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What the experts say about "The Dog Whisperer" (Cesar Millan)
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
  • INU RYUUINU RYUU
    Posts: 1507
  • Post edited by curlytails at 2010-12-31 20:32:07
  • @ Brad: Thanks for the info and keeping it clearly in the forefront with all the activities here.

    @ Curly: Dr. Yin and the info she has on her blog is super as well. Thanks for posting her site. As far as the varied sources that Brad posted and your question about the dates, they range from 2006 through last year I believe. Yeah, I also wish the quotes were properly cited. It would make it a whole lot easier when researching and writing.

    Generally, I can not say enough for the advancements by those in the field that have made such a difference in training humanely and challenging the old school assumptions in behavior...... Ian Dunbar, Karen Pryor, Patricia McConnell, Pat Miller to name a few. There is a resources section if one is interested that can be accessed via the search tab under "More Books on behavior, training and care".

    I will say "CM/Dog whispering" has put training on the map for millions that view television. However, it also is a good idea to switch off the sound and nonsensical speak to really analyze the events and note the out takes. Making a mental note of the visual info and comparing and contrasting with methods used by actual behaviorists can help in gaining a better understanding of the problems.

    Happy new year! May everyone have a joyful year training with their dogs : )

    Snf
  • MyloMylo
    Posts: 879
    Eff yes! I was just telling a friend of mine how much of a tool he is. I'm sooooo pumped that you posted that!
  • eluneelune
    Posts: 5
    I took an animal behavior class with Sophia Yin at UC Davis in 2005, she definitely knows a lot about animals and how to interact with them. To this day that class has had a huge impact on the way I interact with my pets and also my interest in animals and training. I definitely recommend her book "How to behave so your dog behaves", I still have it from when I took her class.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • small side experience... My brother and his wife have two pugs and they are really into Cesar Milan. They came over for Thanksgiving and while playing with Jack his wife rolled him over and held him down. Jack screeched his displeasure and ran away to me. My brother told us we needed to show Jack who was boss because he was mouthing. What-ever... Jack is a teething puppy and mouthing is annoying, but what does pinning him down for the count do? I told them nicely that if they man-handled my puppy again when he's just playing, I'd man-handle them. Later at Xmas, they brought their pugs to my parents house. We left Jack at home since we didn't want mayhem to ensue in my retired parents quiet home. At one point my brother was yelling at one of his pugs to get him to come out from under the table. My mom (who is afraid of dogs generally) scolded him as though he was a little kid in her broken English - "Big man yelling at little dog, tsk tsk. Who'd want to come out from under the table for that!?!" Then she told his dog, don't come out because her son was too mean. I got a treat and lured him out without the fear tactics.
  • AraksAraks
    Posts: 399
    @JacksMom13: I would have been really angry and frustrated if someone did that to Sevuk. Something similar happened when I went to home depot with Sevuk one time. I went looking for hooks and got an employee to help me find them. When we got over there and I was picking them out, the employee decided to stick around and starting asking me little questions about my dog. A minute later, one of the equipment in the back made a loud noise and unusually, Sevuk gave out a bark, and I just calmly said "no" which got Sevuk's attention right away. Well, this stupid employee decides to start lecturing me on how I should punish my dog for barking where he shouldn't, blah blah blah. He told me to alpha roll my dog whenever he gets out of line. After I told him, "no thank you," he went on to say that I have a spoiled, misbehaved dog because I don't *discipline* him correctly. That was my cue to leave. I don't go to that store anymore knowing there is a imbecile like that working there.
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    @ Araks, The employee griped about one bark that was raised as an alarm then stopped when you asked. What did he train a plush toy? Sevuk sounds perfectly trained.

    The info on CM was very reassuring, I felt unconvinced the time I watched an episode of his show that it was the best solution to problems.
    Thoroughly loving all the Dogstars Daily training tips.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
  • LaRen616LaRen616
    Posts: 221
    There was a Petco trainer that was big into Cesar Millan

    She hounded me when I brought my GSD Sinister in when he was a puppy, he was very well behaved and the lady kept telling me that he needed work and that he would grow up and become extremely aggressive and unmanagable if I didn't dominate him and use physical force to get him to do things.

    My ex and I trained Sinister, we took it very seriously, we socialized the wazoo out of him and we made sure he has excellent recall. He knows lots of tricks and he knows hand signals. He will not wander from me, he will not leave my yard (it's not fenced in) he loves people, kids, cats and other dogs, he is very well behaved in public places like my mom's salon, my cancer hospital, Petco/Petsmart, parades and birthday parties. He listens extremely well, he always wants to please me, he always wants to do something for me, he's eager to learn and catches on quick.

