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Has Cesar turned over a new leaf?

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It's pouring this afternoon, so, having nothing else to do, Scot and I watched an episode of the "Dog Whisperer." It was an episode where Cesar dealt with a biting dog, so I thought I'd get to see what all the fuss is about.

 

Not so much. :rolleyes:

 

But what I saw is not what I've heard about CM, so I wonder if he's been paying attention to the press he gets among dog people and turned over a new leaf?

 

The dog was a two year old Malamute, neutered I suppose since it was a rescue dog. He'd become very reactive to other males, to the point of biting (actually perforating and drawing blood) his handler when restrained from going after them. The dog belonged to a nice young couple who also had some kind of lab/golden/floppy yellow dog.

 

So the first thing Cesar does is take off the prong collar. Good move, I thought. Then he walks the Mal past a male BC. Mal goes nuts, rips CM's sleeve open and rakes his arm with his teeth, drawing blood. Cesar loops the end of the leather lead around the dog's neck at the esophagus and tries again. Dog lunges, CM suspends the dog by the leash, but not so far its feet were off the ground. Dog starts to choke out and predictably calms down.

 

I think there may have been some editing, since the dog looked lots more oxygen-deprived by the time it finally calmed down than I would have expected from the brief struggle shown on-screen. And Milan pointed out the dog's erection as evidence that, even though it was lying down, it remained in an aggressive state - which I'm not sure of since I've also seen dogs get an erection when deprived of air.

 

But Cesar also made clear he didn't consider this a mean dog, and that it only hurt people when it was frustrated in its attempts to get to other males. And there was no alpha-rolling whatsoever. Cesar did lay the dog on its side, but it was not an alpha roll - he just positioned the dog on its side while it caught its breath.

 

I was a little disturbed that the dog was shown on a treadmill with its leash looped around the handrail. Of course, the dog's owner and CM were standing right there and could've intervened immediately if something went wrong. But I worry about the idiot factor - what if someone looped their dog's leash around the handrail and then went to get a beer?

 

Despite what I've read about CM's outrageous sexism, in this episode he praised the wife handler several times for her nerve and skill with the dog. The husband was never shown handling the dog. I think this was also a good move, since the husband gave every indication that he was slightly afraid. But the wife was shown taking a couple of bites without flinching in the slightest.

 

The second half of the episode dealt with two really gonzo ILOVEYOU-type goldens who were half-killing their dog-walker with enthusiasm. Cesar showed her how to get the dogs' attention - with a tap of her foot or hand - and then how to stop rewarding the unwanted behavior by, basically, ignoring it. Seemed pretty normal to me.

 

Do y'all think CM's changed his stripes? This was the first episode I ever watched, but it sure wasn't anything like what I was expecting.

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Sounds like CM to me- haven't seen that episode though. He advocates keeping the collar high on the dog's neck, and walking purposefully- if a collar pop doesn't work, a poke by the foot on the side of the dog will help. I have seen lots of episodes where dogs redirect aggression. He does hook the leash on the treadmill, though, I think it is bad practice. Lately they have been airing episodes where he ends up rehoming the dog to his own pack- and the family finds another dog. Oh, and yeah, there is a fair amount of editing.

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I haven't seen the episode you're referring to... but that still sounds pretty awful to me. The goal of a good trainer should be that no one gets bit during training... not the trainer and ESPECIALLY not the owner. Management is just as important as the actual training process.

 

I don't like the collar high on the neck. That can actually cause damage, for one, whether attached to a treadmill or a handler. But the dogs on his show are also showing "learned helplessness". Punishment suppresses a behavior; it doesn't teach an appropriate one in it's place. The dog is basically stunned into not performing any behavior except being passive, which can look like "submission", I suppose. But Cesar isn't rewarding the dog for the CORRECT response or giving the dog any guidance as to what to do instead of lunging and redirecting. Ideally, a reactive dog learns to give the owner attention through desensitization. Cesar simply doesn't choke the dog if it stays quiet and shuts down.

 

I think what many trainers object to isn't over-the-top alpha moves (although those do occur occasionally), but somewhat subtle things that aren't fair to the dog and don't necessarily teach anything in the long run.

 

Basically it's a well-edited show, and many of the dogs from the episodes end up with the problem returning. Sometimes, Cesar even admits it (the food aggressive Swissie, a reactive lab mix on a GL, for example). Other times, we hear it from other trainers in the area who deal with his cases gone wrong.

