Jan 062012

­I am asked about Cesar Millan fairly regularly, generally by novice dog owners who are curious as to whether I recommend his show and techniques. This is a reasonable question since Cesar Millan is perhaps the most recognizable and influential dog trainer ever: millions of people watch his show and listen to his advice on how to address behavioral issues with their dogs.  Yet many of the most respected experts in the field consider his techniques to be harmful to dogs, ineffective, and destructive to relationships.

So, what is the truth?  There is no single right answer about how to train animals. We all have opinions, and most of us are certain we know the best way and everyone else is wrong! Most trainers are very good in some areas and less good in other areas. And we all have different goals–one trainer may be much better at helping you achieve a particular objective while another trainer may be much better at something else.

I do not know Millan, and can only comment on what I have observed on television. People are entitled to like Millan’s methods–many people do! And it would be hard to fault his business and marketing savvy… I am not judging anyone’s opinion, merely sharing mine:

I think Cesar Millan is a first-rate bully and a fifth rate trainer. While he does some things well, and offers some excellent advice, in aggregate I do not like what he does to most of the animals with which I have seen him work. He is uninformed, unimaginative, cruel, and absurdly coercive.  The fact that his bullying sometimes works at least temporarily does not make it less offensive.  In my opinion he has hurt far, far more dogs and relationships than he has helped, and of the ones that he has helped, I suspect the recidivism rate is extremely high. He has set dog training back decades. He is dangerously irresponsible. (For example, one person taking 30 dogs off leash to a dogpark ought to be a felony in my opinion)

Let me start with what I like about Millan’s message: exercise, calmness, and leadership.  I absolutely agree that a huge portion of the behavioral issues people see in their dogs can be ameliorated through increased exercise and mental stimulation.  Canids evolved to spend a large portion of their lives active and challenged, and sticking them in a room all day with rich foods and little exercise leads to many problems.  I also agree that canids thrive in an environment with clear boundaries and a calm and strong leader.  This allows them to be relaxed and confident and know how to behave. I also recognize that many average pet homes want a dog that is as “shut-down” as possible: they do not want a happy, curious, and confident pet, they want a pet that just lies quietly in the corner, and Cesar’s techniques are in many instances an effective path to that end.

Now to the negatives about Millan’s techniques:

  1. Impatient: Millan often takes little time to get to know the dog, or to teach it what is desired, or to build a relationship, he simply grabs the dog, puts it into the situation where it is known to have problems, and then corrects it for failure. In most cases, good training is just the opposite of this. You find situations in which the dog can succeed, and then you gradually increase the difficulty of the situation while rewarding the dog for success at each step. Good training is often almost invisible.
  2. Correction first: Millan often hits, chokes, kicks, drags, and electrocutes dogs that do not yet know what is being asked of them as part of a systematic routine of intimidation. There are several steps that should occur before correction: it is very rarely effective to correct or punish a dog that does not yet understand what you are asking.  In many instances Millan could work the dog a little further away from a particular stimulus and teach the dog how to succeed and then get closer, but instead he rushes up, lets the dog fail, and then corrects the heck out of it. This may create good TV drama, but it is patently not in the dog’s best interests.
  3. Micromanaging: Millan often keeps the dogs on such a short leash (literally and figuratively) that they do not learn accountability.  They do not learn to make the right choices and respect the rules, they simply learn to give up and shut down. They learn to do and try nothing because they will get attacked if they move.  Good training allows dogs to feel empowered and instructed; to clearly understand what behaviors are not allowed, and be responsible for making the right choices.
  4. Confrontation: Millan routinely creates confrontation where it does not naturally exist.  This was a popular notion in the 50s—you cannot really train a dog until you have shown it that you are the boss by kicking its butt, so you should make this happen—set up the dog to fail without any training, just so that you can induce a confrontation that you can then win and make sure the dog knows you are stronger, bigger, and tougher. Good trainers absolutely may do this with some animals, but it is fairly rare, and Millan seems to want to go there with almost every dog.
  5. Unimaginative: Millan sometimes uses different tools, but his basic range of techniques is very narrow.  So when he happens to get a dog that needs those techniques he will be very effective, when he happens to get a dog that needs something different he will be very destructive. I would have the same problem if he were purely positive and gave treats for everything—one technique does not work across the board. Good trainers are fabulous problem solvers. They come up with brilliant ways to induce behaviors, change attitudes, and mold responses. They have a remarkable range of techniques that they use to work with different dogs. They can be very positive when needed, very harsh when needed, supportive, quiet, loud, calm, exuberant, etc.
  6. Cruel: Millan chokes dogs till they pass out and he electrocutes them repeatedly until they are biting and terrified. The American Humane Association who monitors animal use on set has requested that Nat. Geo not air some Dog Whisperer episodes because the treatment of the animals is so inhumane. Good training is never cruel.
  7. Archaic / Uneducated:  Millan’s training is essentially exactly what one would have seen in 1950.  But then, what educational background does Millan have?  How many of the relevant books has he read?  Has he made any real effort to learn what others know so that he can improve? Or is he just reinventing unrefined and simplistic dog training? We have learned so much in the last 50 years that it is hard to imagine someone who would not integrate some of that learning into their training. Good trainers avail themselves of available knowledge and science and continually improve. Even the best trainers in the world often attend each others seminars, but I have never seen Cesar…
  8. Isolation:  I am not a huge fan of competition with animals, but occasionally it can be useful to objectively assess how your techniques are working.  Entering an obedience trial, or agility or Schutzhund or whatever, lets you gauge your performance against your peers.  Cesar not only does not compete, he has never, so far as I know, tried any canine competition so he could see where he stands.
  9. Indifference to canine attitude: Millan sacrifices attitude for quick superficial results, and I believe that is very counterproductive. Watch any of the dogs he works, and you will rarely see truly happy dogs, confident dogs, secure, trusting dogs. Good trainers focus on attitude and character—training rules and specific behaviors is essentially trivial. Once you have taught a dog how to learn, how to take cues, how to relax, it is easy to teach specific behaviors.

Adding all of this together, I find Millan’s relationship with the dogs unappealing—I do not see trust, respect, confidence, and adoration, I see subservience, temerity, and learned helplessness.

Millan fans sometimes suggest that those who dislike Millan must be softies who reject notions of control and discipline.  It is absolutely true that some people who dislike Millan do so because they dislike any sort of correction.  However, there are also many, many excellent trainers who do believe in appropriate corrections but who revile Millan’s techniques. Virtually all good trainers impose rules, boundaries, and limits.  Some excellent trainers even use strong corrections when they are appropriate. Go to any canine competition (obedience, French Ring, agility, herding, etc.) and ask around, you will generally find the top people with the best trained and most obedient dogs dislike Millan’s methods, while hordes of novices with unruly dogs are devotees.  Some of the most accomplished trainers in the world dislike his methods, and I assure you their dogs are not disobedient or disrespectful.

I do not understand why many people equate control with intimidation.  Abusive parents who beat or terrorize their children may achieve “control.” So do reasonable parents who set and explain clear boundaries, teach and reward desired behaviors, earn respect and trust, and effectively utilize punishment when necessary.  These good parents or dog trainers absolutely may use intimidation when it is the best option, but it is not the foundation of their relationship—it is not where they start or how they interact most of the time. (I vividly remember the few times my father seriously intimidated me, and they were hugely effective in large part because they were not frequent!)

