Okay I finally had to do it. All the controversy about Cesar Millan and I had never seen his show. I don’t have the National Geographic Channel so I rented some of his shows on Netflix to see what I thought. I only got one DVD, which is fine, and I’ve watched about 3 of the episodes so far.
Can I form a full opinion on watching only 3 episodes? Well, maybe not, but already I think I have a good general idea.
What I liked
He is a very strong personality and he is a natural leader with the dogs. Dog respect him immediately and he probably gives off very strong energy so he can take charge with the dogs. This is great for him and it really works well with dogs. I agree that all dogs need to have a firm, benevolent leader to lead the pack.
What I didn’t like
I don’t think that what he shows on TV is really a good thing for the average general public dog guardian. Many, many people don’t have that strong of a personality as he does. Personally, and I’m not bragging I’m just being honest, I have a good strong personality with dogs. I am a good leader and dogs respect me.
Would I take a dog for a walk that has a history of biting his person? Um, no. Not without a muzzle. Would I try to take a bone, or anything, away from a Vizsla who is growling and lunging to resource guard? Again no, not without a muzzle. And I do not think any regular dog guardian should be doing anything like that. It is most likely they will get bitten. Heck, Cesar got bitten on the show.
And there was the lady with the lab/pit mix who, when she took the dog on a walk, he would bark and lunge and go into a frenzy when another dog came by. And he bit her multiple times and punctured her and drew blood. This dog, for Cesar, was okay.. but still nervous. And even after Cesar left she could not walk the dog, because she was afraid of her own dog.
What Cesar Millan doesn’t do is address the deep down issues the dog has. He doesn’t get into the dog’s personality or behavior. He doesn’t try to work through these issues with loving, firm support. I see and understand how some critics have said he sets dog training back 100 years. Sure you can thrust a dog onto a shiny floor and make them walk on it until they just do it. But why not gain that dogs trust at the same time by approaching the floor, and clicking and treating the dog when he gets nearer the floor? Why not boost this dog’s confidence and teach this dog, a Great Dane, to trust the people’s guidance and make good decisions? That poor Dane was terrified, you could see the stress drool coming out of his mouth. I would so have preferred that situation to have included slow progress with a clicker and food rewards. Even after the dog went onto the floor by himself, he still looked nervous.
I don’t want a nervous dog. I want a happy dog that has confidence in my leadership and works for me because we are a good team, and we are figuring each other out and we have a good connection and we are having fun!
I didn’t see that at all in the episodes I watched.
The sad thing is, of course, that these people let these dogs get to this point in the first place. The Viszla (who was bred in Utah no less) went to live with her family at 8 weeks old. Why on earth is a puppy learning to be fearful, learning to be a resource guarder? Did they not read any puppy books? Did they not follow the three most important rules of puppies… socialize, socialize, socialzie? I guess not. That entire situation was avoidable. They created the Vizsla’s fears, and reinforced them along the way. It’s a very sad situation to see.
The rescue dogs, of course, are always a challenge because of the baggage they bring with them. But still, for the lab/pit mix the lady couldn’t walk without him flipping out, I would recommend her to read Fiesty Fido, teach the dog the look, and some calming behaviors, perhaps TTouch, and work that way instead of forcing the dog into situations where he is uncomfortable, which may aggravate the whole issue.
Anyway… that’s my soapbox rant for the day!