Cesar Millan is the host of the popular show The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel. Cesar Millan is a charismatic and very entertaining host, and he has made The Dog Whisperer into a big favorite amongst many dog owners.
As a result, he has many fans that implement his techniques on their house pets.
There are some who feel that The Dog Whisperer's dog training techniques are overly harsh and inappropriate for novice trainers (most pet owners).
In this article, I examine some of the most popular discussions from The Dog Whisperer's proponents and opponents.
1. Are Cesar Millan's techniques humane?
Cesar Millan's techniques are humane because that is what wolves or dogs do to each other.
There is some disagreement as to whether wolves or wild dogs alpha roll each other. From watching my dogs, it seems that they do.
Sometimes my Shiba Inu will correct my Siberian Husky when she bites him a bit too hard. He squeals, and then goes after her, tumbles her onto her side, and holds her neck. This happens quickly and efficiently, and then they start playing again. Sometimes, he will tumble my Husky multiple times in a row, at which point I will step in and separate them for a while.
Whether wolves or dogs do alpha rolls or not, is a moot point.
The fact is we are not wolves, or dogs; we do not have the same teeth, paws, speed, or strength that they do. Whatever alpha roll that we do will be very different from the alpha rolls that they do to each other.
In addition, just because it is done by wolves or dogs in the wild does not mean that it is acceptable behavior for a dog living in a house, and it also does not make it humane.
In the wild my Shiba would probably hunt down and kill all of the cats and squirrels that he sees. That does not mean that I will let him do that to the neighborhood cats, and that also does not mean that cat killing is particularly humane.
Cesar Millan's techniques are NOT humane because he uses aversive methods such as alpha rolls and leash jerks.
Whether something is humane or not, is often subjective and dependent on the cultural and social values of the time. Such criticisms (which are themselves, aversive techniques) are never very effective at convincing people to our point of view.
In fact, quite the opposite.
It is not very productive to scold people who are just trying to do what they think is best for their dog. It is more productive to describe the good and the bad of different dog obedience training methods, and let people decide which is most appropriate for themselves.
Personally, I find that aversive dog training is difficult to implement correctly. Under the hands of a real expert it may work well, but in the hands of a novice, it is fraught with many risks and difficulties.
Ultimately, it was just a lot easier, effective, and satisfying to only use reward training on my dogs.
2. Is Cesar Millan's program just entertainment or actually good for dogs?
Cesar Millan's program is good for dogs.
Cesar Millan communicates some good information to a large audience including how to be pack leader, how to maintain calm and assertive energy, and how to fulfill a dog's needs.
He is also a good ambassador for certain breeds like the Rottweiler and the Pit Bull which have traditionally gotten a bad dog reputation because of the irresponsibility of their human owners.
Cesar Millan's program is just for entertainment.
While there is useful information that can be gleaned from The Dog Whisperer program, there is also misinformation that can result in physical and emotional harm to both trainer and dog.
What has worked best for me is to do my own research and get all the information possible through the web, the neighborhood SPCA, and local training centers. I still watch The Dog Whisperer, It's Me or the Dog, and other dog training shows on television, but mostly because they are entertaining. It also helps to see that other owners are having similar problems with their dogs as I am having with mine.
Sometimes I will adopt an interesting technique from the shows, but only after doing my own research and discussing it with a professional trainer that I trust.
It can be dangerous and detrimental to our dog, to follow anything we see on television shows, without first doing thorough research of our own.
Cesar Millan is so charismatic and popular, that unfortunately, many follow his techniques without first exploring alternative methods and without fully understanding all the risks involved. Some dog breeders, vet technicians, and dog trainers use and teach others to use alpha rolls for a wide variety of situations, and even on puppies!
This is very unfortunate, as such extreme techniques cause a great amount of stress, especially on young dogs. They may hurt a puppy's social and emotional development, and bring about behavioral problems down the road.
Cesar Millan has an amazing, natural sense for dogs, and is able to execute the proper techniques, with perfect timing, at the proper force, and for the right reasons.
However, this is not true of most people.
Therefore, Millan has a great responsibility to all of his viewers, to make clear the risks involved from using his techniques (especially the leash jerk and the alpha roll). He should be extremely explicit on when to and when not to apply his methods.
3. Should dogs be walked the Cesar Millan way?
Dogs should always be walked the Cesar Millan way, i.e. at a heel position.
Cesar Millan recommends that dogs be walked in a heel position at all times. According to Cesar Millan, this will help establish and maintain leadership during walks.
There should be some breaks during these walks but the breaks are always at the discretion of the human.
Many trainers, even reward obedience trainers, also believe in having this level of control. With greater structure during walks, there is less danger of aggression in the presence of other dogs, cats, or squirrels; there is less danger of eating something poisonous or harmful; and there is less pulling.
Dogs should usually be walked on a loose-leash.
Dogs may need more structure during walks when they are young. However, I am a great believer of loose-leash walking.
I train my Shiba Inu to walk on a loose leash most of the time, and only shorten the leash when I need to, for example, when there are dogs or cats nearby. I do "the walk" purely for my dog's enjoyment, and since I do not know where the most interesting smells are, I let him roam and smell where he likes best.
My Shiba can be aggressive to other dogs, so when there are dogs or cats about, I shorten the leash and quickly walk him away. He is happy with loose leash walking and he gets to smell, hunt lizards, and explore the places that are most interesting to him.
When he was younger, I was a bit more strict with leash training, and placed him in a heel position more frequently.
However, he enjoys his walks a lot more now, and does not behave any worse than when I exerted greater control.
Which walk technique works best depends on our temperament, our dog's temperament, the environment, and how much time we have to devote to the walk. We can cover a lot more ground and thus expend more of our dog's energy in a short time if we walk in a brisk heel. However, it may not be as interesting or stimulating for our dog.
Once a dog learns to walk without pulling, consider rewarding him by letting him walk on a loose leash more frequently. We can always go back to a more controlled walk if he starts acting out.
4. Are Cesar Millan's methods needed for aggressive dogs?
Cesar Millan's aversive methods are necessary for aggressive dogs that are about to be destroyed.
Some people point out that aversive dog training is necessary for the real problem dogs. Some dogs, they argue, may not respond to reward dog training because it is too soft and may not get the message through. Furthermore, if a dog is about to be destroyed, it may be better to use aversive methods to quickly improve his behavior rather than let him be destroyed.
Cesar Millan must often deal with owners who are about to give up on their dog, and/or cannot spend much time in fixing all of their dog's issues.
In addition, owners may not be able to afford a professional trainer for long periods of time which may be needed for reward methods. Aversive methods, they say, may cause some discomfort; but certain lessons must be learned for the safety of the dog. For example, no running in front of a car, and no biting on strangers.
Being seriously injured from a car accident or forced euthanasia for aggression is worse than any aversive method.
Reward Obedience Training
Reward dog training works better especially for aggressive dogs.
There was a really enjoyable program, Growing up Grizzly hosted by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, on Animal Planet. This program shows how grizzly bears can be effectively trained with only reward obedience training.
If bears and other wild animals can be trained in this way, certainly large and aggressive dogs can as well.
Traditional trainers used to apply aversive methods on wild animals, e.g. whips for training tigers and lions. More recently, however, animal trainers have found that reward methods that are based on positive reinforcement rather than positive punishment, are more effective at getting animals to perform.
Such animals are happier, more eager to please, and less likely to become dangerous.
In fact this University of Pennsylvania 2009 study shows that 1 in every 4 dogs that are trained with aversive methods exhibits aggression during training.
Contrary to common belief, aversive methods do not lessen aggression in dogs, but may actually encourage it.
Cesar Millan and Pack Leadership
A common misconception is that pack leadership can only be achieved with forceful aversive methods.
Although Cesar Millan does not explicitly say this in his program, it comes through implicitly with the techniques he uses (leash corrections and alpha rolls), that achieves leadership through physical dominance.
The belief that certain problem, aggressive, or dominant dogs can only be cured through physically forceful aversive methods is just not true. It is a myth, perpetuated by traditional trainers and by shows like The Dog Whisperer.
Many trainers have successfully rehabilitated aggressive dogs with reward methods. For example, dog trainers in the DogTown animal sanctuary were able to rehabilitate Michael Vick's fighting Pit Bulls using only reward obedience training.
It is true that reward methods may take longer before showing results, but the results are much better and last for a lifetime.
The most powerful argument for using aversive methods is that they may get the dog to respond more promptly and more consistently. This may be required for working dogs, and/or may save a dog's life in an emergency situation, e.g. yelling stop when a loose dog is crossing a busy street.
It seems to me that a working dog will be happier and more industrious when he is working for rewards, rather than when he is working to avoid punishment. As for the emergency situation, prevention is always much better than cure.
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Beatrice on March 28, 2014:
I had opportunity to apply what I learned by studying *many* episodes of Dog Whisperer over nearly a year, when I signed up to volunteer at an animal shelter. The assignment was to walk dogs, most of whom were pit bulls. None were biters, but several had harnesses because they were such strong "pullers" when they were being walked. I went out with someone who was to see where my skill level was, on the first day. The first dog dragged the guy out to where we were to have me take the leash. I said I would not use the harness. The dog was very interested in nearby caged dogs that were creating a ruckus, and was trying to dash over there (about 20 yards away.) I took the leash, said nothing, and blocked the dog physically for about two minutes; every time she tried to lunge at the other dogs, I got in her way. Finally she looked at me; I raised my hand and she sat down. Then we started the walk, and yes I did a couple of leash jerks, but otherwise the leash was loose. We stopped a few times, I raised my hand, and she sat down. The man who was testing my skill level was basically dumbfounded, because this dog had dragged him around the walk circuit every time he tried to walk it. He said, quote, "You should not be a dog walker here. You should be instead be someone who is assigned the most difficult dogs and work with them to get them manageable." Then after the walk he immediately took me inside to talk to the supervisor and tell her the same thing. This was my very first attempt to apply Cesar's techniques, and it worked on all five dogs that I walked that afternoon (I only volunteered once; I weigh 100 pounds, have a health condition, and the exercise level (basically having to jump around to block bolting attempts) was too much for me.) I had three that acted like the first one, one that never got out of avoidance but still behaved, and one that was overly submissive. I never spoke a word, never used my foot, and only did blocking until they stopped trying to bolt, and the hand signal. That was all. I'm a complete convert to Cesar's methods.
Geguef on February 13, 2014:
I just wanted to say hi, new here obviously.. look forward to contributing to the community
shibashake (author) on October 02, 2013:
You are absolutely right. Pain based aversive techniques are risky and dangerous, which is why most trained behaviorists recommend resource management techniques.
As for wolves, new studies show that wolf packs are actually family units where the father and mother naturally becomes the alpha pair. In particular,
"the pack's hierarchy does not involve anyone fighting to the top of the group, because just like in a human family, the youngsters naturally follow their parents' lead."
Here are two more articles from the ASPCA and the APDT
Finally, wolves do not use shock collars on each other, nor do they use choke collars that are placed at the top of the neck where it can cause more pain (e.g. Illusion collar). Those are human creations.
I am not sure why those pain based techniques and others are considered more "natural" and what they have to do with wolves.
Anna on September 30, 2013:
Cesar' s show advocates "Do not try without a professional trainer" One is foolish if try these methods on their own. His basic philosophy is to try to be true to nature to help your canine be happy and fulfilled.Of course we are not wolves, but learning the "packs"ways can diffently teach you many lessons to help our friends..
Levebreaw on February 22, 2013:
Guys will probably be his instruments.
Nature abhors this bathwater.
Z on October 18, 2012:
I just wanted to say that I appreciate your even-handed post and more importantly your mature and fair way of replying to posters. How someone reacts to disagreement says a lot about them, and I found it refreshing to read someone who might not think everything exactly the way I do, but who can communicate in a respectful way with dissenters regardless. (Even when the dissenter is being insane.)
shibashake (author) on August 26, 2012:
As you say, claiming space is an effective technique - it works by taking away a valuable resource that our dogs desire, i.e. his space. As you point out, it is not a physical force technique, but rather a resource/reward based technique.
And yes, Cesar Millan does use resource/reward based techniques. He also uses aversive techniques including pain based aversive techniques. When I say physical force techniques I am referring to those.
