Everyone who reads this blog knows I'm not a fan of Whisperers, force-based training, flooding, and punishment. No surprise then, when I say this: there aren't "methods" of dog training. Some people, including me, will often refer to "methods," but it's all really just science.
The whisperer you see on tv uses science: it's called positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and flooding. All of those are fraught with unpleasant consequences. It may work occasionally, but more often than not, what looks like success is really learned helplessness. The dog is shutting down, not learning how to behave. It looks really impressive, however, to those who are watching – the barky dog no longer vocalizes! It's a miracle! No it's not – it's unfortunate. The dog isn't trained, it's simply shut down. There's a big difference between shut down and trained. They may look similar, but there's a world of difference.
Stick with the safer science – positive reinforcement. It's so much easier to teach your dog what you'd like it to do (by reinforcing the behavior you like) than it is to teach the dog all the things you don't want him to do. It's quicker and more enjoyable. After all, you got a dog for the companionship, right? Not to dominate and control. Create a cooperative relationship with your dog, not a adversarial one — find a positive reinforcement trainer!
🙂 Yeah! You’ve articulated this really well. Whenever I get into conversations with people who approve “whispering”, I simply ask if they can explain what is going on behaviorally from a scientific perspective. Almost without exception it is the casual, untrained observer who approves of the method – impressed by the learned helplessness – but not really clear on what is actually happening between dog and trainer.
The other people who drive me crazy – the ones who say that the electric shock doesn’t really hurt. My answer – well, then you’re doing it wrong! It’s supposed to hurt, frighten and surprise. That’s why it’s a P+. I find that people just don’t want to own up to their willingness to use P+ and so try to justify it as something less benign.
What the “whisperer” is doing is creating trust and balance by giving what the dog needs – exercise, discipline, and then affection. He is doing what he learned by observing dogs as they do to each other in nature. He also uses positive reinforcement, but not sure why positive only trainers don’t recognize that. He’s leading the dog. He teaches the humans to lead the dog. Dogs are pack animals and need to be led. I’ve seen dogs who’ve been “trained” by an abusive trainer and these dogs cower in the presence of that trainer. It was an awful sight to see. Dogs do not cower with the “whisperer”. They trust him. They are calm around him. They listen to him because they trust him. Many of these dogs that are “whispered” to, the owners are at their wits end – having already tried positive only trainers, which didn’t work. Many of these dogs are pretty much wild and need to be tamed. Positive methods work, and CM uses them as well. But he uses what he needs to use on the animal in question. All ways are good that do not hurt the animal and CM does not hurt the animal, nor does he advocate hurting the animal in any way.
Mary, I’ve had the shock collar on and I found it’s more of a tickle. When CM used the collar on one of his episodes, the client was already using it but they were using it incorrectly and obviously not getting any results. CM was showing them how to use it correctly with proper timing, etc.
Laurie Luck says
Turn down the volume of your tv program and watch the body language of the dogs. You’ll read volumes. Force and coercion have no place in leadership — with dogs or with people.
Not all ways are good. What looks like success (dog stops reacting) is actually damaging to the dog. It’s called learned helplessness. It’s similar to people who are victims of domestic abuse. They wouldn’t *dare* do something the abuser didn’t like for fear there would be retribution. Those abused people aren’t being obedient – they’re fearful.
Read what the scientists think about forceful methods in dog training — science simply does not support what you see on tv.
I agree. My dog does more tricks than any dog I’ve ever had. Each trick was learned using positive reinforcement. The more dogs learn, the more they learn. They learn how to learn and how to enjoy learning.
KT has started communicating with me in dog ways — she understands me because she has learned from me. And by teaching her, I’ve learned how to understand her communication.
There is no force involved. Those who are “anti-Whisperer” are the ones not watching the dogs’ body language! All the Dog Whisperer talks about is body language and calm leadership. The same exact thing as Dr. Patricia McConnell writes about in all of her books: body language and calm “benevolent” leadership. I continue to be astonished at how Cesar Millan is totally misunderstood by some people.
One thing you are right about, what Cesar does is NOT training. Cesar works with dogs who have been given up on, after they’ve reached the point of no return and are generally about to be given up or euthanized, or both. He isn’t a dog trainer.
