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What the experts say about "The Dog Whisperer" (Cesar Millan)
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • @ramen_noodle_puppy - here's the thing: all the aspects of his methodology that are helpful can be found elsewhere from people who have a solid foundation in animal behavior. What's the point of taking anything away from him?

    No one here says that he's a terrible person. But he is a terrible trainer. He's an entertainer as you said above. While his place in culture and the broad understanding of animal behavior is not wholly his fault, he does nothing to dispel the notion that he is nothing more than an entertainer. He brands himself as an expert on animal behavior and because he's an effective entertainer a lot of folks take it to be the truth.

    Also, for what it's worth, encouraging people to learn how to read body language when you demonstrate an inability to do it properly yourself (often misreading body language) is in my opinion actively harmful, epecially when you have a broad reach. That crosses the line from entertainment to spreading misinformation. While he is entitled to make a living, I don't have to take the active spreading of misinformation as responsible. For me (and I suspect some others as well) that's not really a grey area. To make an analogy, just because he's like a byb that keeps his dogs clean and fed doesn't make what he's doing ok.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    Overall I do not support CM, but I also understand a small bit of what RNP is probably trying to express about how they view the debate surrounding CM.

    I understand why it is important not to support CM's methods and I understand why it is very important to challenge those who may only have been exposed to CM methods to rethink their knowledge.

    At the end of the day CM is prevalent force in driving discussions when his name comes up and provides an opportunity to educate ourselves through understanding both sides of the debate.

    I thought I would share this link related to discussing the good and the bad of CM from the Shiba Shake as I think this is probably what RNP is trying to express ... http://shibashake.com/dog/cesar-millan-the-good-and-the-bad-of-the-dog-whisperer
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1814
    Generally speaking….The sad fact is much of the C.M. "tipster stuff" is unrecognized as problematic because it is peppered with actions that appear to make sense on the surface, and are reinforcing for humans to carry out. Many behavior elements in media are difficult to discern simply because of the heavily edited footage.

    Unfortunately, after skimming the surface in viewing the show many people will try to branch to trainer/expert level with tools akin to a hand full of magic beans to get their dogs to behave. i.e. if you, chant his mantra six times a day and do x, y, z your dog will become what you want. ( Ummm…...Not so fast, take a step back… Be aware of magic beans! )

    "There is no special pill, no magic leash/collar/pack/harness, or method that will train your dog instantly or extinguish behavior problems immediately. It takes time, effort, and some sound education to do anything well, whether it is playing the piano or painting a picture. The trouble with "magical thinking" or "command central" dog training is that those methods almost always involve fear, pain and a load of misinformation" or half truths (Catalano, 2013). Generally it's advisable to avoid the free beans and arm chair advice.


    @ Ramen Noodle: If it makes you feel any better I don't think C.M.s intentions are necessarily bad, just misplaced….. but looking objectively I know there is a better humane way for many of the cases C.M. espouses to "rehabilitate". What you see on T.V. is not necessarily what one wants as an outcome (similar to a hydra, you may chop off one head of one issue only to have two more nasty problems sprout up in its place when training is inappropriate).


    @ Violet: These topics also speak to a point you mentioned as far as bigger "broad culture on canine behavior", currently prolific (pack leader idiom). To pinpoint the issue I think it requires grasping the notion or subculture of "sticky ideas" (Heath and Heath, 2008).

    "Sticky ideas" are urban legends or stories/myths, and antiquated methods that persist over long durations regardless of scientific proof to the contrary. (For example, past practice of bleeding to cure the common cold, or today in canines, the popular notion that dogs are essentially domesticated wolves who view their human companions as members of a pack competing for dominance and therefore require rigid one end of the spectrum methods such as rank reduction, doggie boot camps, and no free lunch programs"(Sdao, 2012)…. Essentially choke and poke to get teaching/training done.


    @ Ramen Noodle: In the case of CM, media and performance often overshadow understanding/communication of canine behavior for what it is or isn't, and more importantly that "myths" can blot out more appropriate humane practices for particular contexts and individuals. So yes, it's all too easy to mix reality T.V. with teaching that's way off the mark. Some people simply are not able to differentiate, and there in lies the danger.

    One must question any teacher/trainer that turns away from leaders in their field to merely work through old world practices ("sticky ideas"), thus avoiding questioning their own ideology (I am assuming to make producers happy and not shake up the money tree). Great educators grow through their mentoring communities. (I have yet to see a significant mentor in the training field stand side by side in backing what CM espouses).

    I do know growth in the field does not happen in a vacuum, from a T.V. channel, or pre-paid media contract. Understanding the science behind behavior and separating it from myth is one step in educating oneself as trainer and providing humane education. It should not be predominately about media scripts and camera smiles. I find it questionable when teachers or so called trainers can not diverge from myth or tend to overlap them with made up lingo to market their branded goods.


