Why I don't like the Dog Whisperer

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Millan believes that the human needs to be trained first to be the pack leader, and that in order for dogs to succeed they need lots of exercise. (Don't we all.) Yet I cringe while watching the show, seeing family pets scared into submission while wearing prong collars until sometimes emptying their bladders on the floor. It makes my blood boil when people use prong collars on their dogs. I do not believe they should be used at all, and if one is used as a method for control and training  the dog should only wear it while being walked; the collar should be immediately removed once the dog is inside the home, so that when he lies down the prongs don't dig into his neck. The Gentle Leader is a great alternative to the prong collar and is not a lazy way to train a canine. What kind of education is Millan espousing to the general public when he is improperly using a prong collar?


In a number of episodes I saw Millan poke and prod dogs to move them into submission, as well as kick dogs during walks to get them to move the way he wanted them to. He may not have kicked the dogs hard, but how will viewers who are just learning the techniques know when a kick is too hard?


A position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) rejects Millan's approach. According to the statement, AVSAB "recommends that veterinarians not refer clients to trainers or behavior consultants who coach and advocate dominance hierarchy theory and the subsequent confrontational training that follows from it."


"That statement was initiated with Millan in mind," says Dr. Laurie Bergman, of Norristown, Pa., a member of AVSAB's executive board.


This video is a clip from an episode of Cesar Millan training a very aggressive dog. He meets this aggression with aggression only to get bitten, while dangling the dog from the lead, ultimately pinning a hyperventilating dog onto the ground.



Although on TV he is successful and the show ends with very happy owners and dogs that seem to be well-adjusted, I have often wondered what happens behind the scenes.


What happens to the cases we aren't privy to, or the ones in which the owners lack the discipline to continue the training? Granted, that can and will happen in any form of training, but in negative reinforcement I would think that yanking on the chain would be difficult to maintain. How many people end up losing their cool and get way too aggressive with the training at home?


If we can use a banana to train a gorilla to hold out its arm and allow a blood sample to be taken, or use a carrot to get a hippo to open wide for its teeth to be filed, why do we need to choke our beloved canine to get her to walk a straight line?

We all seem to love Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. Or do we?

As a whole, the consensus is that the National Geographic Channel's self-taught super dog trainer is the best thing since the advent of the pooper-scooper. But some of us disagree. We think his whisper is a growl and his scooper is getting rusty.

His self-proclaimed pack leader mentality has dogs shaking in corners, ears down, eyes aglaze. His dominance-based training methods and use of flooding techniques and negative reinforcement are outdated. Although some of his methods work in some cases, he is clearly not whispering. In fact, he's mauling the concept of dog whispering: the real thing — Zen-like behavior modification through positive, non-aggressive techniques — was forged by Paul Owens, the original Dog Whisperer, who wrote about his methods in 1999 and has been practicing for well over 35 years.

The American Humane Association believes that Millan's methods are "more harmful than helpful," and has written letters to NGC to get the program off the air.

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