“Before you attack another person, have you attacked yourself? Have you looked at yourself & found out what you’re up to?” Quote from Tori Amos interview.
Thanks for listening.
I DO watch the dog’s body language, AND CM’s body language. The dogs do not fear CM. But they do respect him. “Learned Helplessness” have been the big buzzwords lately and that’s not what CM does. If that were the case the dogs would be cowering in his presence. But instead, you see them happy and comfortable around him.
I’ve seen a lot of dogs be able to do tricks but are not obedient. And I totally agree that positive training is a good thing. But that alone is not going to work for every dog. It’s important to use what works, as long as it does not hurt the dog. And CM does not hurt the dogs.
Laurie Luck says
Learned helplessness doesn’t *look like* fear. That’s just it — it looks like what’s being done to the dog is working. The silent side effects are very real, however.
Don’t take my word for it. Take the findings of researchers, veterinary behaviorists, and scientists.
If you like Whisperers, have at it. I trust the science and will not subject my dog, nor any other dog, to such unnecessary tactics. Nor will I implore you to change your mind about what you see and believe. To each his own, just don’t try to do any of those things you see on tv to me or to my dog. Or any of my clients dogs.
There is no science involved to drive a dog past threshold and have it bite you on national television. That is not what dog training, or professionalism, is about.
Jabbing your fingers into a dog’s neck, alpha rolling it, or shocking with with a remote collar are not only unnecessary, but really dangerous. AVSAB has published 2 papers – one on the “Dominance” model in dog training and another on the use of “punishment” in training. Both statements condemn the ideas and techniques.
Also, I am not sure how you can read “respect” and measure it from a dog. What sort of body posture or action does that embody?
I think what is really important to remember is to always vote simple. The principle of parsimony states “easiest, simplest answer”. These dogs don’t respect CM, they are appeasing because they don’t want to be kicked in the side with fancy roller blades again.
Dogs are animals – animals with teeth like Lions, Bears, and Tigers. Do you think they use shock collars to train Lions? No, of course they don’t – that’s dangerous. They use hands-off, clicker methods for safety. Why don’t we hold the same respect to the animals living in our own homes? To be honest, I’d rather use a shock collar on an animal that didn’t share my bedroom.
(and I saw the shock collar episode with the Shepherd – both CM and the owner were redirected upon – bitten – and injured..where’s the training in that?)
I just wish people would stop referring to Cesar Millan as a “dog whisperer.” I know, I know, that’s the title of the show, but there’s no whispering going on.
The people I would consider “whisperers” are those that don’t need to force animals, but work with them by understanding the animal’s behavior and working *with* the animal, not against it.
These people don’t get their own TV shows because what they do isn’t melodramatic enough for our short attention spans.
Lucy Garduno says
Just want to share that my dog Schroeder and I were one of the chosen to get Cesar’s help.
Cesar uses his energy — calm assertive corrections. He communicates to the dogs by his understanding of them using dog psychology. My dog responded immediately. Schroeder simply obeyed and knew Cesar was in charge. Schroeder WAS NOT shut down.
At the end of our session, Cesar left me with a prescription to continue working with my dog. I only have praise for Cesar Millan.
Dogs listen to Cesar because of his ability to communicate with them by his energy and dog-communication skills. It’s dog psychology “Cesar’s Way.”
Trust me when I say, “Cesar is the real thing.” He is a blessing to all dogs/owners.
I and other dog lovers would never subject our dogs to anything bad.
Laurie Luck says
I’m glad you and your dog were helped by Cesar. I am saddened to know that people believe that “energy” has anything to do with modifying behavior. Behavior is a science, supported by research. What Cesar does is science, but it’s mostly negative reinforcement and lots of positive punishment — both are fraught with side effects. Much of what looks like success is really a shut-down dog. That’s what punishment can do – it suppresses behavior (but does not get rid of it). Only extinction can “get rid” of behavior.
Once you rely on the science, not the entertainer or the entertainment, you’ll begin to understand just how behavior works.
I agree that Cesar has great charisma, is a great entertainer, and has a fantastic marketer and manager. He isn’t however skilled at behavior modification. But, as he says, he’s not a trainer, nor should people at home do anything he does on tv. I think his statement just about sums it all up for me.