    Snf


    Refs


    Catalano, E. (2013, July). Magic Beans. Tip of the Week. The Coventry School for Dogs and Their People.

    Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2008) Made to Stick : Why some ideas survive and other die.

    Sado, K. (2012) Plenty in life is free. Dogwise publishing


    [Edited to include ref]
    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2013-08-23 10:24:44
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
  • Wasn't sure where to put this link but I know posative vs. negative reinforcement is discussed in here, and I can't search cause I'm on my phone.

    Even though this is somewhat directed towards pit bulls it's still a good read.
    http://stubbydog.org/2013/08/animal-learning-is-not-breed-specific/
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
  • "The show is entertainment. A show. No a how to. The things he encourages people to do at home with their own dogs are sound pieces of advice like exercise your dog and focus on body language because dogs speak to each other that way."

    This dude is SO bad at reading a dog's body language - that he attempts to train others is laughable, or would be if the dogs weren't the ones suffering. Here, watch this video. Turn the sound off and just watch what happens. Can you read the dog? I sure could.

    http://youtu.be/9ihXq_WwiWM

    ETA: Dogs can send tiny little signals to each other that we can't even pick up on. They can lift a whisker that sends a message to another dog. I watch my dogs interacting and what they do is so subtle that all I see are the "shouts".
    Post edited by orangedoggie at 2013-08-30 00:25:03
  • @SnF - yes. That was my thought behind the comment. It's sort of like the persistence ofthe idea of trickledown economics. I'm surprised that no one has written the canine behavior version of say, Zombie Economics, which does a pretty good job of explaining both the stickiness and why these ideas are just flat out wrong. Then again, for centuries beire Copernicus people thought that the planets (and sun) rotated around the earth.

    @orangedoggie - I agree. As mentioned earlier, the positive aspect of telling people of the importance of reading your dog's body language is completely negated when you show them how to incorrectly read that language. It will still do more harm than good.
  • tatonkatatonka
    Posts: 1210
  • Post edited by shibamistress at 2014-01-10 15:31:15
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
  • poltergeistpoltergeist
    Posts: 426
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 5171
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    I've heard about Lorenz' nazi connections before, I looked it up on Wikipedia (obviously not the most reliable source of course) and he was active in Germany and Austria during that time so it would be more surprising if he wasn't I think.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    I love it, go Germany!
  • jarvizjarviz
    Posts: 69
    just playing devil's advocate here. what's with all the CM hate on this thread?

    I also like to keep in mind that ALL the dogs on his show are adults and extremely problematic. They are not puppies going through a training stage. It makes sense his techniques are a little more harsh than usual, especially when the dogs have 0% trust in humans/dogs.

    I just started watching his show on netflix and I don't think I remember seeing anything too physical or abusive on the show at all, besides the kick/foot tap, which most probably don't agree with. However, he even explained that he doesn't do it hard enough to hurt the animal, just enough to snap them out of their state of mind - he also doesn't even use choke chains or prong collars on the dogs, and these are pits and great danes, gsd, etc. How do some of you recommend holding back an 85lb dog who's only focus is to attack a person/dog with all its might? Please tell me that if you know because I've had to walk a full grown GSD and a choke/prong collar had minimal effect.

    95% of his advice and training is giving the dog exercise and exposing them to his pack, which helps the dog learn its place and socialization skills. The other 5% is him teaching the owners to give off a strong energy like any leader/alpha dog would. He does his 'tsch' sound and finger snap also which gets there attention pretty effectively. It makes sense that the dog should see the human as the more dominant one. I'm sure we've all seen what happens when a dog thinks it runs the house. And CM does this without beating the dog, or choking the daylights out of them.

    I don't know what he does during the 'rehab' sessions but I highly doubt he breaks out the e-collars and whips. He most likely introduces the dogs slowly back into the real world one step at a time to get them accustomed to whatever it was they feared before.

    So unless his techniques have completely changed since his older shows, I don't see why CM is so hated on here. Somebody please enlighten me.
    Post edited by jarviz at 2015-02-10 12:38:15
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
  • jarvizjarviz
    Posts: 69
  • We don't beat children with ADHD until they calm down and concentrate. We don't kick teens who are rebellious. We don't physically punish criminals in our criminal system regardless of the crime they've committed, no matter how severe. If we don't do that to humans, because we consider it inhumane, then why should we treat dogs any differently? They feel emotion and pain just as much, if not more, than we do.