    We used positive training only and I think we did a pretty good job with him.

    No Cesar Millan BS going on in my house.Lauren

    Sinister ~ 5.5 yr old black male GSD 3.11.09
    Draven ~ 16 month old male Dalmatian 6.20.13

    Cats: Chaos, Mayhem, Monster, Wicked
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    From reading all of your training experiences and my new obsession in smoothing any training techniques I used, Ian Dunbar has become my hero - so simple it hurts my head.

    One video summed it up for me, someone had a Huskie adolecent in his Sirius class, they were waiting for the Huskie to check in with the owner by looking at him - the Huskie didnt, instead of some brutal action Ian just walked past and said thats ok you wanted a Huskie you've got a Huskie.

    I bet its more fun with Shibas - cant wait
    Post edited by Rors at 2011-01-07 08:02:59
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Post edited by Calia at 2011-01-06 00:54:56
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    YouTube is Great So is Dogstars Daily for treating a dogs well being is more important than controlling every $$$

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-vAVPMjGc0
  • jujeejujee
    Posts: 882
  • quezoxxquezoxx
    Posts: 25
    Why does everyone hate this guy? Whenever I watch the show it appears that its actually more about the humans taking control of the situations rather than the dogs. Most of the time hes just telling the owners to set rules and excersise the animals.

    It's not a cute when you go to a dog park and a full grown dog is nipping at your 4 month old and the owner does nothing about it. After about an 30 minutes and some yelps I had to step in between the two dogs. I didnt touch them, or even say anything but my posture and placing myself between the two let the other dog know that it was not wanted...I learned that much from watching the show. It worked as well! Is that bad?
    Post edited by quezoxx at 2011-01-17 19:16:42
  • tomotomo
    Posts: 15
    > "His ideas, especially those about "dominance", are completely disconnected from the sciences of ethology and animal learning..."

    This is 100% untrue. Wolves are a strong interest of mine, and I've enjoyed reading about them in my spare time since I was a kid. The foremost experts in ethology have been studying wolves in the wild for decades. These studies have shown that domestic dogs behave much like a wolf pups for their entire lives. Milan's ideas about dominance stem directly from these studies. Almost everything I read in his book about pack dominance matches up perfectly with what I've read about wolves, particularly about the way wolf pups are raised and integrated into the pack.

    It seems like these people aren't willing to understand and accept Cesar Milan's methods. I don't like him, and I'll agree with the poster above who said the guy's a complete tool by human standards, but he seems to mean well and his methods are backed up by years of studies and his own personal experience. You'd have a hard time proving he's less than competent given his track record actually working in the field, and I wouldn't be so quick to judge.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • quezoxxquezoxx
    Posts: 25
    I'm gonna watch that video right now, thanks!
  • Having worked with dogs (in a very positive only setting) for seven years, including working with various dog trainers, I would never allow Cesar Milan near my dogs. I have had good results with positive reinforcement with my girls, and with dogs I have worked with at my job. The only thing I will give Cesar credit for is the fact that he suggests more exercise for most dogs. I do not think most dogs get enough exercise and mental stimulation.

    I think Cesar himself is a bully towards dogs, overpowering them and scaring them rather than working to reinforce good behavior and gain the trust of dogs who often have very little confidence. His techniques would break my dogs, plain and simple. I love my dogs and would never subject them to that. I think people should have a relationship with their dogs that is based on trust, not based on overpowering and controlling the dog.
  • PupChowPupChow
    Posts: 100
    Has anybody tried both Cesar Millan's method and later converted to Positive Reinforcement? I'm curious to hear from personal experience with both methods and how the dog reacted during those time. Are the two methods completely black & white or is there anything CM teaches that can be incorporated into Positive Reinforcement? (eg: more exercise)
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2011-01-18 05:09:10
  • tomotomo
    Posts: 15
    @ Brad - I didn't miss the point unless the person who's being quoted has failed to use the English language properly. The prior sentence clearly indicates that they're declaring his ideas as unfounded, with no basis in behavioral science/ethology. Milan's most criticized methods are most appropriately geared at the very small minority of dogs which do have extreme dominance issues. These are dogs which may be otherwise euthanized because none of the more "humane" methods have worked on them. He's saved more than his share of dogs using these methods after all others have failed. I think it's distasteful to be so judgmental of someone who clearly means well and has done so much good.

