Why Cesar Millan The Dog Whisperers Approach Is Like Yelling At A Crying Baby

Cesar Millan The Dog Whisperer, only knows how to dominate a dog.

I had originally planned never to criticize Cesar, regardless of how often he gets it wrong. Awhile ago I was asked by an advertising company who was handling his latest video release, to write a review about it.  I was very generous with that review, even after I was shaking my head in disbelief after watching him chase yet another nervous dog around, this dog being a nervous German Shepherd in the owners back yard. My reason for this is, he has a rather large soap box to stand on and too many people follow his well meaning but inaccurate advice.

In the below National Geographic video link Mr. Millan, talks about how these types of dogs (aggressive dogs) put him on the map and that he loves working with them.

First off the dog in his video is not an aggressive dog, this is just another fear aggressive or nervous dog. And for him to continually describe this type of dog behavior as aggressive, not only shows how little he has learned in his years with animals. But can possibly be doing irreparable harm to the estimated lifespan of that dog, especially if the owners think they have an aggressive dog on their hands. Not to mention the fact that he constantly uses the wrong approach while training these “aggressive” dogs. For a truly aggressive dog, see this video : Aggressive Dog Bite Video

Quite frankly dogs that are truly aggressive are not only reasonably rare, they happen to be rather simple to deal with. Unlike their more nervous brothers and sisters who require a lot of love, patience and confidence building, such as the dog that you will see in his video.

Link to video

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/dog-whisperer/2494/Overview#tab-Videos/03208_09

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The Spirit Dog

Copyright © 2009 A. S. Papszycki

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27 Responses

  1. AI,
    I started off with my golden retriever as a puppy and she didn’t have alot of socialization with other dogs except for the dog park and never really made friends but would be totally fine being there. My girlfriend and I noticed that she didn’t really seem like a dog and that she was getting lonely. My girlfriend works at an animal ER and When junai our golden retriever was 4 we adopted jinger from the ER. She’s a lab sharpe mix and is super sweet. Junai was so happy to have someone to play with and they got along great. we were so happy. Wellwe were in a townhome that didn’t allow animals and were trying to find a new place to live and trying to keep the girls quiet. Jinger was in a new place and would cry sometimes. We 100% regret this from the bottom of our souls we got a bark collar that would go off when she barked. She started to cry and it kept going so we were desperately trying to get it off of her and junai saw this and tried to attack jinger. We got her away from jinger and slowy started earning jingers trust back. which happened and junai and jinger we best friends again. Fast forward 5mths . My girlfriend is at work and a pitbull comes in in liver failure. She brings her home w intentions to bring her to the rescue in divide but falls in love and alot of fights later i agree we can keep her seeing that our dog jinger loves her and junai seems cool with it.By that time we’re in a new house. Karma is protective and dominate but jinger is our alpha and junai is very nervous and jealous. Well one day i had given our girls compressed bones which i had before jinger thought junai was going for hers I corected jinger then jinger attacked her then karma jumped in ripping junai to shredds. after the hospital and all of that they could mingle again and were fine. Then it started that if we led junai by the collar or were correcting her karma would or try to attack her. We removed her collar to prevent this. Now if anything gets stressful in the house or karma is barking junai attacks her. Even when out on a walk if a dog barks behind a fence she’ll see that as unstable and attack karma. And has left her with head to toes punctures. We can no longer let them mingle together . Junai And jinger can hang out stress free or when outside only juani and karma and they’ll ignore each other. So it’s karma that is the outsider. Karma is a little tense but the best listener she’ll do anything and super protective. Jinger now shys away from any fights she’s super sweet hard headed only listens when she wants steals toys gives death looks to karma and is very posessive. And Junai loves attention is nervous i don’t know if she speaks dog language is also stubborn . We love all of our dogs and need to get this figured out because giving one of them away is not an option. And them hurting each other further is not an option. Please give us any insight you have I know this is a long list

    Lisa

  2. Hello Patrick,

    Besides the cat, what else makes him nervous ? How long have you had him and have you noticed any increase in his nervousness around other things, besides the cat ?

  3. Hello Spirit,

    So now I’ve read Cesar’s books, and all of it made sense to me, but I’m not sure if it’s helping my dog out. I have an incredibly nervous 7 year old shihtzu, especially about the cat that he used to love to play with, that I’m not sure how to work with to the benefit of the dog. Can you give me a few tips? He’s starting to snap. Thanks

  4. I don’t know so much about whether or not the dog whisperer is any good with dogs, but the production values along with his acting abilities on the show, really suck.

  5. Hi Mike,

    As long as you don’t confuse positive reinforcement with a food reward, treats can be used on food hounds reasonably successfully. But you need a dog that is really motivated by food, some dog trainers and behaviorists will talk about a “high value” food reward. Sounds pretty scientific doesn’t it ? They could just say something like “a really, really yummy treat”.

    When I discuss positive reinforcement it means, you become the reward for your dog not a treat. If you need some sort of treat to get you over the hump that’s fine, but there is no substitute for your love and affection.

