer, and observe how many dogs feel about his “whispering.”

    From a personal experience of working with dogs since ’95, since his popularity I see many more dogs who aggress against their owners, sometimes at a young age — puppies, biting the hand that pins and knuckle bites them. There are scientifically proven better ways to teach, train and rehabilitate than to use physical force.

    1. Jayson Reply

      Making wild and disgusting accusations out of thin air. Where is your evidence backing this up?

  11. Mandy Collins Reply

    Does it not concern Joe Public that Millan has no positive peer reviews, that no one who is qualified and experienced promotes or supports his methods?

    As ever, the “yes but he deals with ‘red zone’ dogs that would be put to sleep” argument rears its ugly head.

    “Red zone” is a Millan invention. You could make any dog react in a “red zone” manner if you subjected it to the right stimuli. Millan forces dogs over their threshold before filming. This it makes good telly, no matter what it does to the poor dog.

    His popularity not only means there are thousand of owners out there ignorantly ruining their dogs, but there are also hundreds of so-called trainers getting away with abuse because owners do not think to question the methods because they have seen Millan do them.

    Just writing about him upsets me so much I can’t think properly…

    1. Sherry Reply

      Not only before filming, Mandy, but during the filming. Watch, for example, the beginning of the Shadow the husky clip. He intentionally puts the dog in a situation guaranteed to put it over threshold, then insists on escalating things even when the dog is desperately trying to calm the situation. Also, watch the beginning of the clip with the little dog Kiko — the one where he does all the fancy footwork after inciting Kiko by smacking him on the rump when he tries to disengage with Millan.

      1. Beth Burton Reply

        Millan sets every dog up to fail before it has even done anything.

        1. Sherry Reply

          What a great point. I had not thought of that, but you are so right. And, of course, one of the cornerstones of no-force training is to always set the animal (or child) up to succeed at every step along the way. That alone is a strong reason NOT to follow his practice of always working reactive or aggressive dogs over threshold. That is always a setup for failure.

  12. Cara Reply

    Millan isn’t just dominance theory; he’s physical, in-your-face corporal punishment “I WILL hurt you physically and emotionally until you break” theory.

    There’s a certain point where I don’t have a problem with dominance theory. The “Nothing in Life Is Free” program works with some dominance theory ideas, and so do a few other theories that I don’t have problem with. But Millan crosses the line, uses shock-collars, kicks, strangles, and pushes them to the ground. He’s a bully. And even if dominance isn’t 100% false, being a bully is not the way to do it.

  13. Pamla Walker Reply

    Oh dear… I have ranted many times about this man and even emailed National Geographic requesting them to explain why they still show his outdated program (I never received a reply).

    And even the mere mention of his name riles me so, I just wish those who support him would read some science on dog behavior and then come back and tell us that he is wonderful!

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      No reply at all from National Geographic? That’s lame. The show is obviously a cash cow for them, so you can expect it’s going to be around for some time.

      1. Meira Frankl Reply

        From what I understand, Nat Geo will not be airing the show anymore. It will instead be aired only on Nat Geo WILD, which thankfully is not available in Canada (where I am). Maybe it is available on satellite in the States?

        1. Pets Adviser Reply

          The show was moved to Nat Geo WILD last year, and is widely available on cable here in the U.S. The new season (7) started about a week ago, on January 7, and is broadcast (new episodes plus repeats) in 80+ countries.

    2. Jill G Reply

      I don’t think National Geographic (Wild) is who to present our disagreement with Cesar’s training methods. There needs to be a movement started to contact the sponsors of the show and stop buying their products until they stop airing their commercials during his show. No sponsors, no show.

      1. Pets Adviser Reply

        That’s the kind of tactic that does work, when there’s a strong enough movement to support it. Money talks.

      2. Sherry Reply

        So, someone needs to publish a list of the sponsors so people can 1) boycott them, and 2) let them know why we are boycotting them.

        1. Pets Adviser Reply

          Sponsors of his website:

          Vetericyn
          Heartgard
          Frontline Plus

          As for the show… dunno. But Subaru was a major sponsor last year (which included product placement).

        2. Jill G Reply

          Sherry, that is exactly what we need to. We need send letters and e-mails to the companies that advertise on his show and advise that we will no longer use their product until they no longer advertise during his show. Then we need to actually follow through with it and not purchase those products until they pull their sponsorship. The same does for those who advertise in his magazine.

          As for products like Heartgard that advertise on his website, the same thing. And how about we tell our dog’s veterinarian that we will no longer use Heartgard or Frontline Plus until they stop being one of his sponsors? That would fly really well. Many would disagree with me for doing so, but I have done a lot of research and I personally do not give my dogs heartworm medication or use flea control unless absolutely necessary. But I would love if I did and to see my vet’s reaction that I would not use until the product was no longer a sponsor of Cesar Milan. I’m sure there are other products the vet could prescribe, or I would hope anyway. I don’t know about Frontline, but I know my vet prescribes Advantage.

        3. Jill G Reply

          Best Western also advertises on his website.

        4. Sherry Reply

          Now I have a really good reason for preferring Advantix!

        5. Sherry Reply

          Regarding Heartgard, when I was breeding dogs and had a largish kennel I used a horse product that contained the same drug, and was a great deal less expensive. Sorry, I don’t recall the name right now, but it was readily available and as safe as anything else out there.

  14. dsimon Reply

    Dogs are like children. What works on one child/dog won’t work on another.

    1. Michelle Reply

      This is true, but there are things that work on NO dog or child. Shutting down your child by beating him with a belt? Not acceptable. Choking a dog until it nearly passes out and then shoving it over onto its side? Also not acceptable.

  15. Kenny Reply

    I’ve been a dog trainer for many years and work for one of the largest animal welfare agencies in the world. Dogs are facing pretty tough times in this country — euthanasia numbers, neglect, abuse, puppy mills — and although I would never shock or alpha roll a dog, there’s a place for many people to help dogs, certified or not.

    Cesar has done some good with the perception of bully breed dogs, spay/neuter, and emphasizing exercise. Everyone wants to be the “guru” — he isn’t, and neither are the rest of us.

    1. Sherry Reply

      Cesar has done some good with the perception of bully breed dogs, spay/neuter, and emphasizing exercise.

      Then let him stick to that and stop pretending to be an expert on dog behavior and “rehabilitation.”

  16. Roger Lautt Reply

    Most of us older professional dog trainers are “cross-over” trainers, meaning we crossed over to a positive reinforcement approach.

    Fifteen or twenty years ago there was little written (compared with today) about positive reinforcement training, but as knowledge expands it would make sense to change with the new information. About fifteen years ago when I took a dog to a training class and they were advocating the use of treats in a positive reinforcement method, I remember thinking “What sissies — they bribe to get results.” Today I cherish that class as I have since taken many classes, and my methods have changed dramatically. Cesar has a very successful TV show, but in my opinion he is stuck in the knowledge from twenty years ago. Time to change or stop misinforming the public.

    Remember: “Don’t try this at home.”

  17. Meira Frankl Reply

    This article hits a hot point when it mentions how people tend to be for or against, and are in far-reaching camps. Many CM followers feel personally attacked when his outdated methods are questioned. I can’t help but wonder why.

    I think the man has a lot of good ideas and intentions. Walking your dog (which is shocking when you learn how many dogs never, ever get walked), the need for mental and physical stimulation (sadly, most of his mental stimulation just requires the dog to wait), not to humanize your dog, the importance of spaying and neutering (though Cesar’s dog Daddy was never neutered until he got testicular cancer), teaching people about the horrors of puppy mills, being an anti BSL person… all are great, and we all appreciate it!

    He also talks and teaches a lot about dog body language. Often while working with a dog, he’ll explain that the dog is drooling excessively due to being stressed or uncomfortable. Sadly, he never equates that he is the one who is putting them into that stressful situation, and that the stress indicators on the part of the dog were brought on by himself. Viewers seem to miss this too.

    In the beginning, he used to call himself a dog trainer. His goal was to become the best dog trainer in the United States. He’s said this a number of times. He’s since changed his mantra, informing us that he is not a dog trainer, but rather, he is a dog behaviorist, who specializes in dog psychology.

    And all of these titles have been self-imposed. He has no behaviorist education. He has no psychology education, be it canine or human. The only education he has is from his formative years living on his grandfather’s farm where he observed semi-feral dogs.

    Many other very well respected dog behaviorists and trainers (some of whom have already commented here) have pointed out that his methods are seriously outdated, and warn of the harm his methods impose. The reality of fallout from his pack/dominance theory is dangerously real.

    Many of the dogs he’s worked with have not had a fairy-tale ending. Many have not stayed in their CM perfect homes. Some have even been put to sleep. Is that helping a dog and his family?

    The disclaimer on the show is there for a reason. Yet so many viewers believe that it doesn’t pertain to them, and that they are smart enough, dog savvy enough, or have the “gift” to be able to try CM’s methods. Sadly, this has had some disastrous results, and has resulted in CM being the party of more than a few lawsuits.

    Another wise trainer advised to watch the show but to turn the volume off, and to watch the dog, not the man. And then you will truly see what is happening.

    Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate the man. He just doesn’t know. But I do hate his methods. Why would you teach your supposed best friend to behave out of fear of pain or intimidation? Very sad, indeed.

    Meira Frankl

    1. Sherry Reply

      He also talks and teaches a lot about dog body language.

      Yes, but his awareness of dog body language is limited, and his ability to interpret it is downright pathetic at times. Of course, one reason he so often misinterprets dog body language is that he insists upon fitting it into his ridiculous theories.

      If he were really a decent observer of dog body language, he wouldn’t be bitten so often. I’ve seen him bitten numerous times when he didn’t even see it coming, even though the dog was signalling it well ahead of time.

      1. Meira Frankl Reply

        So true, Sherry! I was trying to be diplomatic, but you hit the nail on the head.

        1. Sherry Reply

          Sorry for thwarting your efforts at diplomacy (not really). 🙂

      2. Beth Burton Reply

        It’s not just the body language he misinterprets; it’s the vocalizations as well.

        There have been a couple of times when my husband and I have had a stall at a show and I have prevented my husband from being bitten. Once, the dog was leaning into his hand as if he was enjoying being stroked but he was also giving a strange growl. I just managed to say, “Watch out,” and my husband got his hand away seconds before the dog spun round to bite him. The second time, I was unable to see the dog’s body language, but again there was that growl and again I said, “Watch out.”

  18. Nadine Natle Reply

    One of the things that is disturbing to me is the clips they are showing over and over.

    That Jindo was one of the most difficult dogs ever, and yes, I will say a lot of force was used. They did go back and talk to the people later, and it seems Cesar was able to help them. Would being euthanized have been better? He had been to countless other trainers, which, when you watch most of Cesar’s shows, is most often the case. He is their last chance. Why would that be? Were all the trainers they used before incompetent? Or are many of these just hard cases?

    One of the last rescues I took in was a “ticking time bomb” as labeled by the clicker trainer. I applied Cesar’s methods — they are not all about fear and intimidation. I simply set up basic ground rules so he knew no different. I stepped into my house first. Let my other dogs come and sniff him, and just held him accountable. If he took on a look that was heading for trouble, I just gave him a distraction.

    This is not all about dominating, which a lot of these clips are leading you to believe. Watch one or two other episodes before you rush to judgment with these few clips. One of the first episodes was about a dog that had severe OCD. Nothing would stop this dog when the sun would cause the light to cast a shadow. The poor dog had been to many trainers and also vets who had prescribed medications. This dog had it to the extreme, to the point of leading a miserable life. The only thing Cesar did was walk the dog, and as soon the dog was losing it, he simply distracted him. That was it! Another dog had severe separation anxiety, and nothing worked. His method was to walk the dog, under control. Cesar Millan should not be bashed for thinking of the dog first. He sees things before the average owner has a clue. Watch him closely. He is not all about muscle as the media will have you believe.

    Most owners will not find the time it takes to help their pet. And most of the time that’s the simple answer. Exercise the mind first. Make him work for it.

    No, not every dog is the same, and not every method is perfect. And yes, the media sways things the way they want. But if you just watch these few clips and judge him on that, you’re just as guilty.

    1. k9mythbuster Reply

      Why is the argument so often Cesar’s way vs. euthanasia? This is just an inflammatory argument and not even a valid issue. Are you aware of the number of dogs who appeared on the show who have been euthanized? I know of at least one that was declared by the producers to be a success and then was later taken in for euthanasia after the show. I received this information directly from the vet’s office, which supports reward-based methods and talked the owners OUT of putting the dog to sleep.

      As for the example of your rescue… you don’t really provide enough detail about the behavior, what you saw, and about what you’re seeing now, so I can’t make any determination based on your perceived success. Even if the “clicker trainer’s” assessment was wrong, you don’t indicate the trainer’s background, experience, or any other information that can help us determine whether or not this was a skilled and knowledgeable person. Just because they use a clicker doesn’t mean they passed some sort of reward-based training initiation.

      1. Sharon Normandin Reply

        “Even if the ‘clicker trainer’s’ assessment was wrong, you don’t indicate the trainer’s background, experience, or any other information that can help us determine whether or not this was a skilled and knowledgeable person. Just because they use a clicker doesn’t mean they passed some sort of reward-based training initiation.”

        That is an excellent point. There are many “clicker trainers” out there, self-proclaimed “positive” trainers, that really have no more knowledge of how to use positive reinforcement in training than Cesar does. And it is difficult for the average pet owner to sort out the truly knowledgeable trainers from the others. There are many people who try clicker training and announce, “Well, it just doesn’t work for my dog; all dogs are different,” and if you watch them, their timing, criteria and general skills are quite lacking. Like Bob Bailey has said, “If it’s not working, you’re doing it wrong.”

        1. Sherry Reply

          Exactly right. Having a clicker in one hand and treats in another does not make someone a clicker trainer, but there are quite a few out there calling themselves clicker trainers when that’s all they have.

      2. Holly Reply

        A very strong non-disclosure keeps people from talking even after the show is over. If CM weren’t a scam, he should be happy to have people speak about the experience and long-term effectiveness.

        1. Beth Burton Reply

          Holly,

          I totally agree with you. Why does he need this disclaimer/non-disclosure document if what he does works? Surely he would want the people to bring others to him.

    2. Meira Frankl Reply

      Actually, that famous Jindo that you are referring to is now dead. He had been put down after CM’s show claimed that he had a happy fairy-tale ending.

      1. k9mythbuster Reply

        Was that JonBee? Last I saw, he was listed on a rescue group’s website and was up for adoption. Did that change?

      2. Pets Adviser Reply

        Not sure this is true. We believe you’re talking about JonBee, the Korean Jindo featured in some of the most controversial video clips. It appears that JonBee was sent to a shelter after becoming aggressive again (though Jonbee’s owner had earlier defended Cesar’s methods in a letter to National Geographic), and was then eventually rehomed.

        JonBee’s whereabouts now? Not sure. But we haven’t seen anything about him being euthanized. Do you have a link to this?

        1. k9mythbuster Reply

          Interesting. He used to be listed on a rescue site run by Cheri Lucas, one of Millan’s followers, but the listing has been removed.

        2. Meira Frankl Reply

          I don’t have one, but I will check around. This is what I had heard, though.

      3. Really Reply

        You “heard” this? Your method of reporting the “facts” is just as irresponsible as you are bashing CM for “training” dogs without learning all the science behind it. Those who live in glass houses…

        1. Meira Frankl Reply

          Without learning the science behind what? CM’s methods? I know about them, it’s called dominance theory.

    3. Sherry Reply

      One of the things that is disturbing to me is the clips they are showing over and over.

      Yes, many of us find those clips disturbing.

  19. Karen Slough Reply

    I am shocked! Cesar is one of my heroes, and it surprises me that anyone would think his methods are inhumane. I’ve read his book, watched his shows and follow his website religiously. There are many reasons he has become world-renowned for his talents in dealing with dogs that have special issues… because he offers good advice, backed by years of experience with much success.

    I work as an animal control officer. I admire him greatly for bringing much-needed awareness to the reasons dogs become aggressive. Many people ditch their dogs because they fail to properly understand their needs. He has given many so-called problem animals a second chance at a good life. Cesar is a dog’s best friend!

    1. Holly Reply

      There really isn’t much talent. He takes advantage of what I now call the Cesar Effect. Basically, when you take a really out-of-control dog, it is easy to see a big difference in a short period of time. All trainers experience it. In a non-aggressive dog, all I have to do is take the leash, make it short (with no pulling on my end) and within a minute or two the worst dogs will settle into a sit and I can reward. No magic, no talent, but people are impressed.

    2. Sherry Reply

      I admire him greatly for bringing much-needed awareness to the reasons dogs become aggressive.

      What reasons? Dominance? Sorry, that’s not one of the reasons.

  20. Beth Mattei-Miller, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA Reply

    Very nice article.

    Why do people think dog “rehabilitor” or any other phrases he uses differentiates what he’s doing as unique? He is a dog trainer who attempts to do behavior modification. His goals are no different from those of a positive reinforcement trainer or a humane behavior professional. There are many techniques, but if risks are greater than the rewards, then we must re-evaluate the methods. Getting there is just as important as how you get there. And in the case of using force, dealing with the behavior fallout later and the false sense of security beforehand.

  21. theresa kjær Reply

    I think he is one of the best trainers I have ever seen. Funny enough, in Denmark a lot of so-called trainers protested him… and they are so-called because they only have a weekend to learn to be a trainer and suddenly they know everything.

    Do I agree with all his methods? No, I don’t agree with electrocuting dogs; however, he has taught me a lot about dogs, so dear Cesar: Continue doing what you do (but please skip the shock collars).

    1. Sherry Reply

      He has taught me a lot about dogs.

      Unfortunately, a great deal of what he says is simple, contra-factual nonsense, so how do you filter out the good from all that? There is nothing good that Millan says about dogs that you can’t get from any decent trainer or behaviorist, and without having to wade through gallons of his ignorant dreck.

    2. Sherry Reply

      I think he is one of the best trainers I have ever seen….
      “Do I agree with all his methods? No…

      Sorry, the logic here just isn’t working for me.

  22. Brian Motz Reply

    Millan: Good intentions, bad form.

    Cesar Millan does many things right. His positive representation of the American pit bull terrier is an example. Another would be his desire to help people who have dogs with behavior issues, because addressing those issues keeps the dogs in homes and alive.

    However, Millan’s weakness is his choice to ignore dog science as it relates to behavior. In doing so, he sets a bad example for dog owners — and even a dangerous one. Many of the techniques he uses may lead to short-term submission via fear, but long-term worsening of existing issues or even the creation of new ones.

    Cesar should use his fame to show the public how to do it right. But to do so, he needs to set aside his ego and be open to learning.

    1. Sherry Reply

      I think you are probably right, Brian, about the intentions. However, I think the fame and fortune thing has overtaken the intentions when it comes to his training — pardon me, rehabilitation — techniques.

      I do believe he is making a lot of it up as he goes along, and because he is who he is, and what he is doing and saying is being recorded, he is not free to back off, stop, rethink, replan, and start again as trainers are who are not so much in the public eye. Add to that a strong dose of ego, and a lot of truly nonsensical thinking about dog behavior, and you have some pretty bad stuff going on a lot of the time.

    2. Holly Reply

      Good intentions? His intention is to “dominate” a dog physically. That doesn’t sound good to me.

      1. Sherry Reply

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I think people do sometimes do the wrong things with the best of intentions. That could be the case here.

        It’s probably more complex, though. When people receive fame, fortune, and adulation for mediocre work, it tends to blur lines, and makes it much more difficult for them to stand back and consider whether what they are doing is really fulfilling their original intentions.

  23. joanne munding Reply

    Cesar Millan is great at what he does!

    Yes, his show says do not try this at home, but I’m thinking that when they say that they are talking about walking into a room with strange dogs, or trying to get a strange, unwary, and skeptical dog. I have trained some pretty nasty dogs in the past, and I do not think twice about facing off with one, but it is because I feel as Cesar does. It is not the dog that is the problem — the humans create the issue.

    Cesar approaches training as one would if you were in a wolf pack or if you were trying to help someone who was out of control. Cool, calm and clear-headed. Yelling does not work; nor do claw-type collars, etc. It is possible to train a dog without those types of aides or, shall I say, the wares of a dominatrix, or dominator. Only a power-hungry person would overpower an animal. Cesar does not do this. He approaches the dog from its level. He steps back, listens to the family, then approaches the dog as a shrink would with a human. No more, no less.

    1. Sherry Reply

      So, Joanne, let me see if I understand your logic here. You think that because it is people who created the issue, it is appropriate — and presumably effective — to take a confrontational stance with the dog (that is what “face off with one” means). I am having trouble understanding how one leads to or justifies the other.

      1. joanne munding Reply

        I did not say all people, Sherry, and obviously you are one who should not do what Cesar does; you would be eaten. Is he pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes? No more than any other television trainer. In fact, a whole lot less. He allows you to see exactly what is going on, he advocates for those who need it, he can calm even the most frightened dog. Only those afraid of the truth would be planning demonstrations, etc.

        1. Sherry Reply

          Let me rephrase the question, Joanne. You think that if a person or people have created a dog’s issues it is appropriate — and presumably effective — to take a confrontational stance with the dog (that is what “face off with one” means). I am having trouble understanding how one leads to or justifies the other.

        2. Sherry Reply

          Obviously you are one who should not do what Cesar does; you would be eaten.

          I’m not sure what you are trying to say here, but if you are suggesting I would be bitten, that is pretty darned funny considering the number of times Millan has been bitten, including at least one bite that put him in the hospital. For the record, I have been bitten exactly once during a training session. That was back when I was using force-based training, and I recognized at the time that it was 100% my fault. I was not bitten before, and I have not been bitten since because even in the years I used force I was smart enough not to create or allow a situation to develop in which a bite would occur. Millan apparently is not that smart.

          Is he pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes?

          Pulling the wool over people’s eyes suggests that he is deliberately deceiving people, so I don’t think he is doing that. I think he absolutely believes his own press. I think he believes he knows what he is doing and what he is saying, and that the dogs that slink around him avoiding contact have been “rehabilitated.” One can only hope that one day he wakes up and sees reality.

          No more than any other television trainer.

          Fallacy of common practice here. The fact that others do it does not make it OK for him to do it.

          In fact, a whole lot less.

          And again with the “Tommy stole twice as much as I did, so why am I being punished” defense? You really like that one, don’t you?

          He allows you to see exactly what is going on…

          Really? So you’ve seen all the footage that has been edited out, and you have seen what he does before the shooting begins. Lucky you.

          He can calm even the most frightened dog.

          No, that is just plain false on its face. A dog that is shut down is not calm.

          Only those afraid of the truth would be planning demonstrations, etc.

          And now you’re just getting silly. Thanks for giving us a good chuckle tonight.

    2. Diane Garrod Reply

      Certainly he is great at pulling the wool over the public’s eyes. Otherwise, what exactly is he great at? Putting fear into dogs… yes. Getting bitten… yes. Spouting positive words while manipulating a dog, mishandling… yes. He certainly is very good at what he does, because people think he’s right.

  24. Debra Jones Reply

    Personally, I train with positive reinforcement. I’ve been a student of Susan Garrett’s for a while, and it changed my way of training! It’s actually fun to train my dog. I’ve not to this day had to show “dominance” over my dog.

    I would never go back to negative reinforcement, to choke collars, shock collars, etc.

    Susan also has a degree in animal behavior science, and it really shows in her training. Cesar would do good to learn from her. No one is perfect, but I would choose SG over CM anytime, anywhere. She taught me to find joy even in failures and how to turn those failures into accomplishments. My dog loves being with me, loves pleasing me and finds value in me. Couldn’t ask for a better four-legged companion! Thank you, and “say yes!”

    1. Sherry Reply

      Susan Garrett is really good. She has lots of creative ideas that work, and she keeps advancing and refining what she does. I got her Crate Games DVD, and plan to start working through it. It is one of many effective force-free ways to teach self-control.

      Interestingly, I have heard Millan and his acolytes talking about how he teaches dogs self-control, but that is a fallacy. Self-control cannot be imposed by force. It is only SELF control if it is a choice made freely, so it cannot be coerced. Susan’s Crate Games, and Leslie McDevitt’s Control Unleashed are two of a number of excellent programs for teaching self control in the true sense.

      There are also several excellent force-free programs for dealing with reactivity, fearfulness, and aggression. Control Unleashed (CU) is one of the best — Leslie is fantastic. BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training) is another one I have heard great things about. I have used CU successfully, and have some materials here on BAT, but have not had a chance to look them over yet. There are only so many hours in a day.

      Since I completed my transition to no-force training, the difference in my dogs is beyond dramatic. When they see me getting out the training equipment, they go nuts with excitement. Lately I have been videoing most of my sessions with my papillon, and when he sees me getting out the camera now, he gets excited because he knows we are going to be working. Until I fully transitioned to no-force I never had a dog that was more eager than I was to get to work.

      Now, instead of teaching a forced retrieve, I shape the retrieve (shaping is my favorite way to teach new things, and it creates a dog that is totally engaged in the process, and thinking and making choices happily). Since I started teaching retrieves by shaping, the most amazing thing has happened. If the dog notices its dumbbell sitting on the table, it will try to jump or climb or use whatever means it can to reach it, and get it down. Retrieving the dumbbell has gone from something my dogs did because I gave them no choice to something they are demanding to do.

      Oh wait! Does that mean my dog is trying to dominate me by demanding that we work on retrieves when HE decides?! Oh no! I must suppress that behavior immediately. BAD dog! BAD!

      1. joanne munding Reply

        So you give your dogs no choice? How is that? I’m curious. Electric collars? Prong? Boot to the butt? Please don’t say the methods of Pattison.

        1. Sherry Reply

          Joanne, pardon me, but did you actually read what I wrote before responding? It doesn’t appear that you did.

          In fact, one of the fundamental differences between “Cesar’s Way” and the way I and his other critics train is that we DO give our dogs choices. No-force training is all about choices, and setting our dogs up for success, ignoring mistakes, and rewarding the right choices every step along the way. We do not, as Millan and his ilk do, set them up to make mistakes so we can “correct” (more accurately known as punish) them. That holds as true for changing unwanted behaviors as it does for teaching new behaviors.

  25. Jonathan Klein Reply

    I’ve worked with at least one dog that was on Cesar’s show, Leo the sharpei. It took Leo a long time to get it over his fear of training. He was really shut down and afraid to do much of anything. Unfortunately, I never got through to the owners to do anything different than what they had learned from Cesar, so I think Leo’s future was probably limited. I don’t know what happened to him after that.

    I have met and watched Cesar train, and I am glad to say that I do things differently, and have made a career out of helping people learn better, positively based methods. There is a video on my home page that doesn’t reference him directly, but the implication is there: http://www.isaidsit.com

    1. k9mythbuster Reply

      I also worked with a dog that Cesar “trained” before the airing of his show.

      The dog was a bully breed that barked/lunged at other dogs while on walks (not an uncommon issue for any breed). The owner swore by him and claimed that he was amazing… and yet her dog still lunged just as much or worse at other dogs. The only difference seemed to be that now when her dog lunged, she just yanked on her collar and said “Tssht.”

      Like you, I was unable to convince her to abandon those methods… even when they weren’t working for her! Clearly she was impressed more with celebrity influence than with results.

      1. Sherry Reply

        OMG, that tsssssst! thing he does is annoying!

  26. Kim Willis Reply

    I lead a local rescue group and have a pit bull and two other dogs. I am apparently unaware of the level of fanaticism out there surrounding CM. I find it quite shocking that anyone, particularly those with dogs in their lives, would believe that shocking dogs and hitting and kicking them is not inhumane. I cannot imagine behaving that way toward my dog, or any dog. I also find it interesting that people are so defensive, but I guess if you are following his methods, the truth hurts.

  27. Susan Werner Reply

    Cesar Milan has helped thousands or even millions of people and dogs. He has helped people learn that there’s hope for dogs with behavior issues and they do not necessarily need to be dumped at the shelter.

    He has saved the lives of thousands of dogs that would have been dumped before mainstream dog owners understood how to deal with their dogs. He has helped us to understand the mentality of dogs. He started a movement, and other trainers are getting work by following in his path or riding on his coattails. What he says makes sense, and we all “get” that we don’t have to use all of his methods… Just grasp the basics, and put them to work. Don’t be jealous. He is successful because he’s good. He deserves it.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Susan. By the way, your website has amazing photos of pets.

      1. Susan Werner Reply

        Thanks very much! In case people want to see the photos, can I mention the site? http://www.SitStaySmile.net/

        1. Michelle Reply

          I’m sure they’re very nice, but I wouldn’t entrust my dog to any photographer who uses Cesar’s methods on dogs.

          1. Señorita Reply

            And you are trying to raise awareness for your way of training dogs? With snide, personal digs like that you only serve in making yourself out to be a horrible person. Susan is not a dog trainer so what have her beliefs in training methods got to do with her photography skills? I’m afraid it’s narrow minded people like you that make evolving methods so difficult!! You say CM is abusive to dogs but you’re ok if the abuse is directed to human?!!!

        2. Sherry Reply

          I’m with Michelle.

    2. Sherry Reply

      He has helped us to understand the mentality of dogs.

      More likely he has helped you MISunderstand the mentality of dogs, since his “understanding” is based on myth and misinformation.

    3. k9mythbuster Reply

      Not a single comment here is motivated by jealousy of his fame or fortune. If that were the case, we could simply jump on the Cesar gravy train and claim, like so many others, that we are just like him, trained by him, or trained by the people trained by him (we have several of those in my city, alone).

