Nailing Cesar Millan With Tough, Truthful, Appropriate Questions - It's About Time

Cesar Millan finally gets his....I was certain I may have been the only TV/radio personality to directly confront Millan on-air.

I don't know UK TV host Alan Titchmarsh, but I most certainly celebrate his direct approach. He's asked the right questions.

It's the American Humane Association who negotiated at the time with the National Geographic Channel to put warnings on TV, scrolling as Millan trains - which essentially says, "Don't try this at home." For the first time, it seems Millan agrees those warnings are good idea. But then if his methods are not to be replicated - as he seems to admit - what's the point?

Also, I only hope he didn't quite tell the story of the parrot on the shoulder of the dog owner quite right. From here, it sounds like he was endangering the parrot.

Once on the air and live on WGN, Millan - by then frustrated with my dogged questioning about dominance, asked me. "Well, who's in charge at your house?" I answered, "Our cat." He was quite taken aback. Interesting, ever since, he's beenĀ sometimesĀ using the cat example.

Titchmarsh is correct in every way. Punitive training is not necessary (you don't see 'warnings' on TV on anything Victoria Stilwell does, do you? Punitive training techniques are dangerous because when replicated, people may get hurt. While Millan doesn't mind getting bitten, most pet owners do (particularly children); if that happens - then what happens to the dog? Of course, then you likely have a dead dog.

He's also right about the RSPCA view on Mr. Millan's techniques. Many organizations have publicly withheld making statements for fear of being sued (which had been threatened on and off over the years - as I very much know). That's as punitive approach as his training methods, right?

Millan was apparently blaming me. Now, he can point that finger at someone else. Finally, a TV pro who's done his homework, and who isn't afraid of Cesar's wrath.



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  • ugg, so lets just deflect every actual positive trainer who is working to change people's beliefs and focus on just condemning this guy.Oh right ,that does not work, but it make a great preaching to the choir article, doesn't it. Like with dogs people's belief's do not change overnight, with some interview, or one single "gotcha" moment. Lets just compare, the spanking debate in raising children is still going strong after 40 years or so,and workers realize it is not about one person but a culture, you know we can't compare children to dogs,that would be ridiculous(oh right that is not true either, if you read sophia yin) but child advocates knew years ago it's about education and not vilification. Yet that is not true in the dog world is it, l see dog trainers are giving credit simply because they oppose this man, not because of the work they actually do with dogs. That is just as harm full. But you know that is just one person, and the horror that I see coming from the positive training world may just be me.

  • Steve, is there a link so I can listen to your interviewing Millan?

    Donewithit: The reason people condemn Millan is for his actions. Not only is he abusive and unnecessarily rough with dogs, but he also encourages many others to be as well.

    People can do much good by training AND advocating for better treatment for animals. People can do both. Trying to educate Millan's followers is advocating for better treatment for animals.

  • I have NEVER seen anything about educating Cesar's viewers. Even this piece is not about how he is wrong but congratulating the reporter for belittling, berating, and you even call Cesar unnecessary names. That does nothing to promote positive re enforcement, encourage it or even make people google it. It is not educating, no one who follows Cesar is going to slap their forehead and say"what was I thinking" from this piece, or frankly from any article I have seen about Cesar's training methods. It is just encouraging positive trainers to not be better at what they do, just yell scream and moan about punishment training.

  • In reply to donewithit:

    I do think the TV host merits congrats - not for berating anyone but for doing homework, and asking tough (but fair) questions. I did not call Cesar names - never have.....not sure what you are reading in my post. In fact, it's 'Cesar followers' who have called me names.

    If you read much what I have written previously - I sure do suggest an alternative, and have been writing (having nothing to do with Millan) and supporting positive reinforcement training since before anyone heard of Millan.