Debbie Jacobs says
IMHO dogs are remarkable because they can learn ‘despite’ how we train, not ‘because’ of how we train them. So yes you can get certain behaviors by providing consistent messages that inform a dog that nothing they do is going to work, except what you want them to do. Cesar is a master at this, holding his ground while dogs struggle and bite until they submit to grooming or having their food taken away. It’s not a technique that most pet owners are able to or should emulate, unless they have good insurance or a plastic surgeon in the family. Call it being calm assertive, bullheaded or domineering, doesn’t matter what you call it, to the dog it’s a brick wall and most will give up beating themselves up on it.
I’ve given up even trying to get DW fans to buy into the ‘science’ of dog training, it’s a waste of bandwidth. Cesar says stuff that resonates for them, the ‘dogs live in the moment’ dribble. It’s as though the moments dogs lived in in the past don’t matter anymore, or that they are incapable of learning or incorporating learning into their future choices, when they buy that line.
Dogs, like people can be motivated by rewards or by avoiding unpleasantness. Cesar shows how to get behaviors from dogs by making them avoid unpleasantness. If that’s cool with you and your dog, go for it. If you’re not seeing your dog’s behavior degrade in other ways, great. Be calm assertive, be happy with calm submissiveness. If it keeps your dog out of a shelter or off a chain in the back yard, that could be considered a good thing and may be the best that dog could hope for.
But I would say to CM fans, do not think that those of us who do not agree with his methods do not understand them. We do, we have just moved on from 19th training techniques. We learn about motivation, cues, stimuli, reinforcers, rewards. We figure out how to create relationships with dogs that allow them to make choices to figure out what gets them something they value, whether it’s a pat on the head, the chance to catch a ball, a chunk of cheese or a ‘good dog’. We help them practice the behaviors we want until they become habits and become intrinsically rewarding to them. We want to create not just dogs that don’t do bad things but dogs that can learn to do silly, cool or useful things. We create dance routines with our dogs, run them through agility courses, get them to leap off docks after balls, we hunt with them, we herd with them, we cuddle up on the couch with them.
Many of us work with dogs that bite, that are afraid, that jump on people, pull on leashes, growl at other dogs, etc. And we work with them and focus on finding ways to motivate them, to help them learn the behaviors that are going to get them a reward, not just avoid something unpleasant. Dogs, like people, that learn new behaviors this way have a more solid foundation in their new skills and are more likely to be reliable without needing to be reminded that they must behave a certain way ‘or else’. I’d say there are studies that prove this, but that wouldn’t matter to diehard, closed minded CM fans.
Cesar in my mind is like fast food. Both might look good and be appealing and there may even be some nutritional value hidden under all the fat and sugar, but both ultimately lead to problems and should not be the foundation of a healthy diet or dog training/rehab program.
Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says
A while back I interviewed a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (a member of the group that has debunked CM-style efforts) for an article on teaching your dogs to think and to enjoy training, and she made a key distinction between one style of learning vs. the other:
Dogs trained using positive methods learn to like learning. It gives them a context (and dogs are good at categorizing things). They are always waiting for us to ask them for something they know how to do because they know good things from from it. OR, they are always waiting for the fun of learning something new. They are eager and interested in the process.
On the other hand, dogs taught to do it or else (under the guise of pack leadership) are NOT eager to learn. They are merely eager to avoid something bad happening.
They are not eager and excited about learning the next thing, and they are not thinking on about what to do to get this person to want to give me things I want, and that’s another huge difference.
I’ve said this before, but CM efforts feel more like intimidation than leadership. For me, it’s the equivalent of controlling your loved ones through domestic violence (or the attitudes that often lead to domestic violence). And, I simply do not get why you’d want to do that, especially with a sensitive dog.
My dog was in 2 shelters and a foster home before we got her at 6 months old. She has serious fear and reactivity issues. We’ve been working on this with a talented +R trainer and a PhD animal behaviorist at a veterinary college for a long time.
I understand that opinions differ. CM fans will not convince me. I will not convince you.
BUT, for us, it boils down to the relationship. Training is FAR more about communication and teamwork, than control and intimidation.
My dog works for me because she wants to, not because she’s afraid of what will happen if she doesn’t.
