Here was a man telling that your dog spent most of his life trying to surreptitiously take over your life! As I watched the show, I looked at Nishi, sleeping with her head on my lap, snoring away to glory and wondered how that made any sense. I don’t see her capable of any such sieges. All she wanted was her food, walk, petting and play and she was happy to do whatever she could in return.
Here was a man who would go visit a poor ol lady who loved her dog and would make her feel terrible about herself by saying “You have no confidence. That’s why your dog does not obey you“!
This reminds me of an eccentric teacher in school. We hand stringent rules in school about how we had to tie up our hair and she would pull us up even if a single strand was not in place. We would whine point out to the obvious that it just would not stay that way. My teacher would say “You are not obedient. That’s why your hair does not obey you“.
That is when I started looking around for reviews on this guy and other views and opinions on the subject. That opened up a world of training methods based on reason, logic and love. There was no chocking and shocking and scaring and dominating involved. The cause and effect was very clear in these training methods. It did not leave pet parents scratching their heads about how to become “more confident” or “how to behave like an alpha dog”. I mean, I did a lot of preparation before getting my dog home. But I never thought someone would recommend that I learn how to BE a dog if I wanted to GET a dog. Cmon! There HAS to be another way right?
One American website articulates my thoughts so well that I am just going to quote from the site.
American Humane expressed dismay over the “numerous inhumane training techniques” advocated by Cesar Millan and several instances of cruel and dangerous treatment — promoted by Millan as acceptable training methods — including one in which a dog was partially asphyxiated. In this instance, the fractious dog was pinned to the ground by its neck after first being “hung” by a collar incrementally tightened by Millan. Millan’s goal — of subduing a fractious animal — was accomplished by partially cutting off the blood supply to its brain.
“The field’s most respected behaviorists and trainers are concerned that many of Millan’s ideas are unfounded and some of his methods are downright harmful. In Cesar’s world, physical corrections – such as snapping a dog’s leash, finger jabs, and forcefully rolling the dog onto his back – are an effective way to garner compliance and good behavior. One technique often used by Millan is to overwhelm the dog with the very stimulus that terrifies him. Imagine treating your dog’s fear of thunder by locking him out in the yard in a severe thunderstorm. Many behaviorists argue that this technique, called “flooding,” actually leads to further psychological trauma.”
Over the years, I have poured over the works of several behaviourists and trainers. Gone through several DVDs and books. Contacted the trainers directly and done Q&A sessions with them. There are wonderful people in this area. Due to her loving relationship with the dogs that’s based on mutual respect, I personally adore Turid Rugaas. So my own education has been with her. I highly recommend all of her books and DVDs. This quick 5 minute preview of her DVD in itself is a great tool to start understanding the body language of dogs.
As I spent time learning the calming signals of dogs, watching Millan’s videos was so revealing. In stressful situations, dogs express their desire to calm down or diffuse the situation down by licking their lips, yawning, pacing and looking away. Armed with this information, when I watched the videos again I was shocked to see how he was scaring the living daylights out of the dogs. I had earlier posted a clip here that demonstrated it. But that clip has been pulled down! 😦 Not cool!
For me, it boils down to just 2 things, when evaluating a trainers methods:
- Is the trainer giving me a practical guide that is clear and concise with actionable items,
- If there is a nicer way to communicate something to my dog, is my trainer using that method.
Why poke and prod and shock when a cookie might do the trick? Why punish my dog for doing something wrong, instead of praising her for doing something right?
Millan’s methods fail on the first count with rather vague goals like “be the alpha”. With his shock collars, choking methods, scare tactics etc sorely fails on the second. If someone with this approach came anywhere close to my Nishi…perhaps then we can see what an Alpha Mommy looks like! Grrrrr! Step away from her and no sudden movements alright!