Cesar Millan is host of The Dog Whisperer, a popular dog training show on the National Geographic channel.
Millan has a charismatic personality, and his show is very entertaining. As a result, he has made The Dog Whisperer into a big favorite among dog owners everywhere, and his many fans implement his techniques on their family dogs and puppies.
However, there are some who feel that his techniques are risky, and inappropriate for novice trainers (most pet owners).
In this article, I examine Millan’s approach and discuss some of its pros and cons.
Cesar Millan – The Good
1. Cesar Millan educates people on being a good pack leader.
To be a good pack leader, Millan talks about setting rules and boundaries for our dog. This includes door manners, and always walking our dog slightly behind us. He also emphasizes the importance of maintaining calm and assertive energy, which made a huge difference with my Shiba Inu.
Since dogs live in a human world, we need to provide them with a degree of structure, so that they feel safe, and so that they do not inadvertently harm others or themselves. They also need a balanced leader who is able to protect them, and show them how to behave in unfamiliar or stressful situations.
These messages are extremely important, especially in this day and age, where owners have a tendency to spoil their dogs and let them do whatever they want. Untrained and unmanaged dogs often become stressed, frustrated, and ultimately develop behaviors that are dangerous to the people around them. In the end, they are surrendered or destroyed because nobody taught them how to behave in a human world.
2. Cesar Millan gets people to fulfill their dogs’ needs, not just their own.
Most of us are very aware of how dogs help us live happier and fuller lives. What is often forgotten, is that dogs have needs of their own.
Millan talks about understanding a dog’s needs, and helping him be a well-balanced canine through dog exercise and dog discipline. He shows us that after our dog burns some energy, he is more calm and well-behaved.
Given the unrealistic expectations of dogs that are propagated by some Hollywood movies, it is helpful to have a popular spokesperson spread this message about considering a dog’s needs, to audiences everywhere.
3. Cesar Millan shows us that dogs can be retrained regardless of breed and background.
Some dog breeds have developed a really bad reputation, especially the Pit Bull Terrier. Millan does a good job of showing us that all dogs can be rehabilitated, whatever their breed or history.
His own pack consists of many Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, which he uses to help retrain other dogs. These wonderful ambassadors are calm, balanced, and very non-reactive, even when faced with extremely hyper dogs.
Sadly, there are a large number of Pitties in shelters today, who have a difficult time finding homes because people are afraid to adopt them. Millan and his sidekick Junior, do great things to combat the negativity associated with the breed.
His message that every dog can be rehabilitated, gives hope to people with difficult dogs, and reduces the number of shelter surrenders. This hopeful message may also encourage people to adopt shelter dogs, and give them a second chance.
4. Cesar Millan uses his pack of dogs to teach other dogs and improve their behavior.
Millan shows us that the best teacher for a dog, is often another dog.
While we may try and learn canine body language, we will never be as adept at using it as another dog. Of course the furry teacher must be calm and very balanced.
When looking for a trainer, try to find one who understands dog psychology, has a good rapport with our dog, and has well-behaved canine assistants who can help with training.
Cesar Millan – The Bad
1. Cesar’s Way or the highway.
Cesar Millan has an extremely confident, charismatic, and alpha personality that makes him very successful. Unfortunately, a side-effect of this, is that people may just follow his techniques and not explore other alternatives.
His emphasis on large breed, aggressive dogs, as well as his frequent use of aversive methods, perpetuates some inaccurate myths on dog training, including:
- You cannot train large breed dogs with non-aversive methods.
- You cannot train aggressive dogs with non-aversive methods.
Because he is so widely watched, and so widely recommended by dog breeders, owners, and other dog professionals, there is a huge network effect that propagates and perpetuates these myths. This can lead to widespread tunnel vision, that ultimately does a disservice to dogs, especially dogs that are incorrectly diagnosed with dominant behavior. Misdiagnosing a problem behavior, leads to administering the wrong treatment, which may worsen our dog’s conduct and lower his quality of life.
Non-aversive methods that center around the control of resources are safer, and often more effective at addressing problem dog behaviors, including aggression. There are many trainers who have successfully rehabilitated aggressive dogs by only using resource control techniques.