 

I know this has been talked to death on here, but there you have it.

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I haven't seen all that many episodes of CM's show, but I've seen maybe ten going back to the first year, and I never saw anything that he'd have to turn over a new leaf about. I simply haven't seen the "shutting down" and "learned helplessness" that many people attribute to the dogs he's working with, although I have seen dogs looking much less heedless and boisterous. They look like dogs who've been given something to think about for the first time, and are thinking about it. I've certainly not seen him do anything more punitive than what you describe.

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Punishment suppresses a behavior; it doesn't teach an appropriate one in it's place.

 

I don't necessarily believe that you must "replace" a bad behavior with a good one. Why is it so wrong to just eliminate an inappropriate behavior? Isn't this what we do when we tell kids to "just say no"? We don't suggest that instead of giving in to peer pressure and trying drugs, they go pay a compliment to someone or give someone a gift; we just tell them to say no. Period. Some behaviors are just not acceptable--why is it so hard to just teach our dogs (or kids, for that matter), that this is the way things are? Why must we sugar coat everything?

 

I totally agree with Eileen--I haven't seen CM in probably over a year, but at one time, saw at least several dozen episodes. Nothing going on there but dogs no longer running their households,

A

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I didn't see anything heinous - although hanging a dog is not something I've ever actually done. Tried it once, with an aggressive dobe back in the day when this was the standard method, and felt wretched about it. So it's just not a method that works for me personally However, I'm the first to admit that I'd probably have knocked that Mal into next week the first time he even thought about going for me - so I'm not implying a value judgment. No doubt CM's method photographs a whole lot better than mine. :D

 

I also agree that simply extinguishing some behaviors is not a bad thing.

 

I guess the only reservation I have about CM is the same one I have about the natural horsemanship trainers that give people the idea they can learn to train at home from a book or TV show. I can imagine a novice trying CM's methods without someone there IRL could manage to mess the dog up pretty good.

 

I can also see how bad behaviors could return in some dogs even after personal sessions with CM. Same thing happened to me with a pair of adolescent Newfies I used to dog-sit. Going into their yard was like walking into a bear pit. They weren't mean at all, but great googliemooglies were they hyper. :D Both would grab me around the throat with their paws and proceed to maul me joyously as soon as they saw me. The owners told me that no kennel would take them anymore and their last dog-sitter quit. Go figure, right? :D

 

So on my first visit alone with these goofs, I took my baby brother's whiffle ball bat with me. It was just hollow plastic and couldn't hurt anyone, but being bonked on top of the head with it so surprised the Newfs that they dropped to the ground like they'd been stunned. :D Once I had a way to keep them off me, I just stopped paying attention to any behavior I didn't want.

 

That was their whole problem - once they reached their adult size (but still had their tiny puppy brains) they didn't get as much human contact (again - go figure :rolleyes: ) so when they got it they were desperate to keep it. Bless their big blockheads. Anyway, by Sunday when the owners returned I was sitting on the deck reading the Sunday funnies to the Newfs, who were sitting politely on either side of me. The owners actually asked if I'd drugged them. I explained what I did - but do you think it worked for the owners? It did not. Everytime they called me to dog-sit, I'd arrive on Friday to the same manic pair of grizzlies. Every Sunday I'd surrender the same placid pair of poofballs. And it wasn't because the owners weren't trying - they really were nice, highly motivated folks. They just never could "get it."

 

Oh, well, it was good for me - they were certainly loyal clients! But I felt bad for the dogs and the people just the same.

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I don't necessarily believe that you must "replace" a bad behavior with a good one. Why is it so wrong to just eliminate an inappropriate behavior? Isn't this what we do when we tell kids to "just say no"? We don't suggest that instead of giving in to peer pressure and trying drugs, they go pay a compliment to someone or give someone a gift; we just tell them to say no. Period. Some behaviors are just not acceptable--why is it so hard to just teach our dogs (or kids, for that matter), that this is the way things are? Why must we sugar coat everything?

 

I totally agree with Eileen--I haven't seen CM in probably over a year, but at one time, saw at least several dozen episodes. Nothing going on there but dogs no longer running their households,

A

 

 

Double ditto! Right on.

As A side note. Just had a client in yesterday, doing the tsh sound that Ceaser does, with his cocker spaniel. This was a very well behaved and sweet dog. Knew her boundries, and was easy to handle. (Thats saying alot for a cocker on the grooming table) So ya have to wonder ?????