    And no, you can't just throw out the word "dominance," and Mech never said you should. Dominance and hierarchy can exist in almost ANY even moderately-advanced social system, even with the human nuclear family. What Mech has said is that rigid social structures are not common and that because they were what he initially observed, his original attempt at understanding and explaining wolf dominance was unsuccessful. Still, he has observed such things in the past and he does not deny that dominance can be a strong trait in wolves. For example, there are packs where the more dominant wolves will not allow the other wolves to eat until they are done. There are other packs where that's not the case. Just because it's now been established that highly dominant behavior is not the norm doesn't mean that it can't or doesn't exist at all.

    That said, a lot of people out there seem to think that it's a good idea to use his methods on a dog showing no signs of dominance issues, which is kind of like giving a person Oxycontin every day in case they develop a minor headache. A lot of the quotes above are statements which were probably made out of fear that more people might jump on that bandwagon. Starting another "Cesar Sucks" bandwagon is not a good solution.


    > "I do not think most pet owners are informed or savvy enough to distinguish fear and avoiding behavior from what they have been told on TV must be dominance."

    This is 100% true, and there's a great difference between making this point and saying Cesar Milan himself is a poor trainer. Where are the quotes expressing that CM's methods aren't right for every dog? That would be far more appropriate if you intend to nurture an environment that supports education and understanding.


    > "Plus many studies are showing more and more that dogs no longer think like wolves, so basing them off of wolves is no longer correct... Plus many studies are showing more and more that dogs no longer think like wolves, so basing them off of wolves is no longer correct. It's like saying that we should raise and treat our children and other people based off of how chimpanzees, gorillas or other primates act."

    Humans did not evolve from modern-day primate species. Chimps are not our ancestors, and it's been about 40 million years since we shared a common ancestor. Dogs, on the other hand, did likely evolve from the grey wolf. When the feral dog and grey wolf diverged is unknown, but domestication probably began in the past 15,000 years. Feral dog packs currently behave much like (but not identically to) modern grey wolf packs. No one's saying they're exactly the same, but 15,000 years is not enough time for there to be a fundamental difference in how an animal thinks. You can use selective breeding to encourage certain traits, including submissiveness, but you can't expect an animal's actual thought process to evolve in such a short period.
  • tomotomo
    Posts: 15
    > "And there are videos where CM drags dogs, kicks dogs, hangs dogs from choke collars, etc. All abuse, in my mind, and I don't understand why anyone tolerate in the name of "training."

    From my perspective, true abuse requires a sadistic intent on the part of the individual committing the act, whether it be out of anger or general malice. We're quick to throw the word abuse around instead of simply admitting that we don't like corporal punishment and that we find it cruel. Still, dogs don't seem to learn from corporal punishment from humans. They don't understand why they suffer because we lack the tools to fully communicate our meaning. If it's not really a dominance issue, any sort of violence towards the dog will be wasted energy and will only be harmful in the end. I can understand his doing that if it's a last resort and the dog hasn't responded to other methods, but otherwise it just adds points to why I think he's a jackass.

    > "Someone else on the forum has a thread called "who knew leash jerks could be so expensive" and talks about her little Shiba girl just shut down in fear and now pees when she sees the trainer. That kind of stuff is inexcusable in my mind."

    That's not a trainer, that's a case of "idiot parading as a trainer." There are far too many of those in the world. Far too many! The worst part is that so many of them actually believe they know what they're doing when they don't have a clue.
  • maxwellsmaxwells
    Posts: 347
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2011-01-18 22:40:10
  • quezoxxquezoxx
    Posts: 25
    I think there is a bit of sensationalism and generalization going on here. CM approaches each situation different. Its not like he sees a dog that is afraid of strollers and noises then proceeds to kick them, make that PSHHHH noise and ALPHA SUPLEX them from the top rope haha.

    I didn't mean to resurrect a heated topic. I just never knew that "dog people" hated CM so much calling him a tool and such names and yes if you read every post there are in fact comments made about him and people who subscribe to his methods. He seems to me, like a nice guy who helps people with issues that cause there dogs to be unbalanced. Hes not a dog trainer, you never see him teach dogs how to jump through hoops. He deals with behavior issues. Mostly its the people who enable the dogs to continue a certain habit, or encourage behaviors through lack of assertion and direction.