      These individuals are no more a trainer than I am a neurosurgeon because I watch Gray’s Anatomy. The difference is, his followers don’t have confidentiality agreements and clever film editors. Just like in my town, the word gets out that there are bad trainers in town. Whisperer wannabes. The vets don’t refer to them. The shelters actively steer people away from them. And the dog owners fire them after one or two sessions.

      He is successful because he hired a powerful PR firm to build his image, connect him with celebrities and develop a show. He now has a multimillion-dollar industry dedicated to keeping him in the spotlight so they don’t lose their jobs. Don’t confuse that with being “good.”

    4. Janet Velenovsky Reply

      Susan, sadly, not everyone does “get” that concept. I deal with problem behaviors on a regular basis that appear after someone “tries this at home,” disregarding the fine print on the show.

      I saw Cesar in person once. His impressions of dogs were entertaining, he was charming, and he patiently signed autographs for quite a while. But what he said about dog behavior and training was contradictory, non-scientific, and fairly boastful. I remember thinking he was a fabulous stand-up dog comedian.

    5. Lori Reply

      “Other trainers are getting work…”

      So true! The majority of my clients are those who’ve watched his show and tried his methods, or have hired a trainer who uses the same techniques. They then come to me to help them fix issues that were made worse by those methods. The man definitely keeps those of us who train force-free busy!

  28. christine mildenhall Reply

    I think someone should do to him what he does to the dogs. I have a working dog, and I got told properly to be kind to the dog and the kinder you are, the better the dog is, and is willing to be with you and do things for you.

  29. Eliza Reply

    I think it is sad that we can’t agree to disagree. Instead, we must argue and mud sling and try and force people to believe what we believe.

    I don’t think that there is only one way to train a dog, and I don’t think Cesar uses excessive force. I have been working with dogs for 13 years as a dog groomer, and I have used methods similar to Cesar’s before, but it’s certainly not appropriate with every dog.

    That’s just my opinion. Thank you for the article and debate; it has been enlightening.

    1. Sherry Reply

      So, depriving a dog of oxygen by placing a non-loosening noose high on its neck where it exerts maximum pressure on the trachea and stringing the dog up with its front feet off the floor until it collapses to the ground gasping and choking is NOT excessive force? OK.

    2. Jill Spurr Reply

      Unfortunately Eliza, you will never get me to agree with hurting dogs, and if that makes me a bad person, I will live with it.

      Interesting that you say you are a groomer. Have you compared the Cesar version of teaching a terrified dog to accept being groomed with Sophia Yin’s version using a Manners Minder? They are opposite ends of the spectrum, including Millan getting bitten and Yin not.

  30. Louise Kerr Reply

    It would be really interesting to see a head to head between someone like Susan Garrett or Victoria Stillwell and Cesar Millan so that the contrast between methods could be demonstrated.

    I gave up watching his TV shows and the video clips on the net ages ago as the things I see are just too distressing. For clients who tell me how wonderful he is, I teach them about canine body language and then get them to watch the show with the sound down. They have all come back and agreed with me, once they are better educated. The proof is in the long-term results positive trainers get, even in difficult cases. Like many trainers who have commented, I also take on difficult dogs without the use of intimidation or aggression.

    Regards from Australia

  31. Miranda Luck Reply

    Cesar and his methods are regularly discussed (especially amongst specialists in the field), but speaking to a large cross-section of the dog owning masses in the UK, they (owners) generally don’t focus on any of the ‘extreme’ techniques but will certainly recite the constant themes:

    Rules, boundaries and limitations! And master the walk!

  32. Boxer D Reply

    I have never seen Cesar mock or deride anyone else’s control methods, yet he is constantly in the firing line for any book-learned trainer to have a pop at. I think it’s referred to as “Tall Poppy Syndrome.” He has never claimed to be a trainer either — just a behaviorist, and the two are very different.

    I don’t agree with all of his methods or some of the tools he uses. But then again, I have not been faced with all the situations he is faced with.

    I am involved with animal rescue, however, and am sick to my stomach with bad or ineffective advice and support from “experts” suggesting that we manage an extremely aggressive dog with either euthanasia or a yellow clicker and cheese, all the time while the dog is too frightened to even stand close to his kennel. For this generous piece of expertise the rescue was charged £100 plus £20 to cover travel costs, and yes the qualifications this person had were impressive — at least upon the paper they were written.

    Oh how I wish I lived nearer to someone like Cesar who at least has the commitment to stand by the dogs he works with and the contacts to offer even the worst dogs the best opportunities.

    1. Meira Frankl Reply

      Actually, when he started out, he did call himself a trainer. His goal when he got the States was to become the best dog trainer in the country. He’s said this himself, more than once.

      After a few years, he stopped calling himself a dog trainer. Then he started calling himself a behaviorist. I don’t know how he could have done that, because he has no education to be titled a behaviorist. He’s since dropped that title, and now calls himself a rehabilitator. All of his titles have been self-imposed. None of them are accredited.

      I totally agree with you that finding a qualified professional trainer is not always easy. There can be a lot of wading to go through. But if you do your research properly, and know what you’re looking for, then you will find it. Perhaps there is a local trainer near you who is interested in working with rescue dogs? Let’s face it, not many people want to work for free.

      If that doesn’t work, you can always educate yourself as much as you can to help those you give your time to. 🙂

      1. Boxer D Reply

        I never learned how to rescue from a book, and I never collected a piece of paper while wearing a cap and gown to prove I can do it. Does that mean I am not a rescue volunteer?

        If you help people with managing their dog’s behaviour then you are a behaviourist. A qualification proves you have sat in a learning environment; it does not offer any proof that you are more capable than the next person in occupying a role.

        I care no more or less for Cesar’s methods than I do for any other, but don’t offer me a clicker to train an unmanagable dog whose only desire is to remove one of my limbs. “Clicker Lady” would not even go into the pen with the animal and wanted to click and reward from behind the bars of the cage The dog never benefited from her visit, and the rescue certainly didn’t. She, on the other hand, was very well rewarded for 10 minutes “work.”

        1. Beth Burton Reply

          “A qualification proves you have sat in a learning environment; it does not offer any proof that you are more capable than the next person in occupying a role.”

          It actually proves that they are up to date on all the training methods around and are not stuck in 40-year-old, out-of-date ones. I would hope that the rescue you help has given you some form of training. As for “Clicker Lady,” why did she get paid for not training the dog?

        2. Meira Frankl Reply

          I am sorry, but being a rescue volunteer, while being very noble (I am one too), isn’t a titled position.

          Just because he works with dogs does not make him a behaviorist. He needs a university education to be able to call himself that. That’s just like saying that since I’ve worked on people who weren’t well, I can now call myself a doctor. Even though I have no medical education. I gave someone an aspirin (even without checking if he or she was allergic), and I’m now a doctor!

          Like I said before, I totally understand that it might be hard to find a qualified, reputable trainer. You just have to look harder, ask for referrals and be just as choosy as when you’re buying a new car.

          And unless you’re CM — using aversive methods — not much work can be done in 10 minutes. What did you expect her to do?

        3. Beth Burton Reply

          “I have never seen Cesar mock or deride anyone else’s control methods…”

          Cesar regularly mocks people that use clickers and other reward-based methods.

          The Kennel Club, APDT and APBC here in England have lists of qualified behaviourists and trainers on their websites. To find one near you, just type your zip/postcode in the search box.

        4. Sherry Reply

          In fact, a clicker is exactly the correct tool for working with a fearful or aggressive dog that “wants to remove one of your limbs.” “Clicker lady” was absolutely right to work with the dog with a barrier between, both for the sake of the dog and for the sake of her own safety. That fits with the principle of always working the dog under threshold, it fits with the principle of “safety first,” and it is in the end the most effective way to work with a dog who is too fearful or aggressive to be approached.

          It is also a fact that 10 minutes is not remotely close to being enough time to work with a dog that is extremely fearful or aggressive. That work takes multiple short sessions with the dog over a period of time.

          Maybe “clicker lady” was not very skilled. Based on your tone in speaking about her, it seems more likely she was never given enough time or space to do the work effectively.

    2. Sherry Reply

      He has never claimed to be a trainer either — just a behaviorist.

      Great! What credentials does he have that give him a legitimate claim to be a behaviorist? What studies has he undertaken, either as part of a program or on his own? What written and practical tests has he taken and passed? What certifications does he have to prove that he is qualified to call himself a behaviorist?

    3. Susan Werner Reply

      “I have never seen Cesar mock or deride anyone else’s control methods, yet he is constantly in the firing line for any book-learned trainer to have a pop at. I think it’s referred to as ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome.'”

      Exactly… Very well put.

      1. Jill G Reply

        Many good trainers are book-learned trainers who have mentored under others. They read books by highly regarded trainers and behaviorists, books by people like Dr. Sophia Yin, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Karen Pryor and Terry Ryan. They learn and study from these books and take an exam to earn their Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed certification. Or take it a step further and get Knowledge and Skills Assessed. The exam includes questions on instruction skills, teaching skills, animal husbandry, ethology, learning theory, equipment, business practices and ethics. To keep their certification, these trainers must complete continuing education each year. They complete webinars, they attend lectures and are constantly learning and expanding their knowledge and keeping up to date. What does Mr Milan do?

    4. Sherry Reply

      I have never seen Cesar mock or deride anyone else’s control methods…

      “Control” methods. That kinda says it all, doesn’t it?

      1. Boxer D Reply

        We all control our dogs, don’t we? What is a lead for?

        1. Jill G Reply

          A lead is for safety. It is not a training tool or a tool to control your dog. In many group training classes, instructors will ask the dog owners to drop the lead on the floor and stand on the end so that they do not have it in hand and cannot “correct” the dog by yanking on the lead. My dogs do for me because they want to, not because I command them to or jerk them around on a lead.

        2. Sherry Reply

          The point is that to Millan and those who practice force-based training it is ALL about controlling dogs. No-force trainers are not about exerting control over their dogs.

        3. Holly Reply

          One of our training rules is that we work as though we don’t have a leash on the dog. The leash just keeps untrained from running off while they learn.

  33. Jeff Sheldon Reply

    I don’t get the anti-Cesar sentiment. If I were trying to become certified as a dog behaviorist, I would probably think twice about using Cesar Millan’s books and materials to justify my positions. I also wouldn’t like his chances in a debate with dog behaviorists with strong academic credentials. Still, having watched his TV show and read several of his books, I would eagerly welcome his advice if I had a dog who exhibited severe problem behaviors.

    I also think that his critics have hugely exaggerated the extent and degree to which his methods could be characterized as “aversive.” Furthermore, they typically fail to note how often the dogs he works with receive positive reinforcement during training sessions. (Be sure you understand what “positive reinforcement” means from a behavioral perspective.) Watch his television shows with an open mind and judge for yourself whether or not the dogs — and the people who own them — enjoy a higher quality of life after his direct involvement has ended. Life is quite naturally associated with “aversives,” and I for one would prefer to briefly receive a few very mild ones if the outcome is a much higher quality of life on an ongoing basis. (Ask yourself whether you have been traumatized by receiving social reprimands followed by positive reinforcement for doing something appropriate.)

    Anyone, such as Cesar Millan, who helps extremely troubled or “unbalanced” dogs avoid euthanasia or a trip to the shelter by teaching their owners to provide exercise, rules and boundaries, and affection is doing something wonderful. Thank you, Cesar Millan, for everything you do for dogs and their loving owners!

    And to all of you people who don’t know what you’re doing and claim to be using Cesar Millan’s methods, please stop it!

    1. Susan Werner Reply

      Yes… well said.

    2. Beth Burton Reply

      Most of Cesar’s critics are highly acclaimed scientists and trainers that have studied Cesar’s methods and found them to be dangerously flawed.

      “Anyone, such as Cesar Millan, who helps extremely troubled or ‘unbalanced’ dogs avoid euthanasia or a trip to the shelter by teaching their owners to provide exercise, rules and boundaries, and affection is doing something wonderful.”

      All of those owners have signed a disclaimer preventing them from complaining and threatening them with being sued for a large sum of money, so do you really think they will tell you the truth? They want to keep their homes. Some will complain, but many won’t, and many of the dogs that Cesar has claimed to have rehabilitated have ended up dead or in rescue centres because he made them worse.

      1. Pets Adviser Reply

        Beth, can you point to specific examples of dogs that have been euthanized after being on the Dog Whisperer show?

        1. Nan Arthur, CDBC, CPDT-KSA, KPACTP Reply

          Not sure about euthanasia, but the Eskimo dog that was so intense had all its teeth filed down after CM failed to “rehabilitate” it. That was a newspaper piece.

          I have job security from all the damage that people and so-called dominance trainers have done to their dogs, which is really sad.

        2. Sherry Reply

          Oh wow, Nan, I remember reading about that dog (or maybe there was a story on TV), but they did not mention it was one of Millan’s “success stories.”

          I have heard that the Jindo that had so many problems was subsequently taken in for euthanasia by the owners, but that the vet talked the owners out of it, and tried to get Millan involved again (poor dog!), but I do not know the final outcome.

          I think it is difficult to get confirmed information on most of these dogs due to the strict limits the show puts on the participants.

          1. Pets Adviser Reply

            As discussed earlier, no one has any proof that the famous Jindo (JonBee) was euthanized. In fact, it appears the dog was rehomed (see our earlier comments on this).

            The nondisclosure agreement placed on anyone who appears on the show keeps coming up as an excuse to automatically presume that some (one person even claimed “many”) dogs seen by Cesar Millan have been euthanized, but that is an awfully big stretch. We would prefer not to publish such wildly unsubstantiated rumors, so please — no more referring to this myth, unless you have hard facts to back it up.

        3. Sherry Reply

          No one has any proof that the famous Jindo (JonBee) was euthanized.

          Yes, that is why I wrote that I had heard “the vet talked the owners out of it, and tried to get Millan involved again… but I do not know the final outcome.”

          The fact that dogs he has worked with have had to be rehomed suggests that his attempts to “rehabilitate” dog and owner were not successful.

          1. Pets Adviser Reply

            Sherry, that wasn’t any sort of attack on you; it was frustration that some people keep claiming as fact that dogs have been euthanized when there’s no proof of such thing.

        4. Sherry Reply

          Got it, PA. didn’t mean to sound defensive, but I guess I did. 🙂

  34. Eryka Kahunanui Reply

    I don’t think that CM wakes up in the morning and thinks, “How can I abuse dogs today?” I think he is doing what he knows to be effective training because he’s seen it work in the past. His behavior is reinforced by seeing dogs submit to his “dominance” and “alpha” status, therefore it continues. Nat Geo reinforces his behavior by providing him a television spot, and his marketing team is brilliant. If I were in Cesar Millan’s shoes, it would be hard to see the “wrong” in the situation.

    Unfortunately for the dogs he “trains,” his method of training can be effective. But for how long? The experienced trainers in the positive reinforcement community have seen the backlash and fallout from punishment-based training. There are no cameras following us around when we have to pick up the pieces of an emotionally and physically broken animal.

    I prefer not to attack CM personally; his choices are his own. He has made efforts to learn about positive reinforcement training, and for that I have to express gratitude. No matter how small the effort in the right direction, every animal needs reinforcement. I do, however, feel strongly about my position on training: Dominance-based training ruins the relationship between the animal and the trainer. And when there is no trust from followers, there is no true leader.

    Many defend punishment-based training with the ideal that treat-slinging is nice for tricks and cutesy stuff but when it comes down to the hard stuff, like aggression, it can’t be solved with cookies. The truth is, that’s the result when positive reinforcement isn’t done properly. In reality, many trainers are able to rehabilitate and perform behavior modification under threshold with the use of positive reinforcement and environmental management. If a dog is trained under threshold and with less stress, much more can be accomplished.

    I also find it interesting that folks defend punishment-based training with the phrasing “as a last resort.” If the situation is so bad that it requires shocking, choking, yanking, or dominating it seems that a more humane “last resort” would be euthanasia. If everything has truly been done for this animal and yet nothing is working except for abuse and force, wouldn’t it be kinder to simply put the dog out of their misery? I couldn’t imagine living a life in which I was subjected to constant badgering, physical pain, insecurity, confusion, mental exhaustion and being forced into submission time and again.

    We (humans) expect dogs to change their way of life (i.e., stop reacting to other dogs on walks) so that we don’t have to change our way of life (i.e., having to stop walking our dog during busy dog-walking times). Yes, this statement is a generalization. But I’m using it to illustrate the fact that maybe if your dog bites other dogs at the dog park, that might not be the ideal place to be bringing your dog.

    Not every training method works for each dog, but thankfully positive reinforcement has many dimensions and avenues without ever resorting to force. There really is no excuse: Introducing physical pain only makes it easier for the human but worse for the dog in the long run. Your choice of training depends on whose life you’re hoping to improve…

    1. Meira Frankl Reply

      Excellently written! You said it all!

    2. Sherry Reply

      When there is no trust from followers, there is no true leader.

      Beautiful!

    3. Beth Burton Reply

      Well said, but you forgot the money. LOL

    4. Pets Adviser Reply

      Great comment. Your first sentence bears repeating:

      “I don’t think that CM wakes up in the morning and thinks, ‘How can I abuse dogs today?'”

      Good way to keep things in perspective…

  35. Joanne Munding Reply

    Sherry, you do not have to be confrontational, not with a human or animal, and I do not see what Cesar does as confrontational in any way. He approaches each animal with confidence; there is a huge difference.

    Do you think the training techniques of some of the other “on air” trainers are better? YouTube a few of them. Watch their shows. They use a smack in the head, claw collars, and e-collars, and some of them even make the owners do sit-ups to conform to their way of thinking. Are they good? No. They break the dog’s spirit, and that does not have to happen. You can train an animal, any animal, without destroying its spirit and turning it into a whimpering, shaking, little thing (despite the size).

    Cesar carries a tennis racket when approaching a dog that may be dangerous. It blocks the dog’s teeth from him. However, through calm, quiet assertion he turns that so-called beast into a well-managed canine. His methods are much like those of Jan Fennell, who uses amichien training with dogs. Cesar refuses to give up on an animal, and will battle to bring out the truth about the various breeds. He works hard to educate the public that the fault lies with humans, not the dogs, and not only the humans that own the dogs, but those who run up to strange ones, and expect it to be, “Oh hi.”

    Trainers can do more damage to a dog than an owner can at times. Cesar, however, will take an animal to his residence to ensure he trains it, one on one, and distance it from the situation in which it feels the stress.

    1. Janet Velenovsky Reply

      Sadly, Joanne, I do not think many of the truly educated and talented trainers get air time. True behavior change takes time and patience, and is accomplished in very small steps. Those processes do not tend to make for “exciting” television, so they are not invited. If you wish to see knowledgeable and effective trainers doing what they do well, I would recommend you visit Tawzer Videos and/or Dogwise.com and look to rent or purchase seminar videos. They will tell a more realistic story.

      1. Sherry Reply

        Victoria Stilwell as as close as you will get to good, no-force training on a TV show, but that is still TV, it is still highly edited, and it is still edited to a significant degree for dramatic impact. But at least Victoria’s approach is based on something real and valid, and she does keep studying and upping her knowledge and skills.

    2. Sherry Reply

      You do not think you have to be confrontational with dogs, yet you say you “do not think twice about facing off with one.” Facing off is another term for confronting.

      And yes, virtually everything Cesar Millan does is confrontational in one way or another and to one degree or another. Look at the video on this page of Cesar Millan with the chihuahua. Do you really think that is not confrontational? In fact, any kind of training, or behavior modification, or “rehabilitation” technique that uses force or compulsion of any kind is by definition confrontational, and that is Millan’s stock in trade. That is the stock in trade of every trainer, behaviorist, “rehabilitator,” or handler who employs force, coercion, intimidation, or pain.

      I am sorry to see you attempt to use the well-worn, tired “but everyone else is as bad or worse” defense. It doesn’t work. There are lots and lots of incompetent, and just plain bad trainers out there, and I don’t doubt that some of them do more harm and less good than Cesar Millan, but that in no way justifies or even mitigates his actions and their consequences to dogs and owners.

      Oh, and if e-collars are so bad, and break a dog’s spirit, then how can you so vigorously defend Cesar Millan, who not only uses them (or rather misuses them), but has an interest in a company that manufactures and sells them? And for the record, neither “claw” collars nor e-collars break a dog’s spirit. What breaks a dog’s spirit is improper use of those tools. I and other no-force trainers don’t use them ever, and do not recommend their use, not because they break a dog’s spirit, but because they are tools of force, and we do not find force to be conducive to really good training or behavior modification programs. We also do not recommend them because the potential for misuse and abuse is too high. We also know that you cannot break a dog’s spirit or otherwise harm a dog using the science-based no-force methods that we use.

      You can train an animal, any animal, without destroying its spirit and turning it into a whimpering, shaking, little thing…

      Try turning off the sound when you watch Millan’s shows, and focus on the body language of the dogs he works with. They may not all be whimpering and shaking, but more often than not they end up to one degree or another highly stressed, shut down, avoidant, frightened, intimidated, or, in some cases, collapsed on the ground gasping and choking, and peeing on themselves. That is the kind of thing we are troubled by.

      Cesar, however, will take an animal to his residence to ensure he trains it, one on one, and distance it from the situation in which it feels the stress.

      That doesn’t help much since he more often than not is a major source of stress for the dog. Just look at how the dogs on his show react to him.

    3. Sherry Reply

      Oh, and Joanne, if Cesar needs to carry a tennis racket to approach a dog, then what he is doing is confrontational to the dog. If he needs to carry a tennis racket, then the dog is not ready for him to approach it, and he has work to do before he attempts to do so.

  36. Relieved Reply

    Thankfully the end appears to be in sight. I hope his influence doesn’t outlive his superstar status!

    1. Sherry Reply

      Do you really think so? I’m not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but I hope you’re right.

    2. Jill G Reply

      I’m with Sherry, I don’t see any end in site. He’s doing lectures overseas now. He has North America brainwashed; now he’s going for the whole world.

  37. Matt Reply

    I watch Cesar’s show all the time. I would never, ever try some of the things he does, but I think he gives a good basis for how to make your dogs happy. At least it has worked for me.

    I am always open to new ideas, which is why I like to read different opinions. But most of the opinions I have read rarely tell you how to help the problem; they just try and tell you what he is doing wrong. It almost sounds like a presidential debate: “I’m better than him, and I’ll tell you everything he does wrong…”

    One thing I truly believe is that taking dogs to prior owners can bring out behaviors that seem to be helped. Perhaps this is why some of the aggressive dogs Cesar tries to help end up reverting to being aggressive. I don’t know. We brought my wife’s dog home with us from her parents’ house. The dog does not bark, listens to us, and does not show the bad behavior she did when we first brought her home. However, the few times we have taken her to my in-laws she reverts back to how she used to act.

    I think Cesar’s message is a good basis to begin with. At least it has helped me immensely.

    1. k9mythbuster Reply

      “But most of the opinions I have read rarely tell you how to help the problem; they just try and tell you what he is doing wrong.”

      That’s because no professional would give an opinion on how to fix a behavior problem based on a 30-second clip on television. True behavior change doesn’t just involve waiving a tennis racquet or yanking on the leash a certain number of times. Here is what I would do instead:

      1. Take a thorough history of the dog’s lifestyle, health and behavior to rule out environmental or medical causes and determine a behavior pattern so I can educate clients on how to prevent recurrence during the training program.
      2. Assess the dog’s current level of training and observe and evaluate the problem behavior (when possible) to determine the scope and level of the behavior and the training needed to address it.
      3. Teach dog and owner new training skills that will be used in situations where problems occur, then practice those skills in increasingly more difficult situations until the dog’s tolerance is built to real-world situations and the owner’s skills are proficient enough to handle emergencies.
      4. Adjust equipment, lessons and recommendations based on dog and owner’s physical limitations, living environment and reported progress, as necessary.

      “What I would do” isn’t a sound-bite answer and doesn’t involve catchphrases like “calm-assertive energy” (which I’ve yet to see anyone, including Cesar, give a clear and objective definition for). That’s because changing behavior is not a one-size-fits-all approach. So it may seem like critics aren’t saying what they’ll do, but that’s because we don’t go for sound bites, but real change.

      I’m glad you find his message is a good basis… But compared to what? What trainers and behaviorists have you read/watched/worked with in addition to watching the show?

    2. Sherry Reply

      I think he gives a good basis for how to make your dogs happy.

      Then why do so many of the dogs on his show look so terribly UNhappy during and following his work with them?

    3. Beth Burton Reply

      No professional would give out advice without first seeing the dog so that the advice is tailored toward the dog’s and owner’s ability.

  38. Tamara Reply

    If we’re asking for opinions, CM has made popular a style of training that is at least 30 years in the past. I am not a fan of any harsh training, no matter who does it — and he’s not the only one doing it, just the most famous. Also, I’m sure he does use some positive methods as well — I’ve never seen anyone who is all bad, or all good for that matter.

    The reason he is popular is that this is what the public wants: fast, instantaneous (even though they’re not really) methods, and being humane be damned. Combine that mentality with a lack of knowledge about canine behavior and it’s a scary mix.

  39. Initforthedogs Reply

    Instilling fear or pain into any creature, human or animal will cause an effect. I do not believe in training this way whatsoever. I spent a weekend with the top trainers and behaviorists — one had to deal with many of CM’s supposed “rehabilitated” dogs months after he had used his hands on them. The owners followed through with his techniques, and many failed miserably, many with the fate of the dog finally retaliating against them — and several by having their faces bit open or severe damage to limbs.

    Trish King in California is the trainer responsible for rehabilitating CM’s failures. We don’t see that on TV, do we? When’s the follow-up show coming on so we can see the progress on past dogs? Not gonna happen. His techniques are short lived, and owners still fear their dogs. Call the LA Humane Society and ask how many dogs they have surrendered or have euthanized that were one CM’s previous clients.

    Any person or dog will eventually react or aggress toward behaviors that they won’t tolerate any longer. Just because it worked the first, second or third time, doesn’t mean it will continue to work. How many pit bulls have attacked people because they were treated horribly or were caused pain? Read the current report on bite statistics. All were caused by the dog’s negligent or abusive owners. Every one of my rescued dogs would be a complete aggressive mess if I used dominance training on them.

    Ninety percent of dog aggression is based on fear — and he suggests instilling more unpredictable fear/pain methods to help them become balanced? Makes no sense.

    1. Diane Garrod Reply

      Well said! Agree totally!

  40. Sharon Denison Reply

    WOW! Personally, I think the man should run for political office. He is certainly attracting the same kind of heated discussions!

    While I don’t agree with all of his methods, I do see him getting the attention of dogs that trainers with “softer” methods have apparently not been able to reach. Don’t forget that what you’re seeing is only a portion of what was filmed; editing is in play ,and I have no clue as to how much control he has/had over what gets shown.

    I’m not a trainer but have handled dogs under stressful situations, and they do not all respond the same way. There are a lot of good trainers out there with lots of good methods that work on MOST of the dogs they train. Very few of those trainers have I found to be flexible enough to switch methods if something does not work. As the rescuer/owner of a couple of alpha aggressive males, I know how hard it is to find the right “key” to get the response that’s acceptable. And yes, sometimes it does come down to making the decision to euthanize because no training seems to be solving the problem.

    1. Sherry Reply

      I do see him getting the attention of dogs that trainers with ‘softer’ methods have apparently not been able to reach.

      Really? And how exactly do you know what kinds of methods the previous trainers (if any) have used? How do you know they used “softer” methods? How do you know they didn’t use harsher methods?

      Oh, and anyone can get a dog’s “attention” by applying the heel of their boot sharply to the dog’s abdomen, or by applying an electric shock to the neck that causes the dog to startle and cry out (well, not really, because I have never seen a dog give its attention in response to those things, what I have seen them do is jump, cry, and look confused and stressed). Any really good trainer can get a dog’s attention without startling it or hurting it, or even touching it.

      I’m not a trainer but have handled dogs under stressful situations, and they do not all respond the same way.

      That’s why it takes a trainer with excellent observation skills, a strong understanding of behavior, and a lot of different tools in their toolbox to work with dogs that are stressed.

      But tell me, do you think it is helpful when handling a dog under stress to subject it to more stress by being confrontational, by choking off its air with a leash around its neck, or by grabbing it and forcing it to roll over on its side, or by applying one’s boot heel sharply to its anatomy?

      There are a lot of good trainers out there with lots of good methods that work on MOST of the dogs they train. Very few of those trainers have I found to be flexible enough to switch methods if something does not work.

      Then they are not good trainers.

      As the rescuer/owner of a couple of alpha aggressive males…

      Please define “alpha aggressive.” I do not understand this term.

      I know how hard it is to find the right ‘key’ to get the response that’s acceptable.

      In most cases it is not hard at all if you are competent and know what you are doing.

  41. Karen Koch Reply

    I love Cesar, and I think his philosophy about rehabilitating dogs and training people is right on.

    He has a very natural understanding of dogs and people that probably can’t be taught. His methods may fail more because of user error than because of not being grounded in truth. Most people do not know how to handle their pets, and they create major behavioral problems that become very difficult to remediate. Cesar works magic with animals that might be beyond the ability of most others. He has keen insight on human nature and behavior, and I think his wisdom is very valuable. People don’t like to be told they are the source of problems, and I think this is the main reason for the backlash he has experienced. He is shining a light on people’s deficiencies (albeit gentle and helpful in nature), and that makes them bristle and rail against him. I’m a solid supporter!

    1. k9mythbuster Reply

      The very fact that it seems like magic to you should be reason enough to question it. I’ve seen David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear on live television. It sure looked like magic, but I didn’t believe it really happened.