Perhaps the best place to observe the dichotomy between dominance based training and cooperation based training is in training any wild animal.  Work with a tiger, a grizzly bear, a pack of wolves, an orca, or even a raccoon or squirrel, and you quickly discover that these schools of thought are NOT the same.  Dominance based trainers exert a clear and absolute dominance every moment of interacting—it is imperative that the animal understands that humans have absolute power and should never be challenged.  Non-dominance trainers exert a clear and absolute cooperation every moment—it is imperative that the animal understands that humans are their friends and are not going to challenge them or hurt them. While a single trainer may utilize both attitudes at different times, if you switch back and forth with these animals, you have a VERY short career—suddenly showing weakness to a wild animal that has been dominated, or suddenly showing dominance to a wild animal used to cooperation generally elicits extremely undesirable results… Each attitude can be powerfully effective, but they are essentially different in far more than language. (I think it is important to concede that even many of the most cooperative trainers do have a line that cannot be crossed.  A point at which dominance training does come into play.  A point at which they say, “You have no choice here, you must do what I say.”  The critical distinction is that they strive to help the animal avoid crossing that line, rather than regularly luring the animal across that line so that they can have an “opportunity” to dominate and intimidate some more…)

If your primary method of control is intimidation, the animals you train learn that intimidation and power are tools to get what you want.  Sooner or later these animals may well decide to try to get what they want using intimidation.  This is what happens eventually to most animal bullies in the wild, and is extremely dangerous.  So I elect to use cooperation and leadership so that they learn that I am a powerful and benevolent leader who will help them get what they want in the world.  I outsmart them by making sure that their success coincides with my desires until they reflexively and habitually do what I ask. I am smarter, but not stronger or faster, so it makes sense to use my intellectual advantage rather than bluffing about a physical advantage.

There is a genuine distinction between a leader who is revered and idolized and a leader who is feared, and I personally believe that being revered leads to better working, more reliable, happier, healthier dogs, but I rarely see this occur on Millan’s show.  I see bullying and intimidation instead of leading and teaching.

It makes me profoundly sad to think that such a bully is out there working with dogs every day, but far worse is that so many people do not see his techniques for what they are.  That millions of people still see intimidation and cruelty as viable leadership techniques makes me sad indeed.

 January 6, 2012  Posted by at 9:15 am

  144 Responses to “What Do I think about the Dog Whisperer?”

  1. Susan, I think if you actually read the comments before throwing yourself into the conversation and maybe took a look at Roland’s site here…you may see where his qualifications are AND I several of us have discussed the back ups for the ‘bold statements”.

    Oh, you should ESPECIALLY check out my post above…I quote: “Though, I have to say that I’m surprised no one has said the “you are just jealous” thing…that also comes up a lot when the fans show up…”

    CM’s IS the equivalent to the training of fifties..the difference is he does it in a “calm and assertive” manner..and yes that is sarcasm.

    The Position Statement of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists on Dominance in training:


    A letter from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants to Nat Geo regarding The Dog Whisperer:

    If you want to argue with someone about his training methods, educate yourself first on the harm that is proven to come from them.

    • In this case shouldnt we ask all the people who appeared on his show and find out what damage was done to their dogs and which ones are not worse than before. If his methods are so harmful where are all the people shouting the odds?

      • YES! Could you please convince Millan and the producers to release dog owners from their nondisclosure agreements, so that we can hear directly from them – without going through the producers – exactly how well their dogs are doing now? Because as of right now, they are not allowed to do so without facing a lawsuit.

    • Yes! You should educate yourself BEFORE you put down Cesar Millan!!!! He is one of the very best DOG BEHAVIORIST in this entire freaken world!!! You should be ashamed of yourself for putting his methods down. I have been a “CERTIFIED” Dog Trainer for 26yrs and a “CERTIFIED DOG BEHAVIORIST, CAT BEHAVIORIST & BIRD BEHAVIORIST” And I also take on the major cases where DUE TO THE OWNERS STUPIDITY, they have destroyed their dogs and blame the dog when 95% OF THE TIME, the owners are the ones who screw up their dogs!!!! And the ones that are adopted as older dogs, even if only 6 mos old, they screw them up too!!

      I also have been a German Shepherd, WEST GERMAN BLOODLINES OF SHOW/WORKING DOGS!!! THE REAL GERMAN SHEPHERD, NOT AMERICAN BLOODLINES for 17yrs and I have never ever had a problem with any of my German Shepherds because I AM THE PACK LEADER, NOT THEM. And all my behavior methods are NOT from the lousy 50’s through even the 80’s when most male trainers are assholes and hang dogs by their collars, beat the dog, yell at the dog….etc etc and only USE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT. I don’t even like using Shock Collars but if they are used correctly and only on “vibrate” then I would teach the owner how to use correctly. But mainly only use a “martingale collar—steal on the correction portion not the lousy fabric which only chokes the dog out. And using a 30cent rescue leashes, Cesar does absolutely everything CORRECTLY!!!! I do NOT agree with him when he allows the owners to use those stupid stupid snout halties, absolutely does not work!!!! And if you check out the new Herm Sprenger Neck-teeth training collar, wayyyyyyy better than a regular prong collar which I also tell people NOT to use a prong collar…not necessary since they aren’t training K-9’s, Schutzhund, Ring sport, etc etc, this collar actually works like a “bite”. They are expensive but they work!!!! And I also demand that the owenrs NEVER NEVER EVER USE STUPID HARNESSES, WHICH ONLY MAKES THE DOG GET MORE AGGREVATED AND THEY ALLOW THEIR DOGS TO GO FORWARD IN FRONT OF THEM WHICH IS “NOT” WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSE TO DO!!!!
      The only thing I do recommend for elderly, disabled, women that have a difficult time teaching their dogs how to heal, THE ORIGINAL SPORN TRAINING HALTER IS THE ONLY TOOL THAT DOES WORK 99.9% OF THE TIME. It’s a nylon collar with strong nylon and padded nylon that goes under the “arm pit” of the dog and 99.9% of dogs don’t like that part of their body to, not truly hurt, but is uncomfortable if they try to pull.

      And if you need to find any 30cent animal leads that can help you, just get some Animal Control Leads. I personally use the BEST Leather Leashes on the market and I tell all my clients to by them from me and if they can’t afford, I tell them where to buy them in discounted catalogs of pet supplies(which I pay the very least amount of money…so I tell my clients that are hard up on money, especially if they are using me as their behaviorist & dog trainer.

      What I have found out 27yrs ago, is all dog trainers NEVER like to give positive recommendations on an excellent trainer &/or behaviorist because THEY LACK THE KNOWLEDGE!!!! So they tell people that person is a lousy trainer/behaviorist. I have never ever seen Cesar really bit hard which was on his last week episode and the guy was GREAT! Fuck, I would had screamed or at least yelled very loudly because getting bit by a large dog on your hands hurts like fucking hell, and he didn’t even flinch and took over the dog, NOT by forcing the dog to do anything bad!!!!! He just stood his ground, which is what another dog would had done to him for attacking it!!!!!

      So go take another course and get certified so that you aren’t telling people incorrect information about Cesar Millan!!!! And his foundation.

      I actually go by the name, “The Mother of Dog Whispering” so I know that I am an excellent behaviorist that takes on cases like Cesar’s but I do get to know the dog a little longer than his show, and get a bond with it WITHOUT the owner there since their energy is usually absolutely NEGATIVE and having that energy around, is like getting attacked by a Tiger, Lion, bear, elephant, chimp, gorilla, etc etc etc.

      And anybody else that reads this idiot so-called trainer, we are not here to teach lousy Obedience, which does need to be done, but NOT when you have aggression, fear, insecurity, etc etc etc. That can be done later AND if the dog needs to have its aggression transferred by doing a “good” group lessons(usually only OB) or can get the dog interested in Agility & OB trials, that is also added as recommendation to the owner(s).

      Regards, Mary M.
      Certified Dog Behaviorist & Dog Trainer(also teach Schutzhund Sport Training which is also great for the breeds used for OB, Tracking & Protection. I will soon start to teach K-9 Police dogs but very busy currently helping other people with Good Dogs, but Bad Owners(meaning the owner isn’t doing something correct and definitely doesn’t have the Upper Hand as being the #1 PACK LEADER & THEIR ENERGY.

      • Mary M, perhaps you and Cesar should get together. Sounds like you are made for each other with egos to match!

        • Good one Jennifer lol. Um. I’m disabled, a woman, and have, and had GSDs from working (NON show) lines, with real drives. And do Schutzhund. I don’t have a problem because I *listen* to my dogs, and have a wonderful *relationship* based on mutual respect. I am in no way a pack leader. I’m their teacher and friend. I do not use hardware around their neck to communicate. Does this mean being permissive? Nope. I would suggest the Mother of Dog Whispering get a real education, and stop worshipping at the altar of a tv celeb with tiny man syndrome.

      • You are frightening in your delusions, and should seek a human therapist immediately.