    I dont know about you all but I want my dog to know that we share a domain but I am the master. There are a lot of mixed signals going on here. Many of the points being made can go for either side depending on how you look at them. I hear that dogs look to us for direction. Without that direction the dogs will take over. I love my dog he is my companion but not my equal. I love my nephew, he is not my equal. There are rules, there are consequence. This is life. This is human life, this is life in the wild only with that the stakes are much higher. Animals are supposed to bring us closer to nature, I think its a give and take. I don't think that we should exactly build a world for our animals that involves positive all the time. I don't think thats real. That being said don't be alarmed people, I don't kick my dog or ALPHA KARATE CHOP him when he misbehaves. I do snap my fingers to get his attention and when he is really bad I may yell a little loud. I walk out of the door first, but I move when he needs me to, I try not to let him drag the heck outta me, I eat first or pretend to, I stand in between object that he tries to claim for his when they are clearly not, I dont let him on the furniture uninvited. I also kiss him, and hug him, give him tons of treats, and have a big dorky baby picture as my desktop at work which I get teased about hahaha. I dont care!

    The experts have their own techniques. Tons of time and effort spent on a topic tends to make the experts and the followers get emotional about what side to take. CM deals with dogs with horrible issues because thats what makes good TV. Dogs that are already on the brink of hurting themselves or the owners. Not dogs who dont sit on command or 2 month old puppys who are chewing up shoes. Anyways, we all have to find our way so I like to learn from all and not discredit without seeing if they have something, even if in part, to offer.
    Post edited by quezoxx at 2011-01-19 00:37:28
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
  • quezoxxquezoxx
    Posts: 25
    Then what do you suggest? I don't feel the need to dominate my dog 24/7 or push him around. If I don't want my dog to do something then what do I do? Do I offer him a treat to get off of the couch? Or do I say get off the couch! I know you are passionate about what you say, I can tell by the tone of your words. I don't mean to offend you. I also don't abuse my dog. And I am not above learning from others. How do I establish what's right from wrong behavior? Is time out ruled out? If dogs don't understand our rules then do they not know that doing something will displease us?

    NVM: I found some other posts with your link in this post which I am reading now.

    Behavior / Training: Let's discuss the role of dominance in the social hierarchy & training of domestic and wild canine.
    Post edited by quezoxx at 2011-01-19 03:34:36
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
  • tomotomo
    Posts: 15
    This is getting a bit long-winded. I'll be blunt and to the point. I don't like Cesar Milan because I find him to be very full of himself. Still, I respect him. Too many people think they can read a book or see a TV show and then just mimic the behavior they see or read about and that the results they get say something about the person they mimic. That's simply not the case. People seem to want to suggest that they're more intelligent and that they understand dogs better than he does, but all of the evidence from his personal history of training actually suggests that's not true. He has been extremely successful with the methods he uses, and I think he knows exactly what he's doing. It's more likely that other peoples' failures attempting the same methods are due to an inability to fully understand the subtleties involved and when and why they work for him.

    As was said above, I think there's a lot of generalization and exaggeration here. If you watch his show, you'll see that the methods criticized are rarely used. He uses gentler methods and even positive reinforcement when appropriate. He doesn't treat all dogs the same and he doesn't look at every problem as a dominance issue. He doesn't use aversive training for every dog.

    If the message you're trying to send is that people should not try his methods at home, I think you should say that and not post a bunch of quoted opinion on whether or not he may be a competent individual. What I see here is people making the assumption that he's not, and then basing their criticism of his methods on their own failures, not his. Besides, as long as Oprah likes him you're fighting a losing battle.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2011-01-19 22:58:04
  • jujeejujee
    Posts: 882
    Post edited by jujee at 2011-01-23 23:04:41
  • RorsRors
    Posts: 165
    @ jujee, I had a similar experince with a former friend and their pug. Same deal they would yell and give it a smack (fairly light but a smack still the same) to get the dog from jumping up and licking when anyone sat on the couch. I think I upset them and won a bet - 2 minutes later the darling little pug was sitting next to me calmly getting pats - it only took 2 times withholding a pat and she got it.

    How would someone feel if their best human friend cowered every time they walk in the room or talked to them - that sort of training doesnt make sense.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • tuckertucker
    Posts: 14
    This is such an interesting discussion.

    A lot of good points have been brought up. It's most interesting, however, because I noticed a few posts by different users that both dislike CM, but contradict each other. The two that stands out most (I don't want to scroll up and find it after reading all the posts, so i'll paraphrase) was when one user said CM is outdated and that we shouldn't be treating our pets like wolves because todays pet dogs are so different. Then another user made note of how Shiba Inus are more feral than the average dog and more primitive. I thought that was kind of funny - If you've got a primitive breed that is more feral, I would imagine approaching them as one would a pack of wolves would make a lot of sense.