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About that sound. It's not Cesar Millan specific. I do it too, to Ouzo and sometimes to Chris :D because in Romanian, shhhht means to shush, to ask someone to lower their voice or to shut up. I just realized that after I've seen some episodes of CM this year. I didn't have National Geographic Channel until two months ago, and I wasn't aware what the big deal was with CM. I've always used this sound to make Ouzo shut up from whinning or barking. Probably anyone who hears me would think I learned it from TV :rolleyes:

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The main thing that I've taken away from CM is the importance of walking your dog. It is the no. 1 thing that he emphasizes and has probably saved many a dog from a lifetime of 4 walls and a potty break. During the walk, and other methods I've used around the house, my dogs learned to trust me and see me as their leader (for the most part) :D

 

His calm assertive energy works but is not always easy to duplicate. I'm constantly working on it because it is not a natural part of my personality. It's a good thing to cultivate.

 

 

The only thing that has not worked for me is the way he walks the dog and so I choose not to do it his way. Cadi (my spaniel mix) is high strung and anxious on a walk. She is "on patrol" shall we say and wants to react to everything. His method of popping the leash to take her focus off of whatever she was zeroing in on only made her more anxious. The only thing that helps her stay calm is for me to keep calm, keep moving, and act like I do not see the yapping yorkie monster. :D

 

It's raining today...I have my cup of starbucks...Cadi and Jedi are asleep at my feet...and I found an interesting topic to respond to...it's a good day :rolleyes:

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I don't necessarily believe that you must "replace" a bad behavior with a good one. Why is it so wrong to just eliminate an inappropriate behavior?

 

At every moment of his life, a dog is engaging in some kind of behavior. Everything is a behavior. Just as jumping up, growling, lunging, barking, and pulling are behaviors, sitting calmly, greeting calmly, staying withiin a designated area, etc. are behavior. Sleeping is a behavior. It's all behavior. A dog is never just "doing nothing" - even when he is doing nothing that you are really perceiving at the moment.

 

You can eliminate a behavior, but you can't eliminate behavior altogether. If the dog is not going to be doing something inappropriate, he is going to be doing something else.

 

Even punishment based methods (like Cesar used in this example - hanging and forcing the dog onto its side) seek to replace a bad behavior with a good one. I'm working with a dog right now whose owner had a trainer in to try to teach him to stop guarding his food bowl and the trainer had them hang their dog by the high collar "until he calmed down". The trainer was looking for the dog to calm down - to replace the agitated behavior around food with calm behavior.

 

In the end, the dog got more agitated when people approached his food. For this dog, this method failed because the behavior that the dog displayed after the method was applied was to be more agitated, not calm. This dog could not learn to be calm by being hung when he was agitated. Personally, I don't see how any dog could be taught to be calm by this method, but in fact, this particular dog could not.

 

I'm working with them now to work toward the same goal that the other trainer had - to teach the dog to calm down when people approach while he eats. I'm having them do this with a very different protocol that does not involve force, and the owners have found that it is much more appropriate for both them and the dog, and t's working nicely. Through a different methodology, he is learning how to be calm when people are around his food.

 

The agitation is being eliminated - yes. At the same time, the new behavior is calm.

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I agree that hanging a dog is not likely to make him calm, but I wouldn't call lifting the dog by its collar/leash "hanging" if its feet were still on the ground.

 

I'm sure the poster who said, "Punishment suppresses a behavior; it doesn't teach an appropriate one in it's place," was not talking about "being calm" as a behavior, but rather was talking about "sit," "look at me," etc. How do I know? Not just because I've never heard anyone use the terminology "train an inconsistent behavior" to mean just "be calm" or "be mellow" as the behavior. Rather, because she said the result Cesar achieved was that the dog was "not performing any behavior except being passive," i.e., the dog was calm. That was bad, apparently, because it meant the dog was "shut down." And she said that "Ideally, a reactive dog learns to give the owner attention through desensitization." IOW, the old "watch me, watch me."

 

Behavior is "the actions or reactions [not the feelings or emotions] of a person or animal in response to external or internal stimuli." Anna's point, with which I totally agree, was that if you don't like the dog's doing X, correcting it for doing X usually makes much more sense than teaching it to do something else instead. If I don't want it to lunge, I'll tell it not to lunge, and leave it up to the dog to pick what else to do instead. That way the dog learns that I don't want it to lunge; it doesn't get the mistaken impression that I want it to watch me, which I don't.