I think that Millan can combat some these misconceptions by always reminding his audience to keep an open mind, and to use a wider range of techniques in his Dog Whisperer program.
2. Greater emphasis on owner discipline.
Cesar Millan greatly emphasizes dog discipline, but he is a lot less strict with their owners. Dogs with problem behaviors need a lot of attention. Frequently, owners must put in a lot of time and effort to help their dogs reach a happier and more balanced state.
The format of The Dog Whisperer program is such that Millan has to show results quickly, so that it is interesting and engaging. Often times, there is a timer which shows how he solves a problem in minutes (5-15 minutes), that will actually take a lot of hard work to truly become a learned behavior.
Even though Millan may sometimes say that changing a dog’s behavior takes time, his Dog Whisperer program shows the opposite.
This is in contrast to shows like It’s Me or the Dog, where there is a lot more emphasis on owner participation in the dog rehabilitation process, and the unfortunate consequences that may occur when owners fail to put in the effort.
3. More discussion on dog training equipment.
Cesar Millan does advise his clients to put a dog’s collar high-up on the neck, close to the head and ears. He will occasionally use his Illusion Collar to keep a choke chain from sliding down a dog’s neck.
Frequently however, he just goes with whatever the owner is using, thereby implicitly agreeing with the owner’s dog equipment choice. Given that Millan is the expert, it would be helpful to have more of a discussion on the pros and cons of dog training equipment.
Aversive collars such as prong collars and choke chains, should not be left on a dog for long periods of time. They should be put on for a walk or a training session, and removed otherwise. Definitely remove an aversive collar when our dog is off-leash, especially when he is interacting with other dogs. A choke chain may get caught while a dog is playing or running around, which may result in injury or death.
Prolonged use of choke chains may cause injury, even if applied correctly. For safety, only use an aversive collar for a limited amount of time (several weeks). Then, switch back to a flat collar once our dog understands the rules of walking.
The Illusion Collar is a modified choke collar, and the associated risks should at least be mentioned.
4. Explore other forms of pack leadership.
Since our dogs live in our very human world, it is important for us to lead and guide them. However, an important corollary question is what type of leader we should be.
Cesar Millan seems to support something more akin to a dictatorship, where everything the leader says goes, and not following a rule, brings about some kind of disciplinary action whether it be a leash correction, a finger poke, or an alpha roll. The dog is always expected to walk close-to, but behind the human, and there is very little stopping to smell the roses.
Between a dictatorship and no leadership is a wide range of other possibilities. Note that the term dictatorial is used here to refer to type of leadership; nothing more and nothing less. A dictatorial leader is one who makes all the decisions, does not allow others to question those decisions, and will administer swift punishment to those who do not comply with his demands. Here is the dictionary definition –
Asserting or tending to assert one’s authority or to impose one’s will on others.
In terms of leadership, we want to at least consider how much control over our dog’s behavior is truly necessary. Try to take into account our own temperament, and the temperament of our dog, to determine the best type of relationship and human-dog bond.
5. Highlight the dangers of aversive dog training.
Cesar Millan uses a variety of aversive training methods, including alpha rolls, leash jerks, and finger pokes. He often tells owners that these techniques are only used to get a dog’s attention, and that they do not cause the dog any pain or stress. It is often implied that these techniques are appropriate and humane because wolves do that to other wolves, or dogs do that to other dogs.
Both of these statements are not very accurate.
All aversive methods cause an unpleasant sensation, otherwise they would not work. Some aversive techniques may cause pain, stress, and fear in a dog, which is why the dog avoids that behavior in the future.
Aversive training can also backfire if not performed with the proper amount of force, timing, and redirection. When not executed in exactly the right way, these methods can cause additional behavioral problems in dogs, including aggression.
This University of Pennsylvania 2009 study shows that at least 25% of the dogs that are trained with confrontational methods exhibit aggression during training.
Given Millan’s popularity, there are a large number of people who follow his techniques, just from watching The Dog Whisperer program on television. To prevent widespread misuse, it is important to at least inform his audience of the specific risks and dangers associated with dominance and pain-based methods.