      • “I also have been a German Shepherd”

        Dude …

        And now we should take you seriously ?

  2. Cesar is not a dog trainer!
    Somehow people forget that.

  3. I could not agree with your more!!! Very well put!

  4. You have never seen Cesar kick or choke a dog? Seriously? He kicks them all the time and chokes them too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFCGtatpCwI

    • I cant believe we are watching the same show!! I have not see this as a systematic approach ie on every dog all the time as you suggest. I have seen him using the lead to choke a number of dogs into virtual asphyxiation and I agree this is horrendous but I havent seen him use it on every dog? I have never seen him kick a dog – he specifically says when he uses his leg to tap the rear end of the dog that is it not a KICK, that it should not be directed to the abdomen and that it is merely a tap which is what I see him doing. If we humans are heavy with the legs then that’s our fault not his.

  5. What a great analysis! I have followed both schools, and have come to believe that, like people, dogs learn best when they figure things out for themselves, right or wrong. Our best skill as a trainer lies in putting our dog in a situation where he figures out desired behavior for himself. Now a dog, just like a small child, will always do what is most attractive to them at the time, so we have to be prepared to check them if they are going to be a danger to themselves, or others. When I have to do this, however, I always immediately ask for some positive behavior, whether it be a simple nose touch, a sit and stay, or whatever in order to get back on a positive track. Anybody dealing with a fearful dog should consult a behavior specialist (the gal I know has post graduate degrees in psychology), and learn how to de-sensitise your dog the correct way. Substituting one fear for an even larger one is not a good idea, analogous to cutting off your hand because you have cut your finger.
    There are better ways of dealing with problem dogs, too, and I have proved it. Step one is to buy and read a little book called “Ruff Love” by Susan Garrett. Follow her step by step instructions, become “The Keeper of the Joy”, and you will have a relationship with your dog like you have never had before. It doesn’t cost any more than a decent prong collar either.

    • Interesting – isnt this what Cesar does with his pack to show the dog the correct behaviour. Im going to look for the book you speak of – like the sound of “the Keeper of the Joy”

  6. Several people have suggested that other trainers do not tackle equally challenging dogs and so do not understand the challenges Cesar faces. And it is easy to see how one would believe this: you see other trainers working with happy, focused, attentive eager dogs that are not snarling, fighting, biting, and dragging—just cooperatively and enthusiastically performing behavior after behavior with a wagging tail and bright eyes. But what some people seem not to understand is that good training creates those attributes even in difficult dogs, and makes it look easy. Pretty much all trainers get similar mixes of types of dogs—that other trainers’ dogs appear to be so much more agreeable and cooperative is precisely the point—that is what you get when you build a strong relationship and develop their desire to play the game. If you had given those same dogs to a dominance based trainer, in many cases his bullying techniques would have developed resistance, learned helplessness, fear, etc., and it would seem remarkable that he was able to get them to even function given how messed up they appeared to be…

    Undoubtedly Cesar sometimes undertakes incorrigible hard cases that some other trainers have felt were not solvable (pretty much every serious trainer gets mostly these cases that have already stumped a couple local obedience class instructors), and in some of these cases I absolutely agree that more confrontational methods may be a solid choice. I also recognize that many times Cesar has to deal with less-committed owners and a very short schedule—what other trainers might spend months on he is compelled by the nature of TV to tackle in a few days. However, I reviewed a few more episodes online, and most of the dogs I saw were not particularly challenging—they were fairly average dogs with fairly typical drives, issues, and habits. In truth, most of them were quite moderate dogs that appeared to have been carefully selected by his team as relatively easy cases likely to look good on his television show…

    I look around at many excellent trainers I know and the dogs they have regularly tackled: crazy heelers that were on the verge of exploding at every moment, Malinois over-the- top driven, wolfdogs that were terrified of everything, inveterate chewers and diggers, huge powerful dogs that rule their homes with tooth and claw, neurotic dogs that want nothing to do with linoleum or stairs, dogs born deaf and brain damaged and insane, and I chuckle at the idea that they shy away from cases Cesar would tackle… But if you saw most of those dogs a few months later, you would never know, and would assume that they were always little angels, and not at all the sort of challenging cases Cesar tackles…

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  8. I have to agree on your positives for Cesar Millan, I Just a got an austrailian shepard Puppy. His name is Brutus. As I have never had a dog before. I have researched the breed and He is a champion breed. From watching Cesar, I have successfully house trained this Brutus in 2 days. I have had him for 6 weeks now. He has had 3 accidents and that is because I was looking for the leash. I have introduced Brutus into the bathtub and he loves it. I am really making headway with walking Brutus to give him the best exercise and he walks beside me. I have picked up great things from Cesar. I dont hit Brutus or do anything cruel. I correct his behavior, for instance, he gets a shoe, I get his chewtoy and give him it and take the shoe and say No. He is doing really good too. This Puppy is so well behaved and I spend a lot of time with him. But give him his space to. I think Cesar is absolutely right, when you treat dog as your dog and not a human, You can prevent unwanted behavior. If you pay attention to his ears and tail and how he holds his body and are sensitive to what the dog is feeling. You get a good relationship with your pet and Your pet will love and respect you more. Everything that I have had success with Brutus is because I learned it from Cesar. I dont think Cesar is a bully at all. He is human and He has the respect of animals. Some one can train a dog and it will be excellant. but unless the owners and the family members are on the same page and do what the trainer says and they change their behavior and make time for thier dogs……. I beleive the dog will get back into insecurities that will cause behavior problems again.

  9. I also wanted to point out one other thing. When you have an aggressive dog that is at risk of being put down, most likely due to the owners poor training. To help a dog with a shock collar is not creul. killing them is. Short leash and a tug on the neck is not creul. I see people walk their dogs and pull so hard the dogs are choking and the dog is trying to get away. I have seen cesar use his foot but not forcefully kicking. I think one of the great things about Cesar is he is going into the homes showing people how to stop their bad behavior and opening up peoples eyes and ears to be balanced and in return they get a good dog, I love the episode where a dog would chase the girls up the stairs and would bark and go for the attack at the door. Cesar, first found out the Dog was a herder dog, So running , made the dog wnt to go herd the girls as they ran. 2nd, the one friend that came over would walk in the door scared and would make eye contact with the dog and it made the dog ballistic. He is educated with the breeds and their habits and He is able to teach the owners and families and friends how to interact with the dog and eachother. I am a fan. I also respect trainers advice on what I need to do for my pup. I never want to have a mishap with my dog, biting or possible hurting someone. So I take advice and research all I can.

    • I agree that any human that expects a quick fix and then blames the dog for their impatience should not own a dog in the first place. Also on the occasions I saw the prong collar being used it effectively did save the dog’s life. The owner was asked to feel the effect of the shock and expressed no outrage. I dont particularly like it as a method but to redirect a dangerous habit surely does have some usefulness?

    • I totally agree. I work at an animal shelter with very difficult dogs who literally have gone crazy from being stuck in cages 24/7 and when people come to walk them they are so overexcited they jump up and grab leashes and than get skin sometimes causing them to go on rabies hold. This makes them unadoptable and therefore have to be put down. If more trainers and people implemented Cesars ways these dogs could be more adoptable and safer. The fact that most of the dogs Cesar works with are a danger in one way or another. I have seen hundreds of dogs put down for these reasons and mostly pitbulls. I have seen every other training method tried on said dogs with failure. With Cesars methods, they are saved. I think its not appropriate with dogs that are normal submissive and have no dominance issues but when and if that happens, he is where to turn. Shame on people for being against him. Thank God someone can set an example that these dogs can be rehabilitatable especially pits.

  10. Roland thank you for re-raising my question about the term “dog psychologist”. As yet I haven’t had any replies to this straighforward question so will attempt this one last time.

    I’ve read over and over in these posts that Mr. Millan is NOT a dog trainer. Ok. Got it. He clearly is not a dog trainer…..That he has never claimed to be a dog trainer. Ok. Got it… Let’s move on….