      Cesar Millan doesn’t have any special ability… just the willingness to force a dog to the point of shutting down in front of a camera, and a production team that makes it look like magic.

  42. PetElf Reply

    One of the saddest episodes I saw was a large dog (maybe a Great Dane — I’ve forgotten) who was scared of tile floors. He forced that dog onto a linoleum floor, and the poor boy was just terrified. It was so hard to watch.

    But I have taken some positives from him. Calm and assertive energy worked for me in walking my own dogs.

    1. Sherry Reply

      Yes, and even a moderately skilled clicker trainer could have had that dog willingly walking onto the linoleum or tile in just a few five-minute sessions with no stress to the dog.

  43. Me Reply

    Most of Millan’s fans are dog owners with no education or training in the field of dog behavior and psychology, like Cesar Millan himself. So when these people say that they think Millan is right on the money, so what? These people are not authorities in this subject.

    What’s important is that the actual authorities, the real experts at the top of the dog behavior and psychology fields, are saying that Millan and his methods are often psychologically harmful and even at times physically harmful and that his theories on dog behavior are often just plain wrong and not based on any science and research and are actually often the opposite of what science and research shows.

    1. Meira Frankl Reply

      Excellent point!

      1. Me Reply

        Thank you, though I doubt the fans would agree with what I said. They all presume to be experts themselves, though I haven’t witnessed any that were able to correctly read a dog’s body language or signals. Yet somehow they all know more than the people who can read dogs. Hmm… Something doesn’t quite add up with their logic.

        I think his fast supporters really enjoy dominating and punishing their dogs, and the rest of his fans just don’t know any better, and the latter are the ones we can hope to reach and change. The former have no hope, and their dogs suffer for it.

        1. Beth Burton Reply

          I agree with you.

          “I think his fast supporters really enjoy dominating and punishing their dogs, and the rest of his fans just don’t know any better, and the latter are the ones we can hope to reach and change. The former have no hope, and their dogs suffer for it.”

          Also, they don’t know how much physical harm will be done to them when their dogs have had enough; at some point they will suffer too.

        2. Meira Frankl Reply

          I think you hit the nail on the head, and that answers my question as to why so many CM followers feel personally attacked when articles such as this one are written.

          They feel one with the man. He makes it look so easy. And since they have no training regarding dog behavior, they believe what he tells them (even though he doesn’t have any either). I also agree with your point that some people just enjoy being that way with their dogs. And I don’t think anything will get through to these types of people. Thankfully I’ve had a few people ask me to have serious conversations about this, and to explain why I feel the way that I do regarding him.

          Great points.

  44. CF Reply

    Saw a commercial today for the new episodes of the Dog Whisperer. The commercial showed a sheltie who was barking maniacally at a push mower. In the clip, the dog was then tied to the mower with a leash and CM turned the mower on, and the dog completely spazzed. Why would anyone watch that and think it’s a good idea?

    I would have either 1) Put the dog inside when I mow the lawn or 2) put on a leash and let the leash drag, and every time the dog came over to the mower to bark at it, grab the leash and walk the dog to a different part of the lawn and give it treats, play with it, do something much more fun and interesting than barking at the lawn mower. The dog will learn that the mower is no big deal and will ignore it.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Tying the dog to the mower? Jeeeeeeesh.

    2. Sherry Reply

      Or, the dog could learn to associate the mower with treats, and learn to love it. 🙂

      1. Pets Adviser Reply

        Apparently not a quick enough fix for TV. So: “Just tie that dog up to the mower and let ‘er rip…”

        We found a clip. Skip past the dumb ad, and pay attention at around 1:42. Try watching it with the sound off, so you don’t hear any of that feel-good music:

        Gotta love those military fatigues. (This was filmed on an army base, apparently.)

        1. Sherry Reply

          Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse…

        2. Meira Frankl Reply

          OMG… that poor, poor dog. I wonder what Cesar Millan’s fans who claim he no longer uses flooding would say?!

        3. Jill Spurr Reply

          Oh… that was horrible. Why does this man have any airtime? How can anyone justify what he does there? Poor, beautiful dog 🙁

        4. Beth Burton Reply

          Poor dog!

          There’s no grass to mow anyway, so why do it?

          I had a lurcher once who reacted like that to a Hoover. So I just put him in another room. He eventually got used to the sound, then I worked on him with the Hoover moving but not turned on, using rewards. Eventually I could have him and the Hoover going in the same room with no problems.

    3. Me Reply

      This is not only psychologically abusive, but it’s also very dangerous. Just like you wouldn’t mow close to young children, why would you mow close to a dog? Accidents happen. I wouldn’t let a dog get anywhere near a mower, much less tie them to one!

      I don’t even like to be around them and won’t mow without earplugs and earmuffs on to protect my hearing, and I don’t enjoy the gasoline stench. Do I even have to point out that a dog’s hearing and sense of smell is superior to a human’s? So if they’re too loud for comfort for me, a human, think how loud and smelly they must be to a dog!! And so why is it a good idea to tie a dog to such a disturbing piece of equipment?

  45. Janet Eyles Reply

    I think the whole “Dog Whisperer” phenomenon was a marketing exercise that made Cesar look like some sort of god among dog trainers, when in fact he has some good ideas and other very bad ones.

    I think it is a big mistake to market someone in this way as some people begin to believe that he has the answer to everything with no real training or creditation of his own. I don’t believe “one size fits all” as every dog is different and has its own special needs in regard to training. They are as different as humans are from one another. I don’t think this is Cesar’s fault. It is the fault of people who want quick answers and solutions to their problems. There is no “silver bullet.”

    1. Meira Frankl Reply

      Very well said.

  46. Meredith Reply

    I have no formal training in dog training, psychology, or behaviors, but I do have about 30 years’ experience in raising dogs as a part of my family and fostering many while they were seeking permanent family arrangements. I would assume I would be considered your typical pet owner with a television.

    Although I have only seen a few of Cesar’s shows, as well as Victoria’s, I have used a few techniques from both. I can say that one way is not the only way unless you are only planning to deal with only one animal, and even then I would hesitate to not be open-minded about adjusting technique to the situation.

    For example, I could not get one of my dogs to stop chewing on a cedar post we have in our house. This is a support post, so I couldn’t just remove it, and the bad-tasting solutions you can buy didn’t slow him down a second. I read somewhere that Victoria recommended a bike horn as a distraction, so I rushed out to get one. I stood behind the counter so he couldn’t see the horn, and the first time I blew it he did stop chewing on the post, then went right back to it. I blew the horn again, and he then turned to look at me then eyed me as he slowly went back to the post. The third time I blew the horn he lunged in my direction, barking. Needless to say I didn’t blow the horn the fourth time. About a month later I decided to try Cesar’s two finger touches to the neck I had seen him do on an episode. After two touches (which were not painful; he probably barely felt them), he stopped chewing on the post and came to sit with the family and watch television. The next day I had to use the touch three more times; the day after I used it once. He hasn’t chewed on the post since.

    In my opinion the physical touch to this particular dog was a much better way of letting him know that behavior wasn’t allowed than blowing an obnoxious horn in the house that instantly put most of my family in grumpy moods too. So whose way turned out to be less stressful to my dog? Cesar’s.

    I also began walking my dogs with their collar higher on their necks, and this almost instantly stopped them all from sniffing the ground and slowing us down. I do what Cesar said, keep them going for a while, then reward them in a spot where they can all stop and sniff around safely. Trust me, none of my dogs dread their walks now and we can actually go a few miles in the time I have, rather than just one, so they are getting more exercise also.

    All that being said, I am not saying Cesar’s way is the only way and hope to never feel I need to hang one of my dogs up by its leash or intimidate them into wetting themselves, but to say all of his techniques are inhumane is unfair. Victoria’s bicycle horn caused my dog much more stress and anxiety than Cesar’s touch did, but I haven’t started boycotting positive reinforcement.

    Lastly, I just wanted to point out that anti-Cesar advocates explain that Cesar’s techniques are outdated, yet in the same paragraph they say he has no formal training. To me that does not mean he uses his techniques because he does not agree with modern research; it means he uses his techniques because his experience has led him to believe it works best. Speaking as just your ordinary pet owner, if you want to convince me that his techniques are wrong then what you need to do is explain to me why his interpretations of his experiences are wrong. Don’t cite research that for all I know was completed under controlled settings.

    1. Michelle Reply

      “I also began walking my dogs with their collar higher on their necks, and this almost instantly stopped them all from sniffing the ground and slowing us down.”

      Ouch. This is one of my biggest beefs with Cesar, and it seems this idea is still going strong, sadly. Dogs explore the world through their noses. Not allowing a dog to stop and sniff and explore the world is a little like taking someone into the Adirondack Mountains in the fall and then blindfolding them. Neither is a particularly enjoyable experience.

      When I walk my dog the walk is for her. If I don’t want to be slowed down by a sniffing dog, then I go out on my own. I might only walk a mile or two with my girl, but it will take an hour or more because I let her stop and sniff quite a bit. She comes back far more exhausted than if I had simply power-walked her several miles, not allowing her to check the “pee mail” and other interesting smells.

      1. Sherry Reply

        My papillon is a world-class sniffer, and when he gets particularly interested in a scent he literally goes into an altered state of consciousness and loses awareness of everything else. This was a real challenge for us in the beginning because he accompanies me just about everywhere, including to work every day, and sometimes I just have to get us from point A to point B, and don’t have time to let him do that.

        I have never found it necessary to put his collar up high on his neck so it makes him uncomfortable by putting pressure on his trachea (a very poor idea with toy breeds since they are more prone to collapsed tracheas than most other breeds), or use any other kind of physical force or restraint. I just trained him that there is a time for sniffing, and a time for walking, and we have our little signals. He also knows that sniffing isn’t going to happen en route between train and office, so he rarely tries.

        He has a couple of cues — “go sniff,” “go play,” “your time” — that let him know we are on his walk now, and he has a couple of cues that let him know sniffing is not an option at the moment in case he forgets. It works for us.

        1. Meredith Reply

          Who do you model your training after? I only ask so I can research myself. I had tried a couple of reward based reinforcements to get them moving when I couldn’t keep their noses off the ground, but it did no good. The most success I had was when I would wave a treat in front of their nose to redirect their attention then give them treats here and there for staying focused, but that didn’t stop the behavior, it only allowed me to shorten the length of it each time it occurred. And as for using physical force, I used much more of it when trying to get them redirected then I did when their collars were high. I’m 5’4″ and 125 lbs, the two dogs I run outweigh me by at almost 100 lbs, so even when working with them individually there were times if I didn’t pull back on their lead they would take off with or without me.

          When I placed their collars high I felt I had more control. As soon as they would try to put their noses to the ground their collar would stop them, so there was no pulling on either of our parts. I didn’t hold their leads up real high, I just shortened their leads to only a couple of feet so there wasn’t 4 foot of slack they could work with. They were also in their regular collars, not chokers. I have watched handlers of show dogs bring their dogs out in a similar way from what I can see on the television, only most of them do use chokers.

          But as I said earlier, I am just a pet owner with a television.

        2. Sherry Reply

          Meredith, thanks for asking.

          I don’t model my training after any one person. I have learned from many of the best by reading, attending seminars, and working directly with them. All of them are consistent in the basic principles, and each is different in their own way. I have taken value from each of them, and applied my own “special sauce”. I think that’s probably what most of us do.

          Ian Dunbar introduced me to lure/reward training, which was my first entry into the world of force-free training. I rarely use it anymore because I greatly prefer marker/reward (aka “clicker”) training. I find that offers far richer possibilities, and really engages the animal as an active, thinking partner in the effort. However, lure/reward training is quite easy to use, definitely has value, and deserves a place in the trainer’s toolbox.

          It was Karen Pryor who first introduced me to marker/reward training. I have also learned from Bob Bailey. I will be flying to Sweden later this year to work with him for four weeks, and expect to come home MUCH smarter (and tired!) than I am now! 😉 I have learned from Kathy Sdao, Ken Ramirez, Michele Pouliot (Director of Research for Guide Dogs for the Blind, who introduced clicker training to that organization), Leslie McDevitt, Susan Garrett, Patricia McConnell, and the list goes on, and will grow longer and longer over time.

          Quite a few of these people are not primarily dog trainers, but have worked with animals of all kinds. Bob Bailey is a legend, and has worked with some 150 or so species, Kathy Sdao with marine mammals, Karen Pryor started with marine mammals and ponies, Ken Ramirez is director of training and works with multiple species of marine and wild animals at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago – you get the idea.

          I am still learning, and will always be learning, and that’s part of what makes it exciting.

          If you are interested in reading a couple of things I’d suggest starting with Karen Pryor’s early books, Lads Before the Wind, and Don’t Shoot the Dog. They are fairly quick, entertaining reads packed with easy-to-digest information that will give you some basic background without weighing you down with detail. They are not how-to manuals, they are a great introduction to the history, background, principles, and practical applications for no-force training. Don’t Shoot the Dog isn’t even really about dog training, but has far broader application, and completely changed my approach to child rearing. Her most recent book, Reaching the Animal Mind is a must-read – very readable, and contains fascinating new information.

          One of the best clicker books I have ever read, and a book I think would be ideal for you after you have read Karen’s books is The Thinking Dog by Gail Tamases Fisher. It is written especially for trainers who are “crossing over” from “traditional” force-based to no-force training – something most of us here have been or are still going through. I still refer to it from time to time.

          The reason you didn’t have much luck trying reward-based methods with your dogs is that you don’t yet have the basic information or skills to use them effectively. As Bob Bailey says, “if it’s not working, you’re not doing it right”, and you can’t expect to do it right without learning what “right” is. Once you get some information under your belt, and start playing around teaching simple behaviors, you’ll be able to start making it work for you. If you are lucky enough to have a good no-force trainer in your area, you’re learning will be faster, of course.

          And finally, the reason you were able to use less physical force with the collars high on the neck is that any pressure on the collars was pressing on the dogs’ trachea causing them more discomfort than when they were lower on the necks, and at times limiting the air flow. They were more compliant, because they were more uncomfortable when the collars were pressing on their throats.

          The fact that you weigh only 125 pounds and are working with dogs heavier than you are is a great argument for learning to use no-force methods. I weigh about 115 pounds, and am – ahem! – not a young woman anymore. I’m really strong for my age and weight, but I don’t think I could physically manage working with a large, unruly dog using my former methods and not pay for it that night and he next day. Now I can train any animal of any size to do just about anything it is physically capable of without ever even touching it, so I can see myself training animals well into my 90’s!

        3. Sherry Reply

          Ah – Meredith, I neglected to make my point clear regarding the fact that you had to use less physical force with the collars high up. In fact, you were using less energy and less force, but that was because the force experienced by the dogs was greater since it was being applied to a more sensitive part of the body. So, your perception of less force was in fact different from reality from the dogs’ point of view. That’s important to remember, because whether you are using force or force-free training, it is the animals’ perceptions, not yours, that really matter.

      2. Meredith Reply

        I didn’t mean to come across as ignorant to the fact that dogs explore their worlds through their noses. For that I apologize. I do understand the importance of allowing them to explore, but I believe there should be an equal amount of priority placed on actual physical exercise.

        I should have mentioned that I have three dogs, one pit/Lab mix, a Lab/shepherd mix, and an American bulldog. My bulldog was a rescue that had been dumped in a local park. We later found out she has some health concerns, so her walks are separate from the others and she is given plenty of time to “explore” to help her tire out and stay entertained. The other two, however, need more physical activity. They go on three runs a day. These used to be walks until I used Cesar’s method; now they are runs. They are far more worn out when we get home, spend much less time getting into trouble out of boredom, and have both lost some weight, which their vet had recommended. I should also mention that I only had to place the collar higher on their necks for a couple of runs; they choose to run now. I even have had to start mixing up our “resting spots” (used to be referred to as “rewards”) just to get them to stop long enough for me to rest a second. I think by not “forcing” their noses off the ground I wasn’t allowing them to experience what a good run felt like. Now we’re all in much better shape, and no one is complaining. If they hadn’t begun running on their own, without their collars high, I would have went along with the slow walks, but that wasn’t the case.

        But I do agree with you that some dogs don’t need the speed or the distance — our bulldog is one of those cases — and that all dogs should be able to explore, especially new environments.

    2. Sherry Reply

      I do not agree with Victoria Stilwell’s airhorn idea, do not find that it fits in with my idea of no-force training, and am not all that surprised it didn’t work. Also cannot imagine how merely touching a dog’s neck with two fingers is going to do much of anything except perhaps distract him for a moment or two, so I am sure there must be more to it than you are telling us.

      Look, most of us did not come out of the womb as no-force trainers. On the contrary, most of us spent a number of years as trainers using techniques not disimilar to the less violent ones Millan uses. We have switched to no-force training largely because OUR experience showed us that training methods that involve compulsion, coercion, intimidation, discomfort, and pain may produce results in the short term, but have long-term consequences that are not healthy for our dogs or for us, and damage the trusting relationship between us and our canine companions. We have found that methods of training that are pleasurable for our dogs are more pleasurable for us, and we understand why they work better — because they are based on correct understanding of the canine brain, canine behavior, and the process of learning.

      It is also worth pointing out that Guide Dogs for the Blind, as well as a growing number of other programs that train service dogs — dogs people with disabilities literally depend on for their lives — have switched to marker/reward (aka clicker) and other no-force training methods, and have found in each case that the success rate for dogs trained without force has increased, which means the cost per dog placed has decreased, an important factor for non-profit organizations. As a side benefit, Guide Dogs for the Blind reports a drastic reduction in the rate of rotator cuff and other stress injuries among their trainers.

      And finally, I don’t know whether to be amused or sad to see that you challenge us to convince you that our way is better than “Cesar’s Way,” and then demand that we do so with one hand tied behind our backs. That suggests that you have your mind made up and do not want to be confused with facts, so sorry, but I, for one, am not going to waste any more of my time on a pointless exercise.

      I’ll simply end by saying that if it is not good enough for you that one after the other long-time, premiere service dog program, such as Guide Dogs for the Blind and Canine Companions for Independence, has found that scientifically validated, animal-centric, no-force training methods are superior to the force-based methods they employed for decades, then you just keep right on following “Cesar’s Way,” and I wish you and your dogs good fortune.

      1. Jill G Reply

        Sherry,

        Well put. Not to mention that the average dog owner only trains their dog a handful of cues (I don’t like to call them commands) while a guide dog or service dog may be trained over 100 cues and all using force-free methods.

      2. Meredith Reply

        Wow, obviously I have offended you and had absolutely no intention to. As a matter of fact, I asked you who you studied because I was amazed that you were able to teach your dog to get through the train station using only positive reinforcement and was interested in reading about the techniques you were using. Since I have not studied under anyone, I am not aware of who to trust advice from and who to avoid, and obviously who you studied could be trusted. I thought asking for the name so I can research myself was more appropriate than asking you to walk me through the process yourself. Again, my apologies, but due to your many references to Guide Dogs for the Blind, I will look up their information and hopefully find someone who is willing to guide me to some good resources.

        As for me being an advocate for Cesar’s Way and only his way, as I stated earlier, I have watched a few episodes and used two of the techniques I saw, and they worked. I didn’t go into what I learned from Victoria because praising her personally was not what I understood this forum to be for. But yes, I have learned a lot from her show as well. I also would like to add that I am a strong believer in clicker training and use it successfully for most things, but obviously it hasn’t worked for everything.

        You are correct, I did not go into great detail about the two finger touch; I did not just touch my dog and walk away. After touching him to get his attention away from the post, I offered him a more appropriate toy and asked that he lay down. I had tried waving treats, offering toys, saying his name, blowing the horn, even tapped his backside like you would tap a person’s shoulder, but nothing worked until I touched his neck. I don’t know why that got his attention. Once he was focused on me, he seemed to understand that I was offering him his toy not as a reward for chewing on the post, but as an alternative that he would receive praise for.

        So again, I am sorry for offending or leading you to believe that I was challenging your ways. I was actually just trying to learn from those more experienced than I am and to explain why I have such a difficult time in believing I can’t trust any of Cesar’s ways. I thought maybe by explaining my experiences that someone in this forum would be able to help better direct me; maybe this was not the website I should have chosen.

        1. Pets Adviser Reply

          Meredith, there are quite a few certified trainers here who have chimed in. We’re sure one of them can help you! Many of the commenters here have links to their own websites (just click their names if the name is dark blue rather than black).

        2. Nan Arthur, CDBC, CPDT-KSA, KPACTP Reply

          Meredith,

          Thank you for wanting to know more about reward-based training. There are so many different things you can do to learn more about it, including books by Karen Pryor (“Don’t Shoot the Dog,” and “Reaching the Animal Mind”) and an array of others on http://www.clickertraining.com or http://www.dogwise.com who offer and publish book all about dogs. (My book “Chill Out Fido! How to Calm Your Dog” was published by them.)

          There are schools, such as the Karen Pryor Academy (considered the graduate school of dog training), Jean Donaldson’s school, Pat Miller’s school (both also have books and DVDs). Attend conferences such as APDT or Clicker Expo, as well as research seminars and workshops.

          Here is a little taste of why there is such a conflict between the dominance methods and positive methods: http://wholedogtraining.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/bloggin-dogs-the-facts-about-dominance-training/

          I hope this helps.

        3. Sherry Reply

          Meredith, you did not offend me, and I am sorry I gave the impression that you did. FYI, I wrote the comment you thought showed I was offended before you wrote the one you thought offended me — or at least before I read it. As you can see from my response, I was not offended at all — who doesn’t like talking about themselves? 🙂

          Probably the best place to start is with Karen Pryor. She is the “grand lady” of clicker training, and her website, which Nan provided a link to, contains lots of information, practical articles, and other resources as well.

          Karen Pryor Academy turns out graduates all over the country, and there is a link on the website you can use to see whether she has a graduate trainer in your area whom you might try working with.

          There are also lots of DVDs available, and I would say that any you can find in the store on her website would be good. Dogwise is also good for books and DVDs as Nan suggested. And you can rent just about any dog training DVD you can imagine from http://www.tawzerdog.com/index/default.php, which could be a lot less expensive than buying them. I’d suggest starting with the basics even though you have done some clicker training. It can get a bit overwhelming otherwise.

          I’m going to leave it at that for now since it’s late and I have blabbed a lot on here today. Thanks a lot for your interest and your questions, and let us know if we can give you additional information.

        4. Jill G Reply

          Meredith,

          If you are interested in becoming a trainer or just learning more about training and behavior, a good resource is the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at http://www.apdt.com. There is a section on their website for pet owners that includes recommended books and DVDs. There is also a section on how to choose a trainer. All trainers, regardless of methodolgy, can be members, so you carefully need to research trainers to confirm they train using methods you are OK with. Another great resource for becoming a trainer or just learning more about training and behavior is a website of Karen Pryor’s, http://www.clickertraining.com. You will find a “library” with many articles to view, you can find a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and much more. Another source of information is http://www.DrSophiaYin.com. She is a veterinarian and behaviorist and has many articles on her website. Hope this helps.

        5. Michelle Reply

          I know you didn’t ask me (lol!), but one of the trainers I respect the most in the world is Patricia McConnell. She’s written several books (cannot recommend The Other End of the Leash and For the Love of a Dog enough). I’ve learned from a lot of other people, including people I’ve taken classes with, but when I first got interested in getting a dog, Patricia McConnell’s books really helped shape my understanding of the dog.

        6. Eryka Kahunanui, KPA CTP Reply

          Hi Meredith! That’s awesome you’re interested in learning more about positive-reinforcement training, and I’m sorry you may have felt as though this wasn’t the right forum to query! 🙂

          As others have mentioned, Karen Pryor Academy (http://www.karenpryoracademy.com) can help you find a trainer near you, while http://www.clickertraining.com can help you find online resources.

          I’d also like to add that you hit the nail on the head when you provided your dog with an alternate behavior, something other than chewing. That’s an integral part to being able to train your dog effectively with positive reinforcement: For everything you want them to stop doing, you have to have something they can do… and you instinctively provided him that. Kudos!

          Please keep the dialogue going by asking more questions – this is absolutely the forum for open minds! 🙂

    3. Meredith Reply

      I want to thank all of you that offered me resources. This morning I ordered numerous books and DVDs from trainers you recommended and have bookmarked all the websites. It will take me some time to study all of the information, but I am looking forward to it!

      I don’t wish to take up any more of your time, but I do understand that all of you are here to promote positive reinforcement, and obviously it is something that you all feel very strongly about. I want to point out a few things that I find confusing and I hope maybe it will help you when trying to convince other pet owners that positive reinforcement is the better option.

      First, please believe me when I say I have NEVER used what I consider to be punishment to alter any of my animals behavior. Yes, I have given them a stern look when I went into the bathroom to find all the toilet paper shredded on the floor, but no one was yelled at; they were all just told to go in the other room so I could clean the mess. They knew I wasn’t happy, but that was the extent of their “punishment,” if you wish to call it that. My dogs are all well behaved and have been taught primarily through clicker and other reward training, all of which I learned through experience. A few examples of what they do now without being asked to is to greet adults at the door while sitting, but they will lay when greeting a child. They will watch my 2-year-old nephew carry his soggy cookie around just below their noses, but they won’t touch it, even when he throws it on the floor. They each get about two barks in when someone comes to the door, then they just sit quietly, in an alert state, until it’s obvious the guest is welcomed. Again, these are all behaviors trained using rewards, not force.

      One of the things I am very interested in learning about regarding positive reinforcement is the idea that we should never, under any circumstance, allow are animals to be put in a situation where they may feel discomfort in order to modify behavior. Now, please let me explain, this does not mean that I promote using force on a dog to become dominant over it. Everyone has heard “if it hurts, don’t do it.” In my experience I have never been able to expose my animals to every situation they will ever encounter and work on appropriate responses. I believe that sometimes it’s better if we just let them figure it out on their own. So when my pit mix was 4 months old and insisted that the glass door would open if he rammed it hard enough, I allowed him to hit it a few times without trying to redirect him. I did this because at 4 months he wasn’t able to break through the glass, but at 6 months he may have been able to. I thought it was more important that he learn for himself that he shouldn’t ram the window because it hurts, not because I thought there were more pleasant activities for him. I am now confident that he will not try to break through the glass even if he thinks playing with the kids outside seems more fun than playing with his toys inside. In my experience the more my dogs would learn on their own, the less likely they were to participate in the unwanted behavior when I wasn’t around.

      I assume that is why I don’t feel I was inhumane by putting their collars higher on their necks for a couple of runs. The only time they would have felt discomfort would have been when they were attempting to leave the boundary I had set; otherwise their leads were relaxed. I wasn’t pulling them or using any other form of correction; I just ran out of lead before they were able to get their shoulders behind their pull, so they weren’t able to pull me. Trust me when I say I am way too short to have been able to take two large breed, high-energy dogs on a three-mile run with my arm holding their leads out and above their heads! 🙂

      But now even my niece finds it fun to walk the dogs around the property, and they stand taller than she does. I have heard that positive reinforcement can lead to the same trusted behaviors, but so far I haven’t been able to wrap my head around the concept of us always providing them with redirection and rewards rather than them learning on their own that “if it hurts, don’t do it,” that they will still continue the behavior consistently when we aren’t around. I’m hoping the information I have ordered and the websites that have been suggested will help to clarify some of this.

      I also would like to point out something that I observed last night after watching a few episodes of “DogTown,” a show that was also recommended on this forum. In one episode I saw a trainer take a dog that had been rescued from a puppy mill, wrap it in a towel, put a muzzle on it, and hold it close to her while trying to calm it down so they could work with it. Please remember, I am just your average pet owner here, so I am confused to hear so many people say you should never put a dog on its side to calm it down, that you are only increasing its anxiety. The trainer in the show used much more force than I saw in a controversial video clip of Cesar where he only laid his hand on a dog to calm him down. I understand that Cesar says he does it to become dominant over the dog, and the trainer at the shelter did it calm the dog long enough to work with it a bit more, but the dogs don’t understand our words, so was there really a difference in the dog’s mind? This is just another example of why it is difficult for some of us average pet owners to understand why Cesar’s methods are all bad and should never be used.

      Again, thank you all for your time and the information you have provided to me. I am very excited about everything I have to learn!

      1. Meira Frankl Reply

        “I want to thank all of you that offered me resources. This morning I ordered numerous books and DVDs from trainers you recommended and have bookmarked all the websites. It will take me some time to study all of the information, but I am looking forward to it!”

        Thank YOU, Meredith! Now THIS makes this whole comment section worthwhile! So nice to see!

      2. Beth Burton Reply

        Meredith, I haven’t sent you any recommendations as I know others here have a better library on here than me. But you mentioned a dog in “DogTown” that was wrapped in a towel, muzzled, and held close to calm it down so they could work with it. Some dogs do find being wrapped up and held tightly comforting so they calm down pretty quickly. In thunderstorms or when fireworks are going off, many people use Thundershirts to keep their dogs calm, and it works because it holds them tightly. But this is not an aversive method as it does not hurt the dog at all.

    4. Me Reply

      When you put the collar at the weakest point of the dog’s neck, you can easily break the fragile hyoid bone. An educated trainer would know this. Cesar Millan does not, and his advice can be very dangerous. This is just one of many reasons to not follow his advice. He simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Would you follow the advice of someone claiming to be a doctor but has never gone to med school for your health problems? Probably not. So why would you follow the advice of someone who the real experts find so many problems with?