As a dog owner, I would like accurate information on obedience training, rather than sugar coated versions.
For those who continue to insist that aversive conditioning is not unpleasant, here are two dictionary definitions of the term aversive.
Causing avoidance of a thing, situation, or behavior by using an unpleasant or punishing stimulus, as in techniques of behavior modification.
~~[The American Heritage Dictionary]
Tending to avoid or causing avoidance of a noxious or punishing stimulus.
Thank You for Your Comments
I would like to thank everyone for leaving comments and participating in this discussion. You have made me think a lot about dogs, dog relationships, training, and how to solve problem behaviors.
Many people feel strongly about this topic because they love their dogs very much, and want what is best for them. This is why there is a lot of controversy surrounding Cesar Millan, and the aversive training methods that he uses. I have noticed however, that he is using fewer such methods in his more recent episodes, and is using a bit more reward training, which I think is a really good thing.
Some people consider aversive methods to be dog cruelty. That is a moral judgment, which is best left to the theologians.
I started out with Cesar Millan’s aversive techniques.
When I tried to switch over to non-aversive training, many so-called positive trainers, called me all sorts of names, including cruel and harsh. Luckily, there were some that gave me good advice, and resource methods ultimately worked out very well for my dogs. Now, I predominantly use resource control techniques, but messages about exercise, discipline, and energy still apply whichever approach we use.
This article is about gathering information and having discussions about dog behavior and dog training. Through discussion and sharing information, we can make better decisions for our dogs. Please help to create a discussion friendly environment by staying away from personal attacks.
Personal attacks or ad hominem arguments are not only pointless, but they also discourage rational discourse and the exchange of ideas.
An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an argument made personally against an opponent, instead of against the opponent’s argument. Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as an informal fallacy, more precisely an irrelevance.
A very common ad hominem is –
“You are only saying this because you are jealous/mean/prejudiced.”
I believe that we do not need to reject everything that Cesar Millan says just because there are some things we disagree with. Similarly, we do not need to follow everything that Cesar Millan says, just because there are some things we agree with.
It is most important to keep an open mind, evaluate techniques objectively, and to listen to our dog.
Interesting Articles on Cesar Millan
- American Humane Association: ‘Dog Whisperer’ Training Approach More Harmful Than Helpful.
- The Anti-Cesar Millan: Ian Dunbar.
- The New York Times: "Pack of Lies".
- Dog Whisperer to Critics: My Techniques Are "Instinctual"
- The New Yorker: What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell.
- Wikipedia: Cesar Millan.
Cesar Millan Discussion Threads
- Yelp: Cesar Millan dog ‘rehabilitating’ techniques inhumane? (good mix of Cesar positive and negative)
- Dogster (mostly Cesar positive)
- I Remember Love Forum (mostly Cesar positive)
- Dog Explorer (mostly Cesar negative)
That was a fair and balanced article, those are hard to find, I enjoyed it thanks. But being an opinionated person, I just had to add my two cents worth. I, too, feel that Mr. Millan does a lot of good, bad and ugly. His work with pit bulls just can not be overlooked. He fights breed bans, he has his own ‘pit bull ambassadors’ that show just how good the breed is and that is to be commended. He also urges people to take responsibility for their dogs, which surprisingly, a lot of people don’t seem to understand that before they get dogs.
That said, I work as a pet care manager for Petsmart so I see a lot of people in the store, many of which have unruly dogs. The vast majority of people who I see using his techniques–the finger jab, the “tsssh” noise, lightly kicking them in the stomach, etc– most of the time it doesn’t work. So they keep doing it. I see people stubbornly using methods often and repeatedly that just don’t work because “Cesar does it.” That may be fine and well, but what works for one dog won’t always work for another.