As for the "magical touch" it depends on how it is applied. It could be a startle response, or an actual finger jab.
As for Cesar Millan's success in teaching people, I absolutely agree with you on that. Millan is a great communicator and a good teacher. We could learn a lot from looking at the techniques that he uses to teach people.
waz on August 26, 2012:
While I agree that the risks of his methods should be made clear when not executed correctly, I completely disagree with your comments about physical force on aggressive animals. Though he uses touch to create space and change the focus of the dog, many times he simply moves in where appropriate, not touching the dog at all, which is a completely psychological exercise. All of his methods are based on observing dogs not only with each other but also with humans, and though reward training may personally work better for some, I firmly believe his success and success in teaching people cannot be discounted.
Greg Williams from Glen Burnie, Md. on August 15, 2012:
I see this is rather old but since I am new here I am going to post just the same.
As a proffessional dog trainer I always see things on Cesar's show I dont agree with. Mainly because he doesn't always explain everything in detail. However, I also understand he only has so much time in an episode.
I also feel that alpha rolls can be dangerous. I deal with very aggressive, dominant dogs regularly. A truly dominant dog will not give up as easily as the dogs in his show. And if you are not prepared for such a fight you WILL get hurt. I am also not a big fan of flooding. My wife is a phsychologist and has done studies on the effects of flooding in humans. In her studies she found that flooding can lead to psychosis in extreme cases. Why not in dogs. Of course I am no scientist so thats nothing more then a hunch. Either way I avoid flooding.
My method of training is positive motivation coupled with negative reinforcement/ positive punishment. I find this to be the most reliable form of obedience training for most dogs. I first teach the dog using treats. Rewarding him for proper behavior and witholding the treats when the dog doesn't execute the excersise. Once the dog knows the excersise I begin to introduce corrections. So now, when the dog does what I ask I rewrd him with a treat. If he doesn't do it I give him a correction, re-iterate the command and reward. I always try to reward immediately after a correction so the dog forgets the correction.
Using this technique I have never had a dog afraid of me, become aggressive to me, nor look down in the dumps when doing obedience for me. Just the opposite! My dogs are very upbeat and happy when doing obedience. My dogs and I also have a very strong bond. I use these same techniques with client dogs and the perform in the same manner. The key is making sure the client understands the techniques involved and are executing them properly before you leave them on there own.
The most important thing I can say on this matter is this: Every dog is an individual and as trainers we need to find out what works best for that particular dog. As I said, my preferred method of training is positive motivation coupled with negative re-enforcement/ positive punishment. However, I can not always use this method as I have to adapt to the dog I am working with. With fearful dogs I may use food only, along with systematic desensitization. Different forms as well as different handlers call for different methods. Sometimes a dog may just be a bully and needs to know who the boss is. a truly dominant dog will hurt you if from his point of view you are picking a fight. So in that case you cant always meet aggression with aggression.
And as far as corrections and humane methods, because dogs are individuals different dogs may view the same correction differently. And different individuals cant always give the same correction which really make aversives and what some consider inhumane techniques subjective.
A tug on a leash and a flat collar for instance might be a correction to a Chihuahua. But that same "correction" to a Great Dane is pointless.
Flat collars, pinch collars and electronic collars are all tools at the dog trainers disposal. Just as is the clicker, head halti, and harness.
Don't get me wrong, put in the wrong hands theses tools can be abused. But used properly the are valuable tools. It is up to us as trainers to properly educate ourselves on the use of these tools as well as any "New" tools brought to our disposal. It is also our responsibility as "Proffessional Dog Trainers" to teach our clients the proper use of these tools. If a dog trainer can't teach his clients ( which in essence are his/her pupils) the proper use of equipment with out abusing it then can this person really call himself a dog trainer? Afterall, training a dog is only 60% training the dog, 40% training the person on the other end of the leash.
The best advice I can give any aspiring dog trainer is
1) Treat every dog, no matter breed as an individual.
2) Learn the proper use of the tools of your trade even if your techniques don't involve those tools.
3) always keep an open mind and listen. If you like something try it out. If you don't like it then forget about it.
jjys on April 03, 2012:
This post is really old, but the forum was one of the only ones I saw where everyone was civil in their discussions, so I'll just jump in with a few comments of my own. I think that there's a lot of good messages Cesar Millan has on his show - like staying calm at all times, and never punishing a dog for bad behavior. No anger or frustration, just a calm communication that this behavior is not acceptable. Most of the bad messages that can be learned from the show are inadvertent; people utilize his techniques by mimicking the bare bones of what he does on TV without realizing that when they say "consult a professional," they really mean it.
Re: the e-collars, Cesar does use them several times on the show, but not often. I think we see one instance every season, if that, and he always has it on vibrate only - NOT electrical shocks. I believe there was one episode with an especially aggressive dog where one of the cameramen strapped on the e-collar to his wrist to get a sense of how strong the vibration was. There was only one time in the entire eight seasons (now) that the show has been on air where a tool with actual electricity was used, and that was a mat, I believe, to prevent a dog from jumping the six foot fence all the time. I can't say I felt entirely comfortable with that, to be honest.
As for the prong collars and choke chains, Cesar has been using them less and less, from what I've seen. I think he only uses them when that's the only thing the owners have. He definitely used them more in the earlier seasons, but not so much lately. There have been instances where the owners will lay out all the tools they've tried, including prong collars and choke chains, and he just goes for the $0.30 leash, lol.
I think the message most people don't get is that one must match the intensity of the dog. So Cesar alpha rolls dogs who are in a killing mode, but I've never seen him alpha roll a yappy dog, or a fearful dog, etc. He alpha rolls dogs that go attack other dogs with the intent to kill, because he feels that the alpha roll is the highest level of punishment (NOT to be used all the time). People misunderstand it and just go around alpha rolling every dog for every little thing, mostly out of their own frustration (which also goes against Cesar's primary message of never punishing, only correcting with calmness). It's basically a case of monkey see, monkey not understanding Cesar is an experienced dog handler, and monkey absolutely failing to do things properly.
Whenever people criticize him for being harsh and cruel, especially with fearful dogs, I always remember that one episode where Cesar actually dealt with a dog who had extreme fear issues. The rescue worker had called in Cesar because the dog would always try to run away when out of the kennel. Did Cesar overwhelm the dog? Drag it out and make it face its fears? No. He walked in with no eye contact, put his back to the dog, and waited there for hours to get the dog to trust him. He used treats as a motivation, and when the time came that the dog relaxed, he brought the dog out with no fuss from the dog. He didn't alpha roll the dog, the dog let him rub his side and his stomach, and trusted him. The rescue worker even said later on that, after Cesar left, it took the dog 11 days to trust him enough to roll over for a belly rub - something Cesar accomplished in hours.
I absolutely believe Cesar's methods work, but mainly because Cesar does things the right way, with the right energy, at the right time. I think the major problems stem from people trying to do what Cesar does without...well, doing what Cesar does. Do I think that the average person can do what Cesar does? That...maybe not so much. Correct minor problems, yes, but the whole aggressive dogs thing? No way. Don't even try, and go for a professional. That's what they tell you on the show, anyway.
Look at how Daddy was, and how all the dogs in Cesar's pack are. They're not abused, they're not suffering.
shibashake (author) on March 02, 2012:
Thank you and a big welcome to HubPages!
flytrapjohn on March 01, 2012:
This is a great discussion forum.
Lots of levelheaded and thoughtful comments and stories.
shibashake (author) on January 25, 2012:
How big is your dog and how old is she?
Here are some leash training techniques-
Here are some of my experiences on pulling-
dahlila on January 24, 2012:
my dog pules on the leash to one time she ran thru the park just to see a a little girl and her father she even gos after rabbets and im ten and i want to walk dogs but i have to walk our dogs first before i go walk other peoples dogs and i can not do it with her puling on the leash how can i stop that so i can walk other dogs and get paid?
shibashake (author) on December 31, 2011:
daddy on December 31, 2011:
is leash jerking (or tsshing) to snap a dog attention to owner considered as aversive method?
shibashake (author) on December 24, 2011:
1. Cesar Millan sometimes uses shock collars. I have seen several episodes where he used them. Shock collars apply an aversive stimulus to the dog (pain). This causes the dog to stop repeating bad behaviors, in order to avoid further pain. All pain based aversive techniques, including finger jabs and collar corrections use pain to get an aversive response from the dog.
2. Alpha rolls and other similar aversive techniques are risky because they can cause aggression in dogs.
3. Dog training techniques are based on operant conditioning principles. These can be used to train dogs to do tricks, train them to perform commands, and train them to stop bad behaviors.
4. Fearful dogs can be trained to get over their fear by using desensitization techniques or through flooding. The choice is not between no-training and stressful flooding techniques. Rather it is between less stressful and less risky desensitization techniques vs. flooding.
I agree with you that dog socialization is a good thing, when done in the right way.
5. Yes, calm energy is very important in dog training. I think everybody would agree with that.
Ultimately, my dog's quality of life is most important to me. I will use whatever techniques to achieve this goal, while minimizing stress and risk. Pain based aversive techniques are risky, and places a high amount of stress on the dog. I prefer to use alternative techniques that are just as effective, but less risky and less stressful.
louvre on December 23, 2011:
Sorry this is so long - I guess I'm passionate about this subject. I love Cesar's methods.
**On Cesar's methods**
I have never seen Cesar use a shock collar. He advocates the use of a simple $.50 leash, energy, and body language to convey messages to the dog. No pinch collars or shock collars. Yes, he will use physical touch as well - but this is physical touch - NOT HITTING. He also uses verbal corrections when those are sufficent (pssht or hey). These dogs are not damaged by his methods. His results speak for themselves - happy, playful, friendly dogs that know their boundaries. Putting a dog on it's side is damaging? That sounds really silly. It's a doggy time out. Just like a child though - it does not work unless you wait until they've completely calmed down before ending the time out. You don't just push them on their side for a second and then walk away. But, as benign as laying a dog down seems to me, I would like to point out that even Cesar reserves this action for only highly aggressive dogs or out of control dogs.
If anyone does not get results it is because they are doing it incorrectly. I agree that his techniques are deceptively simple looking and very hard to master. But, I think Cesar is right that forcing yourself to master these skills really is a learning experience beyond dog training.
The way I see it - if you make a few mistakes along the way, your dog will forgive you for it. But taking the time to master these skills could really mean a much better life for your dog in the long run, a better mindset for yourself, and a better future for future pets. I'm not saying make a mistake by beating your dog or something - just that a correction that is ill-timed or perhaps a bit too strong is not the end of the world or permanently damaging. Dogs are incredibly loving and capable of forgiving a mistake (have you ever stepped on their paw?). No, I don't want to make a mistake or step on their paw - I'm just saying it's not going to permenantly scar my dog if I do.
Only using positive reinforcement such as in the show "It's me or the Dog" can sometimes work - but that is more like training. Stillwell's methods obviously do not work at fixing the relationship between the human and an aggressive or fearful dog as she is quick to tell owners of problem dogs that their dogs will never truly get better. She indicates that most aggressive dogs are going to be aggressive forever. She never fully gets them rehabilitated in her own mind. She often talks of dogs being put down and is quite the alarmist.
I prefer Cesar's outlook (and results) in giving almost any dog a chance. You almost never hear him say a dog can never get better. And he has the results to prove it. Cesar's methods are not to train a dog. His methods are simply to create a balanced understanding between you and your pet of how he's expected to act when he's not "doing tricks". So I believe in Cesar's methods as a basis for raising your dog. I believe in reward training like Stillwell to teach "tricks" (Cesar does reward based "training" with his own dogs to teach them to sit etc. - just not as part of the show). And reward based encouragement like Cesar uses to encourage good behavior.
**On Cesar's effect on my dogs' lives**
My own dogs were small 'yippy' nightmares. One was fearful aggressive, and the other was territorial aggressive. They were definitely a handful and putting me on the path of going deaf from all of the barking. Watching his show has really taught me a lot and brought light to a lot of the things I was doing to make them worse. My poor dogs had no life. I kept them away from the world because they kept biting people and wanted to kill other dogs as well.