I simply cannot believe what I am reading. Cesar doesn’t hurt animals, nor does he have a “do it or else” perspective. OMG, I am shocked that this is what folks think of this wonderful, caring, compassionate man.
CM did not invent the name Dog Whisperer. The title was given to the TV show by the creators of the show. It’s marketing, folks.
Cesar has helped thousands of dogs who have been given up on. Once again, what he does is not “training”.
It is also not “19th” (assuming the person who wrote this meant “19th Century”).
What attracted me to Cesar several years ago was that he was doing what I have always done with my dogs. I have never gone to a dog training class in my life. I’ve trained my dogs myself. One of my dogs went to work with me every day of her 18 years (a very large Black Lab). She was so well-behaved that people would tell me she was “like a person”. I currently have two male Lab mixes. As we all know, Labs are a very “excited” breed. Sometimes this excitement can be seen by others as “aggression”. I discovered Cesar when he was a guest on Regis and Kelly on the very day that I had had a terrible incident on the beach with my dogs due to their over-excitement which was perceived by a human as aggression. Kizmet, I thought, since I was completely dejected and had nowhere to turn. And there, I turned on the tv and this guy was talking to Regis and Kelly about their producer’s dog who was also exhibiting excited energy. I watched what this guy was doing, and I thought to myself, “Why, this is what I’ve always done with my dogs… I need to go back to basics!” (I was trying to do “positive reinforcement” which just did not work). I returned to my tried-and-true way of working with my dogs’ energy and exhibiting CALM, BALANCED leadership (with no anger or bad feelings behind it, which is really ALL dog owners and trainers do, if you think about it).
Today, people tell me that my dogs are “the coolest”. I am constantly met with people who say “Your dogs are so smart, so well-behaved, so nice”. “Your dogs are awesome”.
I have also used Cesar’s ways to help a friend overcome a lifetime fear of dogs. Today, she has her own dog, and has also taken up horseback riding.
I have to say three things:
1) There is room enough in the world for everybody. Attacking Cesar, or any human being, is just wrong.
2) There is more than one “method” to train a dog. However, as I’ve pointed out now three times, what Cesar is doing on the TV show is not “training”.
3) People who try to do what Cesar does, without being experts themselves, or without consulting an expert, are idiots. But, these days, people text-message while they’re driving trains full of passengers. So, I guess it would be those same people who would try Cesar’s Way at home, even though they’ve been explicitly told not to!
Amen!! Beautifully said.
Carolyn – Please invest some time in learning how punishment is supposed to work. A great book that covers this is Pamela Reid’s book, Excel-erated Learning.
The shock collar does work – but don’t try to convince yourself that you’re doing something nice to your dog.
If you choose to train with punishment instead of rewards, that is your choice. Own it. Admit it. If you can’t own it – then perhaps your subconcious is telling you something!
We at GWP Rescue, a nationwide licensed shelterhome network for German Wires have used methods from many trainers, attended workshops around the country, and use Cesar’s methodology. We also have used one of the Best Vet Behaviorists with our toughest cases.
Each time, the dogs that went to the behaviorist for aggression that we had hit a roadblock with were given prozac, and a behavioral mod plan. We have used many methods for our toughest cases. Although some we have gone back to a field trainer, and tapping into the hard wired genetic disposition seems to really turn our dogs around also. So many methods, individual dogs, common sense and experience is what is needed.
What I have found with our breed, is that positive only works well with shy, fear aggressive dogs that need daily work to help them overcome their issues. But we always use calm energy when working with any of the animals. We use Cesar’s Pack leader, strong confident, let’s go attitude for any of the dogs.
Our dogs stay within our homes for months receiving medical care and dog psychology mixing with othr well balanced wires.
I think there is room and those of us experienced know deep down there is no specific science, and downing those that have found solutions, and carry on to provide a fulfilling life for their dogs should be supported. Your experiences and feelings on what works for you are valid, and no amount of argument or disagreement can take that away. Those assuming they know what is best for an animal over an internet post are not professionals. I work with professionals, and they do not give internet advice.
Martin Deeley is a professional I follow closely, and in a recent interview on the radio, he felt “Cesar is the Real Deal” he has an incredible connection with animals.
I admire those that have tried when “trainers” have said there is not hope, or behaviorists say “euthanasia.” We have proved them wrong in many cases, and Cesar deserves credit for the hope that these last chance dogs have received from their owners that sought a better way.
