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  1. #1

    Criticism Of Cesar Milan More Than A Whisper

    Criticism of dog trainer more than a whisper

    By Denise Flaim
    Newsday

    If anyone is considered the demon boy of dog behavior by the professional training community, it would be Cesar Millan, whose "Dog Whisperer" show on the National Geographic Channel has made him a household name.

    Millan's techniques, his approach -- and, let's face it, his popularity -- have stoked the ire of many positive trainers and behaviorists, who offer laundry lists of his inadequacies: His methods are inappropriately force-based. His academic credentials are nonexistent. He relies too heavily on antiquated models of wolf hierarchy and dominance. His success stories cannot be replicated by regular dog owners.

    Coincidentally, Millan's second book is hitting bookshelves, along with efforts by some of his critics. Here's a look at these differing views on managing humankind's best friend.

    -- "Be the Pack Leader," by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier (Harmony Books, $25.95). One of the criticisms of Millan's first, chart-topping book, "Cesar's Way," was that it offered little in the way of specifics. Along with plenty of case studies, Millan's second effort offers a few more tangibles, including a pie chart divvying up the components of an hour-long walk; analyses of different behavior-modification tools, from citronella collars to scat mats; and a discussion of breed differences.

    But the linchpin of Millan's philosophy -- projecting "calm, $#@!ertive energy" -- is more an evolution than an endeavor and isn't something you can grasp in an afternoon New School seminar, or a 316-page book, for that matter. Millan notes that he mixes his dogs' food with his bare hands, so that he can transfer his scent and his energy. You gotta feel that.

    And while Millan acknowledges the benefits of positive reinforcement, he's not going to do a "Monks of New Skete"-style reversal when it comes to physical correction.

    "If a dog is out of control on a leash, I might give a slight tug to the side of the leash or choke chain ... or I might use my opposing foot to tap a dog on her hindquarter," he writes. "This has the effect of snapping her out of whatever she is fixating on, and also communicates: That is not an acceptable behavior in my pack.' Again, this is not a kick. It is a touch."

    Whatever he calls it, the positive-reinforcement crowd won't be buying. And in that respect, I don't think "Be the Pack Leader" will bridge any of the chasm between Millan and his critics.

    And, frankly, I'm not sure he much cares.

    -- "The Puppy Whisperer," by Paul Owens and Terence Cranendonk (Adams Media, $14.95). Owens was the first to use the "Dog Whisperer" moniker in both books and DVDs. A yoga practitioner and staunch believer in nonviolent training for dogs, he is about as diametrically opposed to Millan as you can get. His new book covers the basic ground about selecting the right puppy, humanely housebreaking, and training and problem-solving with positive reinforcement.

    Contemplating his aging Portuguese water dog, Owens writes: "When Molly came into my life, I had been training dogs for many years using the standard methods of the time, including jerking, shocking and pinning a dog to the ground. In 1990, something inside me switched gears. ... I realized that physical punishment and aversive training were not necessary."

    -- "Fighting Dominance in a Dog Whispering World," DVD by Jean Donaldson and Ian Dunbar ($39.95, dogwise.com). A pointed jab at Millan by two of the training world's biggest guns: Donaldson heads the San Francisco SPCA's Academy for Dog Trainers, and her tart, no-nonsense style beautifully informs such books as "Culture Clash" (James & Kenneth, $17.95) and "Dog Are From Neptune" (Lasar Multimedia, $16.95). Dunbar, an English export to these shores, is a veterinarian and animal behaviorist who was a pioneer in puppy-training cl$#@! and lure-reward training.

    Together, the two use empirical data to discuss whether dominance really exists and what can be expected if owners use it as their primary relationship model with what Donaldson affectionately calls our "lemon brains."

    "Saying 'I want to interact with my dog better, so I'll learn from the wolves' makes about as much sense as saying, 'I want to improve my parenting -- let's see how the chimps do it,' " Dunbar has said.

    Spare the pinch collar and spoil the dog? Not so, says this duo, whose thoughtful analysis and research-based conclusions are a stark contrast to Millan's mostly id-based approach.

    http://www.azdailysun.com/articles/2...al_news_13.txt

  2. Isn't dog language...well...dog language? So are horse whisperer's horrible now, too? Body language is body language. They just don't like the choke chain, and I don't like people who $#@!ume positive reenforcement is for every single dog out there. Sure, it gets great results with MOST, but not all.