  47. Nadine Natle Reply

    You think that sheltie in that episode was a happy dog running around barking when that lawn mower was running? That was a stressed-out dog, andt probably has been doing that for years. Living with huge anxiety, and you think that 5-10 seconds of fighting on that leash was not worth it? I guess we all have different ideas.

    One thing that maybe makes me understand Cesar more is training horses. If you do not provide leadership to a horse, that animal will become the leader. If you allow a horse to make decisions, then you are more likely to get injured. If a horse looks up to an owner to make all the decisions, it will not have to make any on their own. Getting a horse to understand you is like trying to give directions to a person using only a plastic bottle and no words. Try it sometime. It is only about making the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult. I never really thought horses and dogs were similar, one being a prey animal and one being a predator. But working with dogs and horse for over 30 years, I see that there are a lot of things that are alike. Personally I watched that clip and said, Wow the dog finally understands the lawn mower is not something to be stressed about. He made the right thing easy, just walk behind the lawn mower.

    Guess that’s what makes the world go round.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      No, the dog certainly wasn’t happy before when the mower was running. That’s for sure. But not sure that tying the dog to the mower, which he was clearly terrified of, was the best way to desensitize him to it. We’re not trainers (maybe some other commenters can help us out on this one who are trainers), but it seems that a good alternative to causing all that stress by tying the dog up to the thing it most fears would have been taking a slower route to success, working little by little to get the dog to realize that there’s nothing to fear. None of the theatrics of reality TV, but a whole lot less stressful for all parties.

      1. Jill G Reply

        As a trainer myself I feel there are many better ways to deal with it than to tie the dog to the lawn mower. Not having seen the episode or taking a history myself I can’t comment on the whole situation. But there is one thing that strikes me. A Sheltie is a herding dog. It is quite possible that the dog was actually trying to heard the lawn mower. It may sound odd to some, but it is possible.

    2. Meira Frankl Reply

      I totally agree that the dog was not happy while the mower was running, even before he was tied to it. But do you think he was happy while he was force/tied to it? Far, far from it. I can guarantee you that he doesn’t love the lawn mower now.

      1. Sherry Reply

        And it’s such a shame, Meira, because this is a very simple kind of thing to deal with using desensitization and counter-conditioning to not only overcome fear of the object, but create a positive association with it.

    3. Sherry Reply

      You think that sheltie in that episode was a happy dog running around barking when that lawn mower was running?

      Do you think he was a happy dog being forced to walk tied to that lawn mower? His body language says no, he wasn’t. I also doubt he was happy being kicked by Millan at the beginning of that clip. There are numerous ways to fix that kind of behavior without kicking an animal and putting it through such an unpleasant experience, and they address the cause of the behavior instead of suppressing the behavior leaving the emotions that caused it in place.

      And nearly everything Millan says in that clip is laughable nonsense.

      As for your comments about horses, sounds like a version of the pack/leader/dominance business, and it doesn’t hold up any better under scrutiny.

      Are you aware that horses are some of the best subjects for marker/reward training, and that clickers are routinely used all over the world not only to teach basic ground manners, but to train horses for all kinds of purposes from pleasure riding to dressage, to jumping and so on? The clicker is also extremely successful in solving behavior problems, and overcoming fear in formerly abused horses and other equines.

      And as for the notion that the horse needs someone else to make the decisions, how does that work for the increasing number of horses that are being trained (by clicker), and working very successfully as guides for the blind? Who is making the decisions for these horses as they guide their handlers through the streets? Certainly not their blind handlers.

  48. Joanne Brokaw Reply

    What a great discussion, folks! One thing that those of you looking for something in addition to Victoria Stillwell on TV that offers great dog training (and yes, rehabilitation) is “Dogtown,” which features dogs from Best Friends Animal Society and their trainers. It’s a fabulous, inspiring show. They also have a book, “Dog Tips From Dog Town: A Relationship Manual for You and Your Dog.”

  49. Ada Simms Reply

    Thank you Pets Adviser for noticing our silent protest of Cesar Millan in Rochester, NY. There has been so much attention to this that other cities where he is performing are doing the same. I had planned on writing my review of his show, but Joanne did such a wonderful job!

    From a trainer’s point of view:

    When the older yellow Lab was brought on stage, he was quite peppy, and with his tail wagging, went to go investigate the audience and appeared to be quite relaxed. The dog was brought out on a flat buckle collar by a female employee who doesn’t usually handle dogs. Cesar explained that this was the first dog that had bit him, sending him to the hospital. Once Cesar took the dog, the dog’s disposition and body movements totally changed. Cesar placed a thin 1/4″ leather slip collar on the dog’s neck. He put it as high as he could and tightened the noose-type lead. The dog’s tail stopped wagging, and being held low, his head was tilted toward the floor, ears slightly back. He did not look at Cesar’s face but for a second here and there. The dog acted emotionless. It was so sad to those of us who can truly understand dog body language. The words to describe this dog would be “defeated or sullen.” This dog didn’t want to offer a behavior, any behavior. He sat several times, and when he got up you could see (I could see since I was in the balcony looking onto the stage) that the dog had urinated twice, leaving two puddles on the floor. I see this often with dogs or are trained with force and compulsion. They give up. As we trainers describe this… the dog appeared to have learned helplessness. (You are damned if you do and dammed if you don’t. So don’t do a thing for fear of being corrected!) Why offer a behavior when the dog doesn’t know what he is going to be corrected for? I am sure the audience thought this was such an obedient dog.

    In Cesar’s previous shows around the US, he has always worked with dogs that were owned by folks who would be in attendance, and they had to send a history so Cesar could pick the dogs. I guess that hasn’t been going as well as they thought. Hmmm!

    Cesar stated, “Dogs don’t think. They just react!” Any living thing with a brain thinks. I wonder how service dogs do their jobs, if they just react?

    At the end, questions were read by his assistant that the audience submitted. Cesar answered three of them. (See Joanne’s review for the particular questions) WHY? The answers he gave made no sense. He asked for the questions to be repeated several times. He talked in circles and gave no instruction on how to change the behavior in question. It became jibberish, and I wanted to hear something besides “be calm and assertive, be a pack leader, the dog must submit,” blah blah, blah. He appeared so confused.

    I didn’t even bother writing down those repetitive “helpful hints.”

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      Good to hear from you, Ada! Keep us updated on the protests in other cities — very interesting.

    2. Beth Burton Reply

      Hi Ada,

      I read about your silent protest and think that you all did a brilliant job. 🙂

      Keep up the good work and keep us all posted on other planned protests, please.

  50. Rob Summerfield Reply

    I’m in the UK we have a popular “magazine” BBC programme which goes out at 7pm on weekdays. A few months ago they announced a new feature on dog training, presented by someone most of us involved with dogs in any shape or form had never heard of, so we waited with interest to see what would unfold.

    For sure the young man in his early 20s was TV eye candy, but that’s about it. The first programme dealt with a resource-guarding Jack Russell, which was effectively shut down using Cesar Milan’s methods. To cut a long story short, a serious campaign involving Dogs Today magazine and many other organisations, including the Dogs Trust, Wood Green Animal Shelters, etc., the slot was removed from the programme. The young man in question was obviously rather stunned that his methods drew such overwhelming criticism (he cited Milan as his inspiration, but like his guru has no genuine background in dog behaviour and age wise had no depth of experience to draw on).

    And during his rather uncomfortable interview he said he was open to other methods of training (this did sound slightly unconvincing though). However he was contacted by several people and given the chance to attend seminars both in the UK and the US. Whether he does or not is up to him, but he needs to go away for 5 or 10 years and learn before being let loose on the general public again. So it is possible to nip this type of training in the bud. The problem was that he didn’t know any better, which means that Joe Public most certainly don’t either (most of them couldn’t see why those “in the know” were so up in arms about the whole episode). The BBC were even offered the chance to showcase positive methods, but as far as I know have yet to take up the offer. On the plus side Victoria Stillwell’s “It’s Me or the Dog” has gone some way to debunking dominance training, and we also have a super children’s programme called “Who Let the Dogs Out,” which showcases children training their dogs for a specific task with Zak George (strangely enough, that’s via the BBC), so at least there’s a young army of potential trainers and behaviourists out there!

    1. Beth Burton Reply

      Rob, he did take up one of those offers:

      And he is still out there learning all he can about reward-based training before he goes back to training.

  51. Lori Reply

    Every time I read about CM I am reminded about some very old techniques used by horse trainers eons ago.

    I used to be heavily involved with horses and would buy any and every book I could get my hands on. Those books were published back in the 1800s and included techniques very similar to CM’s but for horses. Some people still adhere to some of these techniques, which included lunging the horse to tire him out. That is, having the horse run around on a long line in a circle. The more tired he is, the less fight he will have in him. Sacking out was also another favorite, where you had the horse tied up and kept flailing around a scary thing like a flag or a saddle cloth until the horse stopped panicking and stood still. Again, waiting until the horse gave up. Also, the term “breaking horses” comes to mind. It literally did break lots of horses’ spirits. I guess you could say CM is breaking dogs. I just hope he doesn’t resort to bloodletting, which was another popular practice to cure lots of ills. Let’s move to the 21st century, shall we?

  52. Melinda Schneider Reply

    I read the article with interest and agree wholeheartedly with the points made. I have not read all of the preceding comments.

    I think that one of the things that makes Millan so dangerous is exactly because he does give some good advice. If you agree that all dogs need training, exercise, and leadership, that pit bulls should not be banned, that puppy mills are horrific, then Millan has you on his side. It’s then easy for the average pet owner, unexposed to more modern scientific training, to buy into everything that Millan has to say. It is very hard for the average pet owner to separate the very good from the very, very bad. Millan owes it to his adoring public (yes, it exists) to re-educate himself, re-evaluate his methods, and join the modern world of respectful, positive training.

    1. Pets Adviser Reply

      What?! You haven’t read all 200+ previous comments? 🙂

      1. Melinda Schneider Reply

        I have now read them ALL! You bet!!

        1. Pets Adviser Reply

          OK, you get a gold star. 🙂

  53. Lana Reply

    I hardly think Cesar has “fallen.” The judgment and hatred people have for him personally is disgusting. He has given so much of himself to help dogs and be a positive influence to people and the relationship with their dog, that I find the reaction disturbing. I also suspect some of it comes from him coming here originally illegally from Mexico and becoming a celebrity at what he does. I think he also gets flack for using the power of attraction, which some people may not believe in when training a dog. But who are they to discount this idea?

    Yes, there is serious debate on his methods, which can and should be debated, but to attack him personally is not okay. And to say he has had no formal training is also not okay. He originally worked as a groomer and did spend time learning to “train” dogs, but then realized he was interested in dog psychology and pursued that instead. Not to mention the number of years he has under is belt now and the sheer astronomical number of dogs he works with at his center along with client dogs. I don’t think there are many that can compete with that experience alone.

    Some people and professionals may have valid points regarding his methods, but the bottom line is that Cesar has dealt with countless dogs that other trainers gave up on or thought should be put down. If Cesar could save a dog from euthanasia using his methods, then there is a need for him in the dog training world.

    Additionally, nobody has all the answers when it comes to dogs, even though people who ridicule him act as if they do. While some critics and professionals feel his methods are dangerous, I disagree. Maybe critics should follow up with all the dogs he has worked with and find out if they have been traumatized or have become more aggressive by the time they spent with Cesar, because I highly doubt it. I read all his books and have watched EVERY show, sometimes more than once, and would recommend watching the shows before judging what others have to say.

    1. Beth Burton Reply

      Lana,

      Cesar himself admits that he has had no formal training as a behaviourist. He bases all of what you see on his programmes on what he thinks he saw when watching wolf packs. So as he has said this, it is not wrong for us to point it out.

      Cesar will have studied a small amount of dog training as a groomer, but he has not done any coursework on dog psychology, and this is why he should not be training them. We believe that all dog trainers and behaviourists should have to get qualifications before setting up in business.

      I have watched his shows and have read about these dogs that he has supposedly helped. Take Shadow the husky, for instance: If he knew what he was doing, would he have done this? (see video below) I certainly hope not:

      I have read about the dogs that have had to be retrained, and dealt with a couple that I have taken on from rescue centres myself because of people who have trained his way. I personally don’t hate him as a person as I have never met him, but I do hate his training techniques.

      1. Lana Reply

        Hi Beth,

        Thank you for your view on Cesar. Yes, you are right in pointing out that Cesar does not have a degree, or formal training as an animal behaviorist. Sometimes, though, he is portrayed as having no training/experience with training dogs, which I think totally unfair. While he did work as a groomer and learned skills there, he also worked at a dog training facility prior to starting his own business. And yes, he does say he studied dog psychology on his own, citing many studies/works in that area in his books. His experience collectively still makes him knowledgeable in training dogs in my view, but that is just my opinion.

        As for the clip on Shadow, I have seen that episode twice, and I agree this was difficult to watch. I believe this is one of maybe a handful of questionable situations to arise on the Dog Whisperer. I fully agree he could/should have handled the dog differently in some of the episodes. Having said that, Shadow was clearly trying to bite/attack him, and whenever that is happening, things can go wrong in that moment with any trainer (regardless of method). This incident was televised, and I bet many other similar moments with dogs and trainers or dogs and their owners have ended up in similar situations and not televised for the world to judge. Nobody has 100% control of an animal, no matter how good they think they are, including Cesar. Cesar did show the reality of a situation with an aggressive dog and, one could argue, was not handling it well. I think it is a learning tool for everyone.

        If the owners took Shadow out of Cesar’s care, that was their choice. I would be curious to know if they were able to completely rid the aggression issues of Shadow. If so, I’d have to see it with my own eyes. If you have a severely aggressive dog, it is hard to say who helped and who added to the problem when they most likely have been through many trainers and whatever issues their owners have. As for the other cases you mentioned, I’d have to read up on each individually to decide for myself what I think about them.

        In watching all of his shows, I see that the majority of them show people how to have a positive relationship with their dog, and they have had a good impact overall on dog ownership. But that is just my opinion.

        1. Me Reply

          Grooming dogs does not qualify one to train dogs. I’ve seen groomers hit dogs, kick dogs, throttle dogs and more. So because they groom, this somehow qualifies them to train? That’s like saying that mailmen should be dog trainers. They certainly interact with enough dogs a day.

        2. Sherry Reply

          Shadow was clearly trying to bite/attack him…

          The really important question is WHY Shadow was trying to bite him. That is a question none of Millan’s defenders seem willing to address. The answer to that question is clear if you watch the clip carefully and note the sequence of events in detail, as I have done.

          Millan’s first major mistake is that he intentionally put the dog in a position guaranteed to send it over threshhold, and thereby set up a situation in which a bite was likely to occur. This is his standard practice, and one of the reasons he has been bitten so often. Qualified trainers know how to work with dogs like Shadow without creating these types of situations.

          His second major mistake was that he ignored Shadow’s attempts to disengage and calm the situation,and instead insisted upon making the situation worse and worse. When Shadow attempted to de-escalate the conflict with Millan, Millan responded by escalating it further. You can see that clearly during the early footage of the clip when Shadow attempts to sit, and look away – a clear attempt to calm things down, and Millan responds by upping the ante, yanking the dog up and tightening the non-loosening noose he has placed high on Shadow’s neck, cutting off his air, causing the dog to realistically believe that he was being strangled to death.

          Every dog, even the most gentle and mild, will bite under the right (or I should say wrong) circumstances. Shadow bit Cesar Millan in pure self-defense against what he realistically perceived as a threat to his life, and not out of aggressiveness, or, heaven forbid, “dominance”. The bite was a result of Cesar Millan’s gross incompetent and brutal handling of the dog from start to finish, not any problem on the part of the dog.This bite was 100% Cesar’s fault, as has been every other bite I have seen in his case.

          And let’s talk about that noose he fashions by looping the leash through its handle. A noose created like that will not loosen even when the least is allowed to go slack. It just tightens, and tightens, and tightens, compressing the trachea more and more and more, progressively cutting off the dog’s air supply. The first time I saw him do that was with a very fearful Akita with obvious neurological damage, that was, luckily for Millan, uncharacteristically gentle and tolerant for its breed. There was no concern at all about aggression where this dog was concerned. I was stunned to see him create such a noose, and even more stunned when he described it as a standard thing that trainers do – it most certainly is not! – and placed it, as he does, high on the neck where as it continues to tighten it will compress the trachea, cutting off the dog’s air. He then proceeded to try to drag the poor terrified 70-pound dog by its neck as it lay, mostly-passively resisting. The idea was to force the poor creature to “face its fears”. How? By bringing about oxygen starvation, and make the dog fear for its life? Fortunately, in this case the dog did not bite, nor did it move.

          And finally, I can think off the top of my head, of three dogs that have been subjected to the “Shadow treatment”, and were strung up by a non-loosening noose until they collapsed on the ground, panting and choking. So, the Shadow incident is not even remotely unique, but rather an example of standard procedure for Cesar Millan. There is simply no excuse for this level of incompetence, or this level of brutality in the name of training, OR “rehabilitation”.

        3. Beth Burton Reply

          Shadow was trying to bite Cesar because Cesar kicked him in the groin area. Every time Shadow attacked it was in self-defense.

        4. Sherry Reply

          “If the owners took Shadow out of Cesar’s care, that was their choice.

          The owners did not take Shadow out of Millan’s “care”; the rescue group that placed Shadow with those people removed him from that home.

          If I had been in the place of Shadow’s owners, I would have walked over to Millan, taken my dog out of his hands, and ordered him and his crew off my property immediately. I would never allow anyone to brutalize any animal of mine in that manner.

        5. Sherry Reply

          Actually, Beth, I would say that Shadow did not attack Millan, Millan was attacking Shadow, and Shadow was defending himself.

      2. Debra Jones Reply

        That video made me sick…

        1. Sherry Reply

          Debra, the more I have analyzed that video the sicker I get. If you or I did that to a dog in public we would be charged with animal abuse. And we should be!

        2. Beth Burton Reply

          Sorry Debra, didn’t mean to make you feel sick.

        3. Beth Burton Reply

          I agree Sherry, and so should Cesar be charged with animal cruelty. We would be charged with animal cruelty if we only did that at home too as we would get found out eventually.

        4. Jill Spurr Reply

          Beth, you might remember that some policemen who were police dog trainers were prosecuted in the UK for suspending their dogs on a choke chain, exactly like Shadow was. It happened a few years ago.

        5. Beth Burton Reply

          Jill Spurr, as if I could forget the policemen who were police dog trainers were prosecuted in the UK for suspending their dogs on a choke chain, exactly like Shadow was. It happened a few years ago. Then there was that policeman who left dogs to die in the back of his van. We should all be punished for any cruelty we inflict on animals, be they pets or wildlife. No one should be above the law.

    2. Beth Burton Reply

      Lana,

      When the rescue centre that originally homed Shadow with these people saw the show and how badly he was treated, they immediately took Shadow back. They found him a new home where he was trained using reward-based methods. Are you saying that Cesar helped Shadow or any of the dogs that ended up in or back in rescue because of him? And then there are those that because of his methods had to be put to sleep because they came out of their state of shutdown — how did he help them? We only have the word of Cesar, and those people who signed a disclaimer preventing them from saying that it didn’t work and will be sued for a large sum of money if they do, that it has worked. Why do they have to sign a disclaimer anyway if it works?

      Most charities and professionals would never allow any of Cesar’s techniques to be used on their dogs.

    3. k9mythbuster Reply

      “Additionally, nobody has all the answers when it comes to dogs, even though people who ridicule him act as if they do.”

      That’s right, Lana. Nobody has all the answers. Which is why critics of the show are so concerned when Cesar claims his formula is the solution for every problem.

      “Maybe critics should follow up with all the dogs he has worked with and find out if they have been traumatized or have become more aggressive by the time they spent with Cesar, because I highly doubt it.”

      Great idea. Perhaps you, as a fan, could get through to the producers of the show and request that all of the dog owners be released from their confidentiality agreements, so that they can tell us, without being filtered by the show’s producers, how those dogs are doing now. Because without that information, we’re having to rely on the numerous reports of those dogs ending up working with other trainers, being relinquished to shelters and rescues.

      “I read all his books and have watched EVERY show, sometimes more than once…”

      I’m sure they very much appreciate having such a devoted fan and consumer of their products. In addition to this, what else have you read about dog behavior?

      We have watched the show. We’ve also read books by dozens of trainers and behaviorists. I, personally, have attended over 200 hours of seminars and workshops taught by some of the top professionals in the country. So our criticism comes from the knowledge that there is more information out there than one man can provide. And that information has proven him wrong time and time again.

      There are two types of people out there. Those who are willing to learn and those who aren’t. That you have read all of his books says to me that you seek knowledge. I encourage you to look beyond one celebrity and learn what else is out there. You’ll be surprised.

      1. Pets Adviser Reply

        “Cesar claims his formula is the solution for every problem.”

        Actually, he very readily admits, “My way is not the only way; it’s [just] a way.”

  54. Ada Simms Reply

    Hi Rob,

    The dog trainer you are speaking about if Jordan Shelley. After his TV show aired in England, there was an uproar. Dr. Ian Dumbar and other force-free trainers invited him to the US to attend the APDT conference (American Pet Dog Trainers). This seminar had world-famous vets, behaviorists and dog trainers holding many mini-seminars on different topics. Jordan came, and after his attendance he did an interview about what he thought about his experience:

    He was enlightened and understood that you can train without intimidation or hurting the dog. He states that he will implement what he learned and was so grateful for all the information he learned.

    Please let me be clear… I don’t hate Cesar Millan. I was really entertained by the first part of his show. I do agree with proper exercise for the breed that you have. Especially working breeds: the retrievers, the hunters and the herders. They certainly do need a job to do to feel fulfilled. That is inherent. It is like telling an artist they couldn’t paint any more, or taking a piano away from a pianist, telling a marathoner he/she couldn’t run anymore. Then frustration affects the emotional part of the human.

    He explained submission as being like “Going to church and surrendering to God.” The difference is God never forces us. He waits patiently until we are ready to choose. Dogs don’t have this choice. It is made for them. When we are forced, we fight back.

    We trainers who understand animal behavior know that compulsion does work. The risk is some dogs respond and immediately stop the behavior. Yep some dogs get it, and some don’t. When they don’t, the correction has to be more severe until the dog stops. On the force continuum, the level of force has to be increased to get compliance.

    We humans use the force continuum in our relationships as well as dog training. I say “relationships” loosely. When a child doesn’t behave, a slap is used. If the child laughs or seems unaffected, we raise the force and hit harder. As the parent becomes more frustrated because the child doesn’t submit and show respect, the only way to go is more severe punishment. It is now difficult for the parent to go back to being calm and say, “No TV tonight!” Sadly, then, the simple spanking to stop the unwanted behavior turns into abuse. Sometimes with injury and sometimes death.

    Another “relationship” that sees the increase of force with non-compliance is with domestic partnerships. I will not be biased here, because I have seen abusers being male and female, but men are reported to be the majority. The need to control is inherent in many of us. Sometimes our need to feel respected validates our worth. If one doesn’t comply to the requests. Compulsion and fear (threats) are used to make the partner comply. Again, if the low levels of compulsion are not reaping the results, force is increased. This can occur in a week or over years. The only choice for many is become more severe. Partners sometimes can make the choice to leave. The documentation proves, that when the decision is made to remove themselves, the chances of being injured or murdered are at their highest.

    I say this from experience being a cop for 20 years, with 15 of those years working on the street as a patrol officer. I have held dead babies, killed because they “wouldn’t stop crying” as the parent professed their love.

    The point I am trying to make… In a “relationship”, whether parent/child, husband/wife or human/animal, when governed by an enforcer, there will be frustration and disconnect. The weaker being will submit, fight back, or flee for preservation. That is behavior, be it dog or human.

  55. Shannon Cole Reply

    Being a pet sitter who specializes in working with pets with behavioral issues, I find this topic interesting.

    I certainly do not believe in being aggressive with a dog at all! A lot of the behavioral issues I have personally seen are simply uncorrected by the pet owner. It’s a matter of being a pack leader and an alpha. These factors are critical, and in fact what works. Simply put, it’s about respect! Respect the dog/cat, and the dog/cat will respect you. I have found if the pet has an issue, the key is trying to figure out why or what the issue is about. It may take a couple of different techniques to correct it, but if you don’t stick with it and if you let the pet continue with the improper behavior, it will only continue.

    A good analogy would be to take a look at kids today. It’s apparent that kids and dogs don’t respect their owners or parents nowadays. It just goes to show, there is no discipline therefore no respect nowadays. The two go hand in hand!
    When it comes to Cesar, I think eventually everybody falls out of the spotlight. The trick is knowing when to walk away before it falls down on you. In the pet industry there are a lot of different human organizations that will attack for different reasons. Nobody is perfect, and the media is the first to prove this point.

    1. Sherry Reply

      It’s a matter of being a pack leader and an alpha.

      Have you read the other comments here? Have you followed and read the material on any of the linked websites here dealing with the “pack leader/alpha” business? If not, please do so.

    2. Anne Springer Reply

      Discipline does not have to involve physical correction, however. Positive trainers use consequences all the time, just not the same things that Cesar seems to rely on, such as kicking, choking, and shocking, all of which he has done and are well documented in videos. Also, the idea that anyone has to be the “alpha” or “pack leader” is very much not the case. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior is clear in their position statement on dominance theory that they prefer that veterinary practitioners not refer clients to trainers who use that paradigm in training or behavior modification.

    3. Sherry Reply

      It’s apparent that kids and dogs don’t respect their owners or parents nowadays

      In the “pack leader alpha” way of thinking, fear is, more often than not, mistaken for respect in both pets and children.

      In my family we are well into our second generation of “positive parenting,” sometimes called authoritative parenting, and now have two generations practicing no-force animal training. There is no “pack leader” or “alpha” concept in our family, and there never has been. Even before we transitioned from “traditional” force-based training, the concept of “alpha” and “pack leader” made no sense and was never part of our thinking.

      The children in our family are strong-minded, outspoken children who are capable of thinking for themselves and feel safe expressing themselves even when they disagree with the adults. They are in no way disrespectful, but sometimes they give us a run for our money. They are also highly successful in school and their other activities. I value their ability to question and challenge authority, and to come up with and argue strongly for their own ideas. I also expect them to express their displeasure when they lose the argument.

      The animals (not all dogs) that have been trained using no-force methods are lively, and creative, often coming up with new behaviors that keep us both entertained and busy capturing them and turning them into cued behaviors. They are not afraid to offer new things, and are in no way disrespectful.

      All this without any “pack leader alpha” in sight — go figure!

      1. Sherry Reply

        Make that three generations practicing no-force training! One of the kids in particular is an amazing clicker trainer at age 6 years — I’d give a lot for his timing!

  56. Lana Reply

    One other point. I think it is very offensive for people or industry professionals who disagree with Cesar’s methods to state or imply that Dog Whisperer fans are uneducated about dog training/behavior. Unless you know each fan and their background, it seems utterly false and somewhat arrogant to generalize his audience that way.

    While there are many professionals in the industry who do not agree with Cesar’s methods, there are also many who do agree with him. And of course there are many degrees in between.

    There are other great schools of thought on dog behavior and dog training methods out there; however, not every method works on every dog. Even if you don’t agree with his method, his contributions should not be ruled out.

    1. Susan Werner Reply

      EXACTLY!

    2. Jill Spurr Reply

      I think it is very offensive for people or industry professionals who disagree with Cesar’s methods to state or imply that Dog Whisperer fans are uneducated about dog training/behavior. Unless you know each fan and their background, it seems utterly false and somewhat arrogant to generalize his audience that way.

      I see what you are saying, and I can see how someone who clings to outdated methods might be offended. But when the latest innovations in dog training and behaviour are force-free, and when there is such a wealth of easily accessible information on what is wrong about Cesar’s belief in dominance, and needing to be a pack leader, and how to use force-free training to get better results — not to mention the various studies into how using aversive and confrontational methods can actually increase aggression… well, when all of that is at your fingertips, I struggle to understand how an educated person would not see through Cesar’s limitations.

      It’s been said so often, but it’s still the best analogy: We once believed the Earth was flat. If someone insisted to you now that it still is, would you think they were well versed in the nature of our planet?

      1. Lana Reply

        As you stated, there are other methods that work well or may work better for dog training and a wealth of studies/information out there on everything you mentioned. Nobody has said there is only Cesar’s way.

        While some people and industry professionals are of the opinion that Cesar uses negative methods or harsh techniques, there are plenty of people and professionals who do not share that opinion. I don’t presume to think those who support Cesar “think the world is flat” or are not aware of and use other methods. That would be making assumptions and arrogant.

        I think people should read up on the different methods/studies, and watch Cesar’s episodes and make up their own mind.

        1. Jill Spurr Reply

          It’s not an opinion that Cesar uses harsh techniques; it’s fact. Positive punishment is harsh. That’s the whole point of it. However, it is gussied up as “corrections” and other harmless sounding words. Tying a dog to a lawnmower is harsh. Alpha rolling a dog is incredibly harsh.

          I don’t presume anything. But I do try to conclude from the facts presented. I tend to conclude that people who agree with Cesar do so from a flat earth motivation, because the alternative is to believe that they are choosing to use force, pain and aversion on dogs, and I’d like to think that mankind is better than that. And just to reassure you, my opinion has evolved from reading up on training/behaviour techniques and understanding, conversations with some of the world’s leading professionals, observation of dogs and watching Cesar’s episodes.

        2. Sherry Reply

          While some people and industry professionals are of the opinion that Cesar uses negative methods or harsh techniques, there are plenty of people and professionals who do not share that opinion.

          Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. That Millan uses negative methods and harsh techniques is a clearly documented fact, and not a matter of opinion — unless, of course, you consider that applying your boot heel sharply to a dog’s anatomy causing it to jump and cry out, applying an electric shock to the dog so that it startles and cries, picking a dog up and swinging it by the scruff (which in the clip did not appear to work worth a darn), repeatedly going “tsssst” to the dog, poking it with your fingers, forcing it to roll over on the ground until it submits, and cutting off a dog’s air supply until it collapses from oxygen deprivation are neither negative nor harsh. And then you’d be wrong because all of those things are negative by definition, and at least some of them are unarguably harsh.

    3. Sherry Reply

      It is very offensive for people or industry professionals who disagree with Cesar’s methods to state or imply that Dog Whisperer fans are uneducated about dog training/behavior.

      I’m sorry you find it offensive, but it is nothing more than a logical conclusion to say that the followers of a man who is uneducated about dog training and behavior are themselves also ignorant about dog training and behavior. First, if they were not ignorant about dog training and behavior to begin with, they would recognize that his theories are fallacious, and his practices outdated and in some cases dangerous. Second, arguably the more they accept and follow his fallacious theories and outdated, dangerous practices the more steeped in them they become and the less receptive they are likely to be to correct information and practices, and therefore the more ignorant they become about dog training and behavior.

      1. Me Reply

        GREED.

        And it’s not generalizations. His fans have proven it again and again. I haven’t met any who are capable of reading dog body language and the signals a dog is sending them. All his fans seem to do is vomit back up Millanisms as their justification for everything.

        1. Pets Adviser Reply

          Let’s keep the conversation cordial, folks.

          (Also: implying that not one of the millions of people who watch the show can pick up on dog body language sure sounds like a generalization — just sayin’.)

        2. joanne munding Reply

          You have never met anyone who can read a dog’s body language? Come now.

          Every dog gives off body language. You can foretell exactly what they are about to do just by observing it. Dogs that tuck their tail between their legs, for instance, and spay their ears back against their head are fearful and liable to bite. A dog that has its hair standing on end is “bristling,” a sign that something does not sit well with it. if its head lowers, tail lowers, and it begins to growl, it’s about to attack. A dog that walks with its lower body down, walking to the side (sideways) with the above characteristics is going to bite. A dog with its ears up, dog prancing, tail wagging, is happy. A dog that shies away from you when you approach is about to bite if you reach out. What more would you like to know?

      2. Lana Reply

        I hardly think it fair to say Cesar is uneducated about dog training. While I saw your comment regarding his experiences as a groomer, he also worked for a dog training facility before starting his business. I don’t think you can paint all of Cesar’s methods, techniques and advice as ignorant.

        While I appreciate a good debate on the actual episodes or a specific method, just painting someone as uneducated or ignorant is not helpful. This is why the conversation/debate is polarizing.

        1. Sherry Reply

          Lana, Millan demonstrates how undeducated he is about animal behavior and training nearly every time he opens his mouth to talk about it. His actions also show his lack of knowledge and understanding of even the most basic principles and practices.

    4. Sherry Reply

      There are other great schools of thought on dog behavior and dog training methods out there…

      Name them, please.

      1. Lana Reply

        I think many have been mentioned already, such as Victoria Stillwell, Patricia McConnell — The Other End of the Lease, someone mentioned “Don’t Shoot the Dog” — that is a good one also. And, of course, I think clicker training is great if it works for the dog you’re training. OK, seriously people, I hope you’re done flaming me for the night because we all probably have other stuff to do 🙂

        1. Pets Adviser Reply

          … and our comments moderator deserves a raise. 🙂

          (Seriously, this is the most comments we’ve ever had on any single post. Thanks to everyone!)

        2. Sherry Reply

          Lana, maybe I misunderstood you. Patricia McConnell, Victoria Stilwell, Karen Pryor (who wrote “Don’t Shoot the Dog,” and is the Grande Dame of no-force training) are all examples of members of the “school of thought” so many of us are advocating here in place of the fallacious, outdated, and dangerous thinking and practices of Cesar Millan.

          I think clicker training is great if it works for the dog you’re training.

          Lana, marker/reward (aka “clicker”) training, if done correctly, not only works on every dog, it works across all species. That is because it is based on the biological mechanisms by which all animals learn. It is not up to the dog; it is up to the trainer to make it work.

          If my training effort with a given animal or in a given situation is not working my first question is, What is wrong with what I am doing, and what do I need to change to give this animal the right information? It is not “Clicker training won’t work with this animal.” As Bob Bailey says, “If it’s not working, you’re not doing it right.”

        3. Beth Burton Reply

          Lana those are great schools of training. I too think that the clicker doesn’t work for all dogs, but reward-based training of one sort or another does, so why go the CM route?

        4. Sherry Reply

          I too think that the clicker doesn’t work for all dogs.

          Beth, you are actually right that the clicker per se doesn’t work for all dogs. However, the principles on which the clicker technique is based work not only for all dogs, but for all species. As you no doubt know, marker/reward training makes use of both classical and operant conditioning, and those are fundamental to learning across the animal kingdom. I have even read a description of Bob Bailey training a spider to come when called using classical and operant conditioning.

          Sure, any reward-based method that works is good, but marker/reward is where it’s at!

        5. Sherry Reply

          Yes, let’s hear it for the moderator — amazing job!

        6. Nan Arthur, CDBC, CPDT-KSA, KPACTP Reply

          I have been training for over 17 years now and worked in shelters for 10 of those. I have seen every type of aggression, fear and impulse control issue you could imagine.

          I have clicker trained for the past 12 years and have had nothing but success. In fact, our entire team all clicker train — dogs, horses, cats, etc. Good clicker trainers understand science, have amazing timing, and know how to build a training plan that will work with each of the dogs, breaking down the behavior into small enough pieces and achieving success before moving to the next step. And never working a dog past his/her threshold. Clicker trainers know how to build strong foundations and only then move up the training ladder. This is called a fluent behavior that is under stimulus control, and that is what allows the learner to grow more confident and less fearful about what is happening in his/her world.

          There are lots of people that use clickers, but a more limited amount of clicker trainers. Not only can marker/clicker training teach a reactive dog to understand he/she has choices other than doing the reactive behaviors, it also works with fear, impulse control, tricks and general good manners. It is a clear communication tool for the learner who knows what to expect from the trainer.

          To become a good clicker trainer takes training, skill and an understanding of the science of learning. I highly recommend “Don’t Shoot the Dog” for an understanding of behavior and the choices one can make to modify behavior.

        7. Sherry Reply

          Not only can marker/clicker training teach a reactive dog to understand he/she has choices other than doing the reactive behaviors…

          I can attest to that! My Papillon developed reactivity to dogs entering his environment several months after I brought him home (people think it’s “cute” to see a tiny fluffy dog lunging and yapping at a dog 20 times its size — it isn’t cute at all!). I have used a clicker to teach him alternative behaviors when he sees a dog coming toward him, and now he rarely reacts beyond a little “woof,” then back at me as if to say “Look Ma, there’s a dog over there.” More and more often he just ignores the other dogs, or glances at them, and moves on. Even on the rare occasion he does react he is able to refocus and get on with other activities very quickly, even though the other dog is still around.

          I have you, Leslie McDevitt, and Emma Parsons to thank. All three books are in my library, and well worn by now!

        8. joanne munding Reply

          Lana, please do not tell me you are thinking of Brad Pattison’s school of thought? And the other one choosing end of the leash name, have you ever searched them on YouTube?

  57. Dale McCluskey Reply

    Many trainers are using “learning theory” without qualifying the type of influence being established between dog and the owner.

    When behavior issues and problems fail to go away, dogs get medicated and destroyed within this Swiss Cheese Agenda. I have a page dedicated to this disconnected agenda called The Science Delusion, which consists of an open challenge to any so-called expert to answer my specific questions regarding learning theory, influence and behavior. Dominance is very real and comes through the connection dogs share with us via nature and the pack relationship:

    http://k9pack.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/the-science-delusion/

    1. Sherry Reply

      “The Science Delusion”: Another member of the Flat Earth Society?

    2. Beth Burton Reply

      Dale, here are my answers to your questions:

      1. When you offer an opinion on liking or not liking something what is it based on?
      Science and my personal observations

      2. What role does emotion play in objective reasoning and critical thinking?
      It plays a very important role because we all care for a dogs.

      3. What does humanization represent as it connects with emotions, feelings, strength and weakness?
      Humanization represents only what you the human is feeling, your strengths and weaknesses. This should not be applied to your dog.

      4. What does dominance represent?
      Dominance doesn’t represent anything as there is no such word in the canine vocabulary.

      5. What does influence represent?
      Everyone and everything is influenced by their surroundings, so this also plays a very important role.

      6. What do behavior issues represent?
      Behavior issues frequently represent a dog trying to do the job it was bred for but is not able to do because it is a pet.

      7. Can you explain the inconsistencies within various models of training as it is linked with conditioning?
      Any inconsistencies within various models of training as it is linked with conditioning are to do with the owner being inconsistent and not being willing to take the time to train properly.

      8. Why are behaviorists refusing to answer specific questions?
      I have not yet met a behaviorist who doesn’t answer my questions.

      9. Why are behaviorists refusing to seek out answers?
      I have not yet met a behaviorist who doesn’t know the answer to my questions or does not look them up.

      10. Does it make sense for behaviorists to demand validation even while questions remain unanswered?
      As I said earlier, I have not yet met a behaviorist who doesn’t answer my questions.

      11. Is popularity the standard for truth? What is science based on?
      Popularity is the standard, while science is based on fact and therefore truth. This is how it should be.

      12. Why are behaviorists not tracking or auditing the number of dogs and owners failing within their models of training?
      They do.

      13. Why are behaviorists medicating dogs for fear and anxiety issues when these issues are being resolved within other systems of training?
      Because this helps to calm the dog while the owner uses the training advice given with really badly behaved dogs.

      14. What is the depth of the connection dogs share with humans and other dogs?
      I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this question, but for me I would like a depth of connection with my dogs that means I can trust them, love them and walk them without them attacking someone or another dog. I have all of this and it is done without using the force, violence and abuse that Cesar Millan and you advocate. Cesar and you are the main ones self-validating. Most people using the reward-based methods don’t need to validate what they do as it can be clearly seen in the happy dogs that they walk and train.

  58. Pets Adviser Reply

    Attention everyone: The article above has been updated to reflect that OTHER protests are being planned across the country, according to Ada Simms, the organizer of the Rochester, NY, protest that we originally reported on. Does this movement have legs?

    1. Sherry Reply

      Good news! I hope all the future protests will be conducted with the dignity of the Rochester protest, and be used primarily as an opportunity to educate! Let’s not let any of them turn into bashing sessions.

  59. claire Reply

    The issue here is that Cesar Millan works for television, not for the animals. The reason he miraculously “cures” these aggressive dogs in half an hour is because he very rarely takes on a dog with more than minor behavioural issues. These dogs are not aggressive, and he does not cure them; he controls them through fear. You can see the dogs are stressed and unhappy, but they are now afraid to show their true behaviours. Genius.

  60. Ada Simms Reply

    Nan, brilliant comment, as always. Nan Arthur is the author of a book, “Chill Out Fido.” She is highly recognized and admired through out the US. Thank you for taking time to respond.

  61. Linda Reply

    I enjoy watching the show. I agree with some of the ideas, such as not praising a dog for being afraid. I would not never “alpha roll” a dog or “finger poke” a dog. I would never use my foot to kick a dog while walking it. I would never “try this at home.” But I do agree with exercise, discipline, affection. I have just adjusted it to my situation and my personality.

    There is a danger of people trying it at home — and doing it incorrectly, such as kicking a dog while walking it! So people should stick to basic obedience and positive methods such as clicker training.

    Cesar does not show basic obedience; he shows an overall philosophy, the dominance in a pack theory. I think we can learn from him, but please do not try this at home.

    1. Sherry Reply

      I agree with some of the ideas, such as not praising a dog for being afraid.

      Actually, the latest thinking is that comforting (not praising) a frightened animal is the right thing to do. It turns out it does not reinforce fearfulness any more than comforting a frightened child reinforces the child’s fear. As being comforted helps a child to feel better and cope, it also helps an animal. And no, this is not a case of anthropomorphism, it is reality.

      I do agree with exercise, discipline, affection.

      Exercise and affection are ideas you can get from any decent trainer. Why do you have to go to someone who has so many standard ideas and practices you reject in order to get that?

      As for discipline, that is for many people, and certainly for Cesar Millan, a word for punishment — positive punishment, to be precise. Positive punishment is never necessary, nor is it ever the best way to deal with unwanted behavior. It damages the trust relationship between you and the animal, and it generally will produce blowback of one sort or another.

      He shows an overall philosophy, the dominance in a pack theory. I think we can learn from him…

      What you can learn from his overall philosophy is a “theory” that was invalidated and completely discredited decades ago and replaced by an overall philosophy that is based on and supported by solid science, including some of the latest field work in wolf and dog social behavior, as well as behavioral and brain science. Even the the person whose research gave rise to the whole “pack dominance theory” thing has repudiated his own work that led to the “pack dominance” notion.

      That overall philosophy continues to be the excuse for a lot of harsh, ineffective, and downright abusive, and even brutal “training” and “rehabilitation” methods, not only by Millan and his followers, but by others who insist upon clinging to the old, dominance- and force-based approaches.

      If you really want to learn about behavior and training from someone, I would not recommend Cesar Millan or anyone else who follows his discredited “overall philosophy”; I would recommend that you turn to the many well-educated, experienced, and certified behaviorists and trainers whose overall philosophy and practices are in harmony with reality.

  62. Silvia Jay Reply

    The problem is, Linda, that people do try that at home. Monkey see, monkey do. It is human nature. After all, we are just refined monkeys at the core.

    I regularly see 8- or 9-week-old puppies with the owner making that “Tssst” sound and using the “correction touch,” and the pup, already at that age, is completely disconnected from the owner. An unavoidable side effect of Cesar Millan type training is avoidance. Dogs just don’t want to be with people like that, and therefore need to be forced with a choke-type collar and leash that is more often than not tight instead of loose.

    Regarding fear: It is not about praising or fawning over the pooch when she is afraid, but ignoring or, worse, punishing/correcting it because the human does not “agree with it” is wrong. Plain wrong and inhumane. Where does that leave a dog? No pack leader negates or punishes something felt by another. Fear has to be acknowledged, taken seriously, and then measures have to be taken to make the dog feel safer. That involves managing dog/environment and building confidence and coping skills. We would do that with children, and we need to do that with dogs. That is what a good pack leader does, if you wanna use that term.

  63. joanne munding Reply

    I agree with a few of you on the fact that yes, he gets their attention. Someone said, however, that the dogs tend to lose site of the training later. Well, come on, people. If the owners do not continue enforcing the training, it will change and revert back.

    Too many lazy owners expect everyone else to have all the answers, fix the problems permanently and that they do not have to worry anymore. Obviously, if the owners would have trained the dogs properly in the first place, they would not have had to hire a trainer. Someone also said that Cesar is only popular because he is on TV — well, how many people deliberately allow their dogs to get out of control so they can try to get onto his show?

    Some of you are pointing the finger at one trainer — in this case, Cesar — yet, not one of you has pointed the finger at other so-called celebrity trainers! You know the ones, including one from here in Canada. Some of them are far worse than Cesar could ever dream of being. I have never witnessed Cesar yanking a dog halfway across a driveway, punching it in the snout because he was pissed at the owner, or making the owners do sit-ups. You don’t see him snapping on e-collars or those damn dangerous prong collars.

    if you are going to point the finger, then do so properly, at all the celebrity trainers! And might I add, what you use to train one dog may not necessarily work on another. But when all is said and done, Cesar does not abuse or humiliate the dogs into doing what he wants. He uses the art of respect. It kills me that some of the ones trashing him here would be the first ones to run to him if they knew they could get on his show, am I right?

    By the way, Cesar hides nothing while filming his show. Now, search YouTube for other celebrity trainers, and you will find out that they not only block or hide a lot of things that go on behind the scenes, but they try to slap gag orders on the owners of dogs they do abuse, and will have their staff bodily block those who try filming the misdeeds.

    1. Susan Werner Reply

      I know the Canadian dog trainer you speak of. His motto: “First the Dog Must Know You Can Cause Him Pain…”

      1. joanne munding Reply

        And Susan, that is not the way to train a dog. He is well aware of what I think of his training methods, given that I’ve had the guts to tell him and not plan protests, etc. Protesting someone you do not like as a trainer is not the way to do it. If you discuss the situation and what your feelings are, you will get further.

        Don’t you think that particular trainer should be shut down, if he’s causing pain, beforehand, to teach the dog who is in control? No matter how you slice it, saying the words “First the Dog Must Know You Can Cause Him Pain…” in order to train him is wrong, and it’s abuse! Anyone who raises a hand to a dog to teach them that way is an abuser, I don’t care who it is.

        1. Sherry Reply

          Joanne, have you heard anyone here suggesting that what that Canadian dog trainer does is not abuse (well, except for making the owners do situps — that just shows how foolish the owners are!)?! Why do you feel so compelled to focus on that guy in a conversation for which the topic is Cesar Millan? This almost looks like a diversionary tactic.

    2. Jill Spurr Reply

      “It kills me that some of the ones trashing him here would be the first ones to run to him if they knew they could get on his show, am I right?”

      No, you are totally wrong. I’d eat my eyeballs before I went on that man’s show. And no way is he getting anywhere near my dogs. Now, how’s about you tell me how tying a petrified sheltie to a lawnmower is respect, because I’m struggling with the definition on that one. Oh, and don’t think that we aren’t against other people who abuse in the name of dog training. This thread is about Cesar Millan — doesn’t mean we have lost sight of the others, and equally, because someone is worse, it doesn’t make it okay for Cesar to use force and aversion.

    3. Michelle Reply

      “Some of you are pointing the finger at one trainer — in this case, Cesar — yet, not one of you has pointed the finger at other so-called celebrity trainers!”

      There are only two celebrity trainers I can think of offhand. Victoria Stillwell (who has come so far from where she started and now mostly uses positive reinforcement). And Brad Pattison, who is mostly unknown in the USA, except among people who know more about dogs than the average owner. Pattison is horrible, and I can’t even handle watching much of his show in order to break down what’s going wrong there. I’ve seen him slam dogs into trees to teach them to walk nicely on leash. The man has anger management issues and, unlike Cesar, he even treats the owners like complete garbage. I do think he’s much worse than Cesar, but so far he’s not made much of an impact in the USA.

      “It kills me that some of the ones trashing him here would be the first ones to run to him if they knew they could get on his show, am I right?”

      No. Absolutely not. I would never in a million years want him touching my dog or telling me what to do with her. I’d only want on his show to prove him wrong, to demonstrate a different way of training the same thing (e.g., the dog who was scared of the mower).

    4. Sherry Reply

      There you go again with the old, worn-out “But Tommy stole THREE cookies, Mom, and I only stole one!” defense. Don’t try that one in a court of law.

      Joanne, we are talking about Cesar Millan and his ideas and methods in this conversation because that is the topic. If the topic were more general, then we would be having a more general conversation. If you want to talk about “trainers that are worse than Cesar Millan,” then perhaps you could request from Pets Adviser that they open a discussion of that topic.

      If the owners would have trained the dogs properly in the first place, they would not have had to hire a trainer.

      Despite what Millan says, it is not always the fault of the owners that their dogs have behavior problems. There are any number of causes for behavior problems that are not the owners’ faults at all. One of the causes of behavior problems most frequently overlooked by Millan and his ilk are medical issues, and those are the first things typically addressed by a qualified behaviorist. Genetics and history are also huge factors that are not the fault of the owners. A dog that lived its life as a breeding animal in a puppy mill has, at the very least, suffered a serious lack of socialization, and is likely to have been abused. When those dogs are rescued and adopted they usually have multiple behavior problems for which punishment is the last thing that should be applied. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the idea.

      How many people deliberately allow their dogs to get out of control so they can try to get onto his show?

      I don’t know, Joanne, but you seem to. How many? And what are your sources for this interesting suggestion?

      I have never witnessed Cesar…making the owners do sit-ups.

      Now THAT’s funny. Any animal owner who will do sit-ups because their dog trainer told them to deserves to be ridiculed.

      You don’t see him snapping on e-collars…

      Wrong. Cesar Millan not only uses shock collars, and uses them incorrectly, he has an interest in a company that makes and sells them, and then sells expensive training programs that use them (incorrectly).

      …or those damn dangerous prong collars.

      I don’t know how to break this to you, Joanne, but “those damn dangerous prong collars” are less dangerous and do less damage than an ordinary choke collar, and in some situations even a non-tightening collar can do more damage than a prong collar. Because of the way they distribute the pressure on the neck, and the fact there is a limit to how much they can tighten, they cannot be used to cut off a dog’s oxygen the way a choke collar or even a buckle collar can. Choke collars and buckle collars can also damage the trachea and other critical structures in in the neck and throat.

      Cesar does not abuse or humiliate the dogs into doing what he wants. He uses the art of respect.

      So, dangling dogs by the scruff of their necks, hanging dogs on a non-loosening noose until they collapse from oxygen starvation, shouting “Tssst!” at them every few seconds, kicking them in the abdomen, poking them with his fingers, tying them to a feared object, and forcing them to roll over until they “submit” — none of that is abusive or humiliating to the dogs, and fits your definition of respect? And based on the dogs’ body language and other reactions, how do you think they perceive it? Do you think they are feeling all that art of respect?

      It kills me that some of the ones trashing him here would be the first ones to run to him if they knew they could get on his show, am I right?

      That is not only completely unfounded, it is beyond absurd. I would not let Cesar Millan, or anyone like him, within 50 feet of a dog I was responsible for, nor would any other decent trainer I know.

      Cesar hides nothing while filming his show.

      How do you know this? Have you been present and observed the filming of his shows in their entirety?

      Other celebrity trainers…try to slap gag orders on the owners of dogs they do abuse…

      You call it a gag order; Cesar Millan’s production company calls it a comprehensive nondisclosure agreement. Either way, it’s the same thing, and Cesar Millan does it too.

    5. Beth Burton Reply

      Sorry, Joanne, you are wrong on two counts. First, Cesar has a guy who winds dogs up before the show so that they are acting up even worse than normal; and second, I would never, ever let Cesar Millan even glance at my dogs!

  64. joanne munding Reply

    Michelle, I have to agree on the anger management issues, believe me. And although I do agree with some of Cesar’s, I do not believe in any of the others. There is, however, a trainer out there who knows her stuff, Jan Fennel. And for those in Colorado there is Jim Beinlich, who owns Cool K9’s Dog Training. He is superb!

  65. Meredith Reply

    At the risk of being reprimanded for smiling at a couple of stories I heard from my vet yesterday, I did want to share them with you guys in hopes that maybe a couple of you may find a way to look past your negative feelings for CM and see that sometimes things do work, regardless of what school of thought they were based on, if any at all.

    I told my vet about this forum during my bulldog’s monthly checkup yesterday, and he explained that he is also a strong believer in positive reinforcement. He then went on to tell me these two stories that lightened my heart a bit:

    An elderly lady, about 80 years old, brings her pit bull to him regularly since she got him 4 years ago. The pit bull had belonged to her neighbor, who never paid attention to it, chained it outside, and would leave it for days. Needless to say, Animal Control was called, and when they came to take the animal, the woman saw the dog lunge off the chain as the officers approached and they barely got it into the truck. The woman knew the fate of the dog, so the next day she headed down to the shelter and demanded that she be given that “damned ol’ dog.”

    I’m not sure why this woman would have been given the dog without some form of rehabilitation first. I guess because it’s a small, rural town that is overpopulated with strays anyway, but she was. My vet said that the dog is obedient, friendly, always wears the “pit bull smile,” and goes literally everywhere with the lady. When he asked her how she got him to calm down and mind her so well, she replied, “I know how to run a family; I raised mine to be big and healthy, and never once let my husband run me over, so why the hell would I let a damned ol’ dog?” The vet asked her if she had ever hit the dog, and she replied, “No sir, I like my arms and face intact and right where my mom left them for me, but that don’t mean he thinks he can get away with being a li’l b*st*rd.”

    According to the vet, she obviously dominates the dog, but he is sure she has never watched CM, nor did she ever study any outdated schools of thought. She just does what she thinks is right. If the dog starts to get too frisky when another dog walks close, she stomps her foot and says, “Sit down, your pants aren’t goin’ anywhere!,” and the dog does it. She doesn’t even put him on a leash when bringing him into the vet; she says she doesn’t need to because “he knows if he wants to make it home he will do as he’s told or she’ll just have the vet fix him up a nice li’l ol’ cocktail that will help him sleep better.” My vet had pictures of this gal and her dog, and I swear the pit’s head was twice the size of hers, but it was hard to tell with that mouth open, tongue hanging out, and big smile on its face!

    The other story he told me was of a family that has a new mixed-breed, 6-month-old puppy. One day their 4-year-old son starting “tssst-ing” the puppy every time the puppy would grab one of the boy’s toys. He would say it sternly and point his finger at the dog, and the puppy would drop the toy, then go into “play bow,” and the two of them would begin playing with the puppy’s toys. Apparently the son had picked up on CM’s “tssst” on his own after watching a show, and decided to use it. The parents said that life was so much easier now that he started using “tssst” instead of “MOMMY! THE PUPPY HAS MY TOYS!!! MOMMMMMYYYYYYY, MAKE DRAKE GIVE THEM BACK!!!! I HATE THAT DOG!!!!!” Not to mention that now the child also has stopped trying to jerk the toys from the puppy’s mouth, which could get the boy nipped as the puppy thought they were playing tug-of-war.

    Anyway, I thought those were two very cute stories, and I wanted to share them. Feel free to point out all the areas of concern and problems that may arise, but I’m sorry, I will still smile every time I walk into the vet’s office and see the picture of the lady and Damned Ol’ Dog, and a child with their puppy in Petco.

    1. Sherry Reply

      Cute stories, Meredith.

      For the record, there is nothing intrinsically negative or positive about “tssst.” What is negative or positive is the association that is created with the sound based on what accompanies or follows it. In the case of the child it sounds like tssst was accompanied/followed by pleasant things like play. Hence, to the puppy it would have been positive. In the case of Millan, clearly the opposite is the case, and the dogs have, by intention, a negative association with the sound.

      As for the old woman, a couple of the things you described are straight out of the positive trainer’s handbook. If you’re walking somewhere with your dog, and the dog tries to veer off or pull you, you simply stop, wait for the dog to focus on you, move to put slack in the lead, or move back into some predetermined position, then move along again. No yelling, no stomping, no jerking or yanking or “tssst”-ing. The pleasure of moving forward just stops. That’s called negative punishment — temporarily removing the opportunity for reinforcement — in this case, the reinforcement of continuing the walk.

  66. Holly Reply

    I get the feeling that, just like a clicker dog is primed for the click, these dogs are “primed” off camera to expect pain at the sound. No proof, but look at the Sheltie. That dog has already been hurt by Millan and is scared to death of him.

    1. Sherry Reply

      Holly, I have often suspected that some classical conditioning had taken place off-camera to create a negative association with that “tssst” thing.

      On the other hand, sometimes he seems to be uttering “tssst” randomly as if it were some sort of nervous tic or other. And there are a few clips in which his “tssst” and the rest of his technique just doesn’t work, but he goes on as if it has worked marvelously.

      I love the clip below, because starting around 1:30 it is obvious he is not in control, and the dogs are not responding at all to his “technique,” yet he carries on as if it is all working perfectly. There is such a contrast between what is happening and what he is pretending is happening. The dogs don’t calm down, no matter what he does, and he never acknowledges that. And of course by doing what he does he is strengthening their negative association with dogs walking by outside, which will sooner or later make the behavior worse.

      Oh, and by the way, mother dogs do not bite their pups and hold them by the neck the way he insists they do, and they never pick them up by the scruff. As usual, he is making this stuff up as he goes along:

  67. Swampy Reply

    I read the comments, and as an outspoken Milan critic since the first episode I would like to say that he does harm dogs, BUT he has such a following, and as I don’t know him personally I don’t feel I can make a direct hit at his person, just his techniques and lack of education.

    If he had been perhaps afforded all the help that Jordan Shelly was offered after his debacle on British TV (because people were horrified by the “education” Shelly had watching Milan on TV), Milan might just have been an ambassador for improving relationships with people and their dogs, let alone the dogs’ mental health. He has charisma and people like him, albeit people not educated in dogs or dog behaviour. Many many times a “professional” has told people to do something ridiculous, but because they are seen as a “professional” they must be right.

    I have been in veterinary practice for 25 years and a qualified behaviourist for 10. I spend a load of money getting an education, qualifications and gaining experience so my clients can feel safe, and I actually know what their dog needs. It’s a shame that Dr. Dunbar, Jean Donalson, Paul Owens and their like didn’t get the TV contract; things would be so much different today. But I see it as a positive. OK, Mr. Milan has done damage, but folks are talking about their dogs and looking for help now instead of filling shelters and graves. OK, he gets booed, but people are now asking why? Why are his methods harming dogs and the relationship they have with their owners? And that is all a positive in my mind.

    I tell them yes, there other ways; if his doesn’t feel right to your conscience let me show you how I would help. It’s no good getting angry and belittling another “professional,” no matter how stupid and self-publicizing they are. It doesn’t do your reputation any good. There will always be the type of owner who likes being dominant and controlling. Use Cesar Millan’s popularity to get people thinking about how they can be turned from the dark side.

