Whilst he seems unstoppable and National Geographic channel keep sending the highly influential man directly into our living rooms, Cesar Millan has taken dog awareness backwards in time, decades back in fact. This is bad news for dog guardians but even worse news for dogs.
Lack of Education
Because of the methods he uses we can tell that Cesar has no formal dog qualifications. Not a certificate nor any proof of scientific study. Following this advice is akin to taking your kids to the man down the road, when they are seriously ill, for no reason other than the man down the road was once seriously ill too. Study and Continuation of Professional Development is crucial for professionals in any field, with dogs it’s extra important because we are living in times where we are learning so much about them. We must also educate ourselves because the dog training industry is self-regulated, so not only is it a matter of skill but also personal standards. Working as an interpreter between people and dogs is an important job – we should at least be educated in canine communication and adhere to it., otherwise we a deceiving both dogs and their people.
He Ignores (Or Isn’t Aware Of) How Dogs Feel.
He might ignore how dogs feel, or he might just not care, but the availability of calming signal awareness is vast nowadays. Yet when a dog says “I’m scared – leave me alone” Cesar carries on muscling in and stressing the dog further, it seems to be what his brand is based on. So we have to ask, is he simply protecting his brand or does he just not know any better? Wouldn’t you love to know?
This Method is WAY Too Physical.
How often have you seen this guy push a dog over as part of the method he uses? Many times I expect, I certainly have. He pokes, pushes, shoves and even kicks dogs. If we saw a teacher doing that to confused kids there would be a national outcry, yet we put the exact same act on television as a suitable way to train confused dogs. Dogs are not physical animals, they are visual and scent communicators. They talk to each other via looks, body language and intricate visual signals. If dogs touch each other it’s by using consent and requests or for reasons of conflict. No-one wants to be touched without giving consent, I don’t, I expect you don’t and our dogs certainly don’t.
The Method Is Scientifically REJECTED.
Once long ago, a group of unrelated wolves were pushed together and fenced in. They were confused, squabbled and fought because they had nowhere else to go (a bit like big brother with less participant choice). A group of scientists interpreted their behaviour as the Alpha theory (that the Cesar Millan method is based on). A few years later the theory was revoked because more was learned about how wolves actually live. The theory is completely rejected by scientists today, because wolves live in a respectful family group of parents and, young and sometimes extended family.
Dogs Are Not Wolves.
Dogs and wolves parted ways many moons ago - thousands of years. They have a common ancestor yet when we look at the domestic dog of today he is just that, an animal that has evolved to live with people. When we look at wolves, they are animals that have evolved to be suspicious of people – and rightly so as we seem to continually persecute the poor things – we can’t logically associate dogs with wolves in any other way than that common ancestor long, long ago. Just as we are related to apes, dogs are related to wolves – yet we are both domestic animals now, with domestic habits and unique personalities.
Wolves Don’t Fight for “Alpha Position” Anyway.
When left alone, wolves live as family groups. The parents lead and the youngsters follow and learn. They are highly bonded and actual aggression, or even serious challenge, is a huge issue which rarely (if ever) occurs.
When we look at how wolves live naturally, as a happy family, we can’t help but see how a theory created on a group of strangers pushed together is highly flawed and has been repeatedly rejected by more recent findings and scientific awareness, eh Cesar?
The Method Uses Nasty Tools.
Prong collars, electric shocks, check chains and even his booted feet or rigid fingers. Each are part of the methodical toolkit. When we take into account the fact that most dog behaviour problems are based in fear, insecurity or confusion there is absolutely no way that we can seriously believe that any of the above tools can help.
Dogs are Co-Operators.
We only need to look at books such as The Genius of Dogs by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, or In Defence of Dogs by John Bradshaw to really see how co-operative our dogs are. We actually only need to look at our dogs with educated eyes. The problems that, as a species, humans have with their dogs are not based on canine rebellion that’s for sure. The things we deem “behaviour problems” are based on poor or even non-existent (past or present) human to dog communication, dog illness, misunderstanding or canine vulnerability.
Dogs Are Individuals.
Dogs have personality and each is different. Cesar’s method treats them all the same, like all dogs have one mind-set and simply want to take over the home (and in fact the world). Anyone that has ever lived with a dog knows that each has a personality and this fact alone blows this brand to smithereens.
The Dog’s Message is Lost In Translation.
When Cesar tells us (from our TV screens) that we must dominate our dogs, he is taking us further away from proper communication, not closer to it. It might look successful on TV but the dog often has a serious breakdown afterwards.
In actual fact, if you look through educated eyes, the dog usually has a serious breakdown on the program too (Which is claimed to be submission on the dog’s part) and in reality is emotional shutdown due to a huge amount of stress hormone flooding the body and brain of the animal. The same hormone shuts off the digestive and immune system whilst activating the fight, flight or freeze reaction.
So folks, I could go on all day about this. I don’t have time though. I hope I have given you enough to go on just now and that you never visit Nat Geo again. For your dog’s sake and your own.
Take a look at a far better approach, from people like Sophia Yin, Sarah Fisher and Canine Principles (sorry couldn’t resist that shameless plug). The information is all out there, most is free and by embracing positive communication your relationship with your dog will be better than it has ever been. If you are having problems with understanding your dog, then learn how to do it properly. You will find that your best friend may be feeling very different to how you thought.