Cesar Millan, Abuse is Not A Training Tool

by Mary Haight on March 21, 2011

A dog ate Cesar Millan's book

Image by Carmyarmyofme via Flickr

Update: The video has been wiped for copyright claims-again. I imagine it will resurface at some point. Update 4/1: new link to video posted below with thanks to Vicky:)

I don’t know how this video at the end of the post passes as “training” in any circles, nor why National Geographic would let these examples of abuse stand as acceptable dog training practice, compounding the wrong by allowing them to be aired for public consumption. Money changes everything?

The video shows Millan, over and over again with different dogs, kicking them. Millan says he doesn’t “kick” the dog but uses his foot to distract/correct–the sounds or extreme movement coming from most of the dogs leads me to believe otherwise.  When he is facing the back end of the dog I see that kick going to the groin. Thanks to Steve Dale at his Chicago Now blog for bringing this up and for the video.

This is not science, it is absolutely not an acceptable training practice, in fact it has nothing to do with training and everything to do with abusive practices. Like the kick to the snout of dog where an editing job had to be done…but you can see the after effects as the dogs head lifts sharply upwards and he backs away. 

Where are the watchdog groups to prevent cruelty to animals?  Why have they not stepped up to put a stop to it – at least make their voices, and ours, heard loud and clear at National Geographic – even if it is not technically a film. Did I miss the announcement of a lawsuit? Is there a current petition somewhere?  Many vets and all positive reinforcement trainers take a negative position on these wrong-headed methods for correcting dogs. Why is this kind of abuse of animals on television at all, and being supported by National Geographic?   

I would never allow anyone to do this to my dog in the name of “teaching” him anything. Would you? (Thanks to jimmylovesdogs at you-tube for uploading this – again!) And since this video has been taken down at YouTube, here’s a link to another (sorry, it’s not open to embedding) from reader Vikidobe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSkYVwZKMSs

See Dr. Sophia Yin’s post on the dominance controversy for more

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80 comments
dallas
dallas

oh please , more then half the dogs Millan works with would have been beaten -muzzled, caged and put down if not for him, I see more confused dogs get straightend out on his show, rather then them getting passed around and around and around into new homes because no one wants them with behavior problems= he is not beating them and is not confusing them, I have YET to see him lose his temper, i see more dog OWNERS lose tempers and abuse the dog every day, kissy kissy woo woo doesnt cut it with some dogs, hes not any more abusive then the lame owners that let the dog get that way to start with..

Science not hype
Science not hype

I'm sorry for anyone who hasn't seen a better trainer than CM. Maybe you should try looking because there are so many of them (Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Karen Pryor, Gail Fisher, Teoti Anderson, and on and on and on... None of these people have to use these techniques, and I guarantee they are more successful than CM, who is not a PhD, DVM, or any other kind of expert - just a guy who has been around a lot of dogs, which describes a lot of us). Kicking an aggressive dog is not going to calm him down, it is going to make him worse. There is a dog in this video that is POINT IN CASE. The dog was slightly aroused until that foot hit him, and that's when he went off, not before!

vicky1clicker1tr
vicky1clicker1tr

I am uploading the CM dog kicking video to You Tube right now. go to my channel: vikidobe or I guess try new videos about CM Quick, as YT will be killing it pretty fast.

BP
BP

I myself am a huge animal rights supporter, going as far as to only eat meat that has been humanely raised, and with that said, I think it is extremely sad how many people are against Millan's training techniques. The work and rehabilitation that he does is incredible. In many of the cases on the show he is dealing with dogs that are aggressive to not just other animals but humans and their own owners as well, making them a threat to society. If Millan's training works, and it does, then I would much rather "offend" an aggressive dog and have them "suffer" a little tap to the ribs in order to be trained out of their aggressive mindset then to not want to hurt the dogs "feelings" or cause it any discomfort and have it continue being aggressive and more then likely causing SERIOUS harm to another dog or human ultimately resulting in the dog being euthanized. Millan's techniques are not inhumane and they work better then any other trainer's I have ever seen, leaving the dog in a balanced mind set in the end, not at all traumatized like many if you have assumed.

