Friday, January 23, 2009

Cesar Milan....going out on a limb...

Just by accident I discovered we are getting a free trial of National Geographic. I have never watched The Dog Whisperer...but I have heard many people say they either LOVE him or ABSOLUTELY HATE him with a passion.

I have had almost a month of watching episode after episode...and I have NO idea if this will cause a firestorm...but I see nothing wrong with what he is doing. I find it amazing that there are people that hate him....and I mean HATE him.

I have 5 dogs, 3 working bred border collies, 1 rescue border collie (well the rescue said he was...I think not--but mom was a border collie) and a jack russell terrier. They all live in the house, I have 2 intact females currently. One currently with a litter of puppies.

My dogs go on off leash walks 2 miles a day, plus their normal work on stock or in agility. I have one neutered male (Gator) that has fear issues. But you would not know it. He has been worked and trusts me and very rarely will show this issue. He will run agility for anyone, is great in public etc...

I train positively...I use toys and treats in agility---I use correction as well. Correction seems to have become a four letter word in dog training circles. If you try to train a sheepdog on stock with no correction....you are going to have some issues...Correction is not always physical nastiness...it can be a great tool to show your dog what they are doing wrong, kind of like the hot and cold game....ya know..that dumb game you play when people say "your getting warmer! HOT, your burning up...etc etc...your cold etc etc".

I would probably rather call it "feedback"---telling your dog what they are doing that does not get them a reward. I think telling them what they are doing wrong is just as important as telling them what they are doing right!

Dogs use correction to communicate. They glare, they growl, they ignore etc etc. Why is it such a crime to talk to them in the language they understand? If a person started talking to me in French, it would take a LOT longer for them to make me understand what they wanted, than if they just talked to me in English. They need to use the form of communication that I UNDERSTAND.

DOGS ARE NOT HUMANS. I love my dogs beyond belief...I do not have children..so they are my children..however I speak to them in ways that they understand..namely NOT like humans.

My dogs respect me...they understand what I want from them and that I love them unconditionally...but that doesn't mean I won't correct them.

I honestly haven't see him be unfair to a dog on the show...he has been FAIR, and consistent...

I rarely have to correct my dogs...but I am not afraid of doing so. I encounter many people during training that have dogs that run over them and they cannot control the dogs...so they SCREAM at them. And that is apparently "better" than actually giving a small physical correction...I find that very funny. You as a handler would rather NAG the dog, than deal with it quickly and get it over with.

We have laws, we have prisons...it is enough to keep me from committing crimes!

I like him......I really really do. I think if a person was willing to watch and be open to what he is doing...I think they could learn A LOT :)

10 comments:

Dianna said...

I agree with you completely. I've watched the show alot, for many seasons. It was a huge surprise to me that others didn't think he was great. I started watching more closely, thinking I was missing something...hmm, no. I'm impressed with the patience he shows with these dogs (don't even get me started on the patience he shows with the humans) I have and do sometimes react louder and tougher on dogs that are trying to bite me. (I'm a groomer, it happens every day) I love positive training...but i'm not going to get bit. Just my humble opinion. I realize we may not see the whole picture, due to the magic of editing, but I see nothing wrong with what is on the show.

Robin French said...

I love Cesar, think he's right on. And that he'd totally whup our butts if he ever got into stockdog trials. But i'm really into dog psychology as well as sheep psychology.

Darci said...

I think he is great, and I too dont understand why folks are so up in arms about him. Ive not seen him do anything I wouldnt do, and Ive seen him do a lot of things I wouldnt even attempt! I am a groomer too, and I handle folks little disrespectful dogs daily. The first thing the owners always ask,is how come you can Brush/ do nails etc. on Fiffy? She wont let me touch her at home.... its because I present a calm assertive attitude, and the dogs love it! They know exactly what to expect, and where they stand. Thanks Ceasar!

BCxFour said...

Okay, I like Cesar. I have met Cesar (he is much shorter than I imagined). I do not hate him. I do however disagree with many of his techniques.

I agree, dogs need correction. The dog needs to know who is in charge and what is acceptable or not. Without it they have the potential to run right over the top of you. i.e. herding and the dog is trying to cut in on a flank - you throw your training aid at them and make it very clear they are NOT to do that again etc...

My thoughts on Cesar's methods: I think they work beautifully for Cesar. Like it says on the show - his methods are being "used by a trained professional - do not attempt them yourself".

The problem is when you throw an individual who does not regularly work with dogs or even the average dog owner that maybe wants to do good and get a rescue dog - then they think that using Cesar's methods they can transform a dog. That won't work. Cesar doesn't stress positive training methods - only his rehab methods (which are full of holes) and leaves it hanging from there.

I had an applicant for one of my foster dogs come to our house. We took his dog and the foster down to the river for a 'pack' walk and have some off leash fun. While walking to the river his dog was pulling hard on the leash. He kept yanking on her prong collar, she was yelping, but kept pulling. Then he started kicking her & yanking. I could see he was trying to imitate the "Cesar foot tap" however this guy was KICKING his dog and saying it was Cesars' tap. He tooted tons of Cesar's methods then started to combine them with the Monks of New Skeet methods and preached at me about dog rehabilitation for this dog - which was a rescue. I tried to discuss positive training with him and he gave me a blank look.

I asked him if I could take his 'problem' dog for a few minutes and try something? He handed her over to me with a smug look. I hooked the leash into the regular collar and removed the prong. Then I took out a handful of tuna brownies and started walking with her. I treated her when she didn't pull - when she pulled I stopped - waited for her to stop pulling and started walking again. I had her not pulling in minutes and heeling nicely. Then showed him how to do this. Without kicking or yanking on a painful collar. This dog didn't need those techniques. She needed POSITIVE direction & reinforcement - that was all. He needed to know how to train his dog - not how to dominate her into calm submission or fear of his pack leader status.