    So take your problem child with ADHD... they're not listening... your screaming, coaxing, negotiating tactics all aren't working... do you now result to putting your hands on the kid to bend him to your will? No, because it doesn't work. If what you're doing isn't working, then you need to find another way to do it - one that doesn't involve negative associations. The reason so many people encourage positive reinforcement is that not only has it been proven to work, but to me personally, it's the kindest way to do it. I want my dog to enjoy training, to enjoy learning, and to enjoy me. How is he supposed to do that if I'm constantly snapping a lead or kicking his rear end? I don't care how "lightly" they say they're doing it; if I can find another way to do it that isn't damaging, then I'm going to try it. It may take days, weeks, or months... but I'm not risking my dog's trust in me just to make him sit.

    "Problematic dogs", as you put it, are a result of their environment and treatment. It is incredibly unfair to them to blame their behaviour on them. Again, equate it to a human: you have a person who was physically and mentally abused, and now, as an adult, they're antagonistic towards others. Is that their fault, or is that learned behaviour? Also keep in mind that dogs don't speak English.

    While everybody is entitled to their opinion, the goal here, I think, is to educate people that there are alternative methods to negative reinforcement.
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
  • jarvizjarviz
    Posts: 69
    Thanks for your input guys.

    @SushiShiba you said "How is he supposed to do that if I'm constantly snapping a lead or kicking his rear end? I don't care how "lightly" they say they're doing it; if I can find another way to do it that isn't damaging, then I'm going to try it."

    Yes it's easy to just pull our shibas and walk in another direction, but how do you do this with a 70lb pit bull who's showing teeth to another dog or person. Do you just keep saying his name until he quiets down? What if you're walking through a park with your dog and she's barking at every thing that moves from another dog to a person to a squirrel; Name calling and food usually doesn't work at this point. Or do you just stand there and be that owner and let the dog pull and bark. I think this is when a light jerk on the leash comes into play for CM. I'm not arguing with you here, I am genuinely curious as to what you guys suggest at this point.

    Also "Problematic dogs", as you put it, are a result of their environment and treatment. It is incredibly unfair to them to blame their behaviour on them." Just to clarify, nobody is putting the blame on the dog. We all understand a dog's personality is a result of their upbringing, just like kids. I'm only addressing how CM corrects the behavior the first time he encounters the dogs.
  • I honestly wouldn't bring my dog to a park or public place he reacted like that to the myriad of stimuli. I'd start small, like my backyard, or around my block... acclimatize him to that first. For me personally, I have a huge backyard, so I have tons of wildlife running around. So, that would be my first step. If he's scared or anxious, then we'd take a slow... maybe a couple minutes at a time, with lots of treats and a calm, happy tone. Essentially you're doing exposure therapy at that point. And it could take weeks for him to be comfortable, but I'm ok with investing that time.

    This may be just my take on it, but I think that as soon as you think that it's okay to correct negative behaviour with light kicks or snaps of a lead, then you're somehow blaming the dog, like he ought to know better. When Sushi was a puppy, he chewed my shoe... and I loved those chunky heels. AND they were on sale. But I can't blame him for that, because I didn't supervise him properly. Had I gone and put his nose in the shoe and said "NO", that wouldn't serve any productive purpose. Even with an example of taking him on walks, and he wants to eat garbage... if I get angry or snarky, and snap on the lead, that's not productive - I've never taught him not to do that before, so how is he supposed to know that? I find tons of ways to teach him what's okay and what's not okay, and a lot of the time it comes down to redirecting.

    Anyway, sorry, to address your statement about CM correcting behaviour the first time he meets dogs... and I will preface this by saying that I am by no means any type of expert... but I feel that you can't really judge a dog's behaviour or personality as quick as he does. Granted, it's television, so who knows how long he actually has... but I imagine it isn't that long. I'm sure you've noticed that I equate a lot of my stuff with humans... it's easiest for me. If I have a psych patient with a long history of whatever, I know I'm not going to get the whole story in 2 hours. I'll be lucky if I get it in 2 weeks. I need to take the time to talk to them, get to know them, interact with them, and then work on rehabilitation.
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
  • natashanatasha
    Posts: 122
    As some of you have probably heard CM is being sued again after releasing a dog from his centre who then went on to attack a woman. She described her wounds as disfiguring. The dog had a history of aggression and should never have been released to an inexperienced owner. The methods CM uses often suppress behaviour they don't resolve the problem.
    In addition, even if you were to buy into the dominance theory it still doesn't make sense for an animal to try and dominate another animal of a different species. Elephants don't dominate giraffe, bears don't dominate Dolphins. As much as our dogs are part of the family they are perfectly aware that we are not dogs, that we are different to them, so them trying to dominate us makes no sense.
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
  • Just a thought, but with all the controversy over his aversive methods, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of people that are against him... why wouldn't the media want to cover the other side of the story? Why won't they do a show about the benefits of positive reinforcement? Surely there would be a huge following for that, and that would help spread the information.

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