They now go everywhere with me and are enjoying life. Corrections have become unecessary 99% of the time now. Kind of like a previous commenter said - as they get better and better, their training becomes more and more reward based encouragement and less and less about corrections. After two years, I am still working on a few stubborn scenarios (I'm nowhere near as skilled and fast as Cesar), but their people aggression is nearly gone. Wherever they go I get rave remarks on their behavior. If I do see an issue, I have learned how to time a VERY SMALL correction at the very earliest sign of tension towards someone. I've become so skillful at this that the people they are interacting with don't even notice the correction or what I am correcting the dogs for. If I do tell people of their history they do not believe me or are amazed. I am now focusing more on their dog aggression and have made huge strides using Cesar's tips.
**My fearful aggressive dog - his methods worked for him**
I have used Cesar's methods to help build my fearful aggressive dog's confidence. My dog used to get all the positive reinforcement and loving in the world - yet he was going through life afraid of everything. There is a lot of rewarding the dogs with Cesar's methods - he just teaches to better time those rewards. He uses affection and food when a dog is behaving well. He teaches a dog that unstressed relaxed behavior is rewarded and helps stressed dogs learn to move through that stress. He teaches a dog to keep moving and not shut-down in fear.
I used to try to help my fearful dog by avoiding situations that were uncomfortable for him. He was afraid of so much that his world became totally limited. I felt I was being cruel and unfair to him allowing his world to become smaller and smaller every time he developed a fear of something. He was living in a constant state of fear (bowls were his arch nemesis, tile floors, inanimate objects in grass, anything that "moved", loud noises, people, dogs, animals in general, thunder).
Now, anything my fearful aggressive dog is afraid of, I expose him to it calmly, let him work through his few minutes of fear, and never leave the situation until he is near his object of fear and totally calm. It's amazing how that minimizes his fear the next time. Not only does his fear of that one particular item decrease after one exposure - but his response to OTHER scary situations in general has decreased over time. I have slowly desensitized him to an enormous number of situations. He stands much more confident in the world and trusts me when we encounter any NEW "scary" situations. Yes, he may have had to face a few hours of fear over these 2 years of rehab - but it has removed the long term, chronic, fear - forever.
I was once criticized by an older couple who saw me at a park sitting quietly near the fireworks. I was there BECAUSE my dog was afraid of fireworks. I was calmly massaging my dog while we watched the fireworks (massage is a very common method Cesar uses). The couple said that they wished their dog could be there with them, but their dog was too afraid of fireworks and people and new situations and they felt it was cruel to expose him to the things he was afraid of. They felt bad that my "poor dog" was suffering from fear of the fireworks. My point to them was, my dogs are able to go out everywhere with me - and theirs is stuck home alone whenever they go out. Which is more cruel? After 2 exposures to fireworks he had to deal with 20 minutes total of "fear response" followed by additional "chill out" time.
This is the most important thing - no matter what he is being exposed to, we do not leave until he is completely relaxed and calm. That means if we have to sit near his object of fear for 2 hours we will do so until he is totally calm and that becomes his last memory of the event. I say this laughingly because when I first tried this method I wasn't very good at really becoming calm, but I tried to desensitize my dog to the (very scary) bathroom. We sat on the bathroom floor for 2 hours before my dog became his normal calm self and we could FINALLY leave the bathroom (although I couldn't feel my legs). Anyway, He still has a little remaining nervousness around fireworks (I have to wait until next year to expose him for a third time)...but his fear of
shibashake (author) on December 03, 2011:
"only correction teaches the dog how not to be a bad dog, but not how to be a good dog. Reward-only teaches the dog how to be a good dog, but not why it should avoid being a bad dog."
Aversive training can be used to both discourage bad behaviors and to encourage good behaviors. Similarly reward training can also be used to do both.
Jazi on December 03, 2011:
This is an old post but I see that you've been somewhat active on here, so I hope you don't mind my adding my $0.02
As someone who's grown up surrounded by dogs (large dogs at that!), there are a couple things in every dog training show (or just in a dog trainer's mantra) that I can never see the point of. Perhaps it's because my family's dogs were (informally) trained as Hearing Ear dogs for my father... meaning they never were certified and had no vest, but were still able to do the things the actual service dogs do.
Firstly, It's Me Or The Dog and her incessant use of clicker training. We never had to use that on our dogs and to this day I don't see the point of teaching the dog that a click means a treat. I feel like the use of a clicker almost introduces a handicap in the training process straight away. If we wanted the dog to do something we had two ways of going about doing it. Gently (but firmly) coaxing the dog into the desired position or place; for instance, a tap on the rump for "sit" or picking up the foot for "shake". Or understanding the dog's natural reaction to things; such as hitting the ground with a treat so the dog pouces- I mean lays down - onto it or emulating (or playing a recording of) a dog sound to get them to react for "speak". To me it seems more direct and more true to how dogs behave.
Dog Whisperer. Alpha Rolls... and by extent the idea that if you roll a dog onto it's side/back, it'll magically snap out of it's aggressive state. I suppose part of it is people mistaking play for aggression, but I have never seen it work for more than the few seconds the dog is on the ground before it's right back into whatever fray it got itself into in the first place. Again my family never used them on our German Shepherds.
One of them was a Dalmatian/GSD mix who was a young adult at the time of her rescue. She was, let's just say, a very bad dog. Aside from the separation anxiety, she was incredibly territorial and aggressive toward anyone who came into the house that was not originally part of the family. Obviously that needed to stop, even more so when kids were being introduced to the situation. She was leashed when introducing people. If she reacted badly, she first got a quick leash correction. No fanfare or to-do. Just a quick tug. That was usually enough to get her snapped out of it. If it wasn't, she was "banished" to another room where she could see the visitors interacting peacefully with the family, but couldn't come in. Eventually she was slowly reintroduced and within a few months the behavior all but vanished. The only thing my parents couldn't get rid of was a fierce protection toward my siblings as infants; no one could touch them except my parents or they would have dog teeth around their wrist. Though... I have a feeling they didn't try very hard to get rid of that one ;)
In any case, things such as choke/prong/shock collars, halti/harnesses, leash corrections and whatnot is that it all depends on the dog. The dog my parents own now is Chow/Lab/Goldie/??? and she was trained with a normal collar and minimal leash corrections. She now favors walking at a heel to the point where I could have her on a loose leash and she makes a point of following slightly behind my right foot. A halti or harness would not have accomplished the same results, and a chain/prong would have been overkill. On the flip side, one of my siblings has a GSD/GSP and he was a notorious puller with a normal collar and harness, but he completely freaked over the use of a chain or choker. As in, the first time he felt it tighten from his pulling he did one of those backflips animals do when caught in snares, and this wasn't even as a result of a leash correction! Instead she put a halti on him and he has walked calmly ever since.
In the same thread of thought, I'm a firm believer that the dog almost tells you what motivates it. The GSD/GSP would be known as a "soft" dog (tell that to my sister when he's being hardheaded about learning to "sit"); he knows what you want, but he's waiting for you to do something other than try to force him to do it. He doesn't even want a treat and responds incredibly to just praise. A light scolding and a quick ushering outside is all he needs for a reminder that peeing on the floor is not a puppy-appropriate thing to do. A swat or tug on the leash is not only ineffective, but he becomes terrified of anything associated with it. The Chow mix is quite different. Praise, who cares? Treats, delicious, but not worth her time. A quick tug on the leash? "Oh, I'm not supposed to do that am I?" The GSD/Dalmatian had to be "forced". If she was getting out of hand and short corrections weren't working, you had to completely remove her from that situation, even if it meant dragging her. At that point she was no longer receptive to words or treats. We think she must have been abused or used as a guard dog before, but since she was dumped at a shelter we have no idea about her history.
I guess the point is that I don't see many of these methods as inhumane more than too many people are trying them and not realizing the driving force behind them or taking the time to build up a relationship with and learn about their dog. If my sister tried to alpha-roll her GSD/GSP pup, his trust in her would be broken nearly instantly. I would never alpha-roll a dog; while it doesn't hurt, done "right" it scares the dog, and done "wrong" you end up with teeth in your arm or face, whichever's closer. I don't like either of those outcomes.
I also wouldn't use a shock collar or try the clicker method, ever. As said our dogs were trained by my household (mostly my mother and myself), no outside trainers involved, and the end product was always a calm, obedient dog despite the fact that the method changed for each animal. We never used either and I really can't see why people do the clicker thing. It's just so pointless and wastes time. Prong collars I stay away from purely for the fact that even chokers to me only have one use; remaining on the dog where a normal collar would fail. Bushes have snagged the normal collars and they've broken off, and the GSDs had such fluffy necks that they figured out if they stuck their head out and sat down mid-walk, the collar slid right off. I'm not a fan of only anything training; only correction teaches the dog how not to be a bad dog, but not how to be a good dog. Reward-only teaches the dog how to be a good dog, but not why it should avoid being a bad dog.
I'm not a professional trainer at all and really only trained my parents' and my siblings' pets. The former bait APBT/AmStaff mix, owned by my other sibling, who today only has mild fear aggression with dogs (and who could blame her, having been tied to a pole and ripped apart most of her puppyhood), has also had her share of corrective and reward training. There is no other dog in the world that my sister trusts my nephew with. He can put his head in her food bowl while she's eating, walk her, and play "wrestle" (well, more like hide his face and hair while she tries to lick him). I did help train her, but only in the first 6 months. Once she was manageable, I stopped and their family really came through in going all the way. They were rewarded by a happy, wiggly, tail-wagging end result. You just need to know your dog and not push it to the point of breaking. They discovered that she thought hot dogs were the greatest thing ever and that really came through for them in the end, but they did use leash corrections and the like as well.
I truly believe that people don't understand how to "talk" to animals. Despite my lack of formal training, when out on walks with one of these dogs people will often stop me and ask who my trainer was to get such calm dogs. They always act surprised when I tell them I trained them as a group effort with the family or they ask me if I would be able to train their dogs. Once a dog who had slipped it's collar ran up to my leashed Chow mix and attempted to start something I wasn't going to let my dog finish (this was a little chihuahua, 10lbs at best... my dog, 55lbs, would win, and I avo
shibashake (author) on December 02, 2011:
TheFury on December 01, 2011:
I am a believer of tough love, sometimes the reward system is not an option anymore. Many people are advocating raw diet because of how dogs eat in the wild but people have a problem correcting them like they do in the wild? No we are not wolves but it is best to 'correct' the dog in the way they can understand, and taking the dog down to a submissive position is one of the things they recognize as a correction, I think its better than hitting them.
You might have it easy if you have a submissive dog but aggressive dogs are a whole different ball game. That's why there are a lot of aggressive dogs and being put into shelter because owners just look at the dogs as little furry persons and not taking control as an alpha.
People sometimes start on killer whales, bees, etc. using positive reinforcement and not correction training argument, but they are forgetting we are talking about dogs and not other animals and not everyone owns a killer whale, animal trainers trains them everyday...almost constantly that's their profession but most dog owners have this thing called day job.
In life you have to firm and tough and no you can't resolve everything with a treat and incentive, I sometimes practice tough love for both my kids and my dogs, its letting them know that not everything goes in their way and in this world you HAVE to respect authority.
I believe Cesar Milan is advocating leadership and is probably what is lacking to most dog owners, although I mix it up with positive reinforcement and treats with my dogs I am not against and I believe in Cesar's techniques(actually not entirely Cesar's own this is how it goes since the beginning before people were too soft), it gives results. Just mix it up a bit with treats and not rely on it entirely .
Val on November 25, 2011:
Something people tend to miss is that every situation/dog is different. When I was training my Am. Staff. I used techniques from Cesar Millan as well as a couple other trainers. What methods you use depends on your dog and how much time you are willing to spend. A lot of my commands come from horse training and dog sled racing, but my body language comes from Cesar Millan.
Laura Feg on November 13, 2011:
I realize that this is a pretty old hub, but I couldn't agree more. Yes, some of Cesar's ideas are good, but many of the things he does are not necessary, and too many people try to use his methods and it doesn't work out in the end. It even says before the show to not try the methods without consulting a professional, but unfortunately, too many people don't listen. Overall, the Dog Whisperer is for entertainment purposes, and it's not a DIY show. However, I have read several of Cesar Millan's books, and they are a better reflection of how to handle dogs. Nowhere in the books does it say to pin dogs to the ground or use shock collars. His books are all about using calm and assertive energy, which is something I DO agree with.