  68. Nay Reply

    I am sure no matter how hard you try, the folks who like Cesar will continue to like him and visa versa. Seems the haters of Cesar in this discussion are the much more volatile group, though. I will say a few of you are pushing it with your “my way or no way” attitude. Having been involved with many vets over the years, I know many will say they cannot help with behavioral issues. Most will recommend a trainer, and say, “go watch and see if s/he fits your needs.”

    As the above veterinary nurse (“Swampy”) said, Cesar has at least raised awareness that there may be a way to help with a troubled dog, rather than putting them to sleep. Then they get another dog most likely doing the same thing they did with previous dog, therefore getting the same results. For, as we all know it’s not the dogs’ fault they won’t sit, come, lay down, retrieve the paper, balance the checkbook and wash the car. At least in Cesar’s defense, the person’s actions (or reactions) are usually the cause of the problem. Or the cause of making it worse.

    My BFO moment about how my reactions nurture a problem was with a Lab, who as he aged, became frightened when thunderstorms started. I did what most anyone would do: I comforted him, or at least thought I was comforting him. We would let him on the bed, sit on the couch and hold him, etc. His fear became greater, and by the time he died he was frantic when a storm was approaching (even before we knew a storm was coming).

    After he passed and we got another dog, that dog started with the same reaction, only at a much younger age. I was not about to make the same mistake two times in a row, so I used a much different approach, quite by accident. I stood by our cellar door and, out of frustration, said, “Get downstairs” as soon as he began whining. There was nothing I could do to help him except make it clear that the storm would not hurt him.

    Well, whether this was mean or not, that dog, until the day he died, would go and sit by the cellar door as soon as he felt the start of a T-storm. We would open the door and he would lie on the rug at the bottom of the stairs. He was not upset, and I didn’t sit and hold him and nurture that fear that the storm may get him, and we have since used that method successfully with a few others.

    Sorry if that may be mean to some of you, but giving cookies to keep his mind off the the storm did not sooth the upset dog in the least. I will agree to disagree with all of you who seem to insist that if we don’t do it your way we are doing it wrong.

    1. Jill Spurr Reply

      Can I just correct you on a couple of things, Nay?

      Most of us here don’t know Cesar, and so we are not haters on him. We hate animal abuse, and are willing to stand up to stop it; hence we speak out against people who choose to use force, pain and psychological violence on dogs. There is a wealth of science that backs the force-free point of view, and within force-free there are a multitude of tools you can use to train dogs. So we aren’t saying “my way or no way” as you are trying to make out. We are simply advocating that people, including Cesar, stop using harmful, force-based methods. And seriously, studies have proven that force-based methods are less effective and more likely to increase aggression than force-free, so what reasonable human being would ever choose aversion and force? Why would you? And “because it works” isn’t a good answer — battering a dog with a lump of wood will work, but it doesn’t make it acceptable training technique, so why is mentally battering it over the head with its fear?

      Your storm example isn’t really a good one to support Cesar, but is a great example of force-free. Allowing your dog to find a safe place in the cellar is a good option, and you could have boosted your dog’s coping strategy with a Thundershirt or body wrap. The Cesar-esque method would have been flooding, i.e., subject your dog to the source of its fear until it shut down. You gave yours a safe, quiet place to go — excellent choice.

      1. Swampy Reply

        Excellent post, Jill.

        In my post I certainly was not defending Mr. Millan. He should never have put himself in the firing line without being able to show reputable qualifications, and certainly not showing dogs abuse as a training tool! I only meant that he has fired owners up to want a better way to help their dogs and mend relationships. Who wants to live with a bully for an owner? Now there is enough information on the internet/TV/vets’ waiting rooms to let owners know that being a gentle, kind leader works better than harsh punishment. We reward our kids when they do good at school, behave nicely and are polite, so why not our dogs? Why don’t the Millan followers see fear, anxiety and learned helplessness in their dogs? They need only look into their dogs’ eyes.

        I will continue to train with treats, toys, food and games for good behaviour. I will continue to help a frightened dog get over his fears and learn coping strategies that work for him and his family. I will never ever use harsh words or punishment. The positive path is slower and longer, but for a lot of trainers and owners it’s definitely worth it, especially when the tail wags the dog.

        Mr. Millan has us all talking, so I say good for him!

        1. Sherry Reply

          Well, I wouldn’t give Millan any credit for the controversy he has sparked, but it is a good thing that these conversations are happening, and that there are opportunities to raise awareness.

          Mr. Millan has us all talking, so I say good for him!

          I doubt he and those whose livings depend on his success are pleased about it.

        2. Swampy Reply

          I like to look for the positives. The controversy has questions being asked, and pet owners are being educated in positive reinforcement techniques.

          “I doubt he and those whose livings depend on his success are pleased about it.”

          No, they are probably not pleased, and I for one hope they gain an education and change their ways. I am dependent on no one but myself to prove I can do a good job. “First do no harm.”

  69. Meredith Reply

    For those of you who haven’t read any of my posts, I am participating in this forum to become better educated. I have taken the advice of many on here and rented DVDs from Tawzer Dog (which I haven’t yet received), ordered books by Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head, and also borrowed two of CM’s DVDs from the library (I know that is the last thing you would want to hear, but since I had only watched a few episodes of Dog Whisperer, I wanted to make sure my memories of CM were correct).

    Patricia McConnell’s “The Other End of the Leash” arrived this morning, and I am about 1/4 of the way through it. I have to say it’s too bad this gal didn’t get offered a show, but I assume I will say that about Mr. Dunbar too, if not all the others I am getting ready to study!

    I have noticed something while reading the book, and at first I thought I should wait until I finish the book to ask the question, but decided that it may help me more if I ask it now, before too many examples overwhelm me.

    So, here it goes. I watched CM’s videos last night, and there were a few instances where I easily picked up on what most of you are saying, instances where positive reinforcement should have been used and wasn’t. But although his technique when actually working with the dogs was outdated, he also mentioned how owners could have prevented the behaviors in the first place, and I don’t know that I disagree.

    In one part an owner was having trouble with their dog not listening, tearing things up, and destroying everything in its path. CM simply asked, “When was the last time you walked him?” He then spent time explaining that a bored dog with energy is a dog who will get into trouble and just having a fenced backyard isn’t enough, they need to walk, to “migrate,” as he put it. That seemed like pretty good advice to me and I had to wonder how many people were watching that episode on a torn up couch, with their cute little tornado running around eating their leather shoes, and were thinking, “Son of a b*tch, duh, he’s just bored, not stubborn! Let’s go for a walk and see if it helps.”

    He also talked about paying attention to yourself when asking your dog to do something. He mentioned that a dog will listen to someone they trust as a leader, but is less likely to listen to someone if they aren’t convinced that person knows what they are talking about. McConnell made the same point in her book, but since she doesn’t have a show, isn’t it good that CM explained that to pet owners?

    I am trying really hard to dislike CM and everything he teaches on his show, but after watching the videos and making it 1/4 way through McConnell’s book, I am wondering if the similarities in his beliefs and many of yours about how to raise a well balanced dog, aren’t being overlooked or just ignored. Is it possible that some good will come out of CM explaining to people that dogs need walked, owners shouldn’t try to sooth every whine with love and comfort, that dogs don’t have the vocabulary we have so we should be consistent in our words to them, and to make sure we are strong, confident leaders so our dogs can trust us? Those of you who are trainers or other types of professionals in the field already know this information and probably take it for granted, but I doubt your average person with an unruly dog had ever really considered that dogs are dogs, not humans, and shouldn’t be trained the same, until CM pointed it out.

    I’m also curious about how many pet owners could actually use many of his dominance techniques. I watched a documentary where they monitored a human’s brain activity when seeing pictures of different objects, babies, adults, and dogs. The part of the brain that was stimulated when seeing the baby was also stimulated when seeing the dog, so the scientists concluded that, basically,humans get all cutesy with dogs because our nurturing instinct is triggered, same as it is with babies. If that is true, then I can see pet owners remembering certain messages CM sends out, like walk your dog and he won’t be bored, but probably cringed while watching poor Shadow, even if they didn’t realize it. Maybe I’m abnormal, but I know when I watched that clip all I could think about was my dogs and how I will never let them get to the point that anyone would even think that technique was needed.

    I’m going to go back to the book now, but if any of you have any insight that could be nicely pointed out as to why CM’s theories of PREVENTING behaviors are different than McConnell’s or others like her, please let me know. I’m sure that I am missing something and it’s driving me crazy trying to see it. And please don’t tell me it’s because CM wants to be “dominant” where McConnell want to be a “leader”, someone else already tried that but then couldn’t explain to me why it’s okay for McConnell to stand tall and squared, but when CM does it he is using an outdated technique. I’m looking for real answers here to help me, not emotional opinions.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Michelle Reply

      The Other End of the Leash is a great book isn’t it?

      I think the issue with CM comes in that he says some very sensible things: more exercise, training, etc. He points out that some of those things could prevent behavior problems and the like. And all that is great. I’m thankful for that.

      BUT…any trainer will tell you that. And so the major difference comes in how he tackles those behavior problems. Somebody like Patricia McConnell would tackle it using positive reinforcement techniques and trying to keep the dog below threshold. Someone like CM would intimidate and bully the dog into shutting down.

      CM’s theories of preventing behaviors are not BAD but not 100% great either. For instance, his idea of the “pack walk” is pretty screwy. Dogs like to sniff and letting them explore the world through their nose will tire them out so much quicker than just having them walk behind you or next to you with their head up for miles (I’m also not a fan of the treadmill he likes for the same reason). He also says little about mental stimulation. When I read Cesar’s Way, I actually noted the first time he mentioned mental stimulation and how important it is to a dog: page 228. And he only glossed over something I find really important.

      So he’s not 100% bad when it comes to those basic things, but he has a lot of room for improvement and what he says is at least somewhat mimicked by most trainers.

      1. Sherry Reply

        Meredith, thank you for not only opening your mind, but putting your money where your mouth is by taking the effort to explore and think about science-based no-force training.

        I really must correct something you said, though: “what he says is at least somewhat mimicked by most trainers…” Believe me we are in no way mimicking Cesar Millan! Many if not most of us have been around since long before he came on the scene, and what we practice and recommend is based on fundamental principles and experience, and has nothing to do with Cesar Millan. 🙂

      2. Sherry Reply

        Oh – sorry, Michelle, my comment above should have been addressed to you and not Meredith.

        As for his idea of making he dog walk behind the handler that is based on the ridiculous notion that if a dog walks in front he is being “dominant”. That not only has no basis in reality (I don’t even think that fits with the old discredited dominance hierarchy theory he espouses), what sense does it make to force the dog to walk behind me where I cannot see him? I want to see what my dog is doing while we are on a walk. And of course, as you pointed out, he does not allow dogs to be dogs when they are out on a walk, which is not healthy either for the dog, or for the relationship between dog and owner.

        And thanks for mentioning the importance of mental stimulation. In fact, that is more important to a dog’s behavioral health than physical exercises is. Forcing a dog to walk beside or behind the owner at the owner’s pace is depriving the dog of right to use its senses to explore the environment, which of course deprives it of the mental stimulation it receives from examining and following the scents and other sensory stimuli along the way.

        1. Ada Simms Reply

          So sled dogs, search and rescue dogs, tracking dogs all most have dominance issues.

          Can you see what a ludicrous statement this is?

        2. Sherry Reply

          Ada, the other day I was chatting with a blind friend about this topic, and we agreed that her guide dog has serious dominance issues that must be addressed forthwith. From now on her guide dog must be forced to walk behind her!

          See also my comment from a couple of days ago to the person who insisted that horses cannot be allowed to make their own decisions, and must always have a human to do that for them. I wondered how that works for the increasing number of horses that are working as guide animals for the blind. Who is making the decisions for them as they guide ther blind handlers through busy streets?

        3. Ada Simms Reply

          I had a wonderful Tenn. Walker horse. Mountain Boy was my “heart” horse. One day got a call from the woman who owned the farm. She said Mountain Boy was stolen over night. I went crazy. They broke the fence with the truck and took him. I called the state police. It seemed hopeless and I was heart broken. I thought I lost him forever.
          The next 3 days I was just sick. Then the stable friend called me and said “He is back. He was running down the road and he came back” Being a woman of faith I just prayed that he was healthy and unimaginable request to please bring him back. We called the state police. It had just snowed and they tracked his foot prints for FOUR miles. He ran on the side of the road crossing 4 intersections. God doesn’t make stupid. I had the boy home. I was so thankful he found his way home and didn’t get hit by a car.

        4. Sherry Reply

          Well, Ada, it sure sounds like your Mountain Boy was able to make his own decisions just fine, and I’m guessing you did not try to break him of that afterward!

        5. Michelle Reply

          I should have said that HE mimics other trainers with those ideas, not the other way around. What he has in common with other trainers is really basic stuff. But it’s when it comes to actually working with the dogs, that he differs greatly and THAT is where I (and others) have major problems with him. Sure, saying “dogs need exercise and training” is great. They do. But when it comes to that training? No way would I let CM or anyone like him work with me and my dog!

        6. Meredith Reply

          I completely agree that a dog walking through a door before me, eating first, sitting on the couch, leading the walk, or going down the stairs first does not mean the dog sees itself as dominant over me. Two of our large breed dogs sleep in the bed with us, they have a couch of their own in our living room, and sometimes they can lead the walk (as long as we are walking, not running). However, I do want to point out there are times that I believe we should lead, but for other reasons. During runs I think it is safer for dogs to be beside or behind the owner. As we all know, sometimes dogs will sense something that grabs their attention and stops them in their tracks. I’ve been behind a dog during a run that has done that and have the scars to prove it! 🙂 Also, I always lead while going down stairs, especially if outdoors and they are on a leash. I tripped once when my dog was leading me and he didn’t realize it because he was fixated on the creek we were walking down to. I dropped the leash and he took off, oblivious to the fact I wasn’t with him anymore. The last situation is walking through doors, when I get home I always go in first. This is due to my obsession with crime dramas. There was an episode where a girl bought a huge Rottweiler for protection from her ex-boyfriend who was stalking her. She returned home with her dog after a walk, she unlocked the door, opened it up, let go of the leash, the dog ran in the house, her stalker grabbed her before she made it through the door, closed the door so the dog couldn’t get out, and kidnapped her. I didn’t get my dogs for protection, I got them for companions, but let’s face it, if you have a large, intimidating dog that would deter someone from harming you, then isn’t that an added bonus?

          I realize no one is saying there is never a reason for us to be in front of our dogs, but I wanted to share those experiences just in case someone reading this has a client that may benefit from my scars!

        7. Samantha Reply

          Excuse me, but what I find you simply dont understand is the fact that Cesar is not “espousing the old discredited dominance hierarchy theory”.

          He has never said the dog must ALWAYS be behind. The dog can be beside the walker. He bases this off the fact that alpha dogs in nature are always at the head of the pack. So this is not a ridiculous notion that he concocted off the top of his head.

    2. Lori Reply

      Meredith, Good for you for opening up your mind and trying to expand your knowledge on dogs and behavior in general. That is the only way to really formulate a well educated opinion one way or the other. I can’t speak for anyone else on this post but myself so here is my thought.

      I don’t think every word uttered by CM is incorrect. Of course, the majority of American dogs are bored, overweight and under-exercised. Pointing this out is just common sense. The problem comes with how he approaches modifying the behaviors in question. My first line of attack is to make sure the dog has a thorough examination by a qualified vet to rule out any physiological problems such as a thyroid gone a-muck (which can cause aggression among other things) and to make sure the animal is physically able to comply. I don’t know that CM does this or not so I won’t speculate on that.

      Then I want to work on changing the underlying emotion associated with the behavior if it is fear.. Take thunder phobia’s for example. All the exercise in the world is not going to change the dog’s mind that thunderstorms are no big deal if they are frightened of the noise. This would be the same as making me stand on the edge of a cliff after making me run on a treadmill to the point of exhaustion. You are still not going to change my fear of height that standing there shouldn’t make me afraid whether I am exhausted or not when I am afraid.

      Now, if you can pair the scary sound with something pleasant such as a game of tug or a juicy bone (gradually and with more and more volume, closeness), then you should be able to classically condition the dog to respond to expect something pleasant to occur at the sound of thunder. This is Pavlov’s dog. It is a biological connection. The dogs didn’t willingly drool in his expiriments, but at the sound of the bell, their bodies were conditioned that food was coming and started producing saliva.

      The main difference is that people like CM say “I want to stop my dog from doing X.” Positive reinforcement based folks say “What is an alternative, incompatible behavior I can have my dog do instead?” and they reward that.

      Saying “NO” does not give the animal, human or otherwise, information on what they SHOULD be doing. Think about when you were in school, did your instructor wait for you to make a mistake and point it out? Or did he or she look for things you were doing well and reward that, or find a different approach to help you understand what it was you were supposed to be doing? Which instructor would you rather work with?
      There is absolutely no reason to be confrontational with an animal. If you communicate clearly what you want, then you are giving your dog valuable information. What I have seen of CM, is that there are no instructions, just punishment, a jab, a kick, a yank of the leash… Look for places when you would be able to ask the dog for an incompatible behavior to the one that is undesirable.

      Lastly, we also look to manage those situations where we cannot or will not work on a behavior. You choose the behaviors that need work and manage the rest. It might be easier all the way around to just keep the counters clear of food, for example, and keep the dog out of the kitchen instead of making the time and effort to teach him feet on the ground is a more desirable behavior to counter surfing. Or, you may be the type of person that you want to train your dog to ignore that food and keep his feet on the ground. Either way is just fine if it works for you. The key is to set the dog up for success, not failure as CM does.

      You might also want to check out a fabulous trainer, Susan Garrett http://www.clickerdogs.com. She trains her dogs purely positively and has achieved great success competing at the international level. She has also studied animal behavior in college and I believe has a degree in it as well. A true inspiration to anyone, not just competitive folks.

      Good luck on your journey and keep reading and asking questions, that is the only way to go 🙂

      1. Sherry Reply

        Good summing-up, Lori! Thanks.

        My dog commutes with me on the train every day, and I get a lot of comments on how calm and well-behaved he is and want to know how I trained him to be that way (or sometimes where I too him for training 🙂 ). That often provides opportunities to talk about training methods, and often Cesar Millan’s name comes up. One of the things I point out is that a trainer like Millan will actually set the dog up to make mistakes in order to “correct” them (often, as we have seen, quite brutally), and we set the dog up for success, and catch them being right.

    3. Meredith Reply

      Michelle, I loved the book!! I finished it over the weekend and started “The Power of Positive Dog Training” today. I have to admit that I wish I would have considered studying training methods a long time ago, it probably would have made my life easier when it came to training my dogs! 🙂

      I also agree that any trainer can tell you to exercise your dog, but the reality is CM is the one that has made his way into the homes of possibly millions of pet owners. Based on what I can tell, CM doesn’t hate dogs, he loves them. He may practice outdated methods, but not because he enjoys the rush of adrenaline he gets when he pops a leash or kicks a dog back into place, I would say he does it because he believes it to be a good method of controlling behavior. But that doesn’t mean he would NEVER consider different methods.

      There was a case I watched where he was assisting a fire department with behavioral issues of a 3 month old Dalmatian they were given. After taking the advice CM gave them, the department said that would like the dog to be able to demonstrate “stop, drop, and roll” for children at the schools they visit. CM admitted he was not a dog trainer so he called in a friend to assist them. After reading all of these negative posts regarding CM I was amazed that his friend came fully equipped with a clicker and treats. So CM is obviously not anti-positive reinforcement.

      My point is there are probably thousands of trainers/behaviorists who are much better than CM, but they haven’t made it into the living rooms of millions of households. It seems to me that a better way of schooling the public to new training methods would be to work WITH the man who the public already adores, and not trash him. How great would it be if Karen Pryor approached CM and congratulated him on his success, complimented him on his ability to win over thousands of hearts, encouraged him to continue advocating for dogs, and offered her services to him for learning newer techniques that pet owners can use themselves without having to consult a professional. I mean, I would never expect him to agree to accept an opportunity to learn from someone who confronts him, bashes his techniques, calls him incompetent, and says they believe his techniques to be abusive. But I am sure everyone here would agree with that considering this is a forum about how positive reinforcement works better than punishment.

      Now that I am reading up on positive reinforcement I realize how great it would be if more pet owners were able to see it in action. And nothing against, Victoria, she is great too, but CM has that unique ability to captivate an audience, so why not use that ability to our advantage? But then again, maybe someone has already picked up on that considering CM had a positive reinforcement trainer on at least one of his shows already.

      1. Sherry Reply

        It seems to me that a better way of schooling the public to new training methods would be to work WITH the man who the public already adores, and not trash him.

        Meredith, it’s not as if no one has tried to do that. It didn’t work. he doesn’t seem to see any need for improvement.

        It actually worked with Victoria Stilwell. Even though she is a pretty big star she seems to have the humility to accept that there might be better ways that are worth exploring, learning about, and using – kind of like you! In fact, she was the featured speaker at Clicker Expo last year. You can see the progression in her ideas and practices over the years of her show.

        I also don’t think it is fair to refer to the criticism as “trashing”. Criticism, even severe criticism, that is non-personal, specific, and supported by evidence and documentation is not trashing.

        And finally, most trainers who use force-based methods do not object to the use of clickers for frivolous things like tricks, they just are convinced that they are not useful for anything more serious.

  70. Cheryl Huerta Reply

    This article and some of the following comments are quite interesting since I’ve just finished reading an article on line about why those in favor of Breed Specific Legislation as well as those against it are so passionate and immovable in their opinion about it. According to a recent study by the University of Michigan’s Brendan Nyhan, shared on the website Pet Health Care Gazette, we ‘filter’ information through our minds based on what supports our own beliefs and any information that doesn’t support our beliefs is deemed as inaccurate, invalid or just plan wrong.

    (“New research in psychology and sociology are helping us to understand how people form opinions in the first place, and how difficult it can be to replace opinion with fact.

    Psychological researchers like the University of Michigan’s Brendan Nyhan suggest that people interpret new information with a filter that reinforces their preexisting views. Nyhan found in his study, When Corrections Fail, that when people are confronted with facts that do not support their deeply held beliefs, they may be more likely to stick to their guns – a phenomenon he calls “backfiring.”

    This might be because we hate to admit when we’re wrong. Author and marketing specialist Seth Godin says in his book, All Marketers Are Liars Tell Stories, that once a person has “bought someone else’s story and believes that lie, persuading the consumer to switch [ideas] is the same as persuading him to admit he was wrong. And people hate to admit they’re wrong.” Not only that, but our ability to change our minds and believe newly presented facts also has to do with how ideas become rooted and processed through different areas of our brain.”)

    I’d like to suggest that a large part of the reason why there are so many people passionately fighting against the new ideas of Cesar Millan is because we’ve already made up our minds about a certain thing and will not hear of anything that conflicts with what we have already decided is the truth or right. This is NOT a judgement but simply an observation.

    The proof is in the putting I figure and the methods as shared by Mr. Millan have helped hundreds of thousands of dogs all over the world. Not only the dogs that Mr. Millan has personally helped but also the dogs of people who have tried the ‘certified treat trainers’ methods and have found that they don’t work…at least not for them and their dog so they chose to try something else; something that works for them. The accusations against Mr. Millan as to what his methods are (poking dogs, shock collars and the like) are completely twisted based on who is interpreting them. A ‘touch, which is exactly what he does, is not a poke but someone who has already made up their minds about him will truly see a poke and will never concede that it is nothing any stronger than a touch. If certification is so important then how did we ever get here? Were ‘dog handlers’ from ancient times ‘certified’? No they weren’t. Their methods, based on human psychology, became the ‘norm’ in dog breeding circles. Not because it was the only right way but because at that time in those social circles it was the only way or perhaps it was the way the aristocracy, otherwise known as ‘royalty’ dictated was the right way (you might want to do a bit of research on how we got here with our dogs from hundreds or thousands of years ago).

    I think the most frustrating thing for me personally in discussing this issue with the Cesar Millan haters is that these ‘certified’ trainers that they are so cocksure are all that and a bag of chips have euthanized hundreds of thousands of dogs that they could not rehabilitate, so of course if they can’t then no one else can, that could have been saved and would have lived a happy life as someone’s beloved pet if only ego had been set aside and an open mind to the methods of others with the dogs best interest at heart would have been used. People so quickly forget or deny that how things are today are not always how they have been and that change not only is a very good thing but is also inevitable. Methods of handling dogs are changing as we learn more and more about canine behavior and what dogs need from humans. It can only get better and better if only we could let our differences go by the wayside and open our minds to what the other person has to offer.

    It is my dream that due to the fact that Cesar Millan and his methodology is not going anywhere that sooner, sooner would be much better, or later those who oppose him so vehemently will open their minds and will at the very least concede that there is plenty of room on this planet for more than one way of handling our dogs and that what works for one person may not work for another and that either way is acceptable as long as no dog is ever harmed in the implementation of our chosen methodology.

    My friend Brent Toellner brings up a very interesting point and I hope that at least a few people will give it some thought and decide to open their minds.

    1. Michelle Reply

      And it appears that you too are filtering things in the same way you accuse others of.

      I came to CM with an open mind when I first saw him. I knew nothing about him, loved dogs and knew little to nothing about dog training outside of trying to teach a dog how to sit. I found what he did on his show abusive and went out searching for why I felt that way, what exactly I was seeing that upset me so much. And found plenty of others agreeing with me. I did not filter him through any sort of preconceived notion the first times I saw his show.

      However, you seem to have fallen for the “he saves dogs” mantra that he and his followers claim and have filtered his show through that lens. How do we know he saves these dogs? Because he “tells” us he does. There are such strong non-disclosure contracts for people that go on his show that we can’t know either way except for things that are leaked.

      As for other methods being acceptable. I find many methods acceptable for dog training. But what I will never ever find acceptable is kicking dogs, choking dogs, and other abusive things that I’ve seen CM do.

      1. Sherry Reply

        Michelle, I, too, approached Millan with an open mind. I was well-educated and practiced in science-based no-force methods of dog training, but I had not followed any of the conversations about him, and had only heard great things about him from members of the general public and non-trainers. The first episode I watched simply threw me for a loop. There was none of the blatantly violent stuff I have seen since then, but his entire approach could not have been more wrong, and virtually every word out of his mouth was wrong. Further, I found much of what he did incredibly risky, and a few things qualified as abusive in my book even though they were not violent per se. The episode involved a dog that was exrtemely fearful. At then end what I saw was not a dog that had overcome his fears, but a dog that was so much more fearful of Millan that he did not resist. His body language, though, spoke volumes about how he really felt.

    2. Sherry Reply

      Cheryl, your argument fails utterly on a number of levels for a number of reasons. To be valid every argument must be based on solid premises that are both logical and factually correct. Your argument fails before it ever leaves the starting gate because it is based entirely on faulty premises.

      You argue that those of us who oppose Cesar Millan’s ideas and practices are refusing to accept his ideas because we are reluctant to accept “new ideas” that conflict with our firmly held beliefs. This argument is based on two main premises, both of which are faulty because they are demonstrably contrary to reality. Here are your two primary premises, and the reasons they are faulty and fail to support your argument.

      Premise1: Cesar Millan’s ideas are new.

      Fact: This is the exact antithesis of reality. The fact is that Cesar Millan’s ideas are very old ideas going back some 50-60 years. Not only that, they are based on deeply flawed research as well as the demonstrably false belief that dogs and wolves are behaviorally identical, at least when it comes to social behavior.

      The ideas that form the basis of Millan’s theories and practices were thoroughly discredited by science decades ago. Even the person on whose research those ideas were originally based has repudiated his own work that gave rise to them, and since then he and others have done work on both wolf and dog behavior that thoroughly invalidates the original research.

      There is plenty of material available on this page and elsewhere on the web, so I am not going to take up more time and space going into detail on things that have already been covered here again and again. Anyone who is curious and sufficiently open-minded can find all the material they need.

      Premise 1 is faulty because it is demonstrably not factual.

      Premise 2: Trainers and behaviorists who oppose Cesar Millan’s ideas and practices refuse to hear any “new ideas” but instead are clinging to their old “deeply held beliefs”.

      Fact: Again this is the exact antithesis of reality. The fact is that most behaviorists and trainers who oppose Cesar Millan’s ideas and practices have demonstrated their willingness and ability to consider new information and adjust their practices based on that new information.

      This is for all of us an ongoing process, and is formalized for certified trainers and behaviorists who are required to comply with continuing education requirements to keep their certification up to date.

      Furthermore, many if not most of us started out using force-based methods, and have in the last 10-20 years transitioned from the old, now-discredited force-based ideas and practices of the Cesar Millans of this world, to modern science-based principles that support no-force training and behavior modification methods. This is not a small change, but a paradigm shift that has required not only a change in practices, but in our entire point of view, not to mention that it has involved a great deal of study. Therefor it is simply false to suggest that we are not receptive to new ideas since we have proven that the exact opposite is the case..

      Premise #2 is faulty because it is not at all consistent with reality.

      Your argument, while a gallant attempt, is built on two faulty premises, and is therefore invalid.

    3. Sherry Reply

      ‘certified’ trainers that they are so cocksure are all that and a bag of chips have euthanized hundreds of thousands of dogs that they could not rehabilitate…

      What frustrates me is that people like you make this kind of charge without providing a scintilla of evidence, and when challenged none of you can produce anything to substantiate this very serious allegation.

      Cheryl, please produce evidence that certified trainers have euthanized hundres of thousands of dogs they could not rehabilitate, or retract the allegation.