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I agree that hanging a dog is not likely to make him calm, but I wouldn't call lifting the dog by its collar/leash "hanging" if its feet were still on the ground.

 

In reference to the Mal that was on his show last week, I think a big part of stringing the dog up (and yes, his feet were on the ground) was to prevent being attacked. That dog was awful. At the end of the show, Cesar commented that the only homes in the country that would want that dog were his and the dog's current owners. I don't think he was exaggerating by much.

 

 

if you don't like the dog's doing X, correcting it for doing X makes much more sense than teaching it to do something else instead. If I don't want it to lunge, I'll tell it not to lunge, and leave it up to the dog to pick what else to do instead. That way the dog learns that I don't want it to lunge; it doesn't get the mistaken impression that I want it to watch me, which I don't.

 

For me, it depends on the situation and dog. Some dogs need extra help in figuring out what to do instead of the behavior you don't want. Or at least, that's what I found with my dogs. I've trained a couple of mine to turn to me on their own (yes, the old "watch me") rather than getting caught up in a cycle of fear and stupid displays. Sometimes it is much easier for me to train what I want. Other times it works just as well and often quicker to train "knock it off."

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I agree that it depends on the situation and the dog. (In fact, I had edited to insert "usually" in front of "makes much more sense" very soon after I posted.) But I really like to help the dog to think, to figure out what he's doing that's wrong, and it seems to me correction usually does that better than positively reinforcing a "watch me."

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Anna's point, with which I totally agree, was that if you don't like the dog's doing X, correcting it for doing X usually makes much more sense than teaching it to do something else instead. If I don't want it to lunge, I'll tell it not to lunge, and leave it up to the dog to pick what else to do instead. That way the dog learns that I don't want it to lunge; it doesn't get the mistaken impression that I want it to watch me, which I don't.

 

I think there can be a very positive outcome from training a dog to redirect himself.

 

My dog Buddy dislikes quickly-moving bikes and certain large dogs. His early response to any scary stimulus was to growl and bark, and then he would be twitchy and over-stimulated, ready to jump out of his skin, for quite some time. So, when I'd see a bike early on, I'd walk Buddy off the path and have him do a sit. I'd keep him still and far enough away from the scary thing to not lose control.

 

Within 3 weeks of getting Buddy, my sister invited us to take a walk near her house - on a bike path. To my delight and surprise, when bikes came by, Buddy took himself off the path and did a "sit!". He had learned that removing himself from the path of the bike "protected" him from being harmed by the bike. He's no longer very scared of bikes, but he still respectfully steps out of the way if I tell him one is coming. (At this point, it just seems to interrupt his walk, but I don't want to take a chance of his barking and scaring someone into a fall.)

 

The same thing worked with dogs Buddy would react to: if I saw that he was alert in that fearful way, I would do a wide curve away from the other dog. If it was a dog we saw all the time, I would have him do a "down" so I could talk to the owner and visit a bit. At some point, again, Buddy replaced his natural tensing up behavior with a "let's go over there and lie down" behavior. He even did it once away from me, off leash, when he ran to greet a human friend, in the dark, and discovered that another person with a "scary" dog was with her. He ran towards my friend, then did a U-turn, ran about 15 yards away, and did a "down" until the scary dog moved on. All by himself. With no sign of me. I was tickled to death when my friend told me this.

 

Outside of stress and fear situations, I've seen this technique work really quickly in puppy classes, on silly dogs who want to jump up when greeting. The trainer would NOT give attention unless the pups stayed seated politely. I've watched puppies figure this out within minutes, and keep their little butts on the ground so they can get the loving they need. I'd say sitting politely is a MUCH better behavior than jumping up. How wonderful to have a dog who knows that a polite sit is the correct way to greet visitors! I've been happy-mauled by more than a few non-jumping goldens. How much nicer if they had come to me and sat politely so I could love on them.