    He apparently DOES claim to be a dog psychologist. His followers claim he’s a dog psychologist. I’d very much like to know what the term “dog psychologist” is based on. It’s important to clarify what this means because it’s critical to the claims regarding his knowledge and abilities. IF his title was earned via some type of education or other unknown process I’d be very interested in knowing what it was and how it was achieved. However, IF it turns out that Mr. Millan or his friends simply and arbitrarily applied the title to him, it’s value is reduced to “zero”.

    The question then becomes, if he’s not a dog trainer (by admission he is not), and truly not a dog psychologist (if there is such a designation) then what is he, and what are his quantifiable skills? Does he actually have the expertise to work with dogs and really understand the emotional/mental effect he is having on them as his “titles” and his friends insist he does?

    By the way Roland, I got it loud and clear when reading your article that it was your own opinion and you were fine with those who you knew would disagree. I felt you spoke your mind clearly and concisely. Appreciate your writing and your candid point of view. Food for thought and inner debate. Cheers.

    • Cesar is not a dog trainer and not a dog psychologist/behaviorist. He is a high-school educated (if that), self-promoter who makes dog training into a “drama” that plays well on TV.

      I quit grad school as a Ph.D. dissertator in Zoology/Animal Behavior and spent years in the jungle studying wild monkeys. My research was the subject of a Nat. Geo. documentary. In the USA, I competed in multiple dog sports at that national & international level for 35 years. My dogs have 60 titles in 10+ sports. While I actual work in the biotech industry, my dogs, cat and parrot have worked for years as part-time actors and models. We were doing a shoot for a soft drink company today, and are doing a shoot for a major bank next week. I’m also an extremely responsible pet owner who wouldn’t dream of taking 30 loose pit bulls off-leash at a dog park. Unlike Cesar, I also have never tied a dog to a treadmill while it was wearing a choke collar and let it strangle to death… it’s first day of “training.” (Yeah, that episode was not aired, obviously).

      *I* would be qualified to be a dog trainer and behaviorist on TV. But I’m not one of the beautiful people. I wear a t-shirt, jeans, tennies, and no makeup. I’m a slightly chubby and dowdy middle-aged woman. I live thousands of miles from Hollywood. Just off-hand, I could list another 20 people with credentials like I have. They are also NOT on TV.

      Besides looks and self-promotion, a TV trainer can only get the gig if they can show their skills in 60-second video bites.

      My 14 month old dog (which I got at 6 months of age) knows over 70 cues and is one of forty “Trick Dog Champions” in the world. He knows many difficult tricks like balancing on his two left (or two right) legs, doing hand-stands, etc. Due to the muscle strength required, he learned these tricks over a period of months, not minutes.

      Similarly, I have a 10 year old dog who is hypothyroid and from a family of all hypothyroid fear-biters. He was ballistically aggressive as a puppy, and I spent years desensitizing him and counter-conditioning him to everything. This dog is now a very successful actor and model with over 30 titles in sports like obedience, agility, conformation, sheep & cattle herding, etc. (Compared to Cesars dogs… which have never earned a qualifying score at a single competition in a single sport. What’s he hiding???)

      Anyway, in 10 years, my dog hasn’t bitten anybody… while most of his siblings (with other owners) have bitten multiple people. The years I spent training my dog with positive reinforcement do not make for good TV. Sure, I could have jerked him around on a choke chain and kicked him in the abdomen and gotten him to stop growling long enough for that 60-second TV shot. (If I was a jerk like Cesar, anyway). But the aftermath would have been to make him more aggressive than ever. (I suspect 99% of the dogs Cesar works with on TV actually get worse and more aggressive than ever once he leaves).

      My choice was to actually TRAIN the dog and change his motivations… Not to shut down all his behavior for that 60 second shot, but to positively train him to do alternative behaviors that would manage his aggression for a lifetime (watching me, doing tricks on cue rather than biting, etc.).

      Anyway, the short answer is that NOBODY who is a real dog trainer–amateur or professional–likes or respects Cesar in any way. It is solely pet owners who know nothing about training that look up to him.

      • Well said!!!
        It is interesting that Cesar never competes in ANY dog related events…isn’t it?
        Thanks for pointing out, yet again, that “made for TV” dog training isn’t the entire picture.
        I have yet to meet or hear of a reputable dog trainer who has anything positive to say about this guy…not surprised.

    • I have not heard him claim this – dog whisperer yes and dog psychology centre yes but where has he said or written this? Apparently is conjecture and unfair. Regarding quantifiable skills are we saying everything has to be measured like this – shouldnt we be fair and study his successes based on talking to the dog owners he has dealt with and the behaviour of the dog over time? IQ is a measure of intelligence but doesnt tell us much about what people actually achieve in their lives despite it being a good measure of supposed intelligence? A doctorate in psychology doesnt automatically make you an expert in helping people – some people have a gift which has nothing to do with degrees.

  11. Great article!! I totally agree!! I have been amazed at Cesar’s ability to come up with these new and wonderful terms like dog psychologist. I also cannot believe his approach to some very simple problems. When I watched him use a shock collar to teach a dog to stop guarding its food bowl I couldn’t figure out how that actually solved the problem. Ian Dunbar says to teach the dog that nothing but good, even great things happen when a person approaches the bowl. That makes sense to me. A dog adverse to nail trims gets pinned to the ground and forcefully held there (it did manage to nail Cesar a couple of times on the way down) while the nails are trimmed. I trained my dog who wouldn’t let me touch her feet to accept and offer feet for nail trims using a clicker. I gained her trust and consent and never have to force her down to clip her nails. Why not use the scientifically proven methods of lure and reward promoted by Ian Dunbar, Karen Pryor, Patricia McConnell and all those other wonderful hightly educated behaviourists? I bet Cesar could never train a whale to jump through a hoop or a gorilla to offer up an arm for a blood sample. They just don’t make shock collars big enough 🙂

  12. This article is very well written. I don’t find it inflaming or negative in any way.

    I have been a professional obedience instructor for 18 years. I have always fostered or adopted the dogs that no other trainer has been able to “tame”. Dogs with such severe aggression issues, that they were to be euthanized because they were deemed “unadoptable” or “dangerous” because of what other humans had done to them.

    I adopted an 8 1/2 year old GSD 3 years ago. He weighed 120 pounds and was powerful! He was so highly dog aggressive that he tore apart 3 dogs before being left on my property in the middle of the night. I took him to see several “GSD aggression specialists”, 2 Military dog handlers, 3 other trainers, 2 vets, and a vet behaviorist for consultations on his behavior. Their opinion was to “just put him down, you can’t help him, he will never change, you will never gain his confidence.. blah blah blah”. I have never given up on a dog, ever! I thought about his future for 2 weeks before I decided to try and rehabilitate him. ALL I USED WAS HOTDOGS AND A CLICKER! In 6 months I turned him around 180 degrees! That’s right.. He went from being a throw away to a therapy dog! Did I mention that I had 2 other dogs living in my house, including a 9 lb Pomeranian who is crippled? My other dogs were pivotal in teaching him how to interract with other dogs. They taught him to great a dog properly, how to behave during play, and how to trust other dogs.

    If I had followed Milan’s methods, he would have killed me. He was dog aggressive because of the improper use of a shock collar, pinch collar, and choke chain by DOMINANCE Trainers. I know this because I hired a private investigator to find out about his past. Yes, it’s possible as they left his rabies tag on him. So from his rabies tag, we tracked him back 10 owners to his original family, right down to his breeder. I found out about his entire life, right down to who he was rehomed to via Craigslist. 3 of his previous owners had followed Milan’s methods and tried to dominate him and it ended disasterously. He either injured the handler or killed their dog.

    I don’t care WHAT you say about Clicker training, it works. You don’t need to destroy a dog’s emotions to get them to listen. You just have to build a relationship, trust and respect from your dog. Establish rules, boundaries, exercise them, and work on the basics before you try the more difficult behavior modification. When you do attempt behavior modification, do it in a way that allows success for the dog, instead of constant failure. By teaching him to redirect to me when he felt nervous or reactive, he learned to calm down and choose a different behavior instead. Once he knew he would be rewarded for and what he wouldn’t, he really kicked up his rehabilitation. He improved so fast that I took him back to see those who deemed him a lost cause. I threw it back in their faces and started getting calls with them to work with their clients, too. I’ve built an entire business by word of mouth ONLY because positive reinforcement methods work.