Junokiko on September 12, 2011:
"If I were new to dog training and am considering using Millan's techniques I would want to know both their pros and cons. Then, I can make the best decision for my dog based on my temperament and my dog's temperament. The same would be true of Victoria Stilwell, Brad Pattison, etc."
This is by far the most honest and neutral point of view by far.
Even the most die-hard Millan fans such as myself have to concede and revaluate what techniques are suitable and which aren't for each individual dog owner and the temperament of their dogs.
I'm just tired of reading endless bashing of Cesar Millan and calling him inhumane or barbaric.
This is refreshing.
shibashake (author) on September 12, 2011:
"You have my utmost respect for your calm and composed responses."
Thank you for your kind words. Like you, I am only following Cesar Millan's excellent communication style and his most important rule which is to be calm and assertive.
Some people choose to paint Cesar Millan or Victoria Stilwell in a fully white or black brush, which is both unfortunate and counter-productive. Cesar Millan has many great techniques that work very well, chief among them is his positive and calm communication style with people. This is one of the key reasons why he is so popular.
However, this is not to say that all of his techniques are 'effective' or risk free. Like us, he is human and so is Victoria Stilwell. We all have different biases, different temperaments, and different ideas as to what 'effective dog training' means.
In order to make the best decisions for our dogs, it is helpful to hear all sides of all of the available techniques.
If I were new to dog training and am considering using Millan's techniques I would want to know both their pros and cons. Then, I can make the best decision for my dog based on my temperament and my dog's temperament. The same would be true of Victoria Stilwell, Brad Pattison, etc.
In my mind, getting more information and scientific data to back up that information is always a good thing.
Thanks for your calm and assertive comment. :)
Junokiko on September 11, 2011:
Shibashake, I have to say after reading your article and reading through all of the above posts, I am shocked and amazed of your composure. Although our views are different in regards with dog training. I can see that your techniques are working for you. I understand that we are all here because we're concerned for dogs well being and their fitting with the human packs. In my opinion and through trial and error have come to the conclusion that cesar's philosophy has worked for me. I'm blessed that although my dogs have behavior issues which I will admit whole heartedly are of my doing, they are not "red zone" cases. In other words, aggressive dogs. I believe that "rewards training" lead to proper training of tricks. While cesar's philosophy is a great tool for an owner to establish "calm submissive" mindsets in a dog. Both are invaluable. I have never seen any cases of millan using shock collar. But I haven't watched every episode of his show either. In fact, I have only watched a handful of episodes.
I don't see correcting dogs with the leash during the walk or calming them down using an assertive mindset towards the dog as damaging the dogs either. I feel it's closer to how the alpha leaders would behave towards any dog that steps outa line. In the wild the alpha doesn't offer treats or gentle gestures signifying that the dog did right. It's kinda.. Expected.
I have gone from barking repeated commands to calm my Rottweiler down to being able to calm him down simply with a proper mindset and touch. No commands. Now of course I can't have them do tricks without giving a command but I can have them sit and or lay down with a submissive and calm posture without so much as lifting a finger.
I find that in itself to be amazing.
However I do respect everyones opinion but I do not agree how you and most critics use millan's tactics specifically as a contrast either.
If I were to give advice to any dog owner about training and i am not the everything must be gentle and rewards kind of guy, I wouldn't say "stilwell's methods are too soft or, I would like to see more firmer techniques coming from her.
I believe that is what tsadjtko was probably trying to point out.
Don't take offense to tsadjtko's post.
You have my utmost respect for your calm and composed responses.
shibashake (author) on September 01, 2011:
So sorry that you are offended. I am not sure what I said that has frustrated you in this manner. Your previous comment ended with -
"You probably have a different opinion from your point of view and well, feel free to sock it to me if you wish, I will take no offense but invite the discourse."
It seems that I have misinterpreted your meaning. It is not my intent to offend so I apologize if I have done so here. Cheers and have a good day.
The Logician from now on on September 01, 2011:
You know what - I'm going to let you have the last word on this since it is your hub and I doubt with your mentality I will ever make headway - your readers can judge for themselves..truly.
shibashake (author) on August 31, 2011:
"the overwelming success of Millan in rehabilitating problem dogs is a sign that the blanket type criticisms are wrongly assertained."
That is true.
However, very few people make blanket statements about Millan's techniques. As I said before both aversive and reward techniques 'work' to shape a dog's behavior. In addition, Millan uses both aversive and reward techniques.
What many people caution against is the use of specific pain based and dominance based aversive techniques such as shock collars and alpha rolls.
All the rest about consistency, routine, and exercise - everyone is in agreement that those are good things and lead to a better quality of life.
"I have not seen that in anything you have offered up which for the most part are weak studies that can be picked apart."
The great thing about scientific studies is that you can easily debunk them for all to see. Scientific studies are very well and accurately documented and their results must be reproducible.
If those studies are truly so easy to pick apart, then please summarize for us how they are flawed. You may also want to submit your findings to the relevant academic publications and also notify the corresponding top tier universities from which those studies were conducted.
I am a bit puzzled as to why you so strongly distrust veterinarians, behavioral scientists, and animal activists.
Are you saying that all of these people, including their top tier institutions are purposefully attacking Millan just so they can get 5 minutes of fame? Truly?
Many supporters of reward training work in shelters and devote their lives to the care of neglected and abused animals. They get very little monetary returns, but I imagine they get the satisfaction of knowing that they have made a big difference to the dogs in their care.
Do you really think that these people who manage and run shelters are looking for 5 minutes of fame at the expense of Millan?
shibashake (author) on August 30, 2011:
A very interesting comment. I could write several hubs based on it.
"I'm going to demonstrate to you how you do not listen and frankly don't think for yourself but simply buy into what you read that supports your position."
I was all ready to get offended by this, but then I realized that mentally, I had attributed similar qualities to you. :)
We like to put people into boxes. Those who agree with us goes into the white box and those who disagree go into the black box.
From the beginning you pegged me for a coat-tailer and I pegged you for a Cesar Millan follower.
You think that all I do is follow what others say against Cesar Millan and quote endless studies that are irrelevant and biased.
I think that all you do is follow what Cesar Millan says and are incapable of understanding the scientific method.
All this labeling and assumptions only get in the way of the discussion. That is probably why most Cesar Millan threads quickly turn into a shouting match where everybody gets angry and nobody learns anything.
I will try to put most of my boxes away, and I ask that you do the same. :)
"What I said is "impartial". That means those conducting the study have no reason to be biased, they are not veterinarians or animal activists."
I find this statement to be a bit odd. It seems to me that veterinarians or animal activists are people who care a lot about an animal's welfare.
They certainly do have a bias, but their bias is towards improving the quality of life for all animals. Therefore it stands to reason that they would support methods that lead to a better quality of life for a dog and would only be critical of methods that lead to a lower quality of life for a dog.
Based on our little discussion above, it is also clear that both of us are biased when it comes to dog training. You are biased towards Cesar Millan and I am biased towards reward training.
I am not a vet, nor am I an animal activist. I would guess that you are also neither of those things. However, we both have opinions and therefore biases when it comes to dog training.
-There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States.
-Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog.
Pretty much everyone has a dog, has grown up with a dog, or lives near someone who has a dog.
It would be extremely rare to find someone with no opinion about dogs or dog training. Therefore, it would be extremely rare to find someone who is totally impartial or free of bias when it comes to dogs and dog training.
Finally, I also want to point out that the scientific method is not perfect but it does try to maintain objectivity and reduce bias through a variety of checks and controls. For example, published results must be reproducible. If you think that a particular study is nonsense, you can easily debunk it by showing that the results are not reproducible.
"I never aledged anyone had anything against Millan. I said they see an oportunity to use his notoriety to further their agenda"
Fair enough. Let me be more specific then -
Most 'critics' do not have anything against Millan, *nor are they trying to use Millan's fame or notoriety*; they simply do not agree with *some* of the techniques he uses which include shock collar corrections and alpha rolls.
As for agendas, as I said above, vets and animal activists want to improve the quality of life for animals. I think that is a good agenda and I support it as well.
I need to go now, but will return tomorrow to address the other points.
The Logician from now on on August 30, 2011:
I'm going to demonstrate to you how you do not listen and frankly don't think for yourself but simply buy into what you read that supports your position.
You said when addressing my comment "Most 'critics' do not have anything against Millan but they simply do not agree with the techniques he uses which include shock collar corrections and alpha rolls."
I never aledged anyone had anything against Millan. I said they see an oportunity to use his notoriety to further their agenda or view and to therefore get free recognition and publicity because of his success. To me this is the main motive behind most critics of Millan. I never said they have anything against Millan. This was the first red flag I noticed that told me I will get nowhere with you because you do not listen and start off addressing a point that I never made.
You talk about bias as a human flaw we cannot illiminate when responding to my comment. What I said is "impartial". That means those conducting the study have no reason to be biased, they are not veterinarians or animal activists. That is a big difference from human bias. Again you address a topic that is irrelevant to the point I was making.
You give examples of studies that are more or less generic, reward or punish and not designed to compare the test results of specific examples of Millan's method training compared to specifically comparable problem situations treated by another method. For example taking situations as represented in Millan's documented videos of specific training techniques he uses, documenting the results and then documenting the results on an identical dog problem using another method. Why has this not been done? - my bet is because they know Millan's methods will come out more effective, not perfect but better than others in problem situations.
No study you have offered does this. If done this way I would suspect that in some cases reward alone would not accomplish the task at all where Millan's method is successful. Unless you study it in this way there are questionable grounds for the criticisms, and the overwelming success of Millan in rehabilitating problem dogs is a sign that the blanket type criticisms are wrongly assertained.
Besides you seem to want to paint Millan as shocking and rolling dogs all over the place. What I observe Millan doing for the most part is teaching people that they are causing the problem in the dog because they treat the dog like a human or an equal and don't allow the dog to be a dog. When a dog has been ruined by his owner measures may be used that would not be necessary if the dog was raised correctly from the start.
Anyone can find and cite studies or statistics to support a postion but you are comparing apples and oranges. All that matters are the specific results obtained by Millan and by a critic's method, conducted on many identical situations and compared, if you wish to make an honest criticism of the man's methods. I have not seen that in anything you have offered up which for the most part are weak studies that can be picked apart.
I hope you don't take offense because I am not trying to offend you. I simply am pointing out facts in our discourse that are observable to me and from my point of view that is the way I see them. You probably have a different opinion from your point of view and well, feel free to sock it to me if you wish, I will take no offense but invite the discourse.
shibashake (author) on August 30, 2011:
School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is currently ranked No.5 in the country.
shibashake (author) on August 30, 2011:
"A legitimate critique would include a scientific study by an impartial researcher of both techniques in various rehabilitory situations"
The UPenn study surveyed users of BOTH aversive and reward techniques in various behavioral contexts.
As for bias, researchers are people and nobody is truly free of bias. The best we do is *try* to be impartial and put in checks and controls to reduce bias. That is what the scientific method is all about.
There are two classes of techniques based on operant conditioning principles (reward and aversive). Within each class, there are many, many techniques.
If you are truly interested, many studies have been conducted on both reward and aversive stimulus.
Both can 'work' to shape behavior. However many studies show that pain based stimulus, such as shock collars, can increase stress in dogs and possibly increase aggression -
The Logician from now on on August 30, 2011:
So there can be different methods or approaches to training, that doesn't mean one is better than the other or more humane than the other. A legitimate critique would include a scientific study by an impartial researcher of both techniques in various comparable rehabilitory situations...without such it is simply anecdotal he said she said anlysis and frankly falls directly into the category I described. Funny, you don't see Millan attacking their methods or results...he doesn't need to generate notoriety from their coat tails. Sorry but I'm not convinced.
shibashake (author) on August 30, 2011:
Most 'critics' do not have anything against Millan but they simply do not agree with the techniques he uses which include shock collar corrections and alpha rolls.
Many scientific studies show that aversive techniques especially pain based aversive techniques are risky and difficult to execute effectively. Here is one.
Here is a position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior -
The people in Dog Town (also airs on NatGeo) uses reward training to rehabilitate problem dogs, even Michael Vick's fighting Pit Bulls.