As for the training equipment you mentioned. The dogs that I consistently see who pull the most are those who are wearing choke chains and prong collars. Dogs wearing these corrective measures are often the most unruly, they are pulling, lunging and jumping while the owner is exasperated and yelling trying to get their dogs under control. Of course dogs in harness and collars can be just as unruly, but they’re not wearing any corrective collars either.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mr. Millan issue a warning about such collars, including his own. The trainer at our store has mentioned quite a few times that the choker can be incredibly dangerous and I’ve found that this site (http://www.adogsview.net/Dominance-Theory.html and http://www.adogsview.net/Types-of-Collars.html) has a lot of helpful information on collars and dominance theory. It goes into great detail about the dangers of training collars.
Often, the dogs that I see that are the best behaved (and don’t get me wrong, we see a lot of truly good dogs in the store) are those wearing a simple nylon or leather collar who’s owners are calm. No muzzles, no training collars, just calm well behaved dogs. Sometimes the owners won’t even have them on leash, but will just walk around the store while the dog follows along behind.
I also think that people need to be warned about just how dangerous some (not all) of his methods can be in the wrong hands, I remember several years ago lab died at his facility because he was walking on a treadmill while wearing a choker. (http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2006-05-05-dog-whisperer_x.htm) To be fair, Mr. Millan was not personally training the dog but it happened at his facility by a trainer using his methods.
I think that overall, Cesar Millan is a mixed bag, he does tremendous good but also does things that can be harmful. I know that for me, personally, I would never use those methods on my dogs. My three dogs are my world and they deserve the very best I can give them. And I just don’t believe that the best is out dated methodology.
Thanks for the articles, they were a good read.
Yeah, that really is it. I feel the same way about my furry companions.
It is too bad that convenience and ego are often prioritized over quality of life for the dog. Still, I have seen many people who would do just about anything for their dogs.
During one of my vet visits, this guy came in on an old motorcycle. He only had $60 left on him, but he was willing to spend it all on the more expensive wet food, that his dog likes. It is amazing to see people who are willing to go with less for themselves, so that their dog can have more.
i have a 15 month old newfoundlander, he weights about 170lbs,we walk every nite,well he walks i am in a wheelchair and i push myself,i made a harness on my chair for when he pulls to hard i can hold the wheels, but now he is pulling the chair even with the wheels locked and the other nite the chair flipped over and he was still pulling,i could not stop him, my question is , should i have him on a chocker chain ?
Choke chains are mainly used to deliver collar corrections (leash jerks). When the dog does something undesirable, the leash is jerked with a ‘right’ amount of force. This delivers a certain amount of pain to the dog’s neck and also a choking sensation. If applied with the right timing, force, and direction, the pain and choking discourages the dog from repeating the given behavior.
Dogs are more sensitive and have less protection higher up on their necks. This is why placing a choke collar high up on a dog’s neck allows us to deliver more pain, given the same amount of force.
More on collar corrections.
Some people suggest using a head-halti to control pulling from large dogs. The head-halti redirects the head of the dog, similar to the way in which a head halter is used to control horses. The head-halti can be effective at preventing pulling, but it can be difficult to use properly. Incorrect use may cause physical harm to the dog. Some people also suggest that the halti may place undue stress to the back of the dog’s head.
There are many other methods for leash training a dog, and a variety of other equipment. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Which is most appropriate will depend on-
1. Our dog.
2. What we want for our dog.
3. What we expect from our dog.
Here is more on leash training methods-
Here is more on leash training equipment, including choke chains and the head halti-
nancy boucher says
we have no dogs and my husband and i loved watching caesar..he is a natural…his clearest contribution i felt was his ability to communicate how critically important it is to understand the function of a dog’s behavior before deciding how to proceed…he was intuitive …i was a special education teacher in the areas of behavior and curriculum for over 25 years and the heart of what i learned from my students is that i needed to take the time to understand if the function of their maladaptive behaviors were negative reinforcement / (escape / avoidance behaviors) or positive reinforcement (attention needs etc. met)…caesar had that down pat and there never was a question for us that his love of dogs guided his work…he may have things to learn still..but it is too bad that people spend time dissing him when he is doing work from his heart
Clearly any kind of dissing on anybody is unfortunate.
Being contemptuous of others just to boost our own ego never ends up well for anyone.
