Friday, May 22, 2009

Why veterinary behaviorists can't stand Cesar Millan

I stumbled across this one the other day during my 'free time' and thought I'd share it with you all. I didn't write it so don't give me credit for it.

Why veterinary behaviorists can't stand Cesar Millan

Nicely written. Check out some of the comments written in reply to the article. There are some for and against Cesar's techniques. I found it just as interesting to read some of the comments as the article!

Personally, I try to work with a hands off approach with the dogs I'm retraining mainly because for some, all you have to do is look at them funny and you'll get bit. I'm sure you are aware that I don't agree with a fair amount of Cesar's techniques, however do appreciate his theories about "Exercise, Discipline and Affection".

After reading the article, I went to the website that was recommended within, AskDrYin. The site is good, but something seems off about it and I can't put my finger on it. It just feels weird. It doesn't seem like the person writing the info actually believes it. You know how sometimes you read something and you think the person is just regurgitating the info as opposed to when you know the person believes in what they are writing without a doubt? I don't know ... maybe there's a ghost writer in there or something.

Check it out. What do you think?


mytwh said...

I didn't get a chance to look at ask Dr. Lin yet, but read the article about Ceasar. I occasionally enjoy watching Casear and do like his stance on "Excerise, Discipline and Affection" and also his reminders about being calm and assertive. I do think he's on the money about those things. I also enjoy Victoria Stillwell and "It's Me or the Dog" on Animal Planet.

I like to see different things people do and techniques they use and then pick what I think is useful from them. I've learned things from both Cesear and Victoria,from here and from other places. I'm not a die hard follwer of either though. People need to look at their own situation and figure out works best for them.

I can't say I'd ever bite my dog though...!!!!! (and I do agree with one of the comments that said Cesear would never endorse that.)

GoLightly said...

Totally disagree.
But you knew I would.
More like overly estrogenated women, annoyed that their business is down.
let's blame Cesar!!

Never have I ever felt that Cesar was "testerone-fueled". Cesar is a HUGE part of how I finally learned to deal with/understand/train my dogs.
Training anything, really.
Heck, reading your blog has been an eye-opener, as well.
BUT, it's because I get it. Some people never ever do. My husband still doesn't.
example: I left the girls home yesterday, and he said, when I got home "THEY drove me crazy, barking ALL day".
"Their Fault".
They don't listen to him.
He isn't calm and assertive.
He's just not.

Being calm and assertive pisses a lot of people off, ya know.
We seem to prefer tense and overly hyper. Like on TV:)

I agree that the old-brutal style training methods don't help. They are still around, Cesar doesn't advocate ANY of them.

"Hitting or kicking the dog (41% of owners reported aggression) Growling at the dog (41%) Forcing the dog to release an item from its mouth (38%) “Alpha roll” (forcing the dog onto its back and holding it down) (31%) “Dominance down” (forcing the dog onto its side) (29%) Grabbing the jowls or scruff (26%) Staring the dog down (staring at the dog until it looks away) (30%) Spraying the dog with water pistol or spray bottle (20%) Yelling “no” (15%) Forced exposure (forcibly exposing the dog to a stimulus – such as tile floors, noise or people – that frightens the dog) (12%)”

The ONLY techniques he will use are the Dominance down, and the alpha roll, on those cases that are ALREADY nutso.
The rest, he DOES NOT advocate.
I've NEVER seen him shout No, or force a stimulus that the dog wouldn't have to eventually deal with anyway. The rest, Never. Those are Koehler methods.

Those others listed are the old style techniques still happily used today, turning dogs into psychos. Right up there with rubbing their noses in their shit when they poop inside.

Sorry, no way, hosay.

Another reason that vet behaviorists hate Cesar is because he cuts out their drug money.
The smart people watching Cesar ARE exercising, then training, and then loving their dogs. The problems go away, drug free.

Our own demeanour/behaviour dictates our dog's behaviour.
Big bucks in drugging dogs, ya know. People, too.

I have a feeling we don't agree about "Merle's Door" either:)

Some of his stories would have you shaking your head. I agree, we can't have dogs in society the way Merle was. But some of his musings hit home. Big time. Of course, we can't always give the dog what he wants. But we can give him what he needs.

I haven't reads anything else by Jean Donaldson, since she wrote that BOGUS article in Dogs in Canada.

whoops, now I'm ranting.
I shaddup.

gotta go play with Blaze, she's been such a good puppy.

GoLightly said...

sorry I went onandonandon so long..

OldMorgans said...

Thank you for that site. It was interesting reading with leads to more interesting reading in the future as I have time.
I have read only one of Cesar's books and seen, courtesy of NetFlix, only the second season of his show. I liked more of him then I thought I would. I picked up some good information from him. And some that I do not like so much.
Overall, I prefer Victoria Stillwell.
But should I ever have a dog again, I will use whatever works for that dog, whoever I got the information from.

Flo said...

