What do you guys think of Cesar Millan or 'The Dog Whisperer'?
Been watching some videos and been having some debates about his methods of training (which to me, being someone how has and does train dogs, are not as bad as people think).
The controversy that he hits/punches dogs or even uses tooth collars and shock collars is just stupid to me as well. He never comes on the show saying 'we're going to use this shock collar to control your dog', if anything he tries to discourage the use of these things for control of bad behaviors, showing owners they can gain control and stop bad behavior easily, without painful tools.
The fact remains that if a dog is aggressive and ready to hurt another dog or a human NOTHING will stop it, not a shock collar, not a choke chain, not a spike/tooth collar, or even a gate/fence. So the 'tools' used mean nothing, it's about presence, making the dog realize you are not a threat but you are also not a pushover.
His methods do work when done properly and with an understanding of WHY they work. So many people want to humanize dogs and make them seem like their behaviors are rational.
'Oh, Fido just doesn't like men' or 'She just chases dogs because she's dog aggressive'
If you DO want to humanize the reasons for a dogs bad behaviors then as with people bad behaviors usually stem from a root cause; a reason. To solve the problem you have to find the reason it started and to do that you have to know how dogs think, what are their natural states of being?
People still find it hard to believe that even after hundreds of years of breeding there are parts of a dog's brain/mind that are untouched and still primitive-- wolf-like if you want to put it that way.
Dogs DO respond to dominant behaviors. Beating a dog or hitting a dog doesn't show dominance, it induces fear. Dogs don't rationalize fear, they immediately go on the offensive because they have a primal instinct to kill or be killed ingrained in their mind. There's no way I advocate beating a dog or hitting it as a training method at all.
However, nipping or even tapping a dog gives the same reminder another dog does to show 'hey! stop that.' This I have no problem with because it is meant to direct attention and deflect a dangerous state of mind.
The recent happening with a food-aggressive Labrador named 'Holly' is one such case where people are sorely mistaken in deciphering behavior and reading body language. Here's the video -- www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ihXq_…
Many people see the dog as 'protecting' it's food from him... thing is he he gave the dog that food. Food aggression is probably the biggest problem I hear about with people and their dogs, sometimes it's even dangerous and people get hurt by being bitten (as he was).
Fact is a dog should never bite people unless it is a guard dog and the person is an obvious threat. Having a good well behaved dog is about training, assertiveness, AND consistency. Dogs learn but they need repetition sometimes and again if you want to humanize it some humans are stubborn and need more intensity than others to get the message.
In the video you will see that when the dog latches onto his hand he 'hits' the dog to get it to back down and let go. People of course are going crazy saying he's abusive and hit the dog but the truth is the dog was latched onto his hand people. His approach was passive aggressive and the dog responded.
There's also claims that Holly was 'confused' or 'scared' -- wrong again. Being scared means a dog will show signs of being scared. Running away or standing back barking a warning BEFORE leading up to aggressive behavior. This dog did no such thing at all... She had it in her mind SHE was the dominant one and what made that clear was the fact she came at him AFTER it appeared she had calmed down. Her behavior did a complete 360 in a matter of seconds.
She wasn't confused, she was asserting dominance with aggression; aka: Bad behavior.
The reason it's so whipped out is because it was him that got bitten. Had it been a child that had it's hand or arm bitten we would have said 'that is a bad dog!' but since it was Cesar Millan who was bitten we blame him, not the dog or her owners for not training their dog earlier on that people are NOT a threat, even when around food.The dog was calm and seemed to have backed off but she literally turned on him when he went to pat her for good behavior and reaction.
So many people seem to argue that he was baiting the dog by being there when she's eating... ok, well, how about the fact he wasn't fighting her for her food or pulling the bowl across the yard teasing her? THAT would be a good cause for aggressive reaction; taunting. NOT sitting there or calmly trying to take the bowl away.
She bit him because she wasn't afraid, she saw him as a potential rival or an opponent out for her food, not as a human friend. She bit him to tell him 'I'M the dominant one here, that's MY food, you took it, I DON'T like that!' when in reality she should not be aggressive even if he puts his hand in her face while eating. He's not hurting her OR stealing her food, he was just sitting there talking and the moment he went to grab the bowl she got offensive. Then when she stopped and 'calmed' down she turned and bit him. That is not right behavior and THAT my friends is a problem that has to be trained out or it can become very very dangerous, even deadly.