    Al

  6. Al,

    Thank you for the information. So based on your input, I need to work her with postive reinforcement. I am guessing then that using a shock collar is probably not a good idea for behavior like this toward other strange dogs. (Don’t worry, I am not content on using one). So I am also guessing that I need to kind of work her into this slowly and not just “throw her into it:
    Actually, I thought of getting a shock collar mostly as a back up in case she gets loose and she ends up in some ones yard in a fight.

    Mike

  7. Hello Spirit Dog
    Re: question about my husband and the pomeranian.

    When my dog hears my husband she prepares herself to bark at him. She will be alert and waiting for him. I have distracted her prior to this and she listens to me, but when my husband enters the same room that we are both in, the dog will bark again.

    The odd thing is that the dog and I can go into the same room as my husband, but not the other way around.
    When we are all in the same room she is fine until he starts to move or get up from his seat.
    She will sit and watch his moves.
    Again I will make her lie down, or rub her to distract her.
    So for some reason, she does this. Do you think it is fear or is she protecting me?

    Thank you for the advice on the circling and also trying to make her happy, after a correction. We started doing this and she loves to be loved.

    Brent and I appreciate all your helpful advice.
    Training a dog is new to us, so we are learning as well.

    Elaine

  8. Hello Elaine,

    Read my reply to Michael C, as some of that stuff will apply to your dog. A couple things you can try is, (1) try to keep her from circling you, that’s just reinforcing her fear. And (2) ( I can’t remember if I mentioned this already) try to get her to pay attention after the correction by being happy with her. Don’t be to embarrassed to act like an idiot with her.

    How far away can your husband be, before she starts freaking out ?

    Al

  9. Hello Mike,

    When you say, “She does not seem to fear me. Unless I let her know I am not happy with her. She settles down when I talk kind to her.” That’s actually perfect. Even after you have spent enough time socializing your dog, some dogs will still act like idiots. And you still have to yell at them to get their attention. But as soon they stop acting like a maniac and pay attention to you, that’s when you have to tell them “alright that’s my good baby” (or whatever your favorite saying is) and pet her. Let her know that this you like.

    The reason for this is, once you stop her from being stupid now your rewarding her for something we like. The one thing you want to try and avoid is putting her into a more defensive or aggressive manner, by forcing her to meet other dogs up close. Try to find out at what distance she acts comfortable with another dog. Then reward that behavior, then you can gradually try to close the gap a little.

    Al

  10. Hello BCollie,

    Whether the dog was specifically trained or not the bite result will be the same, the dog DOESN’T let go. Unlike nervous dogs that will bite and release. This post may be of interest to you.
    https://thespiritdog.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/real-men-dont-need-protection-trained-dogs-and-yes-they-do-eat-quiche/

  11. OK im really sorry but your video of an aggressive dog only shows your lack of understanding as well, you have little room to criticize in my opinion. Oh ya the dog in the video was given a command, no different then sit and stay. Have you ever heard of Schutzhund?!? I won’t go as far as to say the pitbull it trained in the video. But my point is still valid

  12. Hello Spirit Dog
    My dog sometimes will bark or growl when the doorbell rings. I stop her with voice and an open hand towards her. She will usually stop then.
    My husband just did a test to enter a room in which my dog and I were together. She started to growl and I corrected her with the same correction and also slightly jerked on her leash.
    My husband continued to come into the room ok.
    After the correction my dog will walk in circles around me.
    Also, if my husband leaves the room and re-enters it, say a minute later, the same thing will happen.
    If I can’t correct her as I am occupied, she will go into a bad growling,barking and teeth bearing type of zone.

    Thank you again,
    Elaine

  13. Al,

    She has been around here for about a year now. The two younger ones, one of which is her are probably the best together. But she seems to be okay with all of them and at one time we had 4 here which consisted of two old and two young.(One recently had cancer and died). In fact they all used to play together. She does not seem to fear me. Unless I let her know I am not happy with her. She settles down when I talk kind to her.
    There did not seem to be a “problem” untll one day I had tried to get her to socialize with a neighbor dog. Right away she went into fight mode. Up until then it took a little of effort to get her to be okay, but with the neighbor dog she just completly went over the edge. Since then I have tried to get her to socialize with three others. My brother in law brought his dog over and had to take him out of the house because she was out of control in fight mode. So currently she is okay with our two and one that belongs to a relative.

    I live on a corner too so when people pass by with their animals she also is obnoxious.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  14. Hello Elaine,

    I’m guessing your talking about her not listening with big distractions or things that really freak her out. For you to eventually get to the point where she will listen with all distractions, you have to learn how to get her to pay attention with small distractions first. Tell me what her reaction is when somebody knocks or rings your doorbell.

    Al

  15. Hello Michael,

    In your first comment you said “you picked her up not long ago”. I would suggest that before you start worrying about socializing her with other dogs, you get her 100% comfortable with your pack. Attempting to socialize her with dogs outside of your home before she’s totally relaxed with your guys, is doing it a little backwards.

    Also in case you don’t realize this, a small percentage of dogs will never truly be comfortable enough around “strange” dogs to be happy and friendly. The best we can hope for in these circumstances is for the dog not to act like a maniac.