 

So... I'd say I've had great success with replacing behaviors with better behaviors. It's as if my dog was happy and eager to learn that there was an easy way to avoid the very scary bikes. He was quick to adopt my method, because his method wasn't successful. And that's one definition of intelligence. :rolleyes:

 

Mary

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About that sound. It's not Cesar Millan specific. I do it too, to Ouzo and sometimes to Chris :D because in Romanian, shhhht means to shush, to ask someone to lower their voice or to shut up. I just realized that after I've seen some episodes of CM this year. I didn't have National Geographic Channel until two months ago, and I wasn't aware what the big deal was with CM. I've always used this sound to make Ouzo shut up from whinning or barking. Probably anyone who hears me would think I learned it from TV :rolleyes:

 

I read in his book that Cesar took that sound from his mother in Mexico. She used it on her children when she wanted to stop them from doing something or to get their attention. I've used that and something else that is kind of mother-related. A trainer I know always used another sound on dogs and taught it to use. When dogs are underfoot and in the kitchen we would do a deep-voiced "OUT" that was more like "A-OOOOOOT". The trainer claimed it was the closest to the mama dog's vocalization meaning get out of my way.

 

I don't watch his show very much any more but I caught practically all of his first two seasons when I was immersing myself in all things related to dogs. He has some good points and I didn't see anything really horrible done but it is edited for TV. The thing that made me most uneasy about him was when a client sued him after their dog got hurt when left to walk on a treadmill alone. Or something like that. But someone told me later that the client had permission to use the facilities and the dog wasn't under CM's care.

 

One plus side for the CM people is this foundation they set up: Seems like a nice way to give back. http://www.millanfoundation.org/

 

Robin

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As Shetlander pointed out, from what I saw in the episode, the Mal wasn't being hung at all. The dog was still very active and FIGHTING, not gasping for air, coughing, choking, etc. All Caesar was doing was trying to keep the dog from ripping his arm off...and the dog was making a pretty good attempt. Caesar also didn't "force" the dog onto its side. He just rolled the dog over very gently. Didn't hold him down, didn't even touch him hardly at that point. The dog just laid on its side by itself.

 

With the treadmill, I don't personally like the idea of leashing the dog, but I would imagine its pretty necessary at least at the beginning to teach a dog to stay on the treadmill. Obviously, the dog shouldn't be left alone either. Caesar actually corrected the owner in how she was leashing the dog to the machine, though. She was actually tying the dog, but CM showed her how to loop the leash in a way that she could pull it loose with one tug, thus giving her an emergency, quick release.

 

I'm far from a positive all the way, kid-gloves type handler, so maybe that affects how I view Caesar Milan's training methods. Personally, I've never really seen anything he's done that appalled me. Sure, there have been times I've disagreed about a particuliar method or how's he handled a specific dog, but you're never going to agree with a trainer 100%. There's ALWAYS going to be a situation you'd handle differently.

 

I've never watched the show consistently, but I've seen plenty of episodes over the years. I think CM's evolved a little since it first started, but it's nothing so dramatic that I'd say it was because of media attention or anything like that. It mostly just seems (to me) to be the regular evolution and learning that any trainer goes through. The more dogs or problem behaviors you deal with, the more methods you discover. The more methods you learn DON'T work or don't work as well.

 

I'm sure that plenty of CM's dogs might have relapses or more problem behaviors come up. Most of the cases on his show would require very consistent, continued training and upkeep, and that all depends on the owners to keep up on it. It's important for people to realize they can't duplicate everything CM does at home on their own. But what I like about the show is that maybe it gives just a few people a heads up that their dog's problem behaviors aren't a reason to give up on the dog and euthanize it or dump it at a shelter. MAYBE it's helped a few people realize what they're doing wrong. MAYBE it's prompted some others to seek help from a trainer or behaviorist because they realize a behavior can be corrected.

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But what I like about the show is that maybe it gives just a few people a heads up that their dog's problem behaviors aren't a reason to give up on the dog and euthanize it or dump it at a shelter. MAYBE it's helped a few people realize what they're doing wrong. MAYBE it's prompted some others to seek help from a trainer or behaviorist because they realize a behavior can be corrected.

 

I'm sure it has. The fact that some good MAY come from it sometimes, though, doesn't undo the damage that has, and is being done, to other dogs in the name of Cesar.

 

What I don't like about the show is that it has definitely given many people the impression that their temperamentally sound pet dogs have "dominance issues" where there is really just a lack of good training. It has (whether intentional or not) definitely given some the notion that exercising their dogs to the point of exhaustion will replace good training. And it has definitely influenced quite a few people to try his methods at home themselves and manage to end up making the original problem worse in the long run.