    4. Sherry Reply

      If certification is so important then how did we ever get here? Were ‘dog handlers’ from ancient times ‘certified’? No they weren’t. Their methods, based on human psychology, became the ‘norm’ in dog breeding circles.

      LOOOOL! OK, now this is just plain funny! So, dog handlers from ancient times were not certified, therefore what? Certification has no validity in the 21st century? Ancient dog trainers knew about human psychology, based their training methods on it, and – wait a minute! – what has that got to do with “dog breeding circles”?

      Sorry, I’m having problems making any sense at all out of this.

      So, are you saying that

    5. Jill Spurr Reply

      Cheryl, do you realise the irony of your answer? You are probably right about the psychology study, you just came down on the wrong side of the fence.
      There is a wealth of scientific study to support the use of force free training as the better option, and that shows that using aversive and compulsive methods (eg, Cesar’s) are more likely to increase aggression, and to be less effective. None of us can argue with that, it is the factual position as we now understand it, and usurps all previous understanding.
      Cesar himself admits there is nothing to support his methods. He was interviewed in a British magazine when he toured here, and they asked what evidence he had to support his training methods – the answer simply stated the number of tv shows he’s made.
      Can you just quote source of those figures of “hundreds of thousands of dogs euthanized”, because that’s a hefty accusation. You also know that dogs have been euth’d, rehomed and teeth filed after Cesar’s intervention, right? It is also known fact that Cesar uses shock collars, prong collars and of course he invented that awful illusion thing, all designed to apply pressure/pain to a sensitive part of the dog, behind the ears, high on the neck. His usual excuse is he uses what the owner has, although every good trainer and behaviourist I know bins the kit that is likely to be aversive and trains the dog properly. He introduces shock collars himself – the classic example is the GSD who chases the family cat – Cesar gave him a shock and he redirected fear aggression onto the owner. Horrible, and a huge fail on Cesar’s part, sadly presented on the programme as normal!
      Finally, I would just like to pull you up on the “Cesar haters” label. I just don’t know how to put this plainer. We don’t hate the guy, and that title is just intended to make his fanatics hate us. We have no feelings about the man. He’s just a man. What we hate is animal abuse. Now, if you are willing to acknowledge what he does is abusive, you may call me a hater – not of me, but of his methods, because they are cruel and unnecessary. If you cannot acknowledge his levels of abuse, because of the theory you yourself state, then retract the accusation and apologise for it.

      1. Jill Spurr Reply

        doh… * not of HIM, but of his methods 🙂

    6. Meredith Reply

      Cheryl,

      I once saw an interview with survivors of the Jamestown massacre. They said that many members had began questioning Jones’ decisions, but in the end it was easier for them to accept the cyanide laced kool-aid than to admit they had been wrong for believing in him.

      I am the type of person that questions everything, which is why I have taken the advice of many people here and “put my money where my mouth is” and began studying positive reinforcement. I can’t say I was wrong in my previous philosophy considering I didn’t actually have one, but I can now understand why it is so many trained advocates are having such a difficult time with CM, and I also agree with their reasoning.

      That being said, I hope you don’t become discouraged after reading the comments to your post. I believe that you have the right intentions, and you openly shared your opinions which should always be encouraged. I have shared many of my own opinions on here, and at first I will admit that at least one commenter wasn’t very supportive. I even began one of my posts with “At the risk of being reprimanded…”, which when I forwarded the link to my vet to make sure my recollection of his stories were accurate, he only laughed at the fact that I felt I needed to state that to a group of positive reinforcement advocates.

      Anyway, please remember we are all human, and the commenters on this forum appear to be well educated and extremely passionate about helping animals and their families. I checked out your website and I believe you also share that same passion. I believe that it is my responsibility to make sure that I keep an open mind and learn what I can from everyone on here, and I really don’t concern myself much with whether they learn anything from me (not that I have anything but a few examples of my own experiences to offer anyway). I hope you continue to read, ask questions, share experiences, and voice opinions. Please don’t let a few negative responses leave you with a bad taste of what this forum is really here to do. Remember that when someone is passionate about what they believe they can come off as harsh, but that doesn’t make them the enemy.

      And by the way, I apologize if this comment really wasn’t necessary. I was reminded of how I felt when I read a comment to one of my posts and remember how close I was to closing my mind to this forum and finding a new group to have this discussion with. But I am glad I stuck around!

      1. Sherry Reply

        Meredith, considering the hostile way Cheryl approached this discussion, I don’t find that anyone’s responses were particularly harsh, although I suppose I did not need to make fun of her very strange remark about ancient dog trainers. She came in with her guns blazing making gross generalizations, and really terrible allegations without any facts to support them. I think our responses were on the whole measured, specific, factual, and non-personal.

  71. Pets Adviser Reply

    Hi Folks!

    Just a quick note to say we are absolutely blown away by the response to this blog post. We truly appreciate hearing from all of you. GOOD NEWS: We will soon be adding a true forum to our website, where you can sound off on a range of issues. The best part is you won’t have to scroll down so much… it will be much more user-friendly. There are a lot more features to make it really cool, so hold on and we’ll roll it out pretty soon. Stick around! -Dave

  72. Dana Reply

    Interesting that this article is accompanied by an add for a fence that can be set for shock.

    1. Michelle Reply

      That may unfortunately not be a choice by the site owners. People agree to ads and they go by key words unfortunately. Not good, but it happens. I have all ads blocked so I can’t see it!

    2. Pets Adviser Reply

      Ughhh, we HATE ads like that! Not to mention ads with puppies for sale. We have not yet found a 100% reliable way to filter ads like that.

      Let’s face it: Advertising is an unfortunate necessary evil. We’ve got to pay the bills somehow. On the positive side, we do donate 10% of all advertising revenue collected. (The rest goes to overhead costs.)

      1. threenorns Reply

        that’s no excuse. that’s like nestle saying “well, you know, we can’t control it if third-world mothers dilute the formula and starve their babies to death – but look at what we’re doing with youth leadership programs! yay us!”

        YES,, you can control the ads: unsubscribe from the service providing them!

    3. Sherry Reply

      Yeah, I’ve also seen several ads for Cesar Millan and other less-well-known trainers who do not use animal-friendly training methods. It’s not something the owners of the website can control unfortunately.

  73. Anonymous Reply

    I feel Cesar Millan has helped better my relationship with my dog as well as the dogs I groom. He is the first dog expert that I have come across that doesn’t have a cookie cutter solution. And the first to say, “My way is not the only way.” You never hear that come out of most trainers mouths.

    I may not do everything Cesar’s way, but that is what I get from his teachings. That my relationship with my dog is unique and my own.
    We can all learn from each other.

    I encourage people to read what Temple Grandin says about Cesar in ‘Animals Make Us Human’ and Shaun Ellis’s book.

    Facts + open mind = good decisions

    1. Jill Spurr Reply

      Shaun Ellis isn’t really a relevant read IMHO about anything to do with dogs/dog behaviour, as he is a captive wolf expert. I had the great pleasure of touring Longleat’s wolf enclosure with him some years ago, very interesting chap, but his experience is not with dogs.

      However, you might find this article of interest: Ian Dunbar talking about his contribution to Cesar’s latest book: http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/my-contribution-cesar-millans-new-book

      1. Meredith Reply

        Thank you for sharing that Jill! I had just posted a comment about how I didn’t understand why CM’s popularity hadn’t been used to spread the word of alternative training techniques. I’m just glad to hear that Mr. Dunbar, and the other trainers interviewed, were willing to put their personal feelings about CM’s methods on the back burner in order to focus on the bigger picture. I think that is an exciting step in the right direction!!

        1. Sherry Reply

          I didn’t understand why CM’s popularity hadn’t been used to spread the word of alternative training techniques.

          Meredith, from a practical perspective, and keeping in mind that Millan himself is not going to help with this, how would you use Millan’s popularity to spread the word about “alteranative” training techniques?

      2. WhiteShep_Owner Reply

        Wolves and dogs can and do breed. There are many similar behaviors.
        I had New York Timber Wolf/White German Shepard mix trained guard dog. I never thought a dog could be so smart.

  74. Cheryl Huerta Reply

    I find it totally ironic that most of the posts here are an attempt to defame the character and methods of a person who quite publicly and often states openly is always learning from others and is always open to the knowledge and experience of others.

    There is no sense trying to convince anyone of anything that they have decided they won’t be open to. The study I referenced in my first post obviously is spot on and several of the posts after mine are proof positive of it’s validity. If you don’t believe me try talking to someone who wants to ban pit bulls…

    Professor Sherry. You are absolutely entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. The difference between us is that I would never suggest that you were wrong but only that perhaps we don’t see things the same way; which obviously we don’t. At the end of the day my dogs are happy, very happy, well-behaved, well-socialized, very well cared for, safe for all living things and are the loves of my life as I’m sure your dogs are to you. So why is it so important to you how I choose to interact with my dogs???

    1. Sherry Reply

      Cheryl, you are definitely entitled to your own opinion, as am I. What neither of us is entitled to is our own facts. You don’t get to make up facts to fit your opinion, and neither do I. That is why I gather facts and apply logic to them before I form an opinion. It is also why I am prepared to reconsider my opinions when I encounter new facts. If that makes us different, well, then vive la difference!

  75. Cheryl Huerta Reply

    Sorry I wasn’t going to comment further because it’s obvious that most people posting here have made up their minds about Cesar Millan. However when I saw this comment, “Oh, and by the way, mother dogs do not bite their pups and hold them by the neck the way he insists they do, and they never pick them up by the scruff. As usual, he is making this stuff up as he goes along.”

    My question for the person who wrote this is, “Have you ever been around a mother dog moving her puppies from one location to another?” My guess to that question would me NO you haven’t. I have though and have seen it happen more than once. Does that mean I’m delusional? Does that mean that I’m seeing something that isn’t reality? By the way you are right mother dogs do not ‘bite’ their pups on the scruff of the neck…they use their teeth, because they don’t have any other means, to hold the puppy by the scruff of the neck AND if you would’ve ever seen this done you would have not seen the puppy struggle in the very least. When the mother does this the puppy automatically relaxes which by the way is what Cesar is accomplishing through this canine way of handling the dog.

    I understand that many people want their dogs to be little four-legged humans, children if you will, and that anyone suggesting that a dog has their own method of communication or should be treated like a dog in order for it to live a fulfilled happy life as a dog is surely going to be pooh poohed. However wanting our dogs to be our own personal provider of unconditional love without our having the courtesy to learn what a dog needs and to provide it is cruel in my personal opinion.

    As a pit bull advocate I have the the unfortunate task of trying to educate many anti-pit bull people who are on campaigns against pit bulls. Their reasoning is often very askew and when faced with a fact about pit bulls they will often retort with some fairly strange and twisted answers. Some of the arguments I’ve seen here against Cesar Millan’s ways are quite reminiscent of the comments from those people who fear and hate pit bulls and will stop at nothing to be ‘right’ when in the end the common goal of everyone should be to keep the public safe. I’d like to think that at some point, as I suggested before, everyone who is so passionate about the humane treatment of dogs in respect to how we humans ‘manage’ them (because we do manage them; if we didn’t no one could have a dog in their home) will realize the common goal and will be able to concede that there are many humane ways.

    1. Sherry Reply

      Yes, Cheryl, I have spent decades around mother dogs and their puppies, and they do not pick up and carry puppies by the scruff of the neck. They also do not typically pick up and carry puppies that are much more than a few days old. As for what you have seen, you may think you saw the mother dog pick the puppy up by the scruff, but I promise you that you did not.

      Since I am in the professorial habit of substantiating what I say, here are some videos showing how mother dogs DO pick up and carry pups.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBzy5OBECO8&rel=0

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-wnjKXCPII&rel=0

      1. Guest Reply

        i wasn’t interested in replying to anything until you put that second youtube one…omg my jaw dropped…what an idiot that guy is in the video picking up such a young newborn and moving it just to see the mother go nuts with worry and bring the pup back. Why would you even use that as an example!!!

        1. susanburns Reply

          Thanks. Now I won’t watch it.

      2. threenorns Reply

        you ARE a dimwit, aren’t you? i’ll see your two silly videos (honestly: a mother bulldog trying to pick up a newborn the size of a kitten, of *course* it’s not going to go for the scruff! it’d end up biting the pup’s head off!) and put you up against the many many mother dogs i’ve seen with their puppies. they DO pick them up by the scruff – what, you think they escort their deaf, blind newborns to a new site like mother ducks with their ducklings!? since you’re such an expert, you of course are aware that there is a nerve running down the back of the neck between the shoulderblades – pinching that nerve deactivates the hind end, which is why pups assume the near-foetal position, with back legs and tail tucked up under. this protects them from injury should they struggle while being held by mum.

        also newsflash for you: mother dogs DO bowl their puppies onto their backs and pin them down when the pup gets too stroppy.

        welcome to the world of DOGS, not little furry humans.

      3. itsallaboutthedogs Reply

        I have been a trainer and breeder for many years…and have seen many pups picked up by the scruff by their mothers. I’ve seen them picked up when very small by the mother having the pup’s entire head in her mouth, too. This is the real world, not a Disney movie.

        1. susanburns Reply

          Me too.

    2. Michelle Reply

      I actually find that attributing dominance things to dogs is rather humanizing them, giving them much more human motivations than they really have. The idea that dogs are waiting and biding their time to take over seems far too complicated for what is reality.

      I haven’t seen one person here suggest we want to treat our dogs as children. Quite the opposite, most of us are striving to understand how dogs DO communicate (and it’s not through any sort of “tsst” noise; that much I can tell you!).

      The idea that we’re striving toward a common goal is accurate, but I do not think that the ends justify the means. And I do not condone abusive methods (which I believe CM often employes) to achieve those means. I want more than public safety. I want public safety with happy well-socialized dogs. The problem with CM is that he cannot interpret body language at ALL and so thinks the dogs are relaxed and “calm submissive” when they’re in fact shut down from fear. He obviously honestly WANTS to help dogs, but I think he does more harm than good, sadly.

      1. threenorns Reply

        “which i believe CM often employees” – tell you what: if you don’t know for sure, better to keep your opinion to yourself.

      2. Ann Reply

        No your wrong . I have used CW meathods on all 5 of my dogs and people comment on how well behaved they are . Digs in wild are from packs and need to respect the pack leader the human. do your research. None of his meathods are abusive at all . I had an insacure rescued sheltie was not people socialized afraid of everything and try to dominate my other dogs with ceasers meathod he is 5 now and amazing. Im the boss in my home. Im a animal activist to the extreme and i find his meathods most dog like and very humane.

      3. susanburns Reply

        Dogs are happiest when they know who is the boss. It is the way dogs have evolved and why humans were able to domesticate them.

    3. ronp12 Reply

      Blather. You are the great, wise one? Nope. Not you either.

    4. WhiteShep_Owner Reply

      I would like to see the TV show Pit Bull Rescue people give the dogs they can’t rehab to Cesar and see if he can help.

      1. Ashley Webster Reply

        Totally agree with you!!!!!!!!!!!

      2. susanburns Reply

        I bet he could do it.

      3. MarkSmith123 Reply

        Ceasar’s dominance approach doesn’t go over well with most dog owners, but certainly the correct approach to breeds that are naturally dominate such as rottweilers or staffords. Pit bulls snap easily so this approach is best with them too.

  76. Cheryl Huerta Reply

    Meredith thank you for your sensible post. I’d like to think that there are a lot more people out there like you.

  77. Pets Adviser Reply

    Hi everyone, comments on this post are now closed. We REALLY appreciate the outpouring of discussion on this topic. Now let’s keep the conversation going at our brand new discussion forums:

    http://community.petsadviser.com/showthread.php?22-The-Rise-and-Fall-of-Cesar-Millan

    To post a reply, you’ll need to click the “Register” link on the upper right. It’s free, and pretty quick too. Once you register, you’re good to go, and we’ll be adding cool perks along the way for our registered users.

    See you over there!

    http://community.petsadviser.com/showthread.php?22-The-Rise-and-Fall-of-Cesar-Millan

  78. Debbie Reply

    I do not have an aggressive or more correctly put – a reactive dog but I have seen many.  Caesar’s way is not a bad way, as he says, it is a way.  I have seen reactive/aggressive dogs trained with too many treats with this positive re-enforcement training and the trainers have been bit.  Reactive dogs do not need treat training!  What he does is positive re-enforced training if you watch.  I have never hit or mistreated my dogs but I will let them know who is the leader “it is very important” that this is established and this is what Caesar does.  Where the owners will fall into trouble is that they cannot communicate this the same way and yes the dog will do to them what they have learned not to do with Caesar.  What I will say about him is that his way is just that…it works with him as he is an amazing dog handler.  I do not believe his methods work for all those at home.  You have to know what you are doing and that is why I disagree with the tv show.  Do not try at home is the best you can learn from his shows.  Most of us are not “the dog whispering” type.  He also treats dogs as that – dogs.  I agree with this because dogs do not communicate in human form.  I also have held my dog to the ground just to let him know I am the leader of him and it does for sure work.  You cannot yell and flail at a dog as they do not understand.  All in all I think he is great to take your dog to but I would imagine it is hard for him as he also has to train the owners…..yikes, now that is hard. 

    1. threenorns Reply

      ppl who claim that asserting leadership is “wrong wrong wrong” are also often the type who believe that you shouldn’t be an authority figure to your children, you should be their “friend”.

      apparently, in their fluffy pink cloud-lined world, we would all get along if we would all just get along, regardless that this is completely contrary to nature. the predator and prey don’t just run a game of “scissors paper rock” to decide whether or not the wolf gets to eat dinner.

      the bottom line is, as you say, somebody has to take responsibility and if that means holding down an hysterical dog (or child!) until they get a grip on themselves, it’s better than thumping them into a corner or kicking them into submission and a hundred times better than rewarding them for it!

      1. crazykeyman Reply

        Why do people do this: The same people who do this are the same people who say that. Honestly I don’t see as many correlations that seem to be purported by those who believe in inane generalizations.

  79. Mustangbronchos Reply

    I agree with everything Cheryl said.  Cesar has helped so many dogs & their families. His method is commonsense & the dog respects & loves you for letting him/her be a dog. I have used his methods & they work very welI. I also use lots of positive reinforcementy & shower them with love.  There’s nothing wrong with using more than one method.  People shouldn’t be so down on Cesar & his methods. Everyone has the right to choose. Now, if everyone would devote all this energy to help dogs who are really abused like those who are made to fight or used as bait.

  80. Secret Reply

    Cesar doesn’t teach dog training, he rehabilitates dogs. If an aggressive dog is going to be murdered and his methods can save that dogs life – helping the dog to interact safely with other animals and people, how can you argue against that? I clicker trained my dogs, my dog is my baby and has alot of spirit and a mind of his own. However, if I rescue a dog who is aggressive and “unadoptable” should he be killed rather than poked in the rib once or twice?

    Why protest someone who uses a different approach than you, but is doing really great work and saving the lives of so many dogs? You don’t have to use his methods or agree with him or even like him, but protesting and picketing him? Spend you time rescueing dogs, training “unadoptable” dogs in your preferred method – there are such better ways to spend you time that really make a difference and save lives. (Foster a child and let them foster a dog!)

    1. AuntyFoxy169 Reply

      Omg I couldn’t of said this any better. I love him. I’ve rescued 2 dogs and they are alot of work but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I think we should rally and picket the picketers.

      1. Rebeca Randle Reply

        There u go!! Picket the ignorant!!!

      2. TKSUI Reply

        Totally agree! and speaking from my own experience with my dog — Cesar has helped us a lot to communicate with each other and understand better. It’s truly amazing, I’m touched to tears every time I realize how spiritual our communication is 🙂
        IT’S ABOUT COMMUNICATION. NOT TRAINING.

      3. MasTArrrRR Reply

        Well said, beautiful. And Secret you’re right on boss…. AuntyFoxy169 I’m with you let’s do it. I’ll print the picketing the picketers signs and we’ll picket the picketing fact of the picketers. Wait I just confused myself.

    2. unkown Reply

      i agree with all what you said i think you have said it the right way in what i was goin to say. 

      1. wolfjudy Reply

        This article is not a correct representation of Cesar’s methods.

        CESAR MILLAN”S METHODS REALLY WORK!

    3. Justsaying Reply

      I couldn’t agree more. His methods are used to rehabilitate dogs, not to train them.   People are just confused.

      1. Tomcat Reply

        You’re arguing semantics

        1. hmjzd Reply

          You just wanted to use the word semantics.

        2. Gabriel Anderson Reply

          He is arguing semantics.. People are incorrect in the meaning of his work; that’s what semantics are. Do you really know what you’re talking about? Because it is a valid argument.

      2. Jay Jaharias Reply

        This is NOT true– while his life’s work and his specialty is definitely rehabilitation– his methods and his teaching are HOW TO TRAIN DOGS. Anyone that says otherwise is attempting to twist the truth and deceive.

        1. KristenT Reply

          Cesar does NOT train dogs, he helps them get past their anxieties and he trains their owners how to continue this rehabilitation to make the dog a stable, calm part of the family. You have never seen Cesar “train” a dog and you never will

          1. CharlieC Reply

            thats crazy there was an episode of dog whisperer where it showed him training 4 puppies of his own

          2. NoMoreUserNames Reply

            He also clearly often exacerbates anxieties in dogs.

          3. chazzbrown130 Reply

            People just need to open there eyes an minds.dogs are not PEOPLE .we have a habit of putting a human face on ever thing.

      3. NoMoreUserNames Reply

        Link below from a veterinarian/behaviorist on what “rehabilitate” actually means. (It’s called behavior modification in dogs. Rehabilitation is either physical therapy or for criminals and addicts:
        http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/is-your-dog-a-criminal-or-alcoholic-canine-rehabilitation-vs-behavior-modif

      4. MasTArrrRR Reply

        Exactly. It’s a lack of knowledge or brains. I think they’re trainers that failed in helping red zone death row dogs and are jealous. They were offered a brain and that it was train so they passed up on it and now they unsuccessfully train dogs and are miserable.

    4. Rebeca Randle Reply

      These people picketing him have obviously NOT tried any of his methods on dogs. They are purely ignorant. Secret you however… are spot on!

      1. An_alternative_opinion Reply

        wrong. I have tried some of his ideas and they are not good. There are much better methods that give faster and more durable results without harming dogs in the process or teaching the dogs unwanted behaviors

        1. KristenT Reply

          Then you tried them incorrectly. I have used his methods and they worked great so obviously it was you, not the method

          1. dogcyn Reply

            I agree, I have also tried his methods and when done correctly, they work amazingly. It’s the press that has caused his downfall. Cesar is amazing and a wonderful person who does it for the dog, not the money or fame.

            1. South Africa

              I agree with his methods to. Perhaps using, “dog training” is incorrect, as he deals with “problem dogs”. Once the issue of “who is leader” is settled, then enter progressive obedience training with positive reinforcement.

              But dogs also differ. With puppies you train from young, but rescued dogs may be shy or aggressive. His methods are only for aggressive dogs.

        2. Michele Reply

          Check out this article. It’s long, but very informative and current.
          http://qz.com/159513/stop-coddling-your-dog-hes-99-9-wolf/

          1. window00 Reply

            We’re 99.9% chimpanzee… and 99.9% related to the serial killers in our midst.

      2. Jim Speed Reply

        I agree, the people who are against him have most likely done something wrong or went about the entire process incorrectly.

    5. George Reply

      Cesar is a good business man, but nicely put his techniques are outdated. That is why people who study the canine as a species are picketing him. The ignorance on display by the comments here is laughable. It does, however, help to reinforce my lack of faith in humanity. We take a flashy guy, put him on tv,and people start to worship him. Maybe Cesar should run for President. I have yet to see a real dog, with real aggression in any of the episodes that I have been able to stomach. I have seen hippie dogs partnered with horrible human influences. It is not a different approach; it is the same old outdated approach. Why would anyone want a submissive canine, unless there is a complete lack of understanding of the species as a whole. Please stop the “this one time my dog…” anecdotal stories. Who cares about your one or two experiences with your pet dog? Look at the data collected by people that research canine cognition and study thousands of dogs per year. Personally I would not have such an issue with the clown if he didn’t refer to himself as the Dog Whisperer.. Dog Trainer for the Low Information Human would be much more appropriate.

      1. Benjamin Mazariegos Reply

        His methods are outdated yet the professional couldn’t help many of the dogs broght to him, they were on death row.
        Yeah, for president and you for school, you need some training also.

        1. George Reply

          No idea what the point of your comment is.. I guess that he is using cutting edge methodologies that are not outdated? Great insight.. thanks

          1. Ashley Webster Reply

            George, I’m sure Ceasar has saved Thousands of dogs versus you!! He tries to keep dogs out of shelters if you watch all the episodes not just 3 or 4 shows. Anyway, why be negative toward someone who is trying to help animals? Who cares if he makes money because a TV producer offered him a show or a publisher offered him a deal? Do you have a job you make money at? Who is a professional in your eyes? Someone who is certified? Well who was the first professional? Every profession was started by someone!!!!!!!! Every profession in the world had to come by a self taught person who experimented, learned, had positive results and passed along the knowledge!! I’m just trying to say you dont have to be negative toward someone who has helped so so many animals. Go after the shelter killers that do it on a daily basis!!!

            1. An_alternative_opinion

              I’m sure Cesar causes more dogs to be put to sleep than he saves. His “training techniques” are inappropriate and teach dogs to bite.

        2. Eliabeth Milller Reply

          Ben,
          You say his methods are outdated? Where were doggie treats being given in a pack of wolves in Alaska 100 years ago. There is an inherent pack behavior that even you have to follow in your own job. Unless, you own your own boarding/dog kennel/ daycare like I do. I am the Alpha dog and it works fairly well. No training is perfect, but treating a dog for good behavior flies in the face of any scientific study of pack mentality and real canine DNA.

      2. John Reply

        I’d love to see how people who study the canine as a species climb into a cage with a hippy german shepherd with horrible human influences.

        1. George Reply

          I think you have missed the point, but I welcome you to come and observe dogs with real aggression issues and see how well the hierarchal, one size fits all method plays out,..most GSD’s do not have much dog/drive in them anymore due to humans.

        2. Not the dog whisperer, thanks Reply

          Thy Wouldn’t, because that’s dumb. They would take heir time and desensitise and counter condition the dog first. He is all for show!

      3. Mabd Reply

        No, what they are up in arms about is his lack of certification and lack of need for acceptance from the powers that be. It’s about what has become a dogmatic establishment against someone whose methods work.

        Your lack of understanding is, quite frankly amazing. His techniques don’t actually go against positive training, unless the situation warrants a different approach. Just like not all humans learn in the same manner, so to not all dogs can be approached in the same way. One size fits all only actually fits a very few, those one either side of the scale are lost in it or squeezed out of it.

        And Dog Whisperer is obviously after that stupid movie with what? Robert Redford of some nonsense? It’s called marketing and obviously it’s worked pretty well.

        1. George Reply

          Good point the dog mafia wants him gone because he is not a certified trainer..Pretty soon I bet the black helicopters will catch him..I can tell you are very well versed in dog behavior and must appreciate the various approaches used by Cesar. Try this.. turn on any episode and listen to him describe any dog, on any day with the same 2 words, dominance and submission.. His whole outdated methodology is based on a one size fits all approach, but okay..
          Please forgive my ignorance, but what is positive training and why would it be different from the dog whisperer’s approach?
          I don’t get the Redford comment, but I do not see movies or watch tv. I do like him though.

          1. Mabd Reply

            You don’t know anything about dogs or dog training if you don’t know what positive training is so none of your opinions about Cesar or dogs are at all valid. Go back to your rock and enjoy!

            1. George

              Ok bash me, when incapable of answering the question. I do not want to assume what you may, or may not think positive training is, so I asked for your definition, since it was your terminology. I am heading back to my rock. I think I got it though.. fire bad, cesar good?

            2. Mabd

              That’s the thing, it’s not my term. The fact you don’t know that means you are not a person with an educated opinion on the matter. Just and empty headed one.

            3. George

              Please educate me, you seem so knowledgeable!

            4. Mabd

              Why? If you wanted to know you obviously have access to the internet. Use it. Otherwise you think you are clever and sorry, not willing to lie myself down on your tracks and await the train.

            5. David Deleon Baker

              Please, no personal insults. Keep the discussion on topic. Thanks.

            6. Elizabeth Miller

              Hold on there. Tell me, where the hell were doggie treats and “clickers” a thousand years ago?

            7. Bianca Arlette

              How are you writing this? Because the internet did not exist a thousand years ago either. Humans have evolved, so should our ways to interact with each other and animals.

              Cesar does not have any degrees in dog training, neither do I. But I have read countless books (both about positive training and Cesar’s methods) , worked with a fabulous positive reinforcement trainer and now have a great and well behaved and balanced dog as a result. I also help out a friend of mine whose dog is defensively aggressive against other dogs (apart from mine) after she was attacked.

              Cesar does not rehabilitate. He kicks and punches dogs into submission without teaching them what the correct behaviour would be. These poor dogs simply shut down emotionally along the lines of “as long as I don’t do anything at all, I won’t do anything wrong”.

            8. Wow

              “Degrees in dog training” hahaha. What noble institution gives these degrees out?

            9. Bianca Arlette

              Among others: The Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour & Training. And there are countless other universities and institutes who provide courses based on actual scientific findings instead of ancient misconceptions about how wolves and dogs are supposed to behave.

              Do your research before you try to mock people.

            10. Wow x2

              HAHA. And what does it take to get into this prestigious university, opening the door? This “institution” is laughable.