    Unfortunately, our GSD passed away in November from cancer. It’s left a huge hole in our heart and empty feeling in our home. He was the best dog I’ve ever had the privalege of knowing and working with. By the time he passed away, he had several girlfriends, tons of other doggy friends and worked with kids on a regular basis. We did regular play dates with dogs of all sizes.

    I once had a class with 2 Pitbulls, a Doberman, a GSD, a Bull Mastiff, and a Pitbull Mix. They all got their dogs between 8 and 10 weeks of age. On their very first vet visit, their vet told them to “alpha roll” their dogs to establish dominance right away. I’m not fabricating that, either. They didn’t see the same vet, it was 4 different vets in different facilities with all the same opinions. It’s a shame that most vet schools only require their students to take one semester of behavior and their learning curriculum is based on out-dated methods of the Dominance Theory. How can public opinion on these types of training methods ever change when the medical side of animal care is being taught all the wrong things.
    There are many road blocks and not enough voices being heard for the other end of the training spectrum.

    With the bombardment via media and television, you’ll never change the mind of the “Sheeple”, because they are the same people who will believe everything they see on tv and in commericals. It’s a shame, really.. They can’t form opinions for themselves.

  13. Marion: the shock collar comment was funny and a point well made.
    I noticed a comment in a previous post where a pro-Millan writer made an unflattering reference to Ian Dunbar. In response I’d like to say that would be DR. Dunbar to you. And yes the Dr. part is important because it proves he’s done his homework, literally. He knows of what he speaks. That’s the whole point of getting accurate information about the qualifications of the person you are trusting your dog with.

  14. Janice, I think the term dog psychologist is a title Milan or the network gave himself. Tthe correct term for dog psychologist should most probably be vet behaviourist, this is a person with a medical background who has then taken on further training in the field of behaviour, behaviour modification and training. This is a complex and evolving science, and the best in the field are those who keep up with current best practice and continually educate themselves in this science. Usually a bunch of letters after their name or a Dr in front of their name would indicate the work being done. (neither of which attach themselves to Milans name) As it was explained in the blog, all of the good trainers/behaviourists attend seminars to keep up with this evolving science, to share information and learn from each other the latest and greatest methods and experiences. Those who do not take the time to learn from one another are those that are missing out and often find themselves stuck in 1950s training which science has proven better more effective methods since then, as I said, its an evolving science. Whilst good trainers may not have the Dr title or letters after their name, they are the ones who follow current research, read scientific papers and practice current best practice, and share and learn from other professionals. Hope that in some ways answers your question, for the record I believe that the term dog psychologist is a made up one, with no clout behind it.

  15. Excellent article and incredibly well presented. Sadly here in South Africa we are also seeing people arriving at reputable dog training clubs “back kicking” and yanking their dogs round 🙁
    Very sad and he has put training and behavioural correction back 20years.

    • Surely this is the failing of the dog owner – Cesar reiterates time and again that it is a TOUCH not a kick.

  16. Well said !! I watch CM occasionally with tears in my eyes when I read the dogs’ body language. Many of them are frozen with fear and just shut down, he passes this off as ‘submission’. Many of his victims are giving clear body language that they are unhappy with him, and he ignores this.

  17. Mr. Millan cannot call himself a behaviorist, so the unofficial self-styled “dog psychologist” (since there are no undergraduate or graduate studies and diplomas bearing this title) keeps legal actions at bay.

    I’ve attended one of CM’s seminars and I was impressed with his calm and assertive attitude on stage and some statements about structure, exercise, etc. . As to his shows…that’s what people who do not wish to spend time training their dogs professionally expect…a miracle in two episodes. And even some of those owners who take their dogs to training fail to understand basic dog body language and communication skills.

    I have two GSDs, one of them a CGC who passed her test following my hand signals only. I have attended many obedience courses with them, but have never ever met a training instructor who even mentioned dog body language or recommended a book on the topic (Dog Language by Roger Abrantes).

    Some dog owners want instant solutions without bothering to consider that humans and canines are non-conspecific.

  18. A number of people have asked what qualifications Cesar Millan has.

    The answer is: none.

    He admitted himself on the Nat Geo show that he is entirely self-taught, and that he started out as a dog groomer.

    He’s awarded himself the title of dog psychologist, but does not have a degree in psychology or animal behaviour.

  19. Haha, Cesar was sadly taught by pros, and was originally a dog groomer. Good find zellieh.

  20. Very eloquent article indeed!
    Your comprehensive and objective angle may yet sway even the most avid of Cesar fans!
    Can we spread this article with the relevant credit?

    Kind regards,

    Kieron Piper

  21. Is Cesar really a dog trainer, I don’t know about him before read that article.

  22. With big fame, comes big criticism, this is the way of the world.

    Dr Ian Dunbar says…”He has nice dog skills, but from a scientific point of view, what he says is, well … different,” This is quoted by one of the most instrumental, meritorious professionals in the entire industry! For someone of this stature to say that CM has “nice dog skills” goes completely against everything that is stated in the article above. Do you think Mr. Dunbar thinks that CM is a bully who is cruel, abusive, uninformed, dangerously irresponsible and among MANY other ludicrous titles, BUT is featured in CM last book and also who is a very good friend with Martin Deeley.

    Mr Dunbar says, and I quote that ” Martin Deeley is one of the best dog trainers in the world”. He said this, while being interviewed on Bark Radio. Mr. Deeley works hand and hand with CM, on his show, in his web-site and in his books…do you think he also thinks so negatively of CM? I highly doubt it, these two and others, are the few realist professionals that concentrate their time to truly educate our community, rather then create web-sites, blogs and countless articles that bash, humiliate and undermine another person. Lets all STOP making this such a divided profession, by putting our pride, anger, animosity and many other harmful emotions aside and concentrate on one thing…THE DOGS!

  23. Dennis, thank you for correcting the record between Dr. Ian Dunbar and Cesar Milan. There is always a chasm between intellectual theorists who don’t understand things they cannot messure (yet) and those savants who excel in application. The proof is in the relationship. The anthropomorphists will always read the dog wrong.

    Some things in blogs here discredit the rest. Any talk of CM kicking dogs is clearly ignorant observation.

    Stating that an alpha roll is an invalid technique sounds like a thinker who has never observed dogs in a natural environment. Just because some uneducated trainers advocate using an alpha roll for every dog does not mean the alpha roll itself is detrimental. Few dogs need it; and to use it on a dog that is not being aggressive dominant is detrimental to the relationship. Even on a dog that needs it, how it is done, the feel, the energy of the human doing it, the timing of the release, is all critical. It is not as simple as just pinning a dog down.
    I would like to share:
    My friend owned a wolf-German Shepard cross, 50-50. This was a very nice dog, people oriented, never aggressive towards people. This dog went with it’s owner to construction sites and a local newspaper has a picture of this cross standing on the peak of a 3 story building, sniffing the air! This dog went up and down ladders with ease and was more comfortable on roofs than I. I thought this 100 pound cross would be a good dog to help my 60 pound Aussie get used to other dogs. I have two Aussies, but the one was always very aggressive to other dogs, anytime, anywhere. I drove to my friend’s farm, where his wolf cross lived at liberty on the farm. By my mistake and error, my dog, seeing the wolf cross, got away from me while exiting my vehicle and aggressively charged him. I ran following, hoping to grab or intervene, break it up, whatever. The wolf cross was stepping up to meet the challenge. I feared my dog was about to be hurt.
    The dogs collided, and in an instant, the wolf cross had my dog pinned in an excellent alpha roll. My Aussie was doing his best to get free, snarling and growling like a mad dog. The wolf cross just held him down with his forepaw and stared intently at my dog. The wolf cross never so much as bit my dog. I stopped in my tracks as I saw the wolf had it all under control. I was impressed! It took a minute or two of my dog trying everything he could to fight; I had this dog since pup and never saw this much aggression coming out. My dogs play pretty hard, snapping and growling sometimes, but this was scary serious aggression. Then, my dog gave it up. He just quit, relaxed, licked a few times, and laid there quiet, looking much like Cesar’s “alpha rolled” dogs. After yet another moment, the wolf cross released my dog, but my dog stayed laid out, on the ground. The wolf cross kept intently looking at my dog. After a minute or so of that, the wolf cross turned and walked a few feet away and laid down, and my dog slowly rolled up. They ignored each other for about an hour, although they were both next to the porch. Then they sort of “packed up” and even played a little over the two days I was there. We even fed them beside each other.