If Holly's owners would have done their jobs properly and taken her to training sooner after she showed signs of aggression I am pretty sure that whole situation would never have happened. However, it did and because of it people are now intensely debating and debunking this guy's methods because he 'hit' the dog that had latched onto his hand. The guy may be a dog training guru or something but he's still human. If anyone else had a dog biting their hand they would immediately try to hit to get the dog off. I think he handled it pretty well and did NOT hurt the dog at all even when she was hurting him. He just did what came naturally but with restraint. If anything I commend him for how well he reacted.
Honestly I think people just want to argue his methods because they can. They call them primitive but the thing is they DO work when done right. Yes, we won't be able to do it LIKE him, not even those of use who do train dogs can do it like he does but his methods do work.
People ignore the fact that dogs DO respond to security and they ignore a weak minded trainer. If you don't show assertion most dogs won't listen because they won't see you as being serious. Kind of like a child. Think of a dog as having the mentality of a toddler. If you don't show an assertion when a child behaves badly they will keep doing it because they know you won't discipline them.
My mom spanked me when I was a kid and did something bad like hit someone or swear. It hurt but I didn't get spanked all the time because I LEARNED what I did was wrong and that I shouldn't do it. That is what Cesar's little 'tap' or 'touch' does.
It does NOT hurt... dogs are tough animals and unless you are literally kicking them in the gut a rough 'tap' on the snoot or a quick jolt-grip on the back of the neck does NOT hurt them. It just surprises them and grabs their attention.
As for humaneness what is worse, only having to use a choke collar for a short time until the dog learns not to behave badly with professional help using trite and true methods or having to hang your dog every time you take it for a walk because you won't train them properly or get help to do so?
I see so many people who claim to walk their dogs but the fact is their dogs walk them down the street and they can't figure out why this happens. It's mostly in America too! Over in the UK dogs are often let off their leashes and play nicely. They listen and usually behave pretty damn great! For someone FROM the US to see this was quite shocking actually. Dogs over there behave amazingly well for the most part.
Then again this can be due to the fact that many people there view their dogs as their family so they treat them as such. They're not children, they're family. You would intervene if a family member was getting out of hand with bad habits developing and so you do the same with your dog. Nothing is more heart breaking for a pet owner who loves their pet than to have to yell at their friend for doing something bad/horrible. What is worse than that is letting the bad behaviors continue untouched thus enabling the cycle and then stretching to wonder why nothing is happening to stop it.
In America we seem to be pretty lapse in training and it's importance and so now we'd sooner keep our dogs locked up and/or have to put that tooth/shock collar on them to stop them from trying to rip another dog apart instead of learning the ways to stop bad behavior and stimulate their minds properly.
Sensitive to the wrong things... I swear.
Granted, Cesar's methods are a bit primitive but it remains a fact that dogs respond to him, not out of fear but respect. They look him in the eyes and respond to him because he shows them 'hey, I'm going to give you some direction but you have to pay attention'.
Dogs are active creatures and they are SMART, but they need control and training to benefit a home life and not wreck it instead.
Most of the time the cases Cesar gets are to the point where owners are ready to give up and throw in the towel despite how much they love and adore their pets. Dogs have their quirks same as any other animal on the planet but they also have something we humans don't; they are built to hunt. We aren't. Our instincts have been severely drained over thousands of years of creating things to make our lives easier. Dogs still have the tools to hunt and kill and they can and will if allowed to go untrained. A trained dog is a happy dog because they get a sense of purpose in life. Dogs love us and want to please us because they love us. As such we should want to do the same for them! We love them and we don't want them to suffer or be unhappy... and an aggressive dogs is not a happy dog. Dogs don't often bite because they are overly joyed (not including nipping or teeth clapping) they bite out of fear, anger, and/or a desire to dominate.
Cesar comes in when people don't know what to do and he shows THEM (the owners) their faults and it often leads to them being able to help stave off their dog's bad behaviors because they learn a different mentality. Dogs can read us better than we can read them because they have an arsenal of senses we can't use as well. They can smell fear, sense discomfort, and smell anger through chemicals and signals. They read body language we humans overlook or perhaps see but don't analyze.
If you can learn their language you can be on their level which helps learn what causes their bad behaviors. Cesar does that.
Now, before people go thinking I'm some Cesar Millan fangirl or something just know this: I don't know the guy, never met him, and I probably don't want to. The reason I stand behind his methods is because they work and they are NOT abusive or cruel.
People are just freaking out over it because they can... because if they don't what is anything made from Hollywood without some kind of guilt or dirty red lettering?
Yes, the man is a paid actor but he still knows dog behavior and I can see that because I had to learn it too to train dogs myself. His methods are unconventional but they're not abusive or debilitating to a dog's mentality. Dogs are smarter and tougher in their thinking than people think. They CAN manipulate and deduce how to get what they want, why do you think bad behaviors start? They do them and their owners scold lightly or not at all so they keep doing it. Finally it becomes a problem but because the owner is not taken seriously by their dog the dog ignores them.