 

Sure, some find results that they like using Cesar's way, but usually when someone says to me, "Cesar says . . ." the line of thinking that comes next is problematic on some level. The fact that I work with and come across people who need to go back and correct themselves and undo what they have done to their dogs in the name of Cesar certainly can't an isolated phenomenon.

 

I don't credit Cesar with the fact that people are seeking out training help for their dogs, either. People were getting help for their dog's behavior long before Cesar, and they will continue to so after his popularity wanes.

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Sure, some find results that they like using Cesar's way, but usually when someone says to me, "Cesar says . . ." the line of thinking that comes next is problematic on some level.

 

When I see new people at sheepdog clinics who believe in all-positive, treat-based training, and their dogs are misbehaving, and they say "[insert guru's name] says . . ." the line of thinking that comes next seems problematic to me (and usually to the clinician!) on some level too. In that case -- as well as in the "Cesar says" case -- that may be because the speaker has not accurately understood the guru's methods. Or it could be just that I -- or in the "Cesar says" case, you -- hold a different philosophy of training. When all is said and done, no matter how ascendant all-positive training theory may be at the moment, there will always be philosophical disagreements about training methods. And regardless of philosophy, there will always be talented trainers and talentless ones.

 

What bothers me about the Cesar-is-bad threads is the assumption that because Cesar's methods are different from the "right way" then the dogs must be "shut down" and damaged by what he's doing, what he's doing must not work, and the show is edited to conceal this. Or that he's doing cruel things to the dogs, and the show is edited to conceal this. (Some people even describe SEEING him do cruel things that he is not in fact doing, which accounts for the OP's original question, I think -- gee, I just saw his show and he's not yelling at, alpha-rolling, beating, hanging the dogs, so I guess he's turned over a new leaf?) Of course, the show is edited. Anyone can see that. It has to be. But none of us know what is edited out, and to pretend or assume we do is just to advertise our prejudices.

 

What I don't like about the show is that it has definitely given many people the impression that their temperamentally sound pet dogs have "dominance issues" where there is really just a lack of good training.

 

What I see him saying to people is that your pet dog is temperamentally sound (except in the very, very rare cases where the dog is not temperamentally sound) but there is a lack of good training here, and because you are not training him and insisting that he respect you, he is not respecting you. What's so terrible about that?

 

It has (whether intentional or not) definitely given some the notion that exercising their dogs to the point of exhaustion will replace good training.

 

What I see him saying is that most pet dogs do not get enough exercise, and that vigorous exercise is an adjunct to good training. What's wrong with that? I think the number of pet owners who would exercise their dogs to the point of exhaustion is minuscule, if only because they're not that into making the effort it would take.

 

And it has definitely influenced quite a few people to try his methods at home themselves and manage to end up making the original problem worse in the long run.

 

Maybe. And probably influenced at least as many to try his methods at home with good results. Could be thousands. You don't know otherwise, do you?

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When I see new people at sheepdog clinics who believe in all-positive, treat-based training, and their dogs are misbehaving, and they say "[insert guru's name] says . . ." the line of thinking that comes next seems problematic to me (and usually to the clinician!) on some level too. In that case -- as well as in the "Cesar says" case -- that may be because the speaker has not accurately understood the guru's methods. Or it could be just that I -- or in the "Cesar says" case, you -- hold a different philosophy of training. When all is said and done, no matter how ascendant all-positive training theory may be at the moment, there will always be philosophical disagreements about training methods. And regardless of philosophy, there will always be talented trainers and talentless ones.

 

I have come to a point where it is important to me, before working with any trainer of any type, to have a conversation with the trainer to make what is, and is not, acceptable to me when it comes to training my dog very clear.

 

At that point, I am certainly open to hearing a different point of view. I may decide that the trainer's method is worth a shot, or I might request to do things differently (which in a pet/sport training context is usually fine with the instructor since I'm always clear about what I want to do and why), or to find someone else to work with.

 

I appreciate it when people who ask me to work with them do the same. If someone is not open to trying what I have to offer, I have no problem with suggesting that they find someone who will be a better fit for them.

 

My problem isn't with the fact that they want to discuss what they learned from Cesar, and why I want them to try something different - that's part of the learning process and it's actually one of my favorite parts.

 

The thing that gets me is that so many just start to use what they see on his show with their own dogs, without really thinking it through.