However, I find that discussion of the various dog training techniques are beneficial and useful. Scientific studies are also very useful because it grounds those techniques in a more rigorous and repeatable process. By discussing the risks and benefits of the different techniques, we can make better decisions for our own dogs.
There will be many different opinions, but there is nothing wrong with differing opinions when it is expressed in a civil fashion and in the spirit of learning.
I don’t like how Cesar uses so much negative reinforcement to correct the dogs. When the dogs get worked up on the leash, he teaches us to be aggressive and pull on the leash while feeling calm, but you could also just calmly tell the dog “it’s okay” or “let’s go” and change directions. You don’t have to jerk the dog, just psychologically calm the dog (like he always talks about). I think in the long run, getting a dog to trust you is better than getting a dog to fear you.
Very good point.
I recently got my first dog from a rescue organization, although I have been around dogs my whole life. Before bringing home my dog Ares, I read everything about training and adjusting the dog to my lifestyle. I didn’t need to worry, he’s a very laid-back dog. I have to say that while I don’t need to use any of Cesar’s aversion techniques, except for the occasional tug on the leash, I see nothing wrong with it. Reading his books, he never advocates hitting the dog and usually when he uses the alpha roll it’s only with aggressive dogs and seeing that some of the dogs were going to be put down, it seems that a moment of mild discomfort, that once the dog learns the behavior will never have to be repeated, is hardly worth all the hub-bub. Although, by no means an expert and as I said, I just got my first dog, but I do work with dogs at rescue organizations and the problem I have w/ reward-based systems is that they take a greater amount of understanding, than Cesar’s method, in that you can get a dog that will only come or obey when you have treats in hand. Having watched Cesar’s show, and believe me, I’m as strong an animal activist as they come, I have never been like, Cesar is so cruel how could he do that, the training is always quick and decisive and as soon as the behavior stops, Cesar stops. That being said, I also want to point out that the show is not meant to substitute doing your own research, asking vets, trainers etc. before using any equipment or obedience methods. I thought your article was well written, but I must respectfully disagree with you regarding Cesar’s methods.
That is exactly right. In fact, I think that Millan also agrees, which is why he says –
Unfortunately, we are probably in the minority.
In terms of aversive techniques, you may find these articles to be interesting-
As for reward training, a common misconception is that it is only about using food. This is false. Reward training is actually more about controlling a dog’s resources and using *all* of these resources to motivate him. It may be food, toys, freedom, access to people, access to space, attention, affection, etc. Here is an article on operant conditioning and dog training.
Richard Marvin says
This is not a comment but a problem. We have 4 Carine Terriers 3 male 1female. Two of the boys are fixed and so is the female. The boys pee in the house and the have a dog door. It’s not always in the same place. This started prior to getting are last male which is not fixed at this time. We don’t know what to do because, we can’t catch them in the act Need help
Hmmm, were they all fully potty trained previously?
It could be that one of them started to mark, which will encourage the others to mark as well. I would probably go back to potty training basics. With my own dogs I do close supervision, crate training, and also catch them in the act.
A common way that dogs learn is through associative learning, which makes it necessary to catch them in the act in order to teach them that certain behaviors are undesirable.
Jackie Roberts says
I am now retired, but had been a dog instructure for 30 yrs. I believe the Dog Whisperer to be a breath of fresh air. I can’t believe it when I hear from different dog owners, and some at the RSPCA, that his methods are wrong & even cruel.
I say to them, how many dogs has he saved because of his understanding of dogs. I am now in my late 50’s, but as a teenager, I also used the same methods, but mine were simply based on mother to pup behaviour, & dog to dog. It has always annoyed me, when breed owners see their dogs as that breed, not as a dog, and certainly not as a human. Give the dog back it’s dignity by at least allowing it to fullfil it’s life as a canine.
There is a reason there are so many dog attacks on people, if listened to Cesar there wouldn’t be…..
I agree that dogs are not human, and by the same token, humans are not dogs.
As for why dogs get aggressive, there are many studies on this.