Those people are really amazing because they spend their life helping abandoned dogs and get very little monetary returns. All contributions go to the shelter and back to the dogs.
I say Bravo to these heroes!
The Logician from now on on August 30, 2011:
Frankly anytime someone makes it big and starts to make millions the naysayers come out of the woodwork with attacks and complaints, sometimes legit but most often self serving criticisms aimed at jumping on the bandwagon of notoriety created by someone elses success. This is a phenomenon that comes with the territory and in Cesar's case, where are the philanthropic contributions of his critics that compare to what he has done in that area? Show me one of his critics that has accomplished what he has done with dog training using other methods? I can't find one. Bravo for him and shame on the critics for looking to grasp onto his coat tail for their 5 seconds of recognition.
I do wonder however how he, an illegal immigrant was able to get citizenship. That would be an interesting story.
spots n me on August 22, 2011:
My dalmatian and I would like to thank shibashake and co as we were struggling a bit with communication whilst walking. I was getting frustrated but after reading this page realised I was not keeping the communication line open. So we went out tonight and I showed pup what I wanted her to do and she did it. She walked to heel most of the way and only had to tug her a couple of times when she went where she wanted to go. sometimes I let the lead loose and she goes for a sniff. We had a lot of fun tonight and I will adopt same approach from now on. I was barking orders at her but tonight I spoke softly to her and she responded. The communication lines were open and we were working well together. The negative comments you get are out of boredom and maybe jealousy. Keep up the good work, spots n me
shibashake (author) on January 10, 2011:
You are right, it could always be worse,
but then again, it could also be better. :)
Comment Dude on January 09, 2011:
If you REALLY think cesar's ways are Inhuman, You aint seen any in your life yet.
shibashake (author) on December 19, 2010:
"the part that I never like about it is when they give the impression that it was the most righteous thing to do as far as dog training is concern.."
Yeah, I know what you mean. In general, I have found that the best way to approach dog training is to get the facts for ourselves. There are a lot of studies that have been performed on dog behavior and dog psychology. There are also a lot of known facts behind how dogs think and learn.
As you say, it is best to keep an open mind, get information from multiple sources, and decide for ourselves what makes the most sense for our dogs.
Maria Cecilia from Philippines on December 18, 2010:
Hi I haven't read about any of Cesar Millan's book but I heard his name often with fellow members in one pet website, I can say that some dog owners that I know were like a possess cesar milar readers, and the part that I never like about it is when they give the impression that it was the most righteous thing to do as far as dog training is concern..
I haven't read about Cesar Milan so I have no right to talk about him... you may misinterpret me but I am not too conscious about dog training, because all i want from them is to learn the basic. All we need to do as human is to provide them the basic things that they need. Right food, clean water, loving atmosphere, regular walk morning and evening or as often as possible.
Dogs are different, I have two dogs and both have different reactions in training, my training with Peso is simple, when ever he did the job, I applause, I jump with joy and tell him very good,crazy but my dogs recognized the happy tone as sign that he is doing good. Peso knows how I love him when he brought out his toys from the bedroom and showed me, when I am feeling tired and sad, he will suddenly come out of the room bringing his toy and show me with wagging tails...
My other dog needs to be rewarded with treats before you can ask her to do a favor... but aside from that, I haven't done any special training... I think Peso is just too smart to get what I wanted him to do.. I was just surprised one day how he learned how to sit, when I just asked him a couple of times and on irregular basis...
shibashake (author) on November 16, 2010:
I use the start/stop and 180 turn around techniques and it works pretty well under normal circumstances.
When she spots moving prey, especially deer then she sometimes loses it. For such situations I have been slowly desensitizing her to cats and squirrels.
Here are some of our experiences with walking and pulling -
islandteach on November 16, 2010:
What is your secret to walking your siberian husky without having your arm pulled out of socket? I am a strong believer in loose leash walks, but I also would like to know how to train my husky to pull only when wearing her harness (for biking, skijoring or dogsledding), not while on walks! Any tips?
shibashake (author) on December 01, 2009:
"3 anti disciplinarians afraid of squelching the dogs spirit."
I definitely don't want to do anything that will 'squelch' my Shiba Inu's spirit ;)
I find that discipline can be very effectively enforced through the control of resources and without the need for physical force.
shibashake (author) on December 01, 2009:
"Even the Monks of New Skeet use leash corrections. "
Yes they do. In fact, they were also the ones who originally popularized alpha rolls. Later on they apologized for that because it has been misused by many people.
"From what I've read, you simply wish to promote treat training, bash Milan and talk about your dog breed."
lol - Well I do prefer the use of reward training which is different from just treat training. Both reward and aversive training are based on operant conditioning techniques and both can be used to shape a dog's behavior. Based on what I have read and based on my experiences with my own dogs, my preference is to use reward training. I think it is the safer way to go.
I also like the Shiba Inu breed and do talk about them.
Don't see anything amiss with any of these activities.
As for Cesar Millan he has techniques that work well and those that are a lot more risky. Here is a very positive article on Cesar Millan. Hope you enjoy it :)
Sistaelle on November 30, 2009:
I've found Cesar's methods amazing. I don't wish for my dog to view me as a doggy treat center. I want his respect.
Even the Monks of New Skeet use leash corrections.
You are admittedly not a dog trainer. Your reasons for writing such a lengthily opinion piece seems disingenuous.
From what I've read, you simply wish to promote treat training, bash Milan and talk about your dog breed.
You incessantly refer to it as "my shib inu" instead of "my dog" or using it's name.
Milan, his show & methods have done a world of good. Folks who have a problem with his methods usually fall into the category of those who are 1- approval seekers and fear that being the pack leader will cause their dog to dislike them or they are 2- "babiers" - folks who use their dogs as substitute children or 3 anti disciplinarians afraid of squelching the dogs spirit. The problem owner will never recognize him or herself as the problem owners seen on the show. For those folks, no amount of 2nd hand instruction (shows) will help. They'll never see that they are the problem.
As to your reference to grizzlies, they aren't pack animals.
shibashake (author) on October 21, 2009:
"Now I know that he must have done "leash jerks" because she is so afraid of the leash she pees when I try to put it on. "
Yeah - the problem with leash jerks and similar aversive techniques is that they are difficult to implement properly, especially by regular people who just watch the stuff on t.v.
Timing and execution must be perfect, or more harm than good is done.
As you say, it is also very dependent on a dog's temperament so being able to read a dog well is also a must.
For all these reasons, I prefer to use reward training. It is too bad that many people watch The Dog Whisperer on t.v. and then think that makes them into brilliant dog experts.
Lee on October 21, 2009:
Thank you for this informative discussion. A stupid acquaintance wrestled with my sweet little dog until she felt threatened. Then before I could stop the moron he had her in a "alpha roll". He said she was "about to bite" him. I was furious. He told me that is how the dog whisper does it. I told him never to touch her again. We argued several times about this.
One day when I was not home he took her for a walk. Now I know that he must have done "leash jerks" because she is so afraid of the leash she pees when I try to put it on.
Unfortunately, this idiot is visiting my roommate and I am not able to protect her every second. It makes me sick that any fool can see this crap on tv and use it to bully a dog.
calmassertiv on September 18, 2009:
I would love to see more slow-mo videos like this one.
After studying the sequence over and over I see that the smaller dog was calmly nuzzling the larger dog from underneath, in a purely submissive set of calming gestures, but just as the small dog's muzzle came up to touch the larger dog's neck the larger dog's owner tightened up on the leash. The tightening of the leash is not felt by a dog, it's the tightening of the COLLAR around the neck that they feel. The pressure of the collar was felt at Exactly the time the smaller dog had his muzzle at the point of collar pressure, so I think the larger dog felt just then that the smaller dog was BITING him, and that caused a DEFENSIVE reaction. The whole thing was a misunderstanding caused by an ill-timed tug by the large dog's handler. An excellent example of unintended consequences.
As it turns out, leash aggression is Exactly the issue I've just these last 2 days encountered on my morning walk. I came around a corner to see a guy pushing his leashed dog to the ground, and the other guy standing a dozen yards away with his dog at the end of a tense 20-foot rope. At this moment I had two thoughts in rapid succession: First, the alpha-rolling guy has no clue Why, or How, or When, and likely is badly emulating what he saw on Dog Whisperer. The second is that both owners need help.
The dogs are both 9-month-old puppies, one akita, one golden, and the akita was of course resisting the amateur attempt to put her down. I can see now why some people feel it is irresponsible for National Geographic to show Cesar Millan doing this -- not because Cesar does anything wrong, but because in spite of huge banner warnings saying DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME some people just monkey-see-monkey-do and try it anyway. This guy was indeed risking making his dog more aggressive, and risking getting bitten by his own dog. I've studied Cesar doing this many times and believe I have a good handle on When, Why, How, etc, but it's clear, almost humorous in a sick kind of way, that this novice owner had No Business doing what he was doing at that moment. Too little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
It turns out these dogs are leash-aggressive with each other, and observing the owners it was clear neither knows to Calm an Excited dog. They both said off leash the dogs play great, but on leash, they both walk with dog out front, leash tense, and the dogs pick up on their insecurity and act to protect their respective packs. With so little time at the time, I would like to have been able to do a quick Vulcan mind-meld and teach them all that they were doing wrong in just those few moments out on the street, but alas, Mr. Spock I am not.
shibashake (author) on September 18, 2009:
Thanks for the link calmassertiv. That is a great video on dog body language.
In terms of what happened, I think they already said it all in the video and the comments section of the link. Great to see all the calming signals from the Shiba looking dog. In real-time though, it would be difficult to catch all that.
Other owner was probably stressed out too - which is one of the key reasons which make a reactive dog, even more reactive. One of those things - often hard to control for the person.
calmassertiv on September 12, 2009:
The trick to a good argument is to disagree without being disagreeable. You've certainly held up your end of that bargain. :)
I ran across a dog video you might find interesting. I have an explanation for what happens but don't want to bias your take before you see it. The use of slow motion seems like a really good tool.
Random Person from San Diego, California on September 09, 2009:
shibashake (author) on September 08, 2009:
"Sometimes being 'negative' is a good thing,"
I have never seen Cesar Millan be negative to the people that he interacts with - and yet he is well admired by many.
"If it's not about right and wrong, then what use is it? "
The use of it is to create a good life for the dogs we invite into our lives.
From what I can tell in the interview, Victoria Stilwell was being encouraging and honest. She told the dog owner that training reactive dogs is often a long process requiring a lot of work, time, and patience. However, by relaying her personal story, she was also being encouraging, because she points out the fact that the desensitization process is long for everyone - including herself. Cesar Millan has also had cases, especially fear aggression cases where it has taken him many months to rehabilitate, and then he says he lets the owners do the last part.
I don't think we are going to agree on this, and we have already gone over this territory many times. So let's just agree to disagree and stop while we are ahead. Good luck and have fun in your online and dog adventures.
calmassertiv on September 08, 2009:
Sometimes being 'negative' is a good thing, just as correcting a dog is sometimes a good thing. The positive-only-ists have led previously open-minded owners down a dead-end road, leaving many of them frustrated to the point of tears and exhaustion at their inability to handle their family pet. These are well-intentioned, intellectually-honest people who are doing their best to follow the advice of those they think are 'experts', but the result is often far from 'positive', perpetuating and/or creating needless stress for human and animal alike. We all want the best life for our dogs -- I grant even Stilwell that much -- but seekers of knowledge need to be warned not to become victimized by politically-correct gobbledygook. Just as you decry the horrendous Physical suffering that arises from the proliferation of puppy mills, I decry what I consider the Spiritual abuse of open-minded owners who are taken advantage of in their innocence by being told to handle their dog in such a way as to leave their dog in a mentally unstable state and that it would be 'cruel' and 'negative' to step up and correct it.
Stilwell's preachy 'positivism' doesn't just fail to FIX an aggressive labrador, it CREATES an aggressive labrador. She got the dog as a puppy, a blank slate, and TAUGHT it to be aggressive, not on purpose, but out of ignorance. She spent 6 months MAKING it aggressive. More time is not going to improve the situation. A change in mindset is what is needed. Ignorance itself is forgivable if the person is honest and open to change, but she is neither, yet people follow what she says because they TRUST her and her self-proclaimed expertise, which they should not.