    I will never forget the lesson of how well the alpha roll was executed by a wolf on a domesticated dog.

    The pundits should go to canine reality school and forget their man-made anthropomorphic theories. Thanks also to Irene for pointing out the missing element in so many theorists: body language issues and the energy/projections/attitude of the human. The dogs can read us like a neon sign!!!

  24. Seriously- i watched an 8 hour marathon on cesar an not once did i see him kick as you put it or choke an never ever even remotely saw him use electric shock. Over an over i heard him say i train people i am not a dog trainer. I own a bully breed an without his shows an collar my dog would of been put down. Now she is mostly a well behavied dog an i am more of a responsible owner. Say what you want but until you walk in someone elses shoes. Oh by the way i had had numerous so called DOG TRAINERS tell me to put her down. THANK YOU Cesar…

  25. Wow, I’m shocked that people can put human feelings to a dog. WAKE UP! I’d you believe that discipline and can harm a relationship with a dog, you have no business owning one. Cesar uses physical touch because Thats how dogs communicate discipline. Dogs crave discipline and direction. To deny THAT is cruel. I mean ca’mon. I’m actually disgusted that some of you call it animal cruelty. Wake up people. Stop acting like children

  26. Not knowing much about the present situation with Cesar’s show in the US after all this valid criticism coming from multiple experts, but in Turkey where I live, the Dog Whisperer is a big hit among the Nat Geo audience. And sadly so.

    One does not need to ‘have’ a difficult dog or professional training to see the questionable nature of CM’s methods– just a little common sense, empathy and understanding of Nature’s ways is more than enough to realize that choking, kicking, electrocuting and intimidating a dog, or any creature, has sub-zero behavioral/psychological/ training value. Especially once the cameras are off. It all shows lack of proper training skills & knowledge in the field, and is symptomatic of that too human egotistical disrespect for a fellow earthling. No amount of Cesar’s soft quiet talking with the ‘owners’ on camera or sexy vocabulary of ‘pack..leader..confidence..obedience’ has been able to convince me so far. Glad to see real professionals, experts & dog-lovers taking a stance against Cesar’s outdated and downright abusive ways.

    • Are you a true professional? I highly doubt it. You believe what you read on the internet, like most ignorant people do. “Stance”, its more like “agenda”…do you know this difference in the dog training world? Probably not. Go ahead and read my Feb, 5 remark…then do some real research and find out for yourself.

      • Yet another first-rate bully and a fifth rate trainer, this time behind the screen? Or just an avid fan of CM? Dennis, Here’s an idea that beats scrolling up & down to read some past rant of yours: If *you* are a true professional, then please present some substantial counter-argument to challenge those well-articulated points Roland makes in his article. This time, try to avoid name-dropping though- nobody’s credentials or work relations render them, CM or yourself above and beyond discussion.

        • Your comment clearly states that you have no professional experience what-so-ever in the dog training industry. Just another name caller and novice handler…enough said.

          • Avoiding a simple question and resorting to “you are no professional” to reply to someone who didn’t claim to be anyways is devoid of any sense or meaning. Give up the straw man and produce a proper argument against the original article, if you have anything other than two Dunbar quotes you deem biblically important. Afterall, Roland who wrote the original article *is* a professional trainer with expertise and experience.

  27. I agree with every person that has something smart to say about training dogs. You can also dissagree with someones’ methods. But I dont see anyone reaching to people with problem dogs like Millan does. I just see bunch of trainers that are jealous. Cesar offers his knowledge for free. And I think that is the problem. So other trainers loose their jobs. If everyone is educated how to raise the perfect dog Cesar’s way, trainers will get out of job. And that’s the whole picture. I like Millans’ method, but I will not say that somenone else’s is wrong. This whole site, and criticism is just revealing jealousness.That’s what I think of everyone that has a big mouth to criticise, but no heart to help or to encourage someones work.
    (Sorry for bad english, it’s not my native language.)

  28. I disagree with this article. Dogs are dogs, NOT PEOPLE!!! Yes they are pretty smart BUT the bottom line is establishing dominance so that the dog will listen to you no matter what. Now, I do agree that you don’t HAVE TO “bully” a dog to exert dominance, however it is a very basic and effective way, esp is the dog very bad habits or aggression as do most dogs on his show.

    I respect your opinion, but I just think your giving dogs a little too much credit, they are dogs, not people.

  29. I have never seen an episode to date where I felt Caesar was cruel. I had a dog with challenging behaviour but after following Caesar’s advice I now have a happy, well behaved dog. I couldn’t be more grateful to Caesar.

  30. Cesar Milan’s methods, like so many things in our culture, appeal to the something for nothing, fix it now crowd. If owners would take the time and effort to educate themselves about dogs before getting one and did the right things (even though they might not be convenient) in 9 out of 10 cases there would be no need for an “intervention” to “fix” the dog. Dogs are dogs they do not need to be fixed owners need to step up and provide them with what they need emotionally and physically. I think the methods shown on the show are antiquated and potentially harmful, but I’ve got to give Milan props for harping on owners to provide what the dog needs.

  31. I agree, I call him the “dog Nazi”

  32. ?”People are entitled to like Millan’s methods–many people do!”

    Yes, people are entitled to like animal abuse but that doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to do it.

    ?”So when he happens to get a dog that needs those techniques he will be very effective”

    What dog needs those abusive techniques?? Has anyone here met a dog that they can safely say would benefit from being abused?? What dog needs to be forced into a state of learned helplessness? Effective at what? Forcing the dog into this state?

    Of course his fans love his advice and the results it gets them. I can’t count how many times I’m working with a shut down, terrified dog trying to get them OUT of that miserable mindset and people come up and ask what’s my secret to getting such a “balanced, calm submissive” dog. And when my own dog (service dog) is patiently waiting while I’m sitting in a waiting room or shopping, doing absolutely NOTHING besides just laying there passing time, people gush over how well behaved she is.

    How many people are willing to set their dogs up for success in order to reinforce them when you can just set your dog up for failure and get retribution on them for their frustrating misbehavior. It’s empowering and makes the human feel in control. Having a bad day? Take it out on the dog. Not getting the respect you feel you’re due at work? Lord it over your dog and demand their fear (what so many confuse for respect). Don’t like annoying dog habits (you know barking, digging, chewing, asking for affection, etc.)? Bully your dog into doing absolutely nothing without your permission first.

    His fans don’t want a living, breathing, feeling, thinking sentient creature. They want a statue. They’d be better off with a stuffed animal.

  33. […] gefunden, dessen grauenvolle Sendungen ja derzeit sogar im deutschen Fernsehen ausgestrahlt werden. Der Artikel ist zwar auf Englisch, aber das Lesen lohnt sich, weil hier erklärt wird, warum seine Methoden weder vertretbar noch […]

  34. ok, so firstly, some people have their different opinions about things, not everyone has to have the same opinion. And what if before they start shooting he actually GETS TO KNOW the family and the dog but they don’t put it on air because that will take a long time? You know, you shouldn’t judge him like that, people have their different ways, the shock collar was only used because the dog was really aggressive in red zone and in this essay why didn’t you write a list of the pros? You should have, so that you can tell people that you UNDERSTAND both points of views. Lots of trainers have different methods, dogs are dogs not humans people need to learn that.