Hello out there
I sincerely thank you for your unbiased article on Cesar Millan. (I am not quite sure how long ago it was written.) Because by watching his show he brought back what I seemingly lost long ago. But first, let me myself: I am 49 years old, a Swiss pet dog owner with an intense interest in dog behaviour and methods to influence behaviour for as long as I can remember. I am not a professional dog trainer, dog owners make me mad most of the time. I do believe myself very knowledgeable about dogs in a good way because I am always open to new ways, better ways, dog friendlier ways and I always rejected ideas that make dogs feel intimidated over and over again. Myself I was never punished for anything by my parents but, alas, emotionally neglected. That gave me a unique attitude to “leadership”, “positive reinforcement (attention)” and so forth. And punishment to me is just a way to hurt someone, releasing my own tension and giving me a bad feeling afterward, me as the punisher.
I am very much into scientific studies and learning theories and it helped me a lot to find new ways to handle my dogs live for the last 40 years. I first implemented clicker training for behaviour issues 12 years ago (do not kill the new kitten, stop chasing and nipping at joggers). Redirecting behaviour with a well practiced positive power recall, do not run after horses, run to get your ball instead. All these things were great. But I missed something, it kind of felt artificial. The whole relationship with dogs got more complicated, more scientific, more difficult to explain to people what to do when their dogs showed problems.
On the other hand I have wondered for many years why I could solve so many problems by just rewarding the dogs in difficult situations and when I recommended it to others, most failed or told me it’s not working. I should have gotten the clue when someone said: By nature, you’re dominant. So you can do all this stuff and get good results because basically the dogs want to please or appease you. What do I do? Hit them? Choke them? NOOO. I just don’t interact when they want me to and stuff like that. By nature, because I do not like to be molested. Furthermore I act calmly in difficult situations or calmly-joyful in potentially confusing situations, e.g. running yelling children, loud noises and stuff. I never ever had leash aggression issues in 40 years, yeapp, I started out on “my own” at the tender age of 9, my family never was into dogs. I never ever let dogs solve problems on their own when another dog aggressed. I protected them with my body and sometimes threw pebbles to stop advancing aggressive dogs. But I hardly ever encountered irresponsible dog owners, so I guess I have been lucky so far as well. But I degress.
Now, thanks to Cesar Millan, I finally realized the difference to what I do and the others don’t. No method can really work if you do not project calmness and remove yourself emotionally from the picture until your dog ist relaxed again. Call it leadership, call it calm-assertiveness, call it professionalism, whatever. But if you do not get that, you do not achieve anything close to lasting behaviour changes. Before I realized this I always said: for every method you will always find a dog for which it works. But that is not the cause, this is the wrong interpretation. It more often than not is the owners attitude and of course his willingness to persevere, that make the method work.
Naturally, everything I do or did can be labelled with the well known definitions of disenzitation, habituation, positive reinforcement and so on but it could also be labelled leadership, parenting, dominance. DOES IT MATTER?
So there was and is the hue and cry about Millan abusing dogs. I do think: Yes, unfortunately, very rarely he does. But in the majority of cases he just has absolutely fabulous ideas how to change the dogs brain from releasing stress through aggression to staying calm and relaxed. This transition is naturally unpleasant when you force the dog, because the brain is well used to its ways and has no other option as yet. It has to be find a new way to react. On the other hand you can go straight into the situation and redirect the dogs behaviour. You do not have to manage every and all situations as in positive training. But everything is out the window when you get emotionally involved. That is the real message. Worse outcomes when you use force of course, than with positive reeinforcement, which does not hurt so much. But it is detrimental for the dog nonetheless, because it cannot change then.
What I wondered about most is, why do positive trainers abhor Cesar so strongly? Why should he have such a detrimental effect on how people handle their dogs? My answer is: The positive trainers and the dominance embracing people do absolutely the same: They hardly listen or see what really happens.
The dominance folks just want to realize: jerk, hit, push, alpha roll, prong collar, choke chain – GREAT ! and fall into the categorie where dogs are obviously under great stress, start to aggress even more and in the end are euthanized after a rather long time of suffering. Because strong aggression is a form of suffering to me and to cope with an aggressiv owner to boot must be hell !! The others? The positive trainers? They are prejudiced as well and strongly edit the episodes, pic on sequences of stress and most often ignore the long term outcome or claim the makers of the show to manipulate the viewers (which of course they obviously do, quite often). So these good people get worried, upset, sad and feel helpless or fight back with all their might.