    This isn't aimed at you Purple. I know you're just posting :)

  3. #3
    Definitley. I think the best trainers/handlers are those that study all styles and use them according to the dogs specific needs for a specific issue.

  4. Quote Originally Posted by Zoe View Post
    Definitley. I think the best trainers/handlers are those that study all styles and use them according to the dogs specific needs for a specific issue.
    Well said.

  5. I agree. I had a trainer who came to work with Kayrah on her dog aggression. She refused to use any negative reenforcement collars. She said she's only pure positive.

    I'm sorry Lady, I have a 45 pound pit bull. A treat isn't going to stop her from tearing apart that puppy!!!!!!

    Then I had another one who felt that because Kayrah won't sit when excited (she does now, but not back then) she had to force Kay's rump down. That's one thing I DON'T do, is force my dog into a command. What does it teach them?

    A good trainer employs and UNDERSTANDS the different methods :)

  6. #6
    The thing is a dog needs to know that there are negative consequences that will happen if he does a certain thing in addition to knowing that a certain behavior will bring about a positive reward.

    I had a Petsmart trainer that once told me that if I caught Wrigley in the trash again, to tell him no (not scream, just tell him), pull him away, and give him an appropriate treat to have/chew on. Ummmm, excuse me? To me that seems to be rewarding him for digging in the trash. Now getting into the trash was a delight either way because either he was rewarded on his own for finding something yummy or rewarded by me when I pulled him away from it.

    While I firmly agree in positive reinforcement, I also agree in negative reinforcement. A dog is smart enough to learn which behaviors will bring about a negative reaction from you thus they will avoid it for the most part.

    And for those who believe in positive reinforcement only, I can only wish upon the day that you own a dog that truly tests you in every way. If Wrigley were still alive, I'd send him to you. And trust me, you'd learn reeaall fast that not all dogs respond to lovey-dovey talk and hugs and kisses all of the time.

  7. If I didn't employ negative, positive and NILF, I'd have a bad dog on my hands :) I ALWAYS use positive to train new behaviors, but I use negative to proof them (for the most part) and NILF to keep her under control.

    I only use that "not that, chew this" method when objects are being chewed on. Digging in the trash shouldn't have an alternative. It's a downright, "don't Fing do that" :)

  8. I love what Cesar Milan has brought to dog training, and I'm not afraid to say it. I think one has to be very even keeled when implementing his techniques because a heavy handed person could do some abuse, if they misunderstood his approach.

    BTW I dog agree all your responses.

  9. #9
    I like him and I think that while his technique may not be right for every person on here, I think it would be a little harsh to talk bad about him, if hes not doin anything else he promotes the breed, and places the blame where it belongs 9 outta 10 times, on the owners!

  10. #10
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    places the blame where it belongs 9 outta 10 times, on the owners!
    IMHO, all blame is on the owner. Dogs are being dogs, even there genes we manipulated when we domesticated them, so all blame is smack dab on our shoulders.
    I had a Petsmart trainer that once told me that if I caught Wrigley in the trash again, to tell him no (not scream, just tell him), pull him away, and give him an appropriate treat to have/chew on. Ummmm, excuse me? To me that seems to be rewarding him for digging in the trash. Now getting into the trash was a delight either way because either he was rewarded on his own for finding something yummy or rewarded by me when I pulled him away from it.
    the trash is the environment rewarding him, the trash should be put up or blocked to keep them from getting into it, and if needed when you can't keep an eye on them walking by it and taking a whiff, use snappy trainers, or repellent spray on the can, ( I have a baby gate blocking it from Argo, she got rewarded accidently when I was cleaning out the fridge, and when I turned to grab more stuff she had her head in the trash when I turned back around, I went "EH-EH! and she came out of it with chick-rice soup on her nose, I told her to "go" and she walked out of the Kitch, but she still likes to take a whiff, I guess she liked my chick-rice casserole thing and is looking for more..LOL) to make the can unpleasant and the can should correct the dog, if you only correct them, he learns to go there when your gone, and I teach my students, if dog goes near it it's a "leave it" in a serious low tone, to let them know you mean business.
    I like Cesar for bringing the fact you can't treat your dog like a human, but some things he says on there I just go..wahhh huh? He had said a dog sitting shaking in a crate with his paw lifted at him and head looking down was a hunting/predator mode,
    That is a dog giving you a gesture of I am not a threat, so be calm yourself. So some things I just scratch my head on it, but he is entertaining most of the time, I try to not poo poo other trainers even if they don't think the same way I do, if the dog is trained and not treated as a human is good, as long as you don't smack, hit, screach , holler, alpha roll or scruff shake, (I don't think that is needed), that's not good, not with all the new research we have now a days.
    I have used all kinds of methods in training and have changed as research has come thru, if it works, all dogs are different. I just try to do no harm.