    Tell me how she is with your other dogs, does she act the same with all of them or does she prefer one in particular. This will most likely be the case, as it is in most multi-dog households. How well can you relax her with your voice now when something bothers her, I’m talking about in your home we’ll deal with the street later.

    Al

  16. Hello Spirit Dog
    My pomeranian won’t listen to my voice commands. I have to physically do something to her like pull on her leash or poke her. Sometimes the poke will work and at other times it won’t.
    Sometimes she will see my hand and I will stick one finger up and she will see that and look.
    But when she is in the state of barking, this won’t work. She has to have a physical distraction of some sort.
    Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you
    Elaine

  17. Mr Papszycki,

    I first put her into a crate and then slowly one by one was able to get her to socialize with the others.

    She otherwise is okay around the other or other dogs that she has socialized with, but I absolutely do not trust her on her own.

    Thank you for the reply sir.

  18. Hello Elaine,

    For me to even begin helping you with this I need to know, under what level of distractions will she listen to you now.

  19. Hello Spirit Dog
    Thank you for the information about our dog, we appreciate that.
    Yes, this is our pomeranian. I don’t console the dog.
    We didn’t know how to react to our dog’s behaviour. We had been watching the Dog Whisperer television show. We tried to correct our dog when she was barking- so I tried to distract her attention by giving her a “poke” as seen on the tv show.
    This isn’t working on her.

    What would you recommend me to do when she hears my husband coming in the house? She can hear the garage door opening, and starts to bark and become defensive. How do I change her mindset from being a barking dog to a happy dog?

    Thank you
    Elaine

  20. Hello Michael,

    How did you get her to be OK with your other dogs ?

    Al

  21. Hello Sylvia,

    Have you thought about using one of those electronic invisible fences. http://www.kvvet.com/KVVet/product_family.asp?family_id=90&gift=False&mscssid=448258575EFC4AC089BC8479D86C3C60
    Instead of burying the wire you could probably attach it to your current fence since the wire is insulated. Although I would inquire from the manufacturer if that is feasible.
    In case that link doesn’t work, just type “Invisible fence” into your browser.

    Al

  22. Sir,

    I have rescued several dogs from the city of
    Detroit that I picked up off the street. I have kept four of them. I picked up a Beagle mix not too long ago and have her. She is as sweet as can be around humans and even with two cats around she is not aggressive with the cats. She does have issues with stranger dogs ( It took a little to get her to be okay with the other dogs at home) though and I am concerned about it. She just absolutely is another animal with stranger dogs.
    Do you recomend the shock collar for that behavior ?My assumption is yes but I want any advice I can get before I proceed. I want to nip this behavior and quickly.
    Any advice here is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you and thanks for what you do.

  23. About a year ago we agreed to take in a large Siberian Husky (@ 1 year old) because her owners no longer had the space or time for her. We have two other dogs – Lab and Australian Cattle dog – (all our dogs have been from those who either dumped or no longer wanted the dog) and live on 5 acres in a semi-rural area. Our acreage is fenced and gated. The Husky escapes often (and the Australian Cattle dog won’t leave her “wing man” so goes along for the trip) and the Husky will not return on command. She is very friendly with people and other dogs, but she will vigorously defend herself if another dog (the always uncontained dog down the street) attacks her when she gets out. We have wired rabbit fence all around our property, staked all around our property, brought in trainers, etc. The animal control officers (who have picked her up and returned her to our home) say she is a very nice dog and that Huskies just like to roam. Is ther ANY WAY to keep her in the yard before we move to additional training with a shock collar? Thanks. We are at our wit’s end all because we felt sorry for this “wants to be a good” dog to begin with.

  24. Hello Elaine and Brent,

    Is this your Pomeranian? Elaine since you have the better relationship with the dog, you’re going to be the primary on the behavior modification. Brent can attempt it after you start seeing some results. I’m guessing that when your dog gets nervous in these situations you are talking to her in a consoling voice, something along the lines of “It’s OK baby daddies not going to hurt you”.

    While you can use a consoling tone of voice with another human being, you must not treat your dog the same way. To do so is essentially reinforcing her fears. You must try and get her happy and in a playful mood when she starts getting nervous, even if at the beginning you can only get her happy ( which takes her mind off her fears) for a couple of seconds at a time.

  25. Hello we recently adopded a puppy mill dog and she bonded to me right away. My husband is a different story she will bark growl show teeth when he comes home from work or comes close to a space occupied by myself and her. From reading the posts and looking at videos on your site I am resonably sure we have a nervous and scared of my husband dog. When she is growling at him or barking her back end is down with somtimes small wagging or tail down completly. She tends to circle me with her tail down when he comes into the room and she does not do the barking at times. One interesting thing is that when we are all in the same area perhaps watching television she seems to always watch him and at times if he gets up from his seat she will run over to him for a sharp bark or growl and then he is maybe free to move. Being a puppymill dog we are trying not to cause more stress on her by my husband trying to put her in her place. My husband will come slowly into the space and as she calms down pat her. He will keep her with him on a leash at times to avoid the growling but she cry’s to come to where I am. Any suggestions?

    Thank You Elaine

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