Cesar Millan – what has
been said about the Dog Whisperer

There is definitely a lot of talk about Cesar Millan online – some good words, and some bad words. And there are also a lot of people searching about Cesar Millan online. Here are some great resources we found to help you make up your mind on the canine star:

First, we ourselves wrote about some of the content from his last show in Fall 2010:

Dog and owner – a happy couple

What does your dog want out of this relationship?

Critics started as early as in 2006:

Pack of Lies by the New York Times observes how wrong dominance-based training is and how dangerous and inefficient it is to deal with aggression with aggression

Then Gladwell compares the « calm submissive state » that is so important to Cesar’s approach to a « learned helplessness » that is a common sight among abused animals…and prisoners.

But Gladwell also denounces National Geographic’s sensationalism with edited videos that only show the “hand-on” techniques, and not all the education that occurs – where Cesar spends the most time – which is education to the human-owners.

Cesar’s opponents are also guilty of the same sensationalism with videos such as the Dog Kicker and Cesar Strangling Dogs. While we can understandably disapprove such technics, it remains that they are out of context, and such videos do not rightly represent Cesar’s approach – at least not entirely.

Almost all experts approve Cesar’s focus on calm and confident energy and his mantra “exercise, discipline and affection”, with discipline meaning structure and rules, not necessary punishments. Where experts disagree with the dog whisperer is on his behaviour management techniques: He is being accused of correcting dogs instead of educating them, and he is being accused on fixating on submission instead of collaboration.

In 2008, France banned his show. In 2009, National Geographic had to include a “do not try this at home” mention after a critical report from the Journal of Veterinary Behavior warned that his technics can in fact increase aggression problems. He also received a lot of negative coverage: “Turning dogs into ticking time bombs“. In 2010, he, again, received more negative coverage, while more positive trainers like Victoria Stilwell became even more popular.

Cesar might be receptive to critics. In his most recent TV shows, he does not use use prong collars, but instead dog harnesses, and he more and more includes treats and positive reinforcements to his approach. Cesar Millan does seem like a sincere dog lovers. He spends time rehabilitating dogs that are considered “lost cases” to most dog experts, and he never gives up on a dog. He is also an activist against dog breed discrimination and he promotes neutering.

Here are a couple more of interesting articles on Cesar Millan:

3 Things that Dogs can Live Without: dominance, alpha-theory and Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan: a very clear and objective view

Why Cesar Millan is Yesterday’s Dog Trainer (video)

And a very interesting article on dominance, the basis of Cesar Millan’s approach, by Dr. Sophia Yin

So what do YOU think about Cesar Millan? What do you like about him and his approach? What do you not like?