I guess we can say it till we’re blue in the face, but what Cesar is doing is not “training” the dogs. CM rehabilitates and even tames. He gives the dogs confidence and allows them to trust. He works with people that positive only trainers have not been able to help. He works with people that are told to put their dog down by the very people that adhere to your science because they say there’s nothing that can be done.
A huge part of it IS his energy, whether you choose to dismiss that fact or not. I find it amazing that anyone CAN dismiss the use of energy anymore. We humans are so much more than physical masses of nitrogen/oxygen/water, and same with dogs. If you can’t feel energy (ie. tension in a room full of upset people), then you have a long ways to go for your own development. Do you not feel another’s love? Do you not feel another’s excitement? Do you not feel another’s anger? Do the energies arising from those emotions ever rub off on you from someone else?
Another thing is you will never hear CM attacking those of you who attack him. He’s a better man than that. In fact, you won’t hear him attacking anyone. Like Kathy said above, it’s just wrong (and not to mention unprofessional). I never attack another pro in my profession to my clients or potential clients or “audience”.
I, too, cannot believe that people see what Cesar does as “domestic violence”. I have 3 dogs and foster as well. My two go to an obedience club (intermediate classes). I would guess this is a mix of positive reinforcement and corrections. My third was a foster who was adopted and returned because he was too “aggressive”. I have never seen an bit of aggression in this dog (except at the vet’s office and it is no surprise that it was a vet who said he was aggressive…he has been through a lot medically). He was on his way to being put down when I said that I would take him. When we go to the dog park, this 90 pound golden lab is the gentlest dog with the smaller dogs (shih tzus, chis, etc.)
Although my lab was doing well in obedience class, he was being dominant and food aggressive with my fosters. Using techniques I have learned from Cesar I have successfully stopped both of those behaviors. NO ONE would ever say that my dog is afraid of me. As a matter of fact, he has been called a “mama’s boy”. I snap my fingers and point and he moves. I say, “Drop it!” and it is dropped before I get “dr…” out of my mouth! I make sure he is calm BEFORE we walk out the door. He does not drag me down the street and doesn’t seem upset about walking beside me instead of in front.
What have I learned from Cesar? Never give affection to an insecure dog (whenever you give affection you are approving of the behavior that went right before it). Dogs need exercise. Dogs need rules, boundaries, and limitations. Dogs need affection. It that order. I have never used a shock collar and have talked a couple of people out of using one. My friend’s foster was licking people to death and losing homes because of it. She doesn’t lick me. My mother’s yorkie (she adopted from me) will NOT heel. When I take the leash, he heels. My mother is tense. I am not. I have learned from Cesar to stop a behavior (like going crazy when he sees a dog when walking) before it gets to level 10. I stop it by a leash correction (no more that a twitch to the finger holding the leash) at level 1 so it never gets to level 10. I just can’t see how any of that is bad.
I have seen people THINK they were being like Cesar, but they were not. They were tense or frustrated or angry and could not understand why it wouldn’t work for them. That is the “energy” that is talked about. I think the great thing is that Cesar helps people believe that there is hope for their dog, BUT that they may need to consult a professional. How many times that is said in an episode, I can’t count.
Cesar isn’t a trainer and he doesn’t punish dogs, and the dogs he works with are “last chance” dogs whose owners were ready to euthanize or rehome them. The positive-reinforcement only people don’t acknowledge any of this. They don’t even want to address it.
Another thing the positive reinforcement only people don’t know or won’t acknowledge is that sometimes correction is necessary. If a dog is about to run out into the street and get run over, even a positive reinforcement person will drag the dog back onto the sidewalk so he won’t get hit. But that’s correction. So would he follow the dog onto the street and offer him a cookie to come back in order to avoid having to drag the dog back and maybe risk having the dog “shut down?”
Dogs know what a fair correction is. They also know when they’re “putting one over” on their owner.
The positive only folks don’t watch enough of Cesar to know and understand what his philosophy is. Calm, assertive energy is not aggressive or forceful. It IS benevolent. It is far more benevolent than treating a dog like a politician who can’t do anything without being bribed to do it!
Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says
I’m not sure why we continue to have these discussions over and over and over. While these arguments (online or otherwise) make some of you feel blue in the face, I feel blue in my heart because they always get ugly.
Really, we are NOT going to convince each other.
Let’s simply agree to disagree and turn our love & energy back toward our dogs, who are much more important than anyone on TV.
Erica Kahunanui says
“Another thing the positive reinforcement only people don’t know or won’t acknowledge is that sometimes correction is necessary.”
Using the dog-in-the-street example you provided: correction is absolutely not necessary if the dog has a solid, positive-reinforcement history of returning to owner when called. I would never ruin my dog’s recall by using corrections anywhere in the mix. In order to save her life in situations like this, I take the responsibility as her owner very seriously and insure she is properly trained for moments just like that. I don’t expect my dog to handle situations that I feel are unsafe – so she doesn’t play near the street without my watchful eye (and a leash!). She doesn’t go out exploring without me, unless I am 100% sure that I have control over the environment. Even with excellent training, one can never guarantee anything. So I prepare accordingly by making sure her behaviors are solid. I don’t understand how offering a cookie causes a dog to shutdown…that part I’m hazy on. Now, trying to offer a dog a cookie when they’re already in harm’s way and you haven’t worked on a solid recall: that’s irresponsible training. That is not the dog’s fault and that is not the fault of positive-reinforcement.
My responsibility as her owner is that I never put her in situations she isn’t ready for…that’s how I show her I am a good leader. She trusts that I won’t endanger her, I won’t FORCE her to do anything. ANYTHING! If she is shy, if she is not feeling confident, she can trust that I am her safe haven and I will not push her. THIS is what trust and followership is about. Trust is NOT about performing a behavior because your very well-being depends on it – that is called being on the defense.
“Dogs know what a fair correction is. They also know when they’re “putting one over” on their owner.”
What dogs know is how to manipulate their environment. They know climbing on the counters gets them food, digging in the yard provides stimulation, pulling on the leash makes them go forward, jumping on people gets attention, barking at dogs increases distance and growling at people protects resources.
So, using CM-style training (ahem, excuse me: “rehabilitation”), dogs learn that jumping gets a leash pop, pulling gets a leash pop, digging gets a leash pop, growling gets a leash pop, lunging gets a leash pop…wait…that’s an awful lot of corrections!! If I were a dog and I were to generalize, I would imagine my day would consist of walking on eggshells. I don’t want to do anything for fear of leash corrections. Corrections are not always instantly lethal, no. But they’re damaging all the same and often times, they’re also damaging the relationship more than the handler can see.
Using positive-reinforcement methods: we don’t bribe, we reinforce with rewards. Bribing is waving chicken around hoping the dog will find it worth their time to perform the behavior. Reinforcing is making sure that behavior happens again. There’s a huge difference and there are many training resources out there describing the differences between bribing and reinforcing.
“The positive only folks don’t watch enough of Cesar to know and understand what his philosophy is.” –Actually, that’s too general of a statement. MANY positive-reinforcement folks came from CM-style training (oops..there I go again. I meant “rehabilitation”). We were on the same side of fence you are on – faithful to the system because the system works. It really does! A lot of intelligent dogs find it in their best interest to avoid corrections – so they follow the rules for fear of the consequences. I think that’s where us positive-reinforcement folks draw the line. We just don’t have the stomach for providing tough consequences or introducing punishment. The damage it causes to our relationship isn’t worth it. Speaking for myself only, I stopped using that style of training because I couldn’t be tough enough for my dog. It was going to take choking her to death to get her to comply. And even then, I could feel the contempt eminating from her. In response to Carolyn, yes. I CAN feel – I could feel that my dog was losing her respect for me. I could feel that she no longer needed me to protect her because she would figure it out for herself – my idea of protection was not hers. As she became more and more aggressive with other dogs, I was at wit’s end.
So trust me, most of us positive-reinforcement trainers started out believing whole-heartedly in the old system. And since we’ve ditched things like domination, control and calm-assertiveness, there’s a lot more room in our days for just being happy with our dogs. 🙂 I’m willing to bet that as positive-reinforcement makes its presence more widely known throughout the dog training community, there will be more stories just like mine: people converting from the old-school way of doing things and jumping on board with the positive-reinforcement people.