JDD
JDD

You people are idiots. He is NOT kicking these dogs! He works with aggressive dogs. Obviously you people haven't got a clue. He is getting their attention. Breaking their concentration. That is all! Don't talk about things you know nothing about.

calmassertive
calmassertive

Here's a link to Sophia Yin and her AVSAB organization advocating killing a labradoodle for behavior problems. Her and the others' enthusiastic support no doubt extends to many an other poor dog as well. The AVSAB, which is to say, Yin, are of course huge Millan critics, since in his entire life he has never ever recommended killing a misbehaving dog. http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/images/sto...

calmassertive
calmassertive

(part 2 of 2) Millan's methods are the result of a lifetime of personal observation by a true genius in the field, not some books on wolves or 'the 1930s' as so many of his less-experienced critics like to claim. Twenty years and NO lawsuits, not ONE, even in today's litigious society, except for Floody Suarez, where Millan was not even present at the time and was settled by Suarez rather than most certainly lose if brought to trial. If Millan were abusing dogs as you allege then why don't ANY of his clients sue? He's certainly a very high-profile target. Could it be that no one in their right mind looks in context at how he uses his hands and feet to redirect a dog's attention as abusive? I will give you credit at least for putting these posts on your blog -- all the other people in your camp whose names I've mentioned make sure no such discussion sees the light of day. You seem like an intelligent person. One can only hope you get over this emotional aversion to aversion (positive and negative punishment are the technical terms) with which you've saddled yourself.

calmassertive
calmassertive

(part 1 of 2) I've seen the episode where Stilwell, OVER THE PHONE, tells a poor family to kill their little dog. To see the husband carrying the lifeless body of his pet out of the vet's office where the professional killer 'euthanized' the little dog was heartbreaking. Stilwell makes me vomit. I've read statements by Donaldson and Yin justifying dog-killing when their reinforcement-only approach fails to work. Yin even wrote a letter of support for behavioral-based euthanasia in the newsletter of her organization, the AVSAB. Dunbar goes so far as to say dogs aren't even pack animals. These people are all embarrassments to the dog-training profession. The misinformation that spews out of their mouths results in far more damage to well-intentioned people's dogs than any touching Millan does with his feet or hands.

kenzo_hw
kenzo_hw

Write letters to National Geopgraphic, write posts like this. It does help. CM was invited by a Danish TV station for the promotion of his tour in Denmark coming May. People complained, wrote letters and made a lot of noise. The Danish TV station did air their show, but changed the topic. As it turned out some of the training methods of CM are indeed illegal in Denmark and are considered animal abuse. The show shed its light on this fact instead. Most likely due to all this negative publicity CM cancelled his May tour to Denmark.

kenzo_hw
kenzo_hw

Write letters to National Geopgraphic, write posts like this. It does help. CM was invited by a Danish TV station for the promotion of his tour in Denmark coming May. People complained, wrote letters and made a lot of noise. The Danish TV station did air their show, but changed the topic. As it turned out some of the training methods of CM are indeed illegal in Denmark and are considered animal abuse. The show shed its light on this fact instead. Most likely due to all this negative publicity CM cancelled his May tour to Denmark.

Kathy@YHolisticDog
Kathy@YHolisticDog

Thanks for this post, Mary. It was very painful to watch the entire video. I don't understand how anyone can call what CM does in this video...a "touch." This is kicking...this is abuse. Just look at the dogs' body language and reactions. One dog even yelped in pain. I was shocked when I saw a girl in my neighbourhood kicking her boxer in a similar fashion. Now I know where she got this from. Wake up people! Don't be taken in by this man. Your dogs have feelings! Both physical and emotional. By the way, anytime I read a local trainer's bio where they proudly advertise their support for CM and attendance at his workshops...I have NO respect for what they could possible do for anyone's dog. And some people out there think they are "dog experts" just because they've watched a series of dog whisperer dvds. The proliferation of this information is sad.

Edie
Edie

It always amazes me that we're still having to have this conversation, but we based on these comments and the regular use of terms such as dominance and pack in popular discourse, sadly we do. That link to the Canadian blog about CMs comparison of dogs with women hat you posted early on was jaw dropping. I thought nothing he could do could surprise me. I was wrong.

Jen Robinson
Jen Robinson

So? CM is well coordinated and is able to use all four of his limbs to control a dog . . . instead of just hands, which is all a clutz like me can manage. It's not like he's using steel cap boots and knocking the breath out of the dog. He takes on dogs that would scare the living daylights out of me and stays calm and assertive. How many dogs has CM saved from the green dream? I'll bet a lot more than the makers of this vid. How well do you see the world through a dog's eyes and talk the talk of a dog? Very few of us measure up to Cesar Milan For a different point of view on this, see: http://www.gladwell.com/2006/2006_05_22_a_dog.htm...

calmassertive
calmassertive

(part 2 of 2) This pejorative use of the word 'kicking' is really quite tedious. A touch with the foot is no more a 'kick' than a touch with the hand is a 'punch'. Dogs use their mouths and paws to get each other's attention, and people use their hands and feet. The reinforcement-only crowd has no answer to the question of what to do when a bad behavior is exhibited, because their only choices are to reinforce or to ignore, neither of which are of any value when your dog is eating the neighbor. This aversion to aversion is both ironic and hypocritical, since it is these very reinforcement-only-ists who recommend giving the dogs drugs and even killing them rather than even Considering actually addressing the dog in the way it readily understands, which is to say, via touch. Charlatains such as Yin, Donaldson, Dunbar and Stilwell all blame the dog's behavior on the dog, and recommend killing the dog if it doesn't respond to their cookie-stuffing approach. The damage these frauds do, by convincing naive owners that they are experts and that in their expert opinion their dog should be drugged, killed or isolated, is Truly tragic.