If it's not about right and wrong, then what use is it?
shibashake (author) on September 08, 2009:
1. Difficult dogs and dogs with behavioral issues can come from any breed, even Labradors. In fact, Cesar Millan always emphasizes this point :)
2. Number of dogs living with someone is not an indication of quality of life for the dogs, care from the owner, or competence of the owner. Animal hoarders usually have many dogs and many cats that live with them but that does not make them more of a dog expert.
3. Most people come online to seek information and help for issues that they are facing with their dogs. Sometimes they are also looking for support. Focusing on the negative is often discouraging, and does little to help people and their dogs. Cesar Millan is always positive and very encouraging to the people he meets. Like Victoria Stilwell, he is honest about the training process being difficult and time consuming, but his positive communication style gives people hope, and makes people listen to his advice.
This is not about who is the best dog trainer, who is the best dog owner, who is right, or who is wrong. This is about sharing information so that we can all provide a good life for our dogs.
calmassertiv on September 07, 2009:
I guess we're back on speaking (writing?) terms again, eh?
The thing that surprised even ME about Stilwell's inability to control her own one dog after 6 months was not just that the poster child for anti-discipline positive-speak was admitting that all her high-horse rhetoric was in fact just ineffective hollow fluffy nonsense, something I certainly already knew, but rather that she was SO inept as to not even be able to handle a cute slobbery adorable Labrador
Retriever. I mean, come on, every lab I ever met was a bundle of Mellow Happy. To actually make one turn Aggressive requires a handler to go above and beyond the normal level of owner ignorance. I always wondered how many dogs she lived with, and to find out it's just One -- ONE -- compared to Millan's DOZENS -- after all her pompous pretentions to having great personal knowledge and experience, I was really surprised. Like the disappearance of the Brad Pattison video that got pulled from the internet so people can no longer see what a few of us managed to see, I wonder whether the Washington Post was ever under any pressure to remove the written evidence of what by all rights should be a career-ending admission on her part. I'm sure Animal Planet would try if they could.
Personally, I think YOU with your TWO dogs have more than TWICE her credibility. You just don't have as good an agent... :)
shibashake (author) on September 07, 2009:
That is an interesting article. As for Sadie, I think Stilwell gave a good and honest answer -
Dog training is often a very time consuming exercise. Even Cesar Millan says so. Training reactive dogs especially will take a lot of time and patience - whatever techniques you use.
calmassertiv on September 07, 2009:
I ran across this blog by Victoria Stillwell, where she dropped her dominatrix guard and admitted that after more than 6 months of trying all her silly techniques with HER OWN one dog, a chocolate lab, that she still can't get it to behave. Her handlers must not have been watching when she wrote this. You have to wade thru a lot of her positive-only nonsense before you get to the part about Sadie -- her admission is towards the end. I couldn't stop laughing when I read it. Her own dog! :)
shibashake (author) on September 06, 2009:
Hey u! You could try calling them up - but they are going to be closed today and tomorrow.
Glad to see that you are having so much fun. Hope you get the stuff soon :)
Random Person on September 06, 2009:
Hey did you get my email?? It's driving me crazy...
shibashake (author) on August 26, 2009:
Cesar Millan is not all good, nor is he all bad - that is my opinion. Others can have different opinions and they are free to voice them, as you did. Disagreement does not equate insults and belittling. You may believe that Cesar is a Saint to dogs, but not everyone shares that opinion.
Cesar Millan himself has said that many dog trainers are just doing tricks and not behavior modification. Some might find that insulting and belittling. If you wanted to, you could find offense in everything that everyone said that does not exactly match your own beliefs.
In terms of dog heroes, I really enjoy the show DogTown. It usually airs after The Dog Whisperer on NatGeo. The people there help out a large number of dogs, with very little monetary returns to themselves. I find that show to be truly inspiring.
I agree that there should be more control at the breeding and point of sale level. I think a great first step would be to get rid of puppy mills. I think that would do more for dogs than anything else. If all us keep writing and talking about puppy mills then hopefully more force can gather behind that effort.
OP on August 26, 2009:
I find your comment "I think Cesar Millan has done some good for dogs. As you say, he has spread the message that dogs have needs. But he can do so much more for dogs. He has a special gift - and he can do more for those (the dogs) who have given him so much." offensive.
SOME good? Cesar Milan has donated thousands of dollars to shelters, adopted and retrained several dogs, he's saved dogs, he does a television show about dogs and writes a monthly magazine as well. He has done infinitely more for dogs than you have and your comment is just laughable. He's done more than you and A LOT of other people have for dogs.
Cesar certainly has a special gift and it's sad to say that there are only 24 hours in a day and human beings need to sleep. I'm sure he is an extremely busy man. Nobody knows what his schedule is like so none of us have any grounds to say what more he can and can't do because the mans career is a reflection of his hard work. Cesar has worked himself to the bone, being a minority, overcoming obstacles and achieving success because of his blind love and passion for dogs.
Cesar has always said that the dogs have made him who he is, but in my eyes he has saved countless dogs. He has repaid any 'debt' (so to speak) to dogs 100x times over and is still doing more than he 'has' to. He doesn't have to do anything, and he still does more than the average person.
Please don't try and belittle his life it's insulting.
And on the topic concerning aversive training versus reward training, you can agree to disagree... although I do understand the fear of dog abuse, no smart/good dog owner would jump into something without reading up on it first.
PS: There needs to be a better way to select dog owners than the current system because that's half of the problem. People should have to pass an exam and training session before being able to obtain a pet license and being legally able to purchase a pet.
shibashake (author) on August 20, 2009:
That is a very excellent post!
Just do as much research as you can, use common sense, and put your dog's welfare first and things will work out well.
I have a neighbor who adopted a dog with fear aggression. He (my neighbor) gets so embarrassed whenever his dog barks, and feels that he has to punish the dog to show that he is a good dog parent. I suppose that is natural - I used to get embarrassed too. One day however I just realized that my dogs are really more important than what some random stranger thinks of me - lol. It is not about us, it is about the dogs.
All this arguing online about who is the better trainer - it doesn't matter. What matters are your dogs. That is all.
As you say, we may not agree on everything but we agree on that and that is the most important thing.
Stammerin Sandy on August 20, 2009:
Shib, just want to thank you for a more level reading of
cesar. Though we disagree on what is "positive" and what is "negative" we whole heartedly agree that this controversy has made both of us search far deeper into this matter of bringing out the best in our beloved dogs.
I have 2 mini dachs and one large alpha female shep/dobe cross. I never considered the alpha role, as this seems to be something for the dogs to use for themselves. But I did try the leash jerk.
On my "bad" dachsy, I quickly discaeded it as I realized that I did not have a fine enough touch to do it without the chance of hurting my friend. i found that if he is not listening to me properly, we stop the walk, he must sit, become calm, then we can resume. This to me is the essence of Cesar's way. Help your friend to understand, that a calm stae of mind is the preferred state. Your friend will be happier, and you will be also.
On my bigger dog, I find that the occasional leash correction is good, but still will mix it up with the sit and wait routine.
I think the greatest gift that cesar has given the world of dogs' is the passion that he has for their welfare. And from this, more people are educating themselves in how to be better friends for their dogs.
But I do agree 100% with you that Cesar is a very special person, who has a gift when it comes to canine communication. The methods that he uses are not for 95% of the general dog loving population! People, he has been living with dogs for almost his entire life, and not just pets, but WORKING dogs. Please do him the honour of accepting his request, and do not try his techniques without proper training in them! Watch the show, enjoy the mystery of this gift that has been bestowed upon him, but please get professional help if your friend is having trauma's.
PS - I still see that 90-95% of the dogs that get walked in my neighbourhood are already quite calm.
shibashake (author) on August 18, 2009:
Dear dog lover,
If you are happy with alpha rolls and aversive techniques, then by all means used whatever training techniques you wish.
If you are truly interested in animal psychology, then you may want to check out behavioral psychology and operant conditioning methods.
dog lover on August 18, 2009:
can i just say that u do not know what you are takin about. I have never owned a dog but was still a fan of The Dog Whisperer. i adopted 2 pitbulls, using Cesar's techniques and guess what? My dogs are odel citizens. You say to not do the alpha roll because we are not dogs. dogs do this ritual amongst each other and it is the way to convey the same message. what you dont understand is that you are applying human pyschology to dogs. Dogs do this to each other.. they dont reward each other by giving treats so dont act like this is too aversive.
shibashake (author) on July 26, 2009:
"he is using much more than the "aversive tehcniques" that seem to be causing concern."
I totally agree with this. Cesar Millan has natural dog kung-fu. He does not need to use any aversive techniques whatsoever. I think eventually he will move away from using them.
"Oh and it does state very clearly at the beginning and I think at the end of the show that you should never try any of the tehcniques shown without the help of a professional."
I really wonder how many people actually take notice of this? :) It would be different if he actually repeated this message within the show from his own lips but like commercials, this textual message just gets ignored or skipped over.
HWP from my own world on July 26, 2009:
It's interesting to see a different perspective on his training techniques. I love watching the Dog Whisperer and it is clear to me that he is using much more than the "aversive tehcniques" that seem to be causing concern. The majority of his power comes from his energy, which gives the dogs he is dealing with no doubt about who is the alpha and who they should be following/obeying. I inadvertedly used his "shh" technique on a strange dog that was barking loudly and non-stop while I was trying to talk to it's owner (I was on it's property), I turned round with sheer annoyance at it's interruption and "shh'd" it without thinking (it was a very librarian-style shh!), the dog stopped barking, looked very confused and walked off - it totally worked and it proved to me that you have to mean it, you can't fake these things, dogs are very perceptive to energy and they know when you are bluffing. I personally will be using many of the techniques he recommends when I get my next dog.
Oh and it does state very clearly at the beginning and I think at the end of the show that you should never try any of the tehcniques shown without the help of a professional.
shibashake (author) on July 17, 2009:
lol WOW - I think your comment stands on its own. You obviously have an unbiased opinion and a professional perspective.
As for me, I try to take an objective view so that I can make the best decisions for my dogs. I am not a professional trainer and never claimed to be one.
WOW on July 17, 2009:
Shibashake, you are obviously a hippy who edits the comments from most people that look at this rediculous blog. Just because you have no control over your own dog and are too ignorant to do some basic research on animal behavior doesn't mean you should act as if you have an unbiased opinion and a professional perspective. You are ignorant to every extent of the word and provide no value to the average dog owner. Please do some reading to improve your perspective and give value to the art of dog ownership. This is just plain rediculous.
shibashake (author) on July 13, 2009:
OMG!! If I were that woman I would have stepped in, and taken my dog from him !@#$@!#@. I would like to say that I would be calm, but really, I don't think I would be. Thanks for the link - I was going to do bubble machines in my blog, but I think I will have to do Brad Pattison instead.
Calmassertiv on July 13, 2009:
Check out Animal Planet's Brad Pattison beat up a lady's dog. This guy is one flaming a-hole. http://blip.tv/file/1789530/
Calmassertiv on July 12, 2009:
How did the world get along before Wikipedia?
Calmassertiv on July 12, 2009:
Actually, if I remember correctly, in the end the man did Not cut his hair. He painted the living room, but so would I if some bozo sprayed graffiti on it :)
Can this guy really have had Thousands of clients as he claims? What possible word of mouth (other than blech!) could his customers be passing on?
The teach-the-baby scene was sadly laughable, if you'll excuse the seeming oxymoron. Outright retarded, really. I'd hate to be This clown's baby growing up. Imagine the emotional scarring when he yells SPEAK to his infant and it fails to recite Shakespeare on command. How do the producers come Up with these 'experts'?
When he walked the dogs down the stairs I thought "That was easy". Did they magically behave for him the second he picked up the two leashes? What would have been instructional would have been showing the actual process of putting On the leashes and escorting the dogs out of the house, since all of the owner and dog training probably occurred right there, before he even got to starting down the stairs. That almost certainly involved a jerk on the leash (pun intended).