To call Cesar backwards to me is an offense. He just uses popular words but what he does is anything but. Through him I regained the most profound feeling of togetherness with my dogs. I have not changed much. I will keep on introducing new stimulus by wordless click/treat. And train them with positive reinforcement as well. I will continue to help them through exciting and unsure situations so they do not have to aggress.
BUT: Thanks to Cesar I am now even more able to help them to cope with our complicated world by beeing intentionally calm and assertive. I basically was by nature, but I lost it gradually whilst getting older and more into positive reinforcement. Combining calm-assertiveness with positive reinforcement is a gift to me and taking it further by claiming space with my body (the Cesar Way) I give my dogs new solutions to solve old problems !! (Malinois aged 10 und Schipperke almost 8)
Further, the idea of “The Walk” was always antagonizing me until I saw Cesar doing it. That is a different story from the olden days, a different story from mere compulsion training. Which I adamently refused to do anyway. This really is being “in the zone”. My little Schipperke walks like a real trooper, head high, tail high, next to me, when I get into the “let’s make the Cesar Walk”-mode. My Belgian Malinois gives me the same attitude, no unwanted agitation, just focus. It really becomes a pack-thing. We are a team then. In sync. But I would not do it for more than 10 – 15 minutes at a time. I am only sorry that Cesar so seldom emphasizes when it is time to let the dog sniff and just relax.
Exercise, discipline, affection?
Where I live in Switzerland I am able to walk my dogs off leash 90% of the time, I walk them THREE TIMES A DAY for app. 7 miles total, until recently we jogged 3times a week. Some nose games several times a week are mandatory. I am not an exception. This is almost recommanded for dog owners as far as I know. Switzerland banished prong collars 20 years ago, choke chains are frowned upon, e-collars are forbidden. In the US people worry about Millan and happily choke their fearful “best friends”, further traumatize them with prong collars!?!? Well, that shoked me !!
There never were more dog schools to train your dog where I live, most dogs know basic obedience but dog owners are highly confused by all these positive demeanor. They do not know anymore what to do when a dog starts behaving badly and therefore get themselves upset, start to shout, shower the dogs with meaningless commands and make the situations worse. They do not learn anything about how to primarily influence their dog on an emotional level. And that is what Cesar teaches absolutely to perfection. If you have the ability to see and to listen and to really practice what he preaches: calm-assertivenes not loud yelling *smile*. Then he becomes a true treasure even if he might not be a pack leader because there is no pack, just individuals living together – right? *smile*
with Malinois,Schipperke and 5 nicely behaved Persian Cats 🙂
Thanks for sharing your dog training experiences with us.
That is very well said. As you say, it is unfortunate that there is so much nastiness whenever people discuss the various dog training methods and philosophies. For me, it is very simple. I want to make the best decisions for my dogs. As such, I try to get as much information and scientific data as I can, and I also try my hardest to understand what my dogs are saying to me.
In general, it matters little to me whether Cesar Millan, Victoria Stilwell, Ian Dunbar, or some other personality is best or more right. What I care about are the methods themselves, and how my dogs respond to them. In the end, the personalities that matter most to me are my dogs.
Yeah, I agree. When it comes to bringing up a dog, our ego usually plays a big role. When ego comes into play, being right is more important than listening to our dogs, and doing what is best for them.
There is so much discussion of dominance in dog training, but so little discussion of empathy, which I think is much more important. Empathy is important in human relationships, and it is important in dog relationships. In her book “Inside of a Dog” Alexandra Horowitz talks about the “umvelt” of a dog (world of a dog). In my opinion, that is one of the most important aspects of establishing a good relationship with our dogs – understanding their “umvelt”, their needs and goals, how they view the world, and how they interact with the world.
Then, we can help them fulfill their needs and goals, and help everyone achieve a good quality of life. Dogs don’t need much, if we would only listen; as they listen so well to us and our needs.