            11. Bianca Arlette

              Yes, because Cambridge is know as being soooooo easily accessible. They offer BAs and MAs which take years to qualify for. Their training methods are humane and based on decades of scientific studies and observations of and interactions with canines both domesticated and in the wild.
              Go away and bother someone else. All you do is mock without offering any insight. You’d be laughable if you weren’t so boring. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

            12. Wow x3

              Haha. DeVry and the University of Phoenix also offers such degrees, it does not make them legitimate or respectable. This is Cambridge – http://www.cam.ac.uk/, not this – http://www.cidbt.org.uk/

              It truly must be difficult to get into this fine institution with such high entry standards as,
              “All candidates are required to complete…. Exceptions are where you have a minimum of six months experience in related dog behaviour,
              training or other qualifications. Some of these are listed below as a guide:
              -Kennel hand – canine husbandry work or dog carer
              -[Dog] Groomer”

              You humiliate yourself taking pride in such places.

            13. Bianca Arlette

              well done, you can google. And no, you humiliate yourself with your mocking nature.
              The CIDBT is a fantastic institution, taught by knowledgeable teachers, offering accredited degrees. They do not have to appear in their own TV show. BTW, does having a TV show require any specific talent to appear on nowadays? It does not require any actual and/or proven knowledge but just some charismatic machismo.
              Our trainer was and is fantastic, she works with aggressive dogs without brutality but with methods based on solid scientific research and not old wife’s tales.

              You have not said anything significant about actual training methods. Do you know anything apart from what you can quickly google and have seen on a TV show?

            14. Wow

              Accredited with whom? My comments have nothing to do with the training methods or the TV show, but rather getting “degrees” in dog training.

              If you want to better understand animal behavior (and in turn how to train them) ask an ethologist, or conversely study ethology yourself.

            15. Bianca Arlette

              1) Studying dog training includes detailed courses and information on canine behaviour, physiology and psychology.

              2) So basically, you are “participating” in a discussion on dog training methods and don’t know anything about dog training?
              Yep, you are not worth wasting anymore time. Come back if you have anything useful to contributing.

            16. Steve

              So you are now a certified dog trainer. And the only problem you have is not having enough clients? Or why are you advertising so much here?

              Please tell me the method you learned when a strangers dog is attacking your dog while walking down the street. Without brutality. I am very keen. Or if a dog, in training, flies off the handle and attacks you or another person, dog.

              And please at least make it sound realistic. We all know its the internet talking here.

            17. Guest

              The lady is probobly completely fake anyway.

            18. Bianca Arlette

              A) I am not a trainer, I am a very invested dog owner with a very well behaved dog who works closely with her trainer and also a few people with problem dogs for whom my dog is the only one they tolerate.

              B) We are talking about methods of training here. If you get attacked by a stranger’s dog in the street that has nothing to do with how you trained your dog and everything with the lack of training of the attacking dog. Would I yank back the other dog if he attacked me or my dog, yes, but that is not training that is instinct.

              C) Attacks during dog training are very rare. The reason why CM gets bitten so much in his show is because his methods are very confrontational. He doesn’t work on figuring out what causes the dog to react in such a fashion. If you are working with a dog who has behavioural issues, you should never be as confrontational an intimidating as he is. You should start on identifying the triggers, what is the dog afraid of and then you slowly start desensitising you dog against those triggers. It can take weeks, even months but instead of just teaching a dog what not to do, you teach him the correct behaviour. You teach the dog that other dogs or men or horses or whatever causes the dog to react the way he/she does is fun and great to have there.

              It takes time and actual inverstment. If you are not willing to invest time in the rehabilitation of dogs, then you should not rescue one.

            19. Eric

              Have you even watched the show? I’m not a big CM fan, but seriously, it sounds to me like you and other critics are upset mostly due to the fact he does everything you do, in 1/100 the time. He ALWAYS spends time understanding the problem, and he ALWAYS shows the right behavior, either explicitly or in a way that naturally leads the dog to its natural, pre-problematic demeanor.

              People like you and “George” are stuck up, frustrated a**les, and quite frankly, it’s obvious that what stands behind your antagonistic approach is jealousy, plain and simple.

              Regarding your last sentence – REALLY!? You’d rather see a dog die than go to a loving family that uses a training technique that is different than yours? Some dog lover you are.

            20. Bianca Arlette

              And I would suggest you do some proper research into positive reinforcement methods, maybe you will be able to understand why I believe his outdated dominance-based methods are cruel and do not help the dog understand what the desired behaviour is, just what the undesired behaviour is supposed to be.

              I did not say that I wanted dogs to die, I said that they are better off in a shelter than in a home where he is forced into constant submission, where he will be kicked (“it’s just touch”) and held by people who base their idea on wrong perceptions about how wolves.

              And if caring for dog’s wellfare makes me a “stuck up asshole” as you so eloquently put it, then I suggest you become “stuck up” in books and do some work to understand why we feel so passionate. Read some books and articles by Patricia McConnell, Sophia Yin or Ian Dunbar instead of just glaring at the idiot box. And just in case you can’t, Sophia Yin has some amazing training videos on Youtube.

            21. An_alternative_opinion

              I’ve wathced the show and read cesar’s books. Bianca is dead on the money: Cesar uses harsh methods and is a poor judge of a dog’s calming signals, which is exactly why he gets bit

            22. Anon

              What you just listed here, I have seen him address, figure out what causes it through observation as well as testing, and gradually desensitizing the dog against those triggers. And he has taken time and effort to do that especially with serious cases.
              He simply uses firm actions to get the dog to calm down enough to listen, especially with severe dogs.
              If you watched the show long enough, you’ll see that.

            23. Bianca Arlette

              What he does is not desensitation. Desensitation would be to teach the dog gradually that what they fear is no threat and that there is no reason to react aggressively.

              Millan’s methods suppress behaviour through violence, causing dogs to shut down because they are overwhelmed with stimuli and then shut down. They do not learn not to be afraid, they simply learn not to react. In most cases, this shut down is only temporary and can blow up in the owners face once Millan has departed.

              There is plenty of research which proves conclusively that dominance and punishment based techniques such as his are not only much less effective than positive training methods, they are also much more dangerous. That is the reason why he gets bitten so much. Not because he works with more aggressive dogs than other trainers but because his methods provoke aggression in the dog and escalate them.

            24. An_alternative_opinion

              I’ve read most of your posts here, Biance, and you are very well informed about modern training and canine behavior. I bet your teacher is proud of your successes with your dog.

            25. Bianca Arlette

              Thank you, I believe we all are proud of what we have achieved (me, partner & dog). She is a fantastic dog and a great advocate for her breed. We just started agility training with her, which is lots of fun, great exercise and a good way to work on the relationship between dog and owner. 🙂

            26. Bruce Bolduc

              That’s your opinion, and simply untrue. When they show Cesar introducing a dog to his pack of dogs, they are all happy, and well adjusted. Your only referring to the time he spends on the dogs for the show. It’s different when the cameras aren’t rolling

            27. Bianca Arlette

              That is your opinion and simply not true. Whenever you see pictures and videos of him and his dogs, you can see a lot of arched backs, low heads, lip licks, etc all signs of nervousness and unease.
              There is video footage of Daddy growling at CM when he comes near his food, that is not the sign of a dog who trusts his owner.
              Thinking of what he is willing to do ON camera, I shudder to think of what he does to them when the cameras aren’t rolling.

            28. Bruce Bolduc

              Wow. Not agreeing with something is your right. But to insinuate that Cesar hurts dogs off camera is just sick. You Miss, are misguided,, and unfortunately unaware of how your accusation is just a pathetic attempt to control what others do. You will never win. There are thousands of trainers around the world who laugh at your
              ‘my way is the only way, and you have to stop doing what you do because I said so’ …attitude.
              ‘Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand’

            29. Wow x3

              HAHA. This is not “Cambridge”, the University of Cambridge is “Cambridge”. The two are in no way affiliated, and no, this is company is not respectable. Just because a place offers such degrees does not make them legitimate or of high repute. DeVry, the University of Pheonix, and many online companies will offer you such “degrees”. If you believe otherwise I have some wonderful lake shore property to sell you.

              Continuing, this place really does have high entry standards, “All candidates are required to [take some nonsense courses likely taught from a DVD]…. Exceptions are where you have a minimum of six months experience in related dog behaviour,training or other qualifications. Some of these are listed below as a guide:
              -Kennel hand – canine husbandry work or dog carer
              -Groomer”

              You embarrass yourself.

            30. Steve

              So before this degree existed, there have never been well behaved, normal dogs in the world?

              What a crock.

              Its just an industry thing.

            31. Bianca Arlette

              Did I say that? What I said is that modern training techniques, which are based on decades of behavioural research, are more gentle, more effective and bring lasting results without bullying the dog into learned helplessness and constant submission.

            32. Anon

              I have yet to see him actually kick and punch any dogs.
              Did you actually watch the show? Or are you just taking people’s dramatic emotional word for it?

            33. Bianca Arlette

              Have YOU actually watched the show? Watch the episode with Holly, to start with. Or just youtube “Millan kicking dogs” to get a ‘lovely’ collection of video clips. He might call the kicks and punches “touch” but they are not. The dogs’ reactions makes it quite clear that these jabs, kicks and – yes – punches are painful. They don’t “snap the dog out of it”, they hurt. His training methods is unscientific, inneffective and dangerous for both dog and owner.

            34. jennifer

              I think if the dogs was biting into my hand and my hand is going to fall off, I might need to kick the dog too. … Wouldn’t you???… SERIOUSLY!….

              If a robber stabbed a knife in you during a robbery, are you going to push him away by kicking him!?

            35. Bianca Arlette

              You conveniently ignore the fact that Millan causes the bites. For example, he jabbed/punched Holly in the neck twice before she even showed any kind of aggression and even after the third time he hits her, she does not immediately bite.
              In this case, Millan is the robber and the dogs are the ones trying to defend themselves.

            36. An_alternative_opinion

              it’s pretty clear that HOlly was giving off calming signals in a vain attempt to get Cesar to quit messing with her. Tragic.

            37. Bianca Arlette

              I know. The tongue flicks, the blinking, looking and backing away. She was trying to be so appeasing and he just ignores all her signals. That is one of my major issues with dominance based training. It takes away all choice and dignity from the dog, completely ignores their nature and forces them into an unnatural state of submission.

            38. An_alternative_opinion

              you can log onto youtube and find all the videos of cesar abusing dogs that you like.

            39. Eve

              I was the breeder of a wonderful Rott that I ended up taking back. His owner had him at a show and he was jumped by another dog. No harm was done, but he was a little disturbed by the incident. A few weeks later, his owner was coming home from training, and got him out of his crate in the front yard, got the crate out of his truck and in an instant, while Jeff wasn’t looking, a tragedy happened – Taz attacked another dog that was jogging by with his owner and killed it. It was a black lab, and Taz crushed his trachea. The dog suffocated right there in front of his owner, who gave Jeff 24 hours to get rid of Taz.

              I took him back immediately, and set about rehabiliating him. I could not have a dog aggressive dog, so I took him out to training 3 days per week, and set him up with other dog aggressive dogs for corrections. I put a pinch collar on him, and any time he even looked at the other dog I gave him a correction and headed in the opposite direction. When he was looking at me he was getting praise and hot dogs.

              What many people don’t understand is that for every correction you give, you have to give at least an equal, preferably a bigger, reward, and it has to follow very quickly or you will shut the dog down. So when I give a quick collar correction, and then the dog looks at me, I then praise praise praise and reward with the hot dog – if his eyes avert to the dog, correction, then praise praise praise and reward with the hot dog. Taz was 2 when this happened. He learned that when he felt aggressive, the safest place to look was at me.

              When Taz was 10 years old, I was walking him in an RV park, and some idiot with a Boston Terrier let their dog come running out and bite Taz in the lip. Taz roared. I yelled, “Sitz!” He sat and looked at me, blood dripping from his lip. I was so proud of him.

              Btw, Taz went on to become regional sieger, ABST, SchH III, IPO III, AD, he was a therapy dog, CGC, TT, and was always known as a gentleman in the ring.

            40. Bianca Arlette

              Well, that is one way of doing it. In my opinion, you did not teach him that looking at you was safe, you taught him that not doing so would bring discomfort and, depending on how hard your correction was, possibly pain. This could have badly backfired on you and certainly was not the kindest way to teach social skills to your dog.
              There are gentler methods who are not only long-lasting but also teach the dog to not only not be aggressive but also associate other dogs with fun.

              You achieved your goal, I just don’t agree with the methods you used.

            41. jennifer

              just saw this post, but is funny you refer someone that let loose a boston terrier as an “idiot”, and you bred a dog that kills someone else’s lab.

            42. Antoine Simmons

              You are are honestly holding the breeder responsible for that?! The dog was attacked by another dog. Never got over it. Saw all dogs as threats to neutralize. I’m sure this happens far more often than we care to admit, but that is not a breeder problem.

          2. Ashley Webster Reply

            Redford movie “The Horse Whisperer” I’m sure the show producer came up with the name “Dog Whisperer” Well George you obviously watch the show and if you didn’t like him you wouldn’t. Your one of those the glass is half empty kind of people huh? 😉

            1. larissa

              Animal lover
              On the subject of “The Horse Whisperer” Monty Roberts is renowned as “a Horse Whisperer world wide” he has been around for decades using horse psychology. Even the Queen of England uses his methods. Then there is other known horse whisperers such as Jeffery Method, Pat Parrelli and many more all using horse psychology because horses are horses. Millan’s method works because he understands dogs are dogs and not people. And before he came along we had Barbra Woodhouse in the UK who was just as famous. You do not need a degree in common sense. Perhaps the picketing people need to open their minds more or use energy to save a dog.

            2. Wow

              Horse psychology haha. That sounds very official. Where can one learn this horse psychology? Are you trying to refer to the field of study called ethology?

            3. KB

              The Horse Whisperer (book and therefore movie) is actually inspired by a couple of horse “whisperers” but mainly by Buck Brannaman, who was consulted for the movie by Redford and whose horse was actually used in the movie in some difficult scenes that the trained trick horse couldn’t even do.

            4. larissa

              The original Horse Whisperer Daniel Sullivan came from Cork Ireland and died in 1810. Sullivan was known for ability to rehabilitate the abused and traumatised horse. Unlike Millan and Brannaman Sullivan kept his method a secret. The public noticed his close contact handling a horse and speculated he whispered to the animal. And The Horse Whisperer “name” was born.

            5. Daniellie

              Nope they came up with the Dog Whisperer after copying Paul Owens. Paul Owens released a book in 1999 titled The Dog Whisperer, Beginning and Intermediate Training for Puppies and Dogs (note there is now a 2007 version is was re released oo something like that). Owens started training dogs when Cesar was two year old. Cesar was born in 1969 and Owens started training in 1972. In 1994 IF you read his bio on his site it says “In 1994, I(Cesar) met Jada Pinkett, then a sitcom actress (now Jada Pinkett Smith, after her marriage to Will Smith). She became one of my clients and biggest supporters. When I told her I wanted to be on TV, she told me I needed to learn English first and she even paid for my English tutor for the year.

              The Dog Whisperer aired in 2004 FIVE YEARS after Paul Owens released his book “The Dog Whisperer, Beginning and Intermediate Training for Puppies and Dogs”.

          3. Nyx Reply

            Dogs are not technology that advances over time the way your phone has. Dominance and submission isn’t outdated, as you claim. It’s how dogs still function. After countless vets, trainers, and “experts” couldn’t help my pitbull rescued from a dog fighting ring, with severe dog aggression issues, Cesar’s method was the only one that worked. Now my dog can go to the dog park without problems. He doesn’t train dogs, he rehabilitates them. Dog training isn’t something that needs to be updated every year like CS textbooks.

            1. George

              I am not sure why you would consult a vet for a behavioral issue, but I would like to know where the countless trainers and experts you consulted are training..The outdated techniques borrowed by Cesar to impress the masses are useless when truly trying to rehabilitate severe aggression. Basically everything he does is a dumbed down version of the Kohler method. If you don’t think that there has been advances in behavior modification over the years, I am not sure how to help. There will be advances this year and this month. I will have to tweak something in my program to improve. Look at training guidelines for police dogs set as recently as the 80’s compared to now. Look at competition level working dogs 10 years ago and compare that to today’s top dogs. The study of behavior is an ongoing process, that never ends. We have to force ourselves as the so-called higher species to adapt and learn constantly to improve the human/canine relationship.

            2. Nyx

              You don’t know why you would consult a vet for behavioral issues? Are you serious? Have you never rescued (or read about rescuing) a pit bull from a dog fighting ring that had bottle caps sewn under its skin to cause it pain and make it more aggressive? Pain leads to aggression. If there is a medical problem that can cause pain or hormonal imbalances, those can lead to aggression. EVERY dog with aggression issues should be taken to a vet to rule out any possible medical problems. The fact that you don’t understand the relationship of medical to behavioral problems and then go on to assert that my personal experience was impossible by stating that the method that worked doesn’t work and the methods that don’t work do, only demonstrates what a novice you are. I hope you don’t own any dogs.

            3. George

              According to your first statement, you took your dog to countless vets, trainers and experts. If pain-induced aggression was the issue, why would the first vet not help the dog to heal? Pain can lead to aggression in some cases, agreed.. I just want to make sure I understand.. After consulting with countless vets, trainers and experts and they were unable to help.. you watched a tv show, applied the techniques and corrected the behavioral issue. I guess I would be worshipping the guy too..

            4. Nyx

              Now you’re just zigzagging to a different point after I revealed your ignorance about the role medical conditions can play in behavioral issues, but still trying to cling to a sense of superiority while doing so. I’m just going to conclude that you have no relevant education or experience on the matter and just like to hear yourself talk. Yawn.

            5. George

              It is exactly the same point, where is the zigzagging? I thought one does not need education or experience when dealing with dogs? Just watch the tv show, right?

            6. Cricket

              I think the point is that you wouldn’t necessarily consult just any vet for behavioral issues (the bottle caps are a physical issue resulting in behavioral issues, which *is* within the scope of a vet). I’ve been shoeing horses for 32 years, and I can say with confidence that the huge majority of vets have little or no knowledge of horse behavior. Which, sigh, is part of why they tend to send the real nutcases to me, but that’s a whole different story.

              Dog society, like horse society, operates through dominance and submission. If properly ordered (i.e., you take any real nutcases out of the herd/pack), the dominance may only be the narrowing of an eye, or the flick of an ear, but it’s there. People seem to have a hard time hearing “dominance” without thinking “beating” or some such, but I am 5′ tall, and weigh 130#, and I often dominate a horse that has been giving someone else trouble, by just giving them “The Look”. (Though sometimes I’m cheating, and it’s a horse that knows me from the past, when we *did* go around pretty spectacularly).

              I think part of the issue is that the huge majority of people have never encountered a true bad horse/dog – they think they have, because it was owned/handled by someone who was really bad at it before, but the horse/dog is not by nature a very dominant animal. Those, especially horses, don’t tend to be out on the “amateur” market. Horses and dogs with just a mild case of no manners are a different thing than those who in their herd/pack would be a very strong dominant, and who expect to be able to carry that over to humans. We breed against that, but they still pop up. And they hurt people who have “rehabbed” a dozen or more mild but showy cases, and think they’ve dealt with true problem animals. Those are rare, but they’re a whole different critter.

            7. Eve

              So, are you saying that there is no compulsion used, ever, in training, say, the retrieve for a top SchH dog? Really?

            8. An_alternative_opinion

              it is not necessary to use compulsion to train any obedience exercises, whether it’s SchH or AKC

            9. Alex Echevarria

              I agree. To use the term “outdated” in regards to dogs seems misguided to me. Just because a technique is “newer” does not mean it’s better. People tend to get very hung up on the words “dominant” and “submissive” because they have negative connotations in the human world. All “dominance” is really referring to is a higher social status. A coach has a higher status than a player, but it does not mean the coach is cruel, aggressive or abusive. It just means that the coach leads the player.The player listens to the coach. Ideally this relationship is built on respect, not fear, which is what Cesar stresses over and over and over again.

            10. Maria Gonzalez

              You took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you for the dogs are not a piece of advancing technology statement.

            11. Terri Echols

              dogs are not a piece of advancing technology, no. but our understanding does change and advance. we once thought, for example, that depression and other emotional problems in women were caused by a wandering uterus. the treatment was inducing orgasm.
              while i’m sure THAT would have made for entertaining reality television, and in some cases might have even been efficacious in the short term, i would venture to say that like dogs, women are not advancing technology, but our understanding has changed and advanced.

            12. panzer

              Key point…..”he rehabilitates them”, nuff said.

          4. Bianca Arlette Reply

            Positive reinforcement means that you reward a dog for desired behaviour, therefore getting the dog to repeat the behaviour because he likes doing so and not because he is scared of what might happen if he doesn’t.
            And instead of simply supressing unwanted behaviour, which is what CM often does, you work on helping the dog understand that what he is doing is wrong and then teach him what the correct behaviour would be. Simple example, if you have a dog who keeps jumping up at you, you turn your back and ignore him, even if he keeps jumping up. The second he stops jumping up, you turn around and reward the dog. The reward can be anything the dog likes from a treat, to a belly rub or a game of tug.

            The positive technique is based on actual canine behaviour and not outdated ideas on how wolves behave.

            1. Anon

              Really it doesn’t seem like you have watched the show, or you focus too much on your emotional reaction than actually seeing that, Cesar DOES positive reinforcement by rewarding the dog for desired behavior, either with treats, toys, or affection. Again, if the situation calls for it he is firm enough to snap the dog out of the mindset of either being too excited, aggressive, or/and insecure, so the dog WILL LISTEN. Honestly a dog is simple minded, they can only focus on one thing at a time.

            2. Bianca Arlette

              He is aggressive, not firm. He misreads dog’s body language and by trying to be dominant actually sends signals of aggression to the dogs.
              And if you watch the episode with Holly for example, he punches her in the throat twice before she ever gets reactive.
              Shadow gets snapped out of nothing but essentially strung up until he is semi-conscious although Millan again misreads this as “calm-submissive”. If the dog was calm, he would not have spend the time on the floor lying in his own urine.

              There is no reason to use this level of force in dog training. ESPECIALLY not with fear-based aggression.

        2. Michelle Reply

          Actually, the movie to which you refer is the Horse Whisperer…based on the book of the same name, which is based on a real person, too, Buck Brannaman. Only he stays out of the limelight.

          1. Mabd Reply

            Yeah, that’s why there’s a movie about him— cause, ya know, he stays out of the limelight. ~rolls eyes~ Good on you, jumping into a months old discussion to toss in your half penny of info to try and seem ‘with it’.

            1. Michelle

              Hey, superbitch…this was a link on a website for today’s news. I don’t know who peed in your Cheerios, but they probably should have taken a dump in it, too.

            2. Mabd

              Not my problem that you get your news from a source that is that far behind. But most people can read dates and understand what the term ‘6 months ago’ means. BTW only fags eat breakfast cereal.

          2. Mabd Reply

            Actually, you might like to get your facts straight. Buck was a source they used for the movie, Redford took a lot from Buck for the character but the movie was not about him. The movie actually about Buck explains all of that.

      4. CanineA. Reply

        To be really hones with you I think that you and all the others who criticize Cesar Millan would do a lot better to humanity and all the dogs with minding your own business and to actually help more dogs instead of talking BS of someones techniques. I am a 100% positively sure that if you would be on tv like he was you would be the guy being ripped on all the time by ignorant people like you because your techniques etc.
        Did you ever think of that? Or you think that you would be the special guy and your techniques would be loved and worshiped around the world and everyone would totally agree with you just because you have studied canine psychology???? Seriously dude… Have you ever seen one person with whom everyone agrees?? You and all these people envy him for his work and that he is internationally respected
        Nevertheless my advise as a canine trainer who has studied it and got a degree in an official institute at the moment working in a company where canine psychologists and trainers united to make a difference I strongly recommend that you get your ass up and instead of talking so much crap actually save animals, rehab them, train them and help as many people and pets as he did. (I’m not saying that as we did because after analyzing your comment I clearly see the obvious…. impossible.

        1. friend of Cesar Reply

          I agree with you, I don’t have a ” once my dog did this” story, I as I posted above most people who comment on his methods have never been around any other animals other than dog’s. growing up on a farm gives one allot of time to observe animals in their true nature, as I did with my own “un-humanized” dog who was part of our pack, and not a dog and show pony..like most people treat their animals now, and they then scratch their heads and wonder why their animals are awful, same thing with having children just cause you can have children doesn’t mean you should have children, human’s are selfish by nature not thinking things through 100% having kids and having pet’s takes allot of time and energy, and you really have to take a good hard long look at yourself and ask yourself “can I really do this”? but like I said human’s are selfish and because of it children and animals suffer every day..So if Cesar can help an animal with his methods because some stupid selfish human didn’t think things through and that dog ended up unbalanced or even worse dumped at a shelter, then so be it.. if there wern’t so many stupid selfish human’s out there in the first place we woulden’t even be having this discussion.. now would we?

        2. George Reply

          I agree! Yay!

        3. panzer Reply

          Amen…he has done WAY more good than bad!

      5. Bill Reply

        I love the “methods are outdated” argument, which slyly trying to pretend that someone, somewhere, knows everything, which is completely against everything behavior science teaches. Different approaches influence dogs differently. Cesar’s methods I have found work extremely well for dogs that already have behavioral issues, but I feel can be easily misunderstood by a clean state puppy just starting to learn.

        1. George Reply

          Wow dogs with issues need to be trained differently from puppies.. I am impressed and completely agree.. cutting edge, different approaches from the whisperer in every episode. I feel enlightened..

          1. Fella Reply

            George, I like how you explained that Ceasar’s methods were “wrong” or “outdated” and referenced some “research”. What are you are you referring to anyway? Do you have any observable evidence to present? Your argument is not an argument. You are just saying he’s wrong because some other people said he’s wrong. Now, I’m sure you’ve read that someone did some research and then they said it was wrong. I’m sure you’ll find someone saying the exact opposite. Someone with the same credibility. You just haven’t proved anything.

        2. peterhoran Reply

          That’s what I was just thinking after I read the article. Heck, we can’t even decide what the best way to “train” our kids is. You hear different parenting theories all the time, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on that. Dogs can’t communicate with us, so I’d imagine it’s an even less certain field, or at least as uncertain.

        3. MoiMoi Reply

          Cesar bases his knowledge on the Dominance Theory, which has been debunked a good while ago (by David Mech, the very person who came up with it, and he even said he deeply regrets having ever made that theory because it has done more harm than good). So basically yes, his methods ARE outdated.

          1. Steve Reply

            Dogs have ALWAYS been told what to do. In a dominant fashion.
            It is their readyness to do so, at all, and for humans, that make them different from
            wolves,
            which is what Mr Mech is researching.
            Not dogs.
            Sorry to spoil your dreams there.

            He did not pioneer the Dominance theory and he is not in the position for changing this method of working with dogs for anyone.

            Really. Come on. Do you think a shep herder on the isle of man who works with a border collie using whistle commands is going to be more friends with his dog than he needs to just because someone who works with wolves in the united states tells him so? And after more than a hundred years of passed down techniques and with perfect results?

            A dog does not take a command from an unassertive person. Never. They are smart enough to know you supply them with everything but you will not get everything from them if you are not dominant.

            Dogs are a tool. Always have been. Always will be. It does not need to be said in any other way. If you like them fine. If you want them to be something else, ok. But don’t go pretending there is always a better way to make them better dogs because they already are perfect.

            1. Tomcat

              I guess you don’t realize by arguing against Mr Mech’s research you have actually dismantled your own argument, since his research with wolves is what dominance training with dogs is based on.

            2. An_alternative_opinion

              Dogs aren’t wolves, so you clearly don’t understand the implications

            3. Panzer

              No they’re only 98.8% f the Gray Wolf…..

            4. jarvis123

              Guess what, we too share up to 98.8% of our DNA with chimps. We do not behave like them, just like dogs and wolfs dont behave like eachother

            5. mez

              Dogs and wolves are much closer than we are to monkeys. For e.g. dogs can mate with wolves but we can’t mate with monkeys. We also share 60% of DNA with the fruit fly but that doesn’t mean squat in terms of comparing behavior. Just because we share x% DNA does NOT translate to being x% similar in behaviour. Understand things before you go throwing around numbers out of context.

            6. window00

              Chimps aren’t monkeys. Chimps are great apes, as are humans.

            7. Denise Davis Epperson

              All Steve did was correct the errors in Mech’s quote…and there are many..!!!

            8. Leila

              I think you have to be assertive, yes, but not “dominant” persay. I think if you give a dog a job, they will gladly do it once they figure out how, just to earn your love. You just have to teach them exactly what to do. And that’s where clicker training becomes so beneficial. It’s a simple, clear way to communicate that your dog is doing something right. A dog who knows clicker training and positive reinforcement will do anything for you, and they’ll be thrilled to do so. I tried the dominance method for years, and I saw no change whatsoever in my dog until I started clicker training.

              I still yell at her if she does something dangerous or something really bad, and she gets it and stops doing it. (I haven’t had to yell at her in a LONG time.)

              Dogs are not a “tool” as you call them. They’re living creatures. They do aim to please and they’re highly intelligent and can be taught to do so many different jobs. Most dogs are happiest when they have a job. However, this does not make them a tool to be exploited.

            9. Denise Davis Epperson

              Dominate or assertive??? Means the same to a dog.

          2. Carrie Galluzzo-Seat Reply

            another ding bat that says training a dog the way cesar does is out dated well when you can get HUNDREDS of dogs of all breeds in the same room our outdoor space then you can talk but until them you and your b