One final interesting thing. The editors of the show included the lady pilot calling the guy an a-hole, although they beeped out the audio. Instead of hearing the host utter the first letter of the Greek alphabet with no context or meaning around it, the Dog Whisperer editors would likely instead have been able to show Millan invoking the lady's take-command pilot training to inspire her to assert her leadership over her dogs, to connect in her mind the benefit and indeed the Necessity to the passengers and crew of a calm assertive captain of an airliner with the benefit to the Dogs of an owner acting as a calm and assertive pack leader. The contrast between the two men couldn't be more striking.
shibashake (author) on July 11, 2009:
"showing him talking about Alpha but including no explanation of what that means"
To be fair, he actually did show that sequence of him leading the dogs down the stairs rather than the owners having the dogs pull them down the stairs. And then he said you have to lead and show them where you want to go - or something to that effect.
"I did like the lesson where he puts the collar around the lady's wrist and jerks it, to show how a jerk is not painful"
Actually I do not really like the wrist test because it is not wholly accurate. To actually feel the effect of a jerk you must put the collar around a person's neck - and then have the person be pulling forward, and then do the leash correction with the same force that he does on the dogs.
Also there was a scene later on where he was trying to teach the baby by speaking slow English to him - LOL. I was thinking - Hey why don't you put the collar on the baby's neck if it doesn't cause any pain. :D
And yes I agree that the show just did not have enough of dog training to be a dog training show. But at least now I know what to do if I want a man to cut his hair - LOL
Calmassertiv on July 11, 2009:
P.S. Listening to some balding guy berate some long-haired guy about how his wanting to have long hair is an affront to his marriage vows is not why I tune in to a dog-behavior show. Hearing the host say 'bring it on' in the show intro is painfully reminiscent of Bush's bullhorned message from ground zero after 9/11, and his off-point bombastic behavior with his clients only reinforces the comparison.
Calmassertiv on July 11, 2009:
I'm reminded of when Star Trek came out and the other network countered with Lost in Space (pardon me for dating myself here). And reminded of when the Beatles burst forth and the network TV folks came out with the Monkees. And reminded of when the Addams Family came out, and the other network came out with the Munsters. But a better analogy would actually be not as much in the TV vein as in the consumer-product vein. I feel like I just was sold a knock-off Rolex watch that keeps terrible time and quit working altogether almost immediately after I got it. A pair of knock-off Nike shoes that fell apart the first time I ran in them -- and stunk like used foot-sweat right out of the box. Pew! Gag! Yuk!
But visceral summation aside, let's talk details. The show starts with an almost word-for-word ripoff of the Dog Whisperer warning screen in front of every program segment. The cloning continues with an in-home filmed series of bad-behavior shots and owner bad-behavior descriptions. Then there's a Me-Or-The-Dog ripoff moment inserted just for good measure (Animal Planet produces both shows, so is it really a ripoff if one does it to one's own show?) where the host watches a bogus computer screen with post-production-inserted simulated screen shots of the bad behavior and the owner, and the obligatory "these people need my help" response. Then we see the show intro with the host hanging out with a bunch of happy dogs, which gets up back to ripping off the Dog Whisperer again. At this point I'm stunned at the brazen un-originality involved, and we haven't even gotten to the 'meat' yet.
So in the first couple of episodes this obnoxious, grating a-hole of a host barks at the owners, tells them to shout at their dogs, jerks repeatedly on the leashes of perfectly well-behaved dogs for no good reason, and pulls out a can of paint that he JUST HAPPENS TO HAVE WITH HIM and sprays graffitti on people's walls. Of all the 'trainers' on TV this guy ranks as, well, the most rank. The editing is horrendous, showing him talking about Alpha but including no explanation of what that means.
I did like the lesson where he puts the collar around the lady's wrist and jerks it, to show how a jerk is not painful. But his prior use of it for no reason skirts the all-important lesson of Timing, and in fact leads one to believe that it must be OK to jerk a little dog around whenever you want, since after all, the all-knowing all-seeing host is doing it.
One dog had a very mild food-aggression issue that the episode-intro actually looked like was being staged for the camera, with the owner goading the dog until it reacted. That having been shown in the preview, no mention was made of it at any point later in the show. The other episode showed the owners taking one of their dogs for a bike ride without any effort on their part, leading one to believe the dog was fine all along, and the other dog they just left behind for some reason, as if that dog somehow did not need exercise.
It was when the host barked at the owners that they have to Commit to him, like some sort of cult leader bullpucky, to Trust him even though he's imparted no wisdom to them whatsoever and so far has only a camera crew to lend any credibility to his presence in their house, that I wrote this show off as another doomed attempt by Animal Planet to come up with something to counter the National Geographic channel's Dog Whisperer show. My recommendation is to give a call to the producer's of their very-original Animal Cops series, the one produced in New York, and let those guys have a shot at producing something with the heart and compelling story-telling of that very interesting, no-longer-in-production show, while at the same time telling the makers of fake Nike's and Rolex's to take a hike.
shibashake (author) on July 11, 2009:
Thanks for the heads-up - I actually saw your message right at 5pm and caught the show. The strange thing is, a couple of people asked me about this guy about a week ago. In any case he seems like a typical traditional trainer. Some first impressions -
The good -
1. Does not seem to support alpha rolls.
2. He corrected the owners for over-correcting their dog. He also briefly talked about the force of correction.
The bad -
1. He uses aversive methods on BOTH the dogs and the people - lol. This is in contrast to Cesar who uses mostly reward methods on the people and Victoria who uses only reward methods on the dogs. I would like to see a trainer who uses mostly reward methods on both the people and the dogs.
2. There is not enough focus on the dogs and the dog training techniques.
3. He doesn't talk about energy - using the load voice thing with bad energy is going to bring bad results.
4. So far he is only using collar corrections - didn't see anything else. I think he needs a stronger message to center his techniques around, i.e. a dog training philosophy.
Maybe I'll write something up. What are your thoughts?
calmassertiv on July 11, 2009:
On the off chance you read this in the next 56 minutes, I just saw that Animal Planet is premiering a bad-behavior-from-dogs-and-their-owners show today at 5pm Pacific time. Might be a Dog Whisperer knockoff, hard to say. Hopefully, since their Stillwell and DogTown shows (deservedly) haven't gotten anywhere near the ratings (or emmy nominations) that the NatGeo show has gotten.
shibashake (author) on July 10, 2009:
"Is that positive enough for you?"
Sounds like a great experiment. Let me know how it goes. That would actually be a really interesting article to write about :)
joe_dominant on July 09, 2009:
Where I live it takes two neighbors maintaining a written log for a month and submitting them before Animal Control even will send out a letter, then another month of two neighbors written log and in-court testimony before they actually Do anything. Barking dogs are the norm around here, and the cops are busy generating drug turf wars and gang-warfare drive-by shootings so they don't have time to actually help maintain the peace.
I went for a walk today on a cul-de-sac I haven't walked before and at the end was a house with 3 little dogs running and barking unattended in the street. I sat down on the curb and watched the dynamic as this little pack sent the youngest and littlest out front to bark at me while the other two stayed back and barked their encouragement. No talk, no touch, no eye contact, and after about 15 minutes the scout puppy came up and sniffed me, but then backed away and started barking again. So I waited some more, the puppy came and sniffed me again, then wandered off, and all was almost quiet when the owner came out and started them all barking again, then recalled them so I got up and left.
The next house had 6 chihuahuas behind a gate that decided they would do the same thing, so I knelt in front of the gate and waited them out, except for one persistent one, the youngest again or so it appeared, and it was funny in a way, because once they had stopped all barking except for the 'designated barker' what would happen is the 'designated barker' would get tired, so another chihuahua would pick up the slack while the first caught his breath, then they would pass off the responsibility again back to the first one. I had gotten them to about 2 seconds of silence between 2-minute tirades when the FedEx truck came by and messed the whole thing up, or else I think I could have gotten them all to shut the F up before walking away. I'm going to bring some cheese next time and see if I can get the ones who stop barking to take food from me thru the fence, or actually, not whether the ones that stop barking will take food, but whether watching the ones taking food will get the one(s) still barking to shut up and follow the quiet one's lead.
Is that positive enough for you?
shibashake (author) on July 09, 2009:
"These poor dogs are never walked, ever, and kept inside much of the time I suspect as the people's way of shutting them up"
I think you should put a shock collar on the owner. I'll come and help you push the button :)
Sounds like a difficult situation. You could report your neighbor to Animal Care and Control. One of my neighbors got a summons from them, and his dogs aren't even very bad. Based on what my neighbor said, it is all done anonymously so he doesn't know who filed against him.
joe_dominant on July 08, 2009:
Busted ... :)
Yep, there are some messed up dogs in my neighborhood. I walked with one lady afraid to push her baby stroller past one house because of the 3 very loud and very large dogs living there, one that charged into the backyard fence with obviously bad intent and another off leash right at the front edge of the front yard. It would have been quite a bit to handle even for me. Other people have dogs that bark whenever people walk by and try to get under the fence to get at them. The worst for me is that my next-door neighbor just got Three puppies, and of course he and his wife are cluelessly training them to fight over food, bark until they're let into the house, etc etc. The dog barks, the owner barks back. The dog barks, the owner barks back. The dog barks, the owner gives up. The dogs are already tearing up the guy's couch, tearing up his plants, etc, and it's so obvious that what they're doing is showing him no more respect than they would for a bone or a toy, which is how they view the owners, as resources to be fought over and not as leaders to be followed. These poor dogs are never walked, ever, and kept inside much of the time I suspect as the people's way of shutting them up, so when they're let out the first thing they do is start barking in excitement. Then they bark to be let back in. They're getting more neurotic by the month. I'd be very surprised if they don't start biting the owners pretty soon, if they haven't already. They never get groomed, judging by looking at them thru our common fence, such that their hair is already blocking their vision. But I'm sure the owners give them plenty of ill-timed affection. As a result my house value probably has dropped by $100k since who wants to live next to woof-wooof-woof at 11pm or 6 am? When living next to someone who thinks they know what they're doing and who Explodes when you even try to Hint that no they don't, it's enough to make a person sit at a computer and vent into the ether in frustration. Welcome to my life.
shibashake (author) on July 08, 2009:
Actually there has been an issue with hubscores lately. There were several forum threads posted about it and apparently Paul is looking into it. I had a hub that went all the way down to 30 and maybe even less - I don't know because I decided to go to sleep :)
In terms of traffic - it depends on whether you are looking for HubPages traffic or search engine traffic. HubPages traffic is difficult to get for dog related issues because most of the people here are more interested in entertainment type topics, or making money.
For search engine traffic you want to look more into using keywords that people are likely to search for. Do you use Google AdWords? It is a very useful tool for picking keywords. Also to get a good Google ranking, you will need to create some backlinks and such. SEO can be a fun system to learn once you start getting into it.
I hope you will stay. It took me a while (maybe 5 months of so) to start getting ok search engine traffic. I hardly got any HubPages traffic until I started writing about other topics.
Brian McDowell from USA on July 08, 2009:
I may - haven't really decided yet.
I have an idea from watching an episode of Family Guy for another hub, but I don't know if I want to make it or not. Guess I'm still a little depressed about how the last one went down (low score for the longest and still the fewest views yet of any of the EADT volumes).
I guess I haven't figured out if it's just a time issue or is hubpages basically saying "go away, we don't like your writing anymore!"
shibashake (author) on July 08, 2009:
Hey KB, good to see you! What have you been up to? Are you planning to stick around Hub? I hope so - looking forward to more Wally episodes. :)
Brian McDowell from USA on July 08, 2009:
The more I learn about dog training the less I like the "tv training" shows.
I think they are all for entertainment first and foremost (afterall, it's tv and tv = ratings wars. Also, the shows are edited - that already makes them "less pure" because content is cut out).
As far as the techniques, I think Cesar's techniques could work - if you have the kind of dog that responds to those techniques. Showing a tv trainer working with a dog for 30 minutes isn't really getting to the heart of training, which is what the tv viewers could use to train ANY problem - not just the ones they are showing on that show.
I think it comes to the person to use their knowledge of their dog to know if they need to use Cesar's (or Victoria's or anyone's) methods. Like with Wally, it would be unneccessary. My time with him is better spent showing him what to do, not what NOT to do. If I had a more strong-willed dog that was (over)confident, then I may end up applying more of Cesar's techniques.