Cesar rehabs dogs that most people wouldn't touch. I believe that he is dead on correct that dogs need 'exercise, discipline and then affection", However his show & books drop the ball in stressing positive reinforcement & TRAINING. He also provides no clear steps for the average dog owner to follow.

I also believe "calm submission" isn't calm submission - most behaviorists consider this a stress shutdown, a helpless state brought on by confusion, which may ultimately cause the dog to fight back.

Putting Cesar's techniques into the hands of the uninformed without clear understanding and ability to grasp the whole picture it is a recipe for disaster and potential abuse of dogs that desperately need a kind hand

Okay off my soap box now....*sigh*

fulltiltbcs said...

BCxFour---I completely understand your arguement...as I think ANY training technique used incorrectly is not a good thing.

And yes...he does deal mostly with dogs that are in danger of being put down or a huge liability. So comparing that to a scared rescue dog in my mind is not logical...but to many that thought is not there :(

I have not read his books etc...

But I am just talking about the show itself...I don't think one should be hated because people take what he is doing and don't do it correctly. That really isn't his fault...as you stated it does say he is a professional etc. etc.

Sounds like the gentlemen you dealt with had a bit of an ego on him!! Ego itself can be a very SCAREY thing in dog training :( And unfortunately I think that is more dangerous...as those people will not look at a dog and ask WHY they are acting like that...they never ask why...they just react :)

Thanks for writing about this though! I appreciate all sides!

fulltiltbcs said...

Robin...yes, lets not get him involved in sheepdogs please :) I have a hard enough time already! LOL

fulltiltbcs said...

Dianna and Darci...I could not groom spoiled biting dogs...no freaking way! God bless both of you for doing it!

Dianna said...

Darci: Isn't it just the best thing, seeing the look on a bratty little dogs face.."Oh, she knows what she is doing...I think I'm just going to be good now" LOL The really smart ones just make me laugh. We have one argument/discussion about what behavior is expected and for the rest of their life...we are best friends. yes, they still bite their owners, but not us.

BCxFour said...

You wrote "And yes...he does deal mostly with dogs that are in danger of being put down or a huge liability. So comparing that to a scared rescue dog in my mind is not logical...but to many that thought is not there :( "

Your last few words....PERFECT! My point exactly! But comparing it to a scared rescue dog is what needs to happen. Many of the dogs on his show are exhibiting fear based aggression. Most aggression is based in some type of fear or lack of control for the dog. Most of our 'scared' rescue dogs are rescue dogs because of their inablity to control themselves and causing many of the problems Cesar is brought in to solve. This 'scared rescue dog' that I used in my comparison - was scared and aggressive. She was aggressive to my dogs (which is why we chose to not let her off the leash). The problem I was trying to empasize is....this guy didn't get the other side of the coin. He got how to 'dominate' her from Cesar but was missing the rest of the solution - how to communicate to this poor dog what was actually expected of her. That is what the 'experts' are having issue with. Cesar does not clearly provide those logical steps.

If you are constantly yanking and tugging on a leash without showing the dog with positive reinforcement what you expect - what is going to change? Nothing...not one iota.

To many the thought to not compare the two is not there. Most people are not experienced dog handlers. Most are average Joe dog owners. They don't know positive training/reinforcement. But they do watch his show.

For many of us experienced in dog training it is only common sense to not use his techniques on our dogs and we can clearly see the difference for what one dog may need and the other may not. But most average Joe dog owners do not and therein lies the rub...and the danger.

So, us knowing not to use these techniques with a rescue dog - compared to an unknowlegable person who found Cesar's show...how are they to know the difference?

That is why all the 'experts' are having issues with his show. Cesar is not a trained professional. He does not have extensive education on dog behavior. His technical proficiencey came from what exactly? People who have spent their entire lives studying dog behavior are opposed to his methods.

Ultimately when you are in a widely viewed show as he is...you bear a certain amount of responsibility to your viewing public to show all sides. Cesar is extremely influential - instead of promoting himself (and all the celebrities on his show - which smack to me of huge self glory - and an ever expanding ego) he should be trying to bring MORE knowlege to his viewing public.

Again, I dont hate Cesar...I think much of what he has done is wonderful. What he has done to bring awareness to the breed specific legislation (pit bulls) is also profound. He has shown that so many of these dogs are salvagable.

However....what we don't see is the actual failure rate of his show because you are only seeing the ones that work - the rest fall on the editing room floor. Such is the live in Hollywood....

Egads...delete this post - I talk WAY to much!

Please don't think my tone is argumentative - I am not trying to be. Basically I like the guy - and I do watch his show.

*sigh* I am shutting up now....

Julia said...

I'm really leary of any methods of dog training that rely heavily on the human establishing themselves as 'alpha' and dominating the dog. I started out in dog obedience where there was at the time lots of alpha-rolling, domination, and out and out cruelty in some cases. Methods based heavily in correction work very well for people who have superb timing, whether it gives you the relationship you want with your dog is another question, it will get you the behavior you want. Most people do not have superb timing, in which case correction based training is flatout unfair IMO. Additionally, even in reward based training, the vast majority of people don't reward nearly often enough, I'm uncomfortable with any methods that give Joe Public an excuse to reward their dogs less than they already do! I also think that in general dog owners misinterpret a lot of the behaviors going on with their dogs, what I see at stress behaviors seem to be interpreted as 'willfulness' a lot of the time. I think my dogs look to me as the leader because of what I represent in their lives (safety and access to things they want), not because I occupy some superior position in the pack.