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    The last thing you should read for Dog training advice is studies done by Dr.'s who don't train dogs, or have very little experience with working with many breeds, especially problem dogs.
    They also don't tell you most of their studies come from citizen participation, which can not always be trusted as truthful or reliable, as many say what they think the scientist want to hear.
    Studies are not ALWAYS fact, but theories.
    I respect their opinions, but they can blur the lines of truth, as well as actual reality.
    Dr. Yin, on her page, defines Dominance with words like "force", "Aggression " when explaining Wolf behavior.
    This is completely FALSE!!!
    Dominance in Wolf packs are NOT about hurting or killing each other.
    Wolf Packs are family units, and Dominance is compared more to DISCIPLINE, as in parental/family order.
    The Alphas of a Pack decide order and structure. The pack members are valued.
    "The strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."
    No truer words can be spoken!
    Without cooperation and order, the Pack fails.
    Such as Dog training, there needs to be trust, structure, and order or your dog will feel it needs to make decisions, instead of you!
    That brings on Anxiety for dogs.
    I have said this a thousand times.., Wolves and Domestic Dogs are not identical in ALL behavior since dogs have been altered by man.., but they DO carry genetic behavioral traits that are a big part of communication for dogs. Watch at a dog park with their playing, while fun, it's establishing an order, albeit temporary.
    I have observed stray dogs that have formed coalitions, and formed Packs here in Chicago. They better their odds of survival by doing so, while others who don't, struggle and usually fail in their existence.
    My issue with these articles slamming other trainers is that there seems to be a agenda, as if the +R only groups think they know all the answers by following logic that is a one lane road. Science has shown us, even by the admission of many here, that science evolves. Anthropomorphizing is rampant.
    The word Alpha, that many here fear and loathe, simply means Dad & Mom, the breeding pair.
    If anyone of you actually talked with a Biologist who isn't in the hip pocket of +R only groups will tell you the same.
    Excellent trainers utilize many methods, ALL in the best interest of the dog, not how quick results come.., but in saying that, let's stop with the finger pointing, and realize that there IS a view like mine, that hovers between the two, which doesn't deal in harshness to dogs, but their real native tongue...,and I don't use Parrot's either!
    : )

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    In reply to Mike Ward:

    ""They also don't tell you most of their studies come from citizen participation, which can not always be trusted as truthful or reliable, as many say what they think the scientist want to hear.

    "Studies are not ALWAYS fact, but theories."

    You might as well write "I am scienfically illiterate and will make up anything to suit my argument". The studies produce facts, the theories are constructed from those facts. The theories must also take into account any other related fact and previous studies. So, no buddy, studies are not theories.

    Your criticism of studies is empty; not only do you not have any evidence to back up your claim of "most", the fact that of citizen involvement in no way invalidates findings. There is a strong movement for what is being called "citizen science" which has already produced some excellent findings (the have a website)

    A 2009 study on hunting wolves also showed that cooperation is not needed, so at least on that front your argument fails.

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    Okay, I found Dr. Yin's site.., and she seems to agree with most of my comments on Wolf Behavior.., but I thought she was all about +R ONLY....
    By watching her videos, she clearly is not.
    I happen to agree with what I saw, but she is NOT +R only in working with dogs, though advertised as such..., which has been my point all along as to training dogs.

  • I don't want to speak for Dr. Yin, who is a friend and an excellent speaker - and I've never heard her support the idea that you need to dominate a dog for success, ever.

    Wolves, in fact, are family groups and the dominant member isn't as Millan suggests - it's simply the 'dad.' And dominance is likely not the right word. Ask the wolf experts (which I don't claim to be one of). Wolf experts concede their work years ago was based on watching wolves in captivity not the wild, but Millan goes by those old studies. He's told me so. Besides, to some extent the result of those studies are irrelevant - wolves are not dogs, and dogs are not wolves. So, while there are similarities because wolves or dogs do or don't do something, it doesn't follow the other species will or won't. Millan compares so much - saying over and over "Wolves do...." So even if he has wolf behavior right (which he mostly doesn't), so what? The comparisons are about as right as comparing my social habits with that of a chimpanzee or gorilla.