What I think is more ironic about Cesar's techniques is that he talks of alpha/dominance but a lot of what he does is just redirection, then rewarding the proper behavior. It's like he's an operant conditioning trainer that explains everything using dominance. Kinda strange, really.
shibashake (author) on July 08, 2009:
Dear Joe Dominant, Calmassertiv,
" I never said the Vick dogs had a good life before DogTown."
But you are saying that the Vick dogs who have been abused in the ways that I have stated above are no different from your neighborhood dogs? That psychologically they are as balanced/imbalanced? Truly?
joe_dominant on July 08, 2009:
Shibashake, I never said the Vick dogs had a good life before DogTown. Down boy. Take a chill pill and re-read what I wrote.
In the interim, I went and looked at a few clips on the NatGeo website, and I'll stick to my original point which is the dogs in the clips, at least, didn't seem any more imbalanced than half my neighbors' dogs. Not that they didn't need rehab, but they didn't need any more rehab than a gazillion other dogs with bad behaviors created by their owners. I also maintain that the DogTown staff is largely clueless about doggie rehab, getting good results no faster nor more reliably or consistently than would a high school kid volunteering to play with the dogs at his local animal shelter. One of the most memorable examples of stunning ineptitude was the episode where they had a dog they thought was blind. The whole place, including the vet, thinks this dog is blind, when it Obviously is not. It's heartbreaking to see these people who one would expect to know better but who sometimes appear to be qualified to do little more than shovel dog poo, and even that only if the dog is not present at the time. There was an example on one of the Vick-dog videos I just reviewd on the NatGeo website where they surround this insecure dog with a half dozen staffers, then one of these dingdongs enters the dog's space uninvited and starts to rub the top of the dog's head. The dog reacts defensively, and the narrator blathers about how this vicious dog instigated an unpredictable and unprovoked attack on the crew member. Cesar Millan would never have allowed the stressed dog to be approached in that way, and would have chastised the crewmember and enlightened the audience in post-production if it had happened when he wasn't present.
Did you know DogTown got paid $450,000 to take 24 of those dogs? They should spend $150 of it on a set of Dog Whisperer DVD's and view them again and again until they at least partially fill the huge void in their minuscule knowledge base.
If NatGeo ever airs those episodes again, I'll watch them to see if I'm missing something, but it appears the network has yanked the show from its rotation so it may be awhile. While not as lame as Victoria Stillwell's trainwreck of a show, the DogTown show still had way too much mis-educational content to warrant being held up as any sort of instructional model for those trying to learn how to 'handle' dogs. It really was just the cute trainer-chick's mom (Darcy Dennett, the executive producer of the show,I think was her name) attempting to get her unmarried daughter some national airtime, with some dogs thrown in to help sell it. Kind of like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, only the trainer/daughter wasn't already famous.
shibashake (author) on July 08, 2009:
"happy playful 'good doggies'"
Thanks for making my point for me so well. I will buy you the next round of beers ;)
Members of the DogTown team were able to rehabilitate fighting dogs that had a terrible life in Michael Vick's care and help them become relatively happy and playful. I think that this is a testament to their technique, patience, and dedication to dogs.
The did not show footage of the dogs being aggressive while at DogTown probably because their techniques are not based on provoking/"daring" a dog into aggression and them correcting that aggression. Instead they use a desensitization process that slowly helps the dog re-associate objects and situations that were previously negative with something positive.
If memory serves, they *did* show footage of the dogs while in Michael Vick's care and it was not pretty. One of the dogs was a prize female fighting dog, that they strapped her onto this contraption to force-breed her. There would have been a dog fight otherwise. She was definitely dog aggressive, and may have also been people aggressive when they took her to DogTown.
Another dog was a bait dog. He was very fearful and had fear aggression issues.
They also had two regular male fighting dogs, which were both dog aggressive, I think.
There was another dog that had all her teeth removed so that they could force-breed her.
No, no, no these dogs did not have a 'good' life or even *any* life before coming to DogTown. If you believe that they did, and the people in DogTown did nothing, then there is truly nothing else that I can say.
joe_dominant on July 07, 2009:
This is a response to Mighty Mom's comment above regarding trying to herd cats. Have you ever seen a pack of cats running wild in the streets? In a movie, perhaps, or on a nature show? I reckon not. Cats don't travel in packs. Dogs, on the other hand, wander the streets in packs all the time. What makes pack-leadership an effective technique with dogs won't cut the kittie-mustard with cats. Felines do respond well to classic operant conditioning techniques popularized by Skinner, and I've seen cats go through greatly complicated circus performances in order to get the reward cheese at the end of the conditioning tunnel.
joe_dominant on July 07, 2009:
If I remember the Michael Vick dog episode on DogTown, weren't all those dogs already happy playful 'good doggies' from the getgo? I am going to have to watch that show again to see, but my memory of my thoughts at the time is that I was wondering what was all the fuss about, these dogs are perfectly fine as is. I don't remember for certain, but my memory is that of thinking they were making a big deal out of who used to own these dogs and ignoring the fact that none of them had yet been trained to be the aggressive monsters the media was incorrectly assuming them to be. Does anyone else remember seeing it this way?
shibashake (author) on July 07, 2009:
"Do you realize that over 90% of Cesar's methods "are" reinforcement based?"
By reinforcement do you mean "positive reinforcement/negative punishment" training? If so, then I have to disagree. I recognize that Cesar does use a variety of reward techniques, in fact I write about those as well. Personally I would like to see him use more of those and less physical aversive techniques. I have said many times to many different people, Cesar Millan really does not need to use physically aversive methods. However, that is not the reality of what I see in The Dog Whisperer episodes.
"And he doesn't use aversive methods on dogs who are not way out of balance"
Perhaps we just have a different definition of dogs that are way out of balance.
"I've yet to see ANY operant method trainer take the lead and work with a truly red zone dog"
If by "operant method trainer" you mean positive reinforcement/negative punishment trainers, then again I refer you to DogTown. I think Michael Vick's fighting Pitbulls qualify as red zone dogs.
"What Cesar does with red zone dogs is a completely different challenge that the sit, down, heel that the clicker trainers do"
Most pet dogs are not red zone cases. And if by clicker training, you mean reward training - then you should know better than most people that it can be used to correct undesirable behaviors as well as to reinforce desirable behaviors.
"The real measure, in my opinion, is that the can easily do all they do, and they can't begin to do most of what he does."
Frankly, I like what the trainers in DogTown do. I am sure Cesar Millan can do the same things as well because he is very talented at reading canine body language and has great timing, but he chooses not to. I would be very happy if he did.
"No good trainer uses a totally reward based method anymore than a good carpenter uses only a hammer."
I am sure you know that within reward training, there are a plethora of methods that practitioners use. Frankly it is aversive training that is a lot more limited because they mostly rely on leash corrections.
I am afraid we will just have to agree to disagree here.
Shiloh on July 07, 2009:
Do you realize that over 90% of Cesar's methods "are" reinforcement based? He just doesn't use those terms. And he doesn't use aversive methods on dogs who are not way out of balance. I've yet to see ANY operant method trainer take the lead and work with a truly red zone dog. They know they can't do it, they are justifiably afraid to try. They would surely get hurt if they did. What Cesar does with red zone dogs is a completely different challenge that the sit, down, heel that the clicker trainers do. The real measure, in my opinion, is that the can easily do all they do, and they can't begin to do most of what he does. No good trainer uses a totally reward based method anymore than a good carpenter uses only a hammer.
shibashake (author) on July 07, 2009:
Hello Shiloh, Thanks for dropping by. I wish I had also gotten a degree in Psychology. What a fascinating field of study. I do know enough not to mess with a psychologist though ;)
The point you bring up of red-zone dogs vs. normal bears is very valid. Most dogs however, are not red-zone cases. If I were charged by Cujo, I certainly would want Cesar Millan at my side. But for my own dog, I am going to only use reward based training, because that is the type of relationship I want to establish.
And even with red-zone cases, physically based aversive techniques are not necessarily the right choice. For example, the trainers at DogTown were able to rehabilitate Michael Vick's dogs with no physical based aversive methods.
I agree that desperate situations will often require desperate solutions, but that is not the case with most pet dogs. Unfortunately, those are the people who are most likely to adopt Cesar's techniques which can be extremely difficult to implement properly, can be risky, and will likely encourage dog aggression when not properly applied.
Just my humble opinion :)
Shiloh on July 07, 2009:
I have a grad degre in psychology and a professor of mine was BF Skinner's daughter. I am seeped in behaviorism and have used operant methods to train a number of animals. That said, I am a big Cesar fan. I'm tired of arguments about the pack theory side and the operant side, both are true, both are right, both are useful. As I like to summarize it, a dog is a dog and a dog is always learning something.
I find your article pretty well balanced although there are places I disagree. One is your comparison of dangerously aggressive dogs to wild animals like bears. Believe me, bears are easier. A bear that is psychologically normal is easier to train/rehabilitate than a dog that is psychologically abnormal as red zone dogs defintely are. This should not be surprising. Sane animals, humans included, are easier to work with than insane ones.
And I think the comparison needs to take that into account. You didn't see many videos or in person examples of red zone dogs being trained until Cesar came along. Most dog training is akin to teaching humans to ride a bike, or speak a language. But training the red zone dog is like attempting psychotherapy on Hannibal Lecter. Desperate situations require desperate solutions. Polar bears can be trained with single raisins. The red zone dogs Cesar works with cannot be penetrated with operant methods.
shibashake (author) on July 04, 2009:
Hey MM! Thanks :)
"LOVE your photos -- I assume those are your babies modeling for us?"
lol - yes. I shamelessly use them as cheap labor to promote my hubs :) Actually my Shiba seems to really like posing for the camera. My Siberian is usually too wiggly for good picture shots.
I have actually watched almost all of Cesar Millan's episodes. I keep up with The Dog Whisperer show because he is entertaining as you say. Also, it helps me keep my articles up to date and have discussions with people about him. Not as bad as the Religion Forum, but it can sometimes get quite interesting :)
lol about the cats. I really should get some cats. It would be really interesting to observe and train or not-train them. Have a great July 4th MM!
Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on July 03, 2009:
Hello Shiba, This is an excellent analysis of the pros and cons of Cesar Millan's techniques. LOVE your photos -- I assume those are your babies modeling for us?
I do enjoy watching Cesar but primarily as entertainment. And because the dog owners he works with are so obviously clueless. Makes you wonder.
Must confess, I've tried the techniques on my cats -- to no avail. They are resolutely untrainable:-). Mm
shibashake (author) on July 03, 2009:
Hello KevinB, Hope you are enjoying your July 4th weekend.
It sounds like we may just have to agree to disagree on this, but let me mention a few things -
1. Alpha rolls - As I understand it, the origins of alpha rolls are from studies done in the 1940s on wolf behavior. The scientists at the time observed that the alpha roll was used as a dominance ritual among wolves. I know that there are many disagreements among people who use Cesar's techniques and people who do not, but I think that there is general agreement that the alpha roll *is* a dominance technique. Cesar Millan did not invent alpha rolls - it has been practiced before he came along and was originally popularized by the Monks of New Skete. Alpha rolls have been widely recognized as a dangerous technique to use, especially by non-experienced dog trainers - which would include most dog owners.
2. Calm and assertive - Being calm and assertive is a good thing. I think everyone agrees with that. Some of Cesar Millan's techniques work quite well, including body blocks (what you describe as claiming space). In fact I have also written about all this. However, not all of his techniques work as well, and some of them may encourage aggression in dogs.
3. Discipline and structure - Yes. Shibas need discipline and structure - all dogs do. I give my Shiba that by using reward dog training and controlling his resources. And no, reward dog training is not just about giving a dog food. It can also be used to stop bad behaviors. This is all very well documented in behavioral psychology and actual animal psychology as conducted by scientists such as Skinner and others. The process is called conditioning.
4. Pissed off at Cesar Millan - I do not get personal over this and I truly wonder why so many do. I research various dog training techniques so that I can make the best decisions for my dogs. In my writings, I share what I have found as well as my own experiences with my dogs. As I have said previously, I do not think that Cesar Millan is all bad, nor do I think he is all good.
Calm energy works well on people too. Cesar uses it all the time, which is another reason why he is such a success.