I think it's a matter of finding what works for you and your dog. I'm no expert by far but I have found that some of Cesar's advice is great. Being a pack leader is something I associate with being a parent. You have to be the leader, the authority figure, and in a way you have to claim that. By being calm and assertive you claim the position of leader. I expect certain behaviors from my dogs and that is generally what I get. I guess it comes down to the fact that I reinforce what I want and ignore what I don't. Lots of Cesar's methods I would never try. I would never in a million years try to down a dog but walking away and ignoring it can be extremely effective.

♥Mimi♥ said...

Saying that all you have to do is look at a dog funny and you get bit is a little strange for a trainer to say.

Rebecca said...

I like 3 things about Cesar. I like that he pushes exercise so hard (though, seriously, who in the real world can spend literally 5-8 hours a day, everyday, exercising their dogs like he does? :P). It is sad how little exercise the average dog gets.

I like that he tells the owner when they are the problem. Seriously. I love that. Victoria Stilwell does it even better.

I also like his little neck pinch thing. Though not for dogs. I use it on my bratty kid brother when he mouths off. ;)

Personally, I think he is a great entertainer, and I enjoy watching his show. A great trainer? Not so much. IMO.

Mimi, it isn't odd when you are a trainer of aggressive dogs. Now, if I heard that from the "trainer" at Petsmart puppy classes, then I would find it odd. :P

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Great discussion, rebuttals and comments!

I'm thinking I need to find some time to watch some Victoria Stillwell since I hear so much about her :)

mytwh - I agree. Watching different people and different techniques help you figure out your own style. Each person will have a different style and will pick and choose what to use.

GoLightly - That's great! Yes, I knew you would disagree :) You're right, calm and assertive bothers people and relaxes dogs.

What do people hate most about everybody else? The things they hate most about themselves.

If they want to be calm and assertive and just can't get there, then they would hate someone who can do it, right?

Of the list given, I've seen Cesar use the following techniques regularly:

Kicking the dog (watch his feet when he's heeling a dog and the dog is ignoring him)

Alpha roll (I think we've all seen him use this one)

Dominance down (he uses this when he is forcing a dog not to react)

Grabbing the jowls or scruff (he does this right before he uses the dominance down or the alpha roll)

Staring the dog down (have you seen when he points and "Sshh"'s a dog and stares at it to stop barking?)

Forced exposure (each time he brings a dog to his "centre" he puts them in and the dog is surrounded by other dogs ... this technique is also called "Flooding")

Flo - yes, you use what works for the dog. You also use what works for you. Some people can't do certain things (like I can't snap my fingers each time - more like 75% of the time). For someone like me, you couldn't tell to teach the dog to respond to a snap because I can't do it reliably.

OldMorgans - Glad to have found something you find useful! As I mentioned above; I haven't had the opportunity to watch any Victoria Stillwell ... but I might just go out and see if her show is out on DVD.

Mimi - I agree with Rebecca's comment, if you haven't met a dog that will bite you for a look, then you haven't met many super aggressive dogs. I hope you never have to deal with one unless it is by your choice.

Rebecca - I don't think any normal dog owner could do it! We can usually hit around 4 hours on a work day if we don't get up to do a morning walk before work. We've tried to hit it, but just can't seem to get there.

Thank you for your comment for Mimi. It was well said.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, here are the problems with Cesar Millan:

1. It's a TV show. There are many, many people working behind the scenes to make it entertaining and dramatic. Good dog training is secondary. The attitude and advice emphasized in his books is notably different than on TV.

2. Millan is an extremely gifted and charismatic individual. He has a real talent for working with dogs that 99% of the world lacks. He also has a lifetime of experience with this. When Joe Schmo tries to take what he sees on TV and apply it to his own dog, small wonder that it ends badly.

3. Millan's style of dealing with extreme cases lends itself to TV drama. And they find him extreme cases - aggression, phobia, obsessions - for him to work with. Other trainers - more respected and 'better' trainers working with average dogs - just don't make for good TV.

So I guess Milan's use of alpha rolls and flooding don't bother me so much. It's not something I'd ever do or advise someone to do, but in the hands of an experienced professional dealing with very disturbed dogs, it seems to work. (Note that Millan *only* uses the alpha roll when a dog launches a full-fledged attack on him or on another dog. Even he sees it as a severe correction to be used only when lives are at stake.)

Once you filter out the seriously-don't-try-this-at-home and TV drama stuff, Millan's advice for dealing with an average dog seems to consist mostly of his exercise-discipline-affection mantra and the calm assertive attitude. I've heard very few people disagree with those ideas.

The problem is that many people can't seem to filter out the TV drama. Then you end up with Joe Schmoe alpha rolling his dog for barking, or pushing a dog into a very stressful situation when it really isn't appropriate, or trying to command the dog's every move in the name of 'dominance'. I don't think Millan ever advocates those things. It's a pity that some people seem to learn them from watching him.