  35. Big Mexican Wave to Roland, the respondents and Cesar. Firstly apologies to Roland – I got your article from a friend stating it was from an unknown author and my immediate thought was whoever wrote it was a first rate coward not to give an id – luckily I did my homework and found your site – so respect. Respect also to all the trainers and dog lovers who have dedicated themselves to the betterment of the lives of man’s best friend both the qualified and the not so qualified. I do think kindness, patience and effectiveness are not the prerogative of the educated and while qualification is admirable I dont think it is the only benchmark of a good dog lover. I am a fan of Cesar Millan but I do not sit at his feet and salivate. I Bow to the knowledge and experience of the experts and I do see some areas of concern in his methods but may I say this is beginning to feel like a lynching and very personal. I fully agree being a devotee can be foolish and includes all of us who give our power away to experts in any field without
    question. But I dont blame the recipient for my stupidity. I do think CM gets a lot of adulation that many dedicated, hard working, unacknowledged, finger chewed trainers dont as Roland states and that is unfortunate and says something about what we value in this world. I do think CM has great heart, what he says is different as Dr Dunbar mentions and he has made us think differently about our dogs – no harm in adding to what we know – I do hope he stays a humble guy and doesn’t let fame go to his head. Roland you say you have never met him and base your opinions on his TV show – we know TV is manipulative for sure and can be edited to look good but to say “he is uninformed, unimaginative, cruel and absurdly coercive” and make it sound like fact is highly unfair and not objective. Dennis puts it beautifully but I truly think you would do well to meet Cesar, go to his dog psychology centre and then tell us he is a bully and cruel. If we are going to be heroes against cruelty (and God knows we need heroes for our animal friends) then I think you need to focus your obvious passion more on the true abusers and find an ally in him because that is what he is passionate about too! I think he is doing good work and has a place in the world of training humans to be better with and because of their dog companions and rehabilitating their dogs. I suggest you show yourself to be the educated, powerful and benevolent human that you claim to be by engaging with him, offering your knowledge rather than trying to destroy the good he maybe doing. And if he proves not to be dedicated to improving the lot of dogs and his work is so destructive in the long run and he is just seeking wealth and fame then the dogs will bite him in the ass and hound him out of town (excuse the pun). You mention that his cases have been carefully selected to be easy. I thought he produced a good variety of cases where the behaviour has become so ingrained and the owners so clueless as to what to do that I found I related to most of them as opposed to the highly volatile or aggressive cases that end up in shelters or euthanased. The fact that he does get results in a few days surely says more about the other trainers that spend months? You state that you suspect that the recidivism rate is extremely high – surely suspicion is not fact and doesnt hold up to the light – why not ask the owners of the dogs he featured – wouldnt they be shouting the odds if he was a complete fake? You also make much of him “kicking its butt and showing that you are stronger, bigger, tougher” when Cesar says time and again that he could never win by strength or kicking its butt so how else does he do it? If running many dogs at one time is a felony presumably so are puppy mills and dog fighting clubs – surely we should be going after these people with all guns blazing so to speak – and who was mauled, who died and how many dogs got ripped apart? I wouldnt do it becuase I cant but he did it with the most fearsome breed in the world – if they were the abused, intimidated, unhapy, unstable, insecure, frightened dogs do we really think he could do this without it ending in carnage? I hope you will accept my comments in the spirit I intend them – I have not looked further at your site but I look forward to doing so and I have passed it on to the person who sent me the article you wrote. She is not a CM fan.

  36. Well I’ve read your piece and since my last comment is waiting moderation I don’t see the point in giving you my view, for if they go against your thoughts you’ll simply not post it

  37. I visited this site at the suggestion of a FaceBook friend. I have worked with a number of trainers over the last 20 years with 2 chow chows, a rescued belgian malinois, a siberian husky and a rescued pit bull mix. Along the way, highly recommended trainers and animal behaviorists suggested everything including pinch collars, shock collars, head harnesses, choke leashes and/or pounds of treats during positive reinforcement. I am a prolific reader and have lots of dog training books which I have studied, I have participated in agility and obedience training and competitions, and have a certified therapy dog. My chows were called ‘ambassadors for their breeds’ and my high energy malinois is the therapy dog visiting children’s hospitals. We are often complimented on our dog’s behaviors, so I don’t consider myself an uneducated, novice dog owner.
    In the last year, because of on-going fear aggression and reactive issues with our rescued pittie, I have watched hours upon hours of Millan’s program, first because I thought he was an advocate for pit bulls and wasn’t fearful of them, later because I internalized some of his mantras: no touch, no talk, no eye contact to limit excitement; set rules, boundaries and limitations; and smell first, sight and hearing next to redirect energy away from excitement. As with other trainers, you have to take the bad with the good. I don’t agree with every minute of every show nor every techinique – but overall, I learn approaches that have helped us tremendously with our fearful, over reactive pittie. Some shows address almost identical situations we found ourselves in, with female dog aggression (we’ve 2 girls and 1 boy currently), ‘red-zone’ excitement, etc., and I was able to take lessons from those shows and apply them to immediately effect positive results, making our household calmer and better assimilate our pittie into our 3-dog home. Additionally, due to health problems, I’d never been able to give my husky as much exercise as she required, and by studying Millan’s methods on the treadmill – safety tethering, standing over the dog at the beginning and starting slowly, rewarding afterwards, etc. – my husky looks forward to 30 minutes or 2 miles walked on the treadmill several times a week. She gets on it herself, immediately gets into a rhythm and is much happier and more content with the physical exertion. We never leave her unsupervised, and actually have started training our pittie in the same room during treadmill time, which has calmed the pittie down from over reacting when the husky previously approached her quickly; after all, on the treadmill, the husky is coming forward at a good clip – and nothing bad every happens. 🙂
    I understand how Millan uses the ‘side punch’ or the ‘claw’ hand to correct a canine, and have no issue with them. I closely studied his use of E-collars to learn he sets them on vibrate, the owners try them first, and he trains the owners to give 1/2 second correction at the moment the dog focuses before a fight or other learned behavior, to startle the dog out of it and give the owner the ability to redirect the dog’s behavior; and I have no problem with that. It’s not like some peopl who shock, shock, shock while the dog’s misbehaving with no follow-up; it a temporary ‘cut it out!’ correction when the dog is too far away to correct with your body. The moment the dog turns it’s head or changes focus/direction, the vibration is off.
    So, I am glad there’s a resource for those of us seeking solutions to certain problems that no amount of money or time seemed to fix w/local resources. Different ideas work in different situations. My dogs confidences have improved as their ability to get along within our household pack, to walk in public, to integrate in prevously stressful situations have been overcome. My current trainer, with animal behaviorist background, helped us the first year with our pittie, and we just couldn’t make it over some hurdles; in combination w/my own applications of techniques learned watching Millan, we’re in a much better place now.
    I am a ‘dedicated to you forever’ sort of dog owner. The challenges placed upon us by our reactive pittie were far beyond our expectations, even after decades of volunteering with local shelter dogs. With my beloved trainer and Cesar’s TV advice, we don’t have to worry about the unthinkable – which would have been ‘giving up’ on our pittie because she was a fearful, biting, out of control beast. Now she’s more of a licking, snuggling, pittie smile love..with moments of ‘freak-outs’ that are getting farther and farther apart – by ‘facing the fear’, as Cesar says, confronting the problem and helping our pittie realize I will take care of it, she doesn’t have to fight or flight. Millan’s methods have and are working for us!

  38. Simply put Cesar Milan is not a certified dog trainer….I would not take my dog to a trainer that was not certified. Other than that I agree that his methods are outdated….and border on abuse….

  39. jealousy makes you nasty! He is very good in what he does, and people should just keep quiet about him if they have nothing good to say, just because he made a success of his life and you are jealous does not give you the right to speak about him like that.

  40. A dog doesn’t listen to you “no matter what” because you are the boss, a dog listens to you every time when you have spent hours, days, weeks, and months training it. A dog doesn’t get trained in a day.
    Cesar Millan is not a dog trainer. He has said that himself many times.
    Use what works for you and your dog.

  41. Even the untrained eye can see that those defending CM here are verbally aggressive while those advocating non-violent methods are articulate and informed.

    Bullies need to dominate. They don’t understand love.

    Sadly, dogs are often their chosen victims.

    • Sorry I…no violence or dominance here and BTW, love is not training. Become “trained” and then give us your opinion.

    • hey, think in some else’s perspective, like Cesar. You guys are criticizing Cesar, and apparently his supporters are going to stand against you guys, who are the actual bullies. What did you expect? What would you feel like if I called ,whoever you’re a fan of, names? Why do you guys dislike him? If you do have a problem with him, just talk about it or something. Why make a blog and post your opinions? Keep it to yourself. Words can hurt, can’t you show a little sympathy for Cesar, he’s going through a lot of depression. It’s very ironic about how bullies are calling the victim a bully.