 

What I see him saying to people is that your pet dog is temperamentally sound (except in the very, very rare cases where the dog is not temperamentally sound) but there is a lack of good training here, and because you are not training him and insisting that he respect you, he is not respecting you. What's so terrible about that?

 

The problem is that he may be saying that, but it's not what a lot of folks are hearing. What many are hearing is the dominance model, and a lot of dogs are being punished - a lot - for just being dogs in the name of dominance.

 

And to be clear, I am not saying "just let dogs be dogs at all times"! :rolleyes: Of course dogs need to learn to behavior appropriately in human society. The aim of positive training is to teach dogs how to behave appropriately in human society, not to let dogs run amok at all times.

 

I was working with some people recently, and we were teaching their dog to go through an agility tunnel. The owner waved the dog toward the tunnel using the hand in which he had the food (which usually doesn't work, especially as the dog is just learning). The dog popped out of the tunnel and ran back to the hand with the food. The owner looked me in the eye and said, "he's being dominant" in a tone that clearly said that he considered this a big problem.

 

I explained that there was no dominance going on - the dog simply didn't know what to do with the tunnel yet, and that what he did (go back to the food) made sense to him.

 

Had he given a correction at that point (which it seemed to me he wanted to), it would have been very unfair to the dog, who was simply doing what made sense in the early stages of a learning process. As it was, he took the food out of that hand and indicated what he wanted clearly, and the dog understood what to do and by the end of the session, the dog was performing the tunnels correctly.

 

I also see dogs being punished for "not respecting" their owners in situations where respect is not an issue. Like the example I just used. This dog respected his owner just fine. He wasn't "blowing him off" or disrespecting him.

 

Cesar, whether he intends it or not, is giving at least a large portion of his watchers the idea that all behavior that the owner dislikes is "dominance". If he does not intend to do this, he needs to be more clear about it.

 

And probably influenced at least as many to try his methods at home with good results. You don't know otherwise, do you?

 

I only know what I do know - and that is that enough people's dogs are ending up with bigger problems than they started with when applying Cesar's methods at home to cause me concern.

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I find the show interesting, as well as people's responses to it.

 

The public has a way of mangling training methods. It's somewhat expected,and well normal. But if they ineptly try Cesar's way and it doesn't work, why does it make it worse than when they ineptly try Karen Pryor's way and it doesn't work?

 

You can say "well, with Karen's way people don't get bitten"...but they do. Their aggressive, pushy, out of control dog doesn't suddenly turn over a new leaf because you decided the clicker was the way to go, or the head halter... or,or, or etc. Mess with the dogs Cesar often has on his show - even with a smile and a piece of meat - and that dog will be dangerous. It ain't the method that's the problem...

 

I would euthanize most of Cesar's "red zone" dogs personally. So would most of us. Does the fact that we can't, won't, do what he does to make those dogs have the potential for life make us better? Is it that black and white? If I put a bratty dog, like our rescued poodle in his first weeks here, on his side and insist he chill out is that "cruel"? Would it be less cruel to send him back to the rescue as snappy, screaming, ungroomable brat? Why take 6 months to fix what was fixable in 6 minutes? The dog just knows we won't tolerate it, and that knowledge has allowed him to become a happy, relaxed pet *quickly*. What would have been better about waiting on this? You can say "less damage potential in the relationship" but I can show you a happy, well adjusted dog that adores his people.

 

For years we pushed exercise as a way to help a dog's behavior. "A tired dog is a good dog" has been said more times than we can count. But now that "the bad guy on TV" says exercise, it's bad to say that. Trish King, a major speaker for APDT's "humane" pet dog training puts dogs on their side and holds them there to calm them down. But she calls it a "zen down", so it's "ok"

 

Is it language that counts the most? the look?

 

Cesar is just one way of dealing with behavior. Do we fear it because it's wrong, or because it works and it means their might be more to dogs and dog training than little rows of leashed lemons with Pavlov in charge?

 

"Exercise, discipline, then affection" - exactly, where does this go wrong?

 

My dogs are individuals - I would hate to be held to one method to train any of them. "Doing what works" for the best results for *each individual* long and short term is beter. Be it click'n or cesar'n!

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Be it click'n or cesar'n!