    You are right - excellent trainers pull out whatever they can from the tool box. But not inhumane methods (I hope) when others are as or more suitable.

    And Millan does what he does on TV....and when his methods are replicated at home, in this interview he concedes they may be a concern....Also he is willing to be bitten, most dog owners are not. If that happens. Sure when the camera is rolling, it may work (also in some cases dogs have no choice - learned helplessness), but over time - not a solution.

    Also, Mr. Millan is not the only person out there saving lives daily (as he has suggested)....maybe you, I bet you....many others.....He does say it's not only my way, though he didn't say that when he first began. In fact, he used the term "Cesar's Way."

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    Thanks for the reply Steve.., as usual we agree on most of the issue, but to my point that they still hold genetic traits means they DO respond to ranking, and other similar behaviors as Wolves do.
    At different levels for sure.
    We also agree that while there are many techniques, they shouldn't be harmful or inhumane.
    But you'd have to agree.., some of the people in the +R groups think any training collars are abusive, contrary to what DR. Yin was saying.
    I have talked to, and learned from some excellent Wolf Biologist.., not sure where you heard them referring to captive Wolves since most have studied in the Bush from the Arctic, through the Rockies, all the way to the Smokey Mountains.
    Dr. Mech, who Dr. Yin referred to, made the "suggestion" that the word Alpha not be used because of confusion by layman, not because it didn't exist. He felt it was misleading..., I think it requires the definition you and I suggest, family.
    (Mom &Dad)
    He also stated that some of the "aggression" involved in ranking was misunderstood, as we now know mostly this is done by outside members trying to overcome a Pack, which happens, but is not as common.
    As I stated, they are family units, and usually after age 2, they start to wander off to test whether staying home under house rule is more desirable than looking for they're own mate.
    As to dogs, it's just a matter of understanding anatomy, behavior in it's complexity, and environment the dog is in.
    Cesar HAS altered his techniques from start to finish since he never used treats or marker training that I'm aware of in the beginning, but last I saw, he did.
    But this scrutiny can swing both ways don't you think?
    I see many dogs that come to me with "aggression or Dominance issues", that have been worked on by both +/- R trainers who put theories ahead of behavior.
    Mostly it's from pet owners who don't follow through with training.., but many times it's with those who don't truly understand behavior, and utilize one method, and when they see no solid results they refer the owner to put the dog down.
    That's incredibly sad!
    This needs to be addressed too!
    It will be interesting to see what his new NAT GEO show will bring...?

  • All I can say is "here we go again"...and LOL! I've given up trying to figure out why people have a problem with Cesar Millan. I think he's one of the best trainers in the business and I say that because I see the results: happy, well-trained dogs. Obviously not everyone feels that way. (Happy and safe holidays, folks!)

  • In reply to harpercollie:

    @harpercollie well.. since you sort of asked, let me explain why people have a problem with Cesar Millan. It's because if you could read dog body language (lot's of people THINK they can, but they can't) you'd see that the "happy, well-trained dogs" are actually fearful dogs with suppressed behaviours. They're not choosing to change their behaviour by themselves- they're bullied into it. I can barely watch the show as seeing the outright distress in the dogs is alarming. The techniques he uses could well result in hefty fines and jail time in the UK- BECAUSE IT IS ANIMAL ABUSE. What Millan does should be illegal. Yes, if you abuse a dog every time it does something- chances are it'll eventually stop doing that thing. But if there is a better way that is not cruel and works just as well or even better, with longer lasting effects... IT IS SIMPLY RIDICULOUS to still be doing what Millan is doing in this day and age. Zoo's use positive reinforcement to train aggressive wild animals to submit to medical tests and treatment. The Navy uses positive reinforcement to teach service dolphins. Guide dogs for the blind are trained with positive reinforcement including food rewards! The evidence that this works and works damn well is absolutely overwhelming. Yet here Cesar is spewing old nonsense as if the last 30 or so years hadn't happened. And there you go- people don't like him because he's perpetuating ineffective, inhumane, outright abusive and outdated methods.

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