    In any case, I digress.

    Someone asked if anyone has used both techniques - aversive (negative) and positive training. I noticed that a lot of users on here seem to predominantly use positive training, and don't do leash snaps, roll overs, etc.

    I go to a training facility where both techniques are used. The trainer who has been working for 25 years, has phenomenal reviews from clients, and does everything from basic training to training dogs with aggressive issues. Her and her company are awesome and they've been such a great support group. Here is my experience with both techniques:

    I was like a lot of you on this forum. If you showed me a choke collar, I thought you were a scum bag. Leash tugs and snaps? don't get me started. Putting your dog into the ground??? wtf?........well. Jenny, our trainer, over time showed me when to use these methods, how they work, and why they work. On the flip side, she showed me all the positive things I can do. All the ways i can give love, give treats, and not use the leash when I don't have to use it.

    I have had a phenomenal experience using both techniques. Tucker has been on a herm sprenger choke collar since he was about 9 weeks old. Jenny got me to use it after she put it on her leg, and then I put it on my leg. Choke collars have a "live" mode and a "dead" mode. Live will contract the collar when the leash is pulled on. Dead does the same as your leather flat collar, but it has prongs so it gives a bit more of a pressure effect. The prongs look scary. but thats it. If you don't believe me, try it yourself. I put it on my bare thigh and tugged really hard and it wasn't exactly comfortable but it didn't hurt. And dogs have way more tough skin than you do - just look at how rough they can play with one another and be totally fine. So thats that on collars.

    Rolling the dog or putting them into the ground. Dogs ARE pack animals...leave a few dogs together and see what happens after a few days. There is someone on top and someone on the bottom. Its the same way in EVERY social structure. Find me a communist animal society where everyone is equal...there isnt one. We even tried and couldnt pull it off. When dogs are bad within their own community, they get put in their place. That's what the "alpha roll" achieves. The key is knowing when and how to use it. You dont just alpha roll your dog when he's bad. It's when the dog is obviously trying to assert himself over you, or push the boundaries you set. It's like having a kid. When the kid messes up you don't just walk away and ignore it (which i suppose is one method of parenting), but there is usually a negative repercussion. Parents use to spank. They ground kids, take away privileges, etc. All that is asserting dominance. the alpha roll is the same thing but in a dogs world, you don't ground the pup or take away the car keys, you alpha roll. If it was up to the dogs and no humans were around, trust me it would be a lot more "inhumane".....after all they are not humans...In any case, I've alpha rolled tucker a bunch and he loves me and i love him and there is nothing "abusive" about it. If anything he's learned from it.

    Those are the two techniques I saw criticized most. As for non "aversive" techniques. I love crate training, and obviously giving out treats and love when he is simply doing a good behavior. If tucker is laying down calmly, I make sure to treat him to a lot of tasty things and give him some love - but without getting too excited, because that defeats the purpose. If you get excited, the dog gets excited.

    I think CM realizes that. And before you guys criticize him or take other doctors words for how bad and abusive he is, you should check out his literature. Get in touch with people that he has actually helped. Have any of you ever read one of his books? He openly admits how so many professionals disagree with him. But there are a lot that don't. Or a lot, like my trainer, that have found a balance. He's helped a ton of dogs and dog owners - often times without having to use the choke collar or being abusive. Just because you saw it on TV doesn't mean its true......National Geographic needs a way to catch your attention, and clearly you've all seen the show. But try reading. It's not all correct and you may feel the same way but at least you can say you legitimately checked him out and compared him to other professionals.

    This is long so i'll cut it here. But I do want to leave with this:

    Whoever compared treating a human baby like chimpanzees treat their kids to prove that treating a dog like a wolf is wrong....thats just....i don't know where to begin. They're the same species for goodness sakes...monkeys and apes are not the same species as humans.....sigh.
  • tuckertucker
    Posts: 14
    Also, I'd like to add that every dog that is owned by a human is different, and there is no "universal training method" that will fit that dog. "dominance" and "aversive" methods won't work on a dog that has self confidence issues or doesn't have dominance issues (i think this was already said). But I say this to point out that there are a LOT of trainers out there including CM and all the DVM's mentioned, and none of them are absolutely right, and none are absolutely wrong. You have to take away from each one to find out what works best for your little bundle of fur joy.


    (:
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Post edited by Calia at 2011-01-24 10:26:11
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    Post edited by lindsayt at 2011-01-24 11:58:26

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