 

LMAO! I love it! There are several people in my area that live and breathe Cesar. And I can immediately tell who they are. They are generally the meek, mild, soft-spoken dog owners who do not want to yell at their dogs. Instead, they go, "TSSST" (sounds like a sharp "psst" without the "p") while jabbing their dog with their finger. I can't think of anything more annoying to do to a dog. Talk about nagging! Of course it doesn't work, and the dogs continue to do whatever it was they were doing before. And the owner does it again. "TSSST!"

 

I love it when I take their dogs into the round pen with a few sheep, and when it comes time for me to catch the dog, I hear the owner outside the pen doing the ol' "TSSST!" thing. I refer to it as "Cesar-Herding" (think "clicker-herding"). Now imagine an open handler sending their dog on an 800 yard outrun, blowing a lie down whistle at the top, the dog blowing the handler off, and the handler spitting the whistle out of their mouth, cupping their mouth with their hands, and going "TSSSSSST!" as loud as they can! LMAO!

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It's pouring this afternoon, so, having nothing else to do, Scot and I watched an episode of the "Dog Whisperer." It was an episode where Cesar dealt with a biting dog, so I thought I'd get to see what all the fuss is about.

 

Not so much. :rolleyes:

 

But what I saw is not what I've heard about CM, so I wonder if he's been paying attention to the press he gets among dog people and turned over a new leaf?

 

The dog was a two year old Malamute, neutered I suppose since it was a rescue dog. He'd become very reactive to other males, to the point of biting (actually perforating and drawing blood) his handler when restrained from going after them. The dog belonged to a nice young couple who also had some kind of lab/golden/floppy yellow dog.

 

So the first thing Cesar does is take off the prong collar. Good move, I thought. Then he walks the Mal past a male BC. Mal goes nuts, rips CM's sleeve open and rakes his arm with his teeth, drawing blood. Cesar loops the end of the leather lead around the dog's neck at the esophagus and tries again. Dog lunges, CM suspends the dog by the leash, but not so far its feet were off the ground. Dog starts to choke out and predictably calms down.

 

No he hasn't. The only thing that he did right is take off the prong collar which in all likelihood made the problem worse.

 

The whole problem with the Malamute is that Cesar doesn't understand squat about classical counterconditioning and is trying to work with this dog when the dog is already highly aroused and reacting to another male dog.

 

Someone else mentioned why just not stop the behaviour instead of replacing it - because that is what you do. If you stop the dog from reacting and get the dog to calmly accept another male dog's presence you have replaced the inappropriate behaviour with an appropriate behaviour whether you realize what you are doing or not.

 

When you are dealing with a dog like this malamute you start at the subthreshhold level - you have the dog far enough away that he won't react to the other male dog and reward for the calm behaviour. You can also reward for making eye contact with the owner. Again you want to CHANGE the reponse the malemute has to another male dog. You gradually work this until the malamute's threshhold distance is less and less. Now you may shrink it to a couple of feet or you may only shrink it to 10 feet or 15 feet. It depends on how well this is worked on by the owner.

 

I just came back from teaching an impulse control seminar this weekend and worked with two dogs that have dog/dog agression issues if they get too close to them. One had a 30 foot comfort zone and one had a 50 foot comfort zone. The classical counterconditioning is what we worked on. As long as their owners are dedicated to working with these dogs, they will have good success, and will be able to be trained in a normal classes situation in the future. If they don't work on it, they will not be able to function in a class situation,. One was showing frustration behaviours towards his handler but because we did this correctly, we didn't get that behaviour during the training session. We didn't push the dog to the point where he was reacting to the other dog and taking it out on his owner.

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Someone else mentioned why just not stop the behaviour instead of replacing it - because that is what you do. If you stop the dog from reacting and get the dog to calmly accept another male dog's presence you have replaced the inappropriate behaviour with an appropriate behaviour whether you realize what you are doing or not.

 

I guess this is just a matter of semantics or something. When I ask a dog to stop doing something that's annoying, I don't redirect it toward anything else (.e., "watch me" or something like that). The dog can choose some other thing, and as long as that other thing isn't annoying, then I won't correct it again or really care exactly what it's doing. Some folks would call that "replacing inappropriate behavior with appropriate behavior" as above. But I don't really see it as "replacing" because *I* am not directing some other behavior, I'm just saying "Stop it," and letting the dog choose to do something else (even if that something else is nothing at all). At any rate, I haven't done anything but say "Stop it" (figuratively)--the dog is doing the choosing of what other thing (or nothing) it will do.

 

J.

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