  11. I like Cesar for bringing the fact you can't treat your dog like a human


    It is my personal opinion that the biggest problem with dog owners today and behavioral issues stem from the anthropomorphizing of pets. Many of these "positive" trainers and behaviorist also feel that you can "love" many problems away. The only problem I have with Cesar is when viewers of his show try to apply his methods as if they are experts. If you think your dog loves you then it doesn't respect you, it is only using you.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunadogge View Post
    The only problem I have with Cesar is when viewers of his show try to apply his methods as if they are experts. If you think your dog loves you then it doesn't respect you, it is only using you.

    I agree with the first statement.

    I don't agree with the latter statement.
    Dogs don't have that mentality...to use someone is a human trait.

  13. I agree with the above too.

    I have heard horrible stories of people grabbing other people's dogs and rolling them. And I HATE hearing from people, "don't you know Cesaer Milan says..."

    I'm like, that's super. Wanna walk my dog instead?

  14. #14
    After the amount of training that I have done with Birdie, (I'm at about 200 hours since July 2005) and working with many different trainers with experience from pet dog, to competitive obedience, to personal protection, to French Ring & Schutzhund, to tracking & hunting, to police dogs, I have learned one thing; each and everyone of them does things their own way and they all have their own methods.

    There really isn't one method that will work for all or even most dogs. What works for one may not work for another.

    The best trainers I've worked with had a deep understanding of dog behavior and could read dogs. Not surprisingly, they all applied what I call a "Ying/Yang" method to training. A balance of positive and negative reinforcement to achieve the desired behavior from the dog.

    One of these days, I'll bring over some of my training notes from my journal and blog it here so you guys can go through and read them.

  15. #15
    Personally, I overall like him. I take what I need and leave the rest. Some things I don't agree with but there are many things I do. Especially what he teaches us humans about dogs and how we need to carry ourselves

  16. Upon reading my post again it didn't come across correctly. The word "use" was used to express that the owner is not in a leadership position. A dog can "love" you but not respect you. The philosophies of NILIF and Cesar are not that different in the overall outcome of the dog. It is to place the owner in a leadership position.

  17. Like most of you, there are some of his philosophies I like and some that make me squinch up and wonder "whaaaattt", but that is true of every trainer I've ever met. That would be why there are so many different trainers and training methods.

    If it was a one size fits all endeavor then any trainer could train any dog with the same methods...and we all know that ain't gonna happen.

    I use some of his ideas on the Poodle, because they work..but I am not a big fan of the Alpha roll, simply because for it to be effective it should be used only for the most egregious situations and the timing must be absolutely impeccable and very few owners can manage one item, let alone two.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by airwalk View Post
    ...but I am not a big fan of the Alpha roll, simply because for it to be effective it should be used only for the most egregious situations and the timing must be absolutely impeccable and very few owners can manage one item, let alone two.
    I've done some research on the Alpha roll and would never use it, just seems way too dangerous if not used by someone very skilled.

    A relative of mine, a first time dog owner, uses it on her dogs and it makes me cringe. She also has an 8 yr old in the house, and the female dog has snapped at the kid. The dogs are always loose together in the house. I've tried talking her into a crate, but she thinks they are cruel. There have been two incidents where the dogs have gotten into a fight, right over the kid, and kid has scratches because of it. I'm just afraid for the time that the kid gets seriously injured. Hopefully, it won't happen.

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