      • just how old are you, telling people to ‘talk about it or something instead of making a blog post about it’? most meaningless comment written for this article. you might want to gett off the Internet now, it’s a place of expression most likely to offend your kind.

  42. Geez, such a bother over such nonsence, you anti CM people should really get over yourselves. His tv show is .. a tv show! .. you watch it, you may or may not learn something from it. Thats all. Im a big fan of CM I learn something from pretty much every single one of his shows. At least with CM he has spent his life with dogs, has helped a lot of dogs AND their owners, he is proactive for making better lives for all dogs, good on him I say! Yes his tv show has certainly help me understand my own dogs a LOT better and because of him, I have better bonds with my dogs, can better understand them and they understand me. My dogs are very well behaved and a joy to live with. I dont use every single CM method but I most certainly do use a lot of them.

  43. I love your blog post….Good job done!!!

  44. Ok, first of all, Cesar Millan does not kick dogs. People always complain about his ways, well, supposedly you can do better? I would like to see you try. Second, it’s his freakin show how is the way he treats dog your goddamn business? Cesar spent a lot of time with dogs, so i believe that he understands them wayyy more than all of you people out there that think you’re better than him. By the way it’s quite obvious that you dog trainers are just jealous about all the money he makes and how he’s more well liked, compared to you, the assholes.

    • Vanessa,

      Neither this blog post, nor most of the comments, are actually about Cesar–a man I hardly know at all. The discussion is about his techniques. Most dog trainers are eager to learn and improve, and so they watch other trainers any chance they get, and then discuss with each other what they found valuable and what they did not. This is not jealousy or personal dislike, and it is a very good thing. It is how we all learn as individuals, and perhaps even more importantly, it is how the art and science of dog training continue to get better. Every trainer of any repute, myself included, has taught seminars and classes, and opened themselves up to criticism. Sometime it can be painful to hear people attacking your ideas, other times it feels great to hear people applauding, but it is all very much worthwhile. Anytime a trainer gets greater exposure, the volume of discourse about what they do increases, both positive and negative. I personally am happy that Cesar has found success, and think his show has spurned some important discourse and increased the visibility of dog training, but I believe his techniques are, for the most part, very poor. I carefully articulated in the original blog which techniques I dislike, and why, and would love to hear how you disagree with the specific criticisms of his training, rather than merely that you like him and do not think the rest of us have the right to have any opinions on his show…

  45. I think Cesar Millan is awesome and that your jealous. If you have so much shit to talk about him why dont you get your own show and we see how thats works.. who do you think you are, God? Only he can judge.

  46. Thank you for this blog post. It is exactly what I would have posted myself.

  47. As someone who is both a professional horse trainer, as well as dog “trainer” (I work with behavioral issues) and has lived with, managed and trained full time a pack of 25-30 hunting dogs for many years, I find this entire blog utterly ridiculous. First of all Caesar Milan may not be respected by many of you humans, but what I do see is that he is able to quickly earn the respect of the dogs and I’m sure many other animals as well. He is in fact a dog “psychologist”, not educated by a bunch of humans who have decided how a dogs mind works, but actually educated by the animals themselves. He understands how they think, how they communicate with one another, and as a result is able to evaluate their biggest issues and change responses and behaviors from the moment he meets them. He understands that dogs live in the moment, and taps into that knowledge to begin changing the moments immediately. I have never once, and I have seen every episode ever aired multiple times, witnessed him kick, choke, hit or in any way abuse any dog on his show. He does however use techniques to make a quick correction, which are designed to surprise the brain out of the moment its in. He is calm and assertive, exactly the way pack leaders exist, communicate and function in a real pack be it wolves or dogs.Those in the pack who are not the leaders do not walk around fearful of their leaders. On the contrary, they find relaxation and security in their pack because the leaders provide guidance, education, structure and calm within it. If there is an unstable individual disrupting the well being of the pack, it is addressed swiftly and with just the right energy, by the pack leader. Done and over with and the pack moves on to the next moment. What Caesar does is mimic (and quite accurately I might add) the behavior of the pack leader because it makes total sense to him. He never, ever addresses a dog using aggression, fear, anticipation, anger, sympathy, or any other emotion besides calm assertive energy. If he did, these dogs with such deep problems would never follow or trust him. They follow him because they both trust and respect him. Fear is built through aggression and anger, trust and respect are built through calm assertive communication. I work with many dogs with problems like what you see in his shows, and I’m proud to say I do use his methods. I can tell you the response is very fast, and the result is permanent as long as the humans communicate to the dogs instincts as a dog and expect certain rules to be followed. Also, much of the time he communicates at the right moment which is when the dog is having the thought, before it escalates into full blown action! I know from working with both my pack and horses that animals constantly address a thought (called energy and body language for those humans who have no idea what I’m talking about) before it escalates to the act itself. This is normal as they don’t have the ability to rationalize or communicate verbally and reason with one another. I could write a book here, you people are so silly with your need for college degrees and working with animals as if they were toddlers! You try to rehab a dogs brain with human mentality and I find it so silly. I will add one more comment and that is every single dog I have ever worked with adores and respects me, and not one of them fear me. There is a reason for that. the judgemental nitwits who wrote all the dramatic comments I’ve read here need to seperate themselves from the human world long enough to open up their brains, rediscover their primal roots and understand nature a bit!!!

  48. A note to the author. I read your article, and my personal opinion is that it is biased just like some of the responses your article has also received. Every point made has not a single reference. I’ve watched Milan’s show and the guy clearly knows what he’s talking about without having a need for a medical degree. You should work on your argument better. I noticed you pointed out some positives in an effort to remain objective. But again, where is your proof to make such allegations.

  49. People just remind yourself that Cesar Milan in his show, works with LAST result for rehabilitating the dog.
    He users dominance to make the canine acknowledge that she/he is a part of the group, and not the leader of the group.
    Many of you would probably euthanize you dogs, because you would se no possible way of rehabilitating.

    I agree that his methods sometime can look cruel, but people… please read the 2 first line again.

  50. Unfortunately, these “professionals” speaking against Cesar Millan, also don’t mention they spent money and time learning certain techniques that they themselves profit on, whose indoctrination leaves no room for any program but their own. It is always so sad when those who also have a vested interest in other choices, ignore the hundreds of easily accessible success stories of the dogs and owners that Cesar Millan has helped directly. This is easily verifiable by those dog owners in the Dog Whisperer Season 1-3 Episode guide available in any mainstream bookstore. The person who sent that clip seems to have failed to mention the documented long-term success of that dog’s rehab when all others failed! Cesar’s episodes are also about giving hope to those dog owners, who have similar extreme problem dogs. The whole point of showing Cesar being bitten (sometimes several times), emphasizing consequences for errors in overestimating personal skill or underestimating their danger with that dog (and therefore the frequent show recommendation to seek a professional for safety and most effective behavior changes in those circumstances).

    The person who sent that clip to you also neglected to mention, that there are literally thousands of other success stories by those who are not “professional” and therefore have no commercial interest in anything but the well being of their dogs, and are willing to learn to apply the techniques of Cesar Millan’s solutions appropriate and correctly.

    Those thousands of success stories are easy to find (personally owned) on the public archives of my (currently) over 3,000 member yahoo Dog Whisperer Fan email list . I have also personally saved 40 last chance dogs (my youtube.com/cjanderson) next to be euthanized for their “problem behavior” when local “professionals” would not help save their lives. (I am a 55-year-old college professor).

    Cesar is the first to applaud “ANY solution which will help change a problem dog behavior”, and that the “LEAST amount of energy needed should be applied”. I am simply grateful for forums such as this, where the people with open minds can explore the many options available rather than give up on themselves and their beloved animals!

    Thank you for opening up this forum for this discussion. All I ask is that for people to view the whole episode with an open mind, then read the follow up long-term success story by the owner. It would be so wonderful if those people who are not willing or able to help those kinds of problem dogs, would simply live and let live – (literally) for the thousands of dogs being saved by those of us using this common sense approach and solution applications (correctly and safely applied)!

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