calmassertive
calmassertive

(part 1 of 2) Many visits by Cesar seen on his show begin with the owners telling him how their vets, their dog-walkers, their friends, the numerous trainers they hired, etc, etc, all have tried, to no avail, to fix 'the dog'. Perhaps the author here doesn't pay attention to the show, or perhaps is just being disingenuous in failing to acknowledge the fact, but either way, it is what it is. Over and over again we see people who have been told to put their dog down due to a behavior problem that Cesar demonstrates in short order to be nothing more than a failure of the Owner to understand the psychology of their beloved pet. Over and over we see how he removes the owner, changes the mindset of the dog, then tells the owner Look, with me the problem does not exist, it's not the dog, it's the lack of knowledge of You, the owner.

Phil S Stein
Phil S Stein

I didn't watch the same video as you dogtmr obviously. If we watched the same video, your comment would only serve to display your ignorance. Any dog trainer kicked my dog in the ribs and groin like CM did in this video and it would be the last move they made for a while.

@dogalini
@dogalini

That video is so hard to watch -- harder even if you focus on the dogs' body language than if you watch CM's feet. So much fear, so much appeasement behavior, and none of it doing those poor animals one damn bit of good.

dogtrnr
dogtrnr

I've been training dogs for over 15 years and Millan is not abusive towards dogs. He shows people how to fix the behavior problems without hurting the dog. If peeople aren't successful after he's gone, it is because they have not used the tools he gave them in the first place. If a dog is jumping on people, you don't tell them to turn your back on them, as some would -- the dog will just jump on your back. Think in terms of common sense, people. Be that as it may, there are many different methods out there. Millan's philosophy is but one. Why go after him? Because he is successful and people that rant and rave about him do not understand dogs, which is why they would need him in the first place.

Laura
Laura

I like Cesar, and his techniques a great for 'harder' case dogs. Many well adjusted animals need .little to none of the stronger corrections.

Leah Roberts
Leah Roberts

So how long have you been training dogs, CalmAssertive? Or are you just displaying the ignorant sycophantic hero worship that has elevated this dog abuser to the position of a perceived "dog expert" to the general public? Little hint here... reality TV is not reality. Owners have no clue whether or not he is "great." They don't know how to train/read their dogs, and that's why they go to professionals who can. Unfortunately, Millan isn't one of them. But because he is "perceived" as a dog expert, they will buy the snake oil he's selling. It's human nature, unfortunately. Millan's shtick is to set up dogs to behave as badly as possible for the camera, so he can swoop down and physically dominate/intimidate them. Cue flashing lights and dramatic music. It's sleight of hand, bait and switch. If you really want to know how to train a dog, consult a dog trainer - not a TV star.

calmassertive
calmassertive

Millan is obviously a genius. Great timing, perfect use of physical touch to get the dogs' attention without causing any harm whatsoever. When you watch the entire episodes instead of just the snippets from the above video you get to see how, after years of 'positive reinforcement' training nonsense, these dogs' behavior almost instantly transforms from what had been years of trouble to what the owners themselves say is 'a whole different dog'. The guy is great. Just ask every owner of every dog in every clip shown in this video -- they all are effusive in their praise, and their dogs are clearly the better for it. The maker of this video would be well served to wake up and smell the dog food.

@puploveca
@puploveca

Love, love, love this post and the accompanying video. I don't understand how NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC is still airing this show, even with all the letters sent in by experts in the field saying that Cesar's methods are outdated and dangerous. Thanks for sharing!

hornblower
hornblower

I'm SO with you. Alas, there are many apologists out there, including the ones that popped in to defend him on Steve Dale's blog & accuse everyone of slander/libel for saying big, bad, mean things about him. I wish he'd get off the air. BTW, here's one review from an attendee at his presentation in Victoria, BC last fall; some very troubling attitudes on display, but I guess it's all good when you're the 'alpha' jerk. http://www.laineygossip.com/Review_of_Cesar_Milla...

DeborahFlick
DeborahFlick

Honestly, I couldn't bring myself to watch the video. I've seen others before. I'm reminded of way back when in another context when rape wasn't rape it was just sex, when beating a woman was not a felony but just a little showing her who's boss...and oh yes, in both cases the 'women asked for it.' They were being sexually provocative or they actually 'wanted to be beaten' and prodded their male partners into hitting them so the proper balance in the relationship--man in charge--could be restored. That was (unfortunately still is in some places) f*cked up thinking then and it is with dogs anow. How in the hell so many people cannot see what is right in front of them---cruelty and abuse---is truly disturbing commentary on our culture.

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