I’m just as willing to bet that as I am that my dog will come when called, sans bribe. 🙂
Grisha Stewart, Seattle says
Yes, it’s definitely is like fast food. It fills you up, in the moment, and as long as you’re not thinking about the big picture and the side effects, you are good to go! And it’s extremely tempting for humans, unless we really stop to think.
Laurie Luck says
I’m so glad there’s so much interest and discussion on the blog. I just wish
there was more scientific evidence instead of opinions and anecdotes.
In an effort to bring the discussion back to science, I’m posting several
research studies below. I recommend everyone read through each of these, as
these findings are not opinion. Regardless of what quadrant of operant
conditioning you use, these are valuable pieces of research.
And, in science, a correction is identified as positive punishment. Those in
the field stick with accepted definitions and don’t use words like
correction, as that’s too loosely defined. So in the future, at least on
this blog, please use the professionally accepted terms – not the undefined
“Using ‘Dominance’ To Explain Dog Behavior Is Old Hat”
Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical App. + Research
“Dominance in domestic dogs-useful construct or bad habit?”
Am. Society of Veterinary Animal Behaviorists
“The Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals”
Am. Society of Veterinary Animal Behaviorists
“The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals”
“‘Dog Whisperer’ Training Approach More Harmful Than Helpful”
Sophia Yin, DVM
“Experts Say Dominance-Based Dog Training Techniques Made Popular by
Television Shows Can Contribute to Dog Bites”
“If You’re Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be Too”
Please note: Keep posts science related, not opinion related. If you don’t
have scientific studies to back your claims, please do not post. Your posts
will be removed if they are opinion only and have no scientific thread.
Laurie Luck, CPDT
Smart Dog University, LLC
Certified Pet Dog Trainer
Faculty, Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior
Mount Airy, MD
Visit the Smart Dog Blog for information on all things dog!
I am with you completely. Our cable service doesn’t carry National Geographic, CM”s) TV home. So, I rented some CD’s of previous seasons. Honestly, I could not stomach watching the videos. I think I got through about 4 episodes. The dogs I saw were shut down. As I saw it, they did learn to be helpless. In a previous professional life I worked with and for battered women and founded Denver Safehouse for Battered Women, and taught Women Studies as CU which included classes on violence against women. I know learned helplessness when I see it. I saw it in so many women who had been beaten and “learned” there was nothing they could do that would make it stop, so they shut down. That’s just what I saw in the dogs CM had supposedly helped. Not happy open mouths, ears forward or relaxed, tails wagging. No. I saw ears pinned back, tails tucked and mouths closed or panting from nervousness. I guess that’s what he calls calm, submissive (I don’t like that phrase at all). It’s what I call shut down.
Debbie Jacobs says
If someone can watch a man hold a small dog, snarling and fighting for its life, by the scruff or throat until it ‘calmly submits’ and say that that is not scaring or intimidating the dog then what can you say?
If someone can read information from researchers and behaviorists that indicates that healthy wolves don’t ‘alpha roll’ each other, that well socialized dogs don’t ‘alpha roll’ each other and can watch a man make a dog roll over and think that it’s doggie psychology, what can you say?
If someone can watch a man say that a scared dog raising its paw in an appeasement gesture is exhibiting a ‘hunting behavior’, and be in awe of his knowledge, what can you say?
If someone cannot see that the cult of personality has usurped reason and education, what can you say?
If someone can read his books and not come away with more questions than answers, what can you say?
I will say that I believe that Cesar Millan loves and cares about dogs, but I wouldn’t let him near mine, I love and care about him too much.
Susan McCullough says
I think Patricia McConnell would be appalled at the implication that she and Cesar Millan are cut from the same cloth.
Denise Portis says
I am neither a trainer, nor DW methodology expert; rather, I am simply a person who has received training with her service dog.
I offer only an opinion, and certainly not one that is as educated, experienced or as professional as many of those who have commented on this thread.
I have watched several episodes of DW on a tape a friend let us borrow. Prior to knowing anything about this man, my daughter and I both noted that the dogs “appeared very frightened and subdued”. They were not able to even make eye contact. Their tails weren’t wagging, and IMO they looked afraid.
My service dog responds very well to positive reinforcement, and lavish praise and affection. She enjoys learning new things and her tail is in a constant state of “wag”.