**For a better example I had a friend who had a wonderful Shepherd mix named Dusty. They raised her from a puppy and she was a great dog until she got to be about 3 years old. Then she became dog aggressive and started to try and attack any and every dog she saw be it from the car window to on a walk. She was a BIG dog (around 60lbs) and could pull her owner dog the sidewalk easily.
Of course my friend loved Dusty and treated her like she was her baby. She couldn't see Dusty had a problem and she also couldn't see that SHE herself was part of it.
When Dusty would try to go for other dogs she didn't get reprimanded because my friend was actually scared of her own dog; too scared to try and stop her properly so she just took to making Dusty wear one of those spiky choker collars on every walk which didn't even work anyway as Dusty STILL lunged and fought to get to other dogs ignoring the spikes digging into her throat/neck. Dogs get tunnel vision when their attack instincts are triggered and when they are honed to attack they will not be stopped unless you know what you're doing.
Eventually Dusty escaped and attacked another shepherd mix which wound up having to be put down from its injuries. Poor Dusty was then locked up and the only way my friend got her back was by building a 6ft fence around her yard and then having a solid top kennel for Dusty to be in when she was let out for extended periods of time. Even with the fence and the kennel whenever Dusty heard the jingling of a collar (or even keys) she went berserk; so much so she managed to chew a small hole in the chain link.
Finally my friend was at her wits end. She loved Dusty but she couldn't handle her because she couldn't walk her and as such Dusty got more and more anxious and then started becoming people aggressive too! She tried training which worked somewhat but Dusty remained dog aggressive and the the trainers simply said it was in her breed to have some dog aggression but she'd calm down with interaction and age. After a while when nothing worked my friend surrendered Dusty and unfortunately due to her prolonged streak of untrained and uncontrolled dog/people aggression she was put down at the age of 5.
Her aggression got to be so bad she actually bit the vet who was assessing her at the shelter which in turn was part of the reason for her euthanasia (the other being she became people/dog aggressive and couldn't be adopted out because of it).
A wonderful and healthy dog's life ended because of ONE problem that could have been solved easily had the time been taken to analyze the problems and situation at hand and remedied it.
This is what many owners do. They think just loving their dogs and trying to 'block' their bad habits will stop them but it doesn't. Blocking the doorway to keep your dog from bolting out to attack the neighbor's dog isn't going to stop it because one day you will miss and the dog will get past you.
The best way to resolve the problem is to find the cause and understand why it happens. Then all you have to do is learn the signs of when it is happening and deflect it through positive methods and encouragement.
The thing with Cesar is he doesn't lean down and like 'pat' or 'coddle' the dog intensely when it behaves or does a good job. This is to keep the training serious because he's not teaching a dog to just 'sit' or 'stay'... he's teaching them to not attack or bite something/someone. To teach a dog to stop this means you have to have them focused on you so they can learn and when you bend down to coddle and embellish the dog with affection it breaks that concentration and they forget why they're being trained in the first place.
That is probably why people think he's mean or cruel but perhaps it's just because his efforts to detain bad behavior are physical, as in actually touching the dog or tapping it quickly we assume it's hurting the dog if it yelps or cries out. I've tapped a dog lightly with my foot (on accident mind you) and it yelped like I had slapped it in the face. It surprised the dog so it reacted, kind of like a person crying out in fear when someone jumps out at them unexpectedly.
Having trained aggressive dogs before (some ex-fighting dogs) I've come to understand that their mentality is often times very different than the average dog, they are more akin and in tune to emotional and physical stimuli so if you appear weak or scared of them they will react to it, often times not favourably. Dogs learn through encouragement but with dogs used to aggressive behavior and control must first learn respect and how to feel safe and not threatened. To do this you do have to take a gingerly cautious approach toward dominance. They need to learn that you are not a threat to them but you are also not afraid to defend or deflect their aggression. You don't hit them or physically temper them when they behave badly but you do have to be secure in your assertion of they will often ignore the submission on your part.
Almost every dog with aggressive tendencies I have seen and worked with had a root cause for that behavior be it fear, insecurity, protection, or even a desire to be dominant over everyone else. However they can be calmed down and made into wonderful and well behaved additions to any family but you have to know what to look for and how to treat it. Aggression can not be treated or stopped with ignoring it thinking it will go away with time. If you want it to stop you have to do what it takes to stop it properly and that is to seek the help of someone who knows what to do without being inhumane or mean. Also aggression cannot and never will be stopped with more aggression or even anger.
Cesar's approach seems aggressive but it's assertive, there IS a difference. He shows a high presence so a dog listens to him, kind of like a drill sergeant if anything, or a parent when their child has done something bad/wrong-- that look and feeling of 'ohhhhhboooooy' often seen on the dogs' faces says it all. They know he's not a joke because they can sense it, see it, and smell it. He's secure and calm, not aggressive or afraid which calms a dog down sometimes right away. Other times a dog tries to do what they around their owner but he corrects them and it triggers a 'huh?' mentality so they listen (not always but often).
All the trainers I have talked to say Cesar's methods aren't ones they completely agree on but they understand the cases he deals with are more than the average garden variety dog trainer deals with daily. Their main point of contention with his methods is that people may think they're doing it right but aren't. They think of his 'touch' with his hand is a hit or a punch so they do this rather than just a quick jolting motion; barely touching the neck but enough to retract the dog's attention back to you and not what it's looking at.
[Kind of like a teacher calling you out for staring out the window during math class; "HEY, you're in school right now, pay attention to the teacher. This isn't play time"]
It's true that the people's ignorance in thinking they can follow his lead and do what he does and do it as well as he does may be the main root cause of the debate, but it mostly boils down to he's got celebrity status and he works with animals. We automatically favour the animal no matter what because 'they don't know they're wrong' when in fact they do. They know when they're getting scolded just like a little kid does. They may not know why because often times owners punish AFTER the act is done, not when it's being done, but they know when they have done or are doing something wrong. Don't let the 'they're just animals' fool you into thinking stupidity. They're smart enough to learn how to open doors, jump fences, escape, and even steal food silently. They're not dumb. They know right from wrong for the most part, just not on the level we humans do and decipher it.
This concept that a wolf pack is just a 'family'? Obviously those that say that don't actually know about wolf hierarchy. Packs have Alphas for a reason, they're leaders of the pack because they are big, strong, and smart (or because they started the pack). However, the alpha role is not secure and other wolves of a pack WILL and DO challenge the alpha(s) for their position if the alpha shows signs of weakness or even being unfit to lead.
Wolves are wild animals, not pets. Dogs are pets but they have wild instincts because of their connection to the wolf. Yes, they're not as unpredictable but they can be if not trained and yes, some of that does depend on breed as well as some other factors.
A wolf pack IS a family but it's also a well oiled machine that knows where each member stands for the most part and it's because of this purpose that a wolf pack can survive. They're smart enough to know that more members and a well kept bond between those members allows them to hunt bigger prey and survive easier than singular animals in some situations.
Dogs descend from this mentality so they see YOU as part of their pack; their family. That is why they protect you, love you, and show you affection and fanfare when you come home from work. However, some dogs will also see you as a potential rival if they're not taught that you are the provider or their alpha dog. This is when they become dangerous, when that 'wolf' mentality is allowed to come out because of a lack of stability and training. Dogs kill more humans in the US than wolves, and those dogs are not always Pitbulls, Rottweilers, or Dobermans. They're Labradors, terriers, and sheepdogs. It doesn't matter all dogs have the potential to be dangerous if not trained or handled properly. A dog isn't just a companion, it's a friend and an ally. A protector but it can also be an enemy. As an owner you need to instill a bond with you dog through respect, love, and harmony. Without a bond you are going to butt heads and the dog can easily one up you if you're unarmed, trust me.
Wolves can harmonize with humans but both the human and the wolf must know the limits of their dominance and dependence on one another.
So all in all the debate on the methods of a one Cesar Millan are just stupid. He's not a cruel bastard, he doesn't beat up dogs or break them, and he certainly doesn't hurt them to teach them. He does methods we consider primitive but they work. Yeah, maybe not always but for the most part they do.
Celebrity or not he's just a guy who learned about dogs, found a way to make them behave, and wanted to share it with the world through TV. He's paid to do it now but still... it's a TV show. They have a disclaimer before every episode so the idiots out there don't start punching or kicking their dogs thinking that's what he's doing in hopes of fixing their problems. BUUUUUUT people still do it and then say 'I saw Cesar Millan do it and it worked for him!' but in reality they're just too lazy to hire a PROFESSIONAL who knows what they're dealing with and rely on a television show to teach them everything about dog training (in extreme cases).
Don't let the media fool you... they do with everything and everyone. If you're unsure of how to remedy your dog's problematic behaviors, SEEK A PROFESSIONAL TRAINER. They can help you. Cesar can't, he's in Hollywood helping posh pooches now. His show is wonderful and gives you a good feeling in your heart to see the terrifying terrier turn into a terrific companion after a training meeting with Cesar but it's still television. What may appear to take hours on TV in reality takes days, weeks, or even years in reality.