Pushed Too Far

A man places a dish of food down before an adult Labrador Retriever, and then crouches down and stares at the dog. The dog blinks, turns her head, and looks nervous. Seconds later, with the man still crouched there in a tense, stiff stance, the dog begins to eat. The man reaches toward the dish. The dog snarls, and turns her head toward the man. There is a moment of opportunity for the man to back away. Instead, he forms his hand into a shape that resembles a claw, and jabs at the dog’s neck. The dog snarls and retracts her upper lip to show her teeth. She does not bite the man, but instead moves her upper body away from the man. When this happens, the man advances in a threatening manner, and the dog takes two steps backward.

As the man continues to move toward her in a hovering crouch, the dog turns sideways and takes a few steps away. When the man keeps approaching in a threatening manner, the dog retracts the sides of her mouth in a fear grimace. The man keeps coming. The dog snarls and shows teeth again, but her entire body weight is away from the man. The man is claiming the space between them, and is clearly threatening. The dog takes a step toward him and snarls. The man backs off for a split second, then immediately advances again in a threatening pose. The dog’s muzzle wrinkles and releases and her tongue repeatedly darts out from between her teeth as she finally sits and faces the man. The man stands still and stares at the dog. The dog looks up at the man, blinks with squinted eyes, licks her lips a few more times, and looks away. She lies down.

There is a period of approximately 15 seconds where the dog remains lying with the man crouched nearby, as the man talks to the dog’s owner. The man then turns back toward the dog and reaches his hand toward her, bringing it palm down over her muzzle. Her lips retract again and her tongue flicks. She air snaps, and the man quickly pulls his hand away. He stands up quickly, then immediately crouches back down facing the dog, with one hand raised. The dog lunges toward the man and bites his hand. It is not a bite and release, but a bite and hold. The man kicks at the dog, and she releases her grip.

I wish the foregoing had never happened. I also wish the man in question had been a complete unknown, an average dog owner—anyone but Cesar Millan, because it would have been much easier to discuss the event without the emotional charge that accompanies any discussion of this man. But this was a trailer for the dramatic season finale of the television show The Dog Whisperer. (If the trailer is still available by the time you read this, you’ll find it here. )

It appears that Cesar had been called in because the Lab guarded his food and had threatened the male owner, and the couple had a baby. They were right to be concerned. It’s also clear, though, that the dog’s behavior throughout the rest of the clip was a textbook case of defensive aggression. You might have noticed that I reported the action as succinctly as possible without adding any subjective comments. For those who hadn’t previously seen or heard about the clip, I wanted the interactions to be judged on their own merits, rather than having pre-existing opinions of Cesar Millan cloud anyone’s judgment either way.

It’s easy for the average dog owner to see things this way: Cesar put a dish of food down in front of the dog. When he reached for the food, the dog snarled at him and snapped. There were a few moments where the dog was lying down, and then Cesar reached for her and got bitten. The takeaway, especially after seeing the blood running down Cesar’s hand, would be that this is obviously a very dangerous dog. But while it’s true that there is no way the dog should be in a home with a small child, let’s look at what really happened. The dog did not bite over her food, despite being jabbed at in the neck area. She did not bite when she was repeatedly advanced upon. Time after time, she gave signals that she was frightened and defensive. She tried to end the conflict repeatedly by moving away. The bite itself shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, because that’s what dogs do when they feel frightened and pushed too far—they bite.

I read an online comment in defense of Cesar’s actions, saying that he needed to push the dog that far to see what she’d do, how far she’d go, so that the parents could see it and know the dog wouldn’t be safe around their child. That fact was obvious during the first ten seconds, when the dog snarled over her food. But was this truly a dangerous dog? In this situation for this family, yes, she certainly could have been. Would she have bitten during this filmed exchange, had she not been pushed too far? It appears not. Her body language and signaling were intended to back the man off without further conflict. Finally, given no choice, she bit.

Television and celebrity trainers aside, this begs a larger question: how far should we push dogs in order to assess their behavior? I’ve spent many years working with dogs who showed severe aggression toward people; dogs who multiply puncture wounded multiple people, and even one extra-large German Shepherd who put a hole clear through the hand of his six-foot-two, large male owner. I’ve worked with hundreds of dogs who were clearly willing to bite over food or other possessions, and for a multitude of other reasons. You might assume that my hands are covered in scars, but they’re not. Is it because I’m not “brave” enough to “dominate” these dogs, to show them who’s boss? No. I’ve never been bitten in those situations because there is no reason to push a dog over threshold to the point that he feels he has to bite, in order to assess behavior. Any dog will bite if pushed too far, and eliciting a bite does not necessarily mean that the dog is dangerous in general. Think about it: you’re a perfectly nice, friendly person. A man comes toward you in a threatening manner. You move away, but that doesn’t work; he keeps coming. You try threatening him right back in an attempt to back him off. That doesn’t work, either. Finally, you attack. Does that make you a dangerous person? No. You acted in a way that could be interpreted as dangerous, had the observer not clearly understood the context and sequence of events that led to your actions. It’s the same with dogs.

I’m not suggesting that trainers should take owners at their word about a dog’s behavior, because owner information is subjective and non-professional. But an experienced, knowledgeable trainer should be able to observe and test behavior without allowing (or worse, causing) it to escalate to the point that the dog feels he has to defend himself by biting. It’s sad that eliciting this drama and violence, while clearly a boon for television ratings, might have cost this dog her life. In the real world, helping dogs is not about dominating them or having a showdown. It’s about accurately assessing and respecting their body language and behavior, and modifying that behavior in a way that’s effective but still keeps everybody safe. It might not make for good television, but it saves lives.

128 Responses to Pushed Too Far

  1. philospher77 says:

    Thank you for the commentary. I’d seen the clip previously, and was trying to figure out what caused the final bite, after the dog had given so many calming signals to defuse the situation. I figured it was just a case of being pushed too far, but didn’t see the “hand over the muzzle” bit. I assume the appropriate response would have been to back off and allow the dog space after she “submitted”, as Cesar put it?

    • Jamie Robinson says:

      According to the dialogue between CM and the owners, she hadn’t yet “submitted” to their satisfaction, that’s why he kept pushing.

    • T says:

      The appropriate response would have been to never jab at the dog and elicit the defensive behavior she showed before biting- the teeth baring and backing away. The appropriate response would be to tell the owners to keep their kid away from the dog while it’s eating, to stop trying to work it into a froth for entertainment, and instead to work with a legitimate trainer to desensitize the dog to having people around its food.

  2. Pat Engel says:

    I just watched the trailer, and I couldn’t agree with Nicole more. So upsetting that this dog was pushed to this extent, in the name of rehabilitation? It looks like madness-

    • brandi says:

      I agree could not agree with you more Pat, its like the trainer has nothing better to do than feed his ego and show everyone what a powerful trainer he is and that a dog “better listen” to him. Once again. sick sick sick.

  3. I can’t believe the man is still on the air over the objections of nearly every responsible and legitimately credentialed behaviorist in the country railing against him or his methods. Great blog post, but too bad it’s still necessary to be speaking out on behalf of dogs that are abused in the name of training.

  4. Jim Crosby says:

    Thanks for a great post Nicole. In testing the dogs I have, including those involved in fatal attacks on humans, I have never found it necessary to push a dog to bite. “Trainers” who proudly show their scars as “badges of bravery” tick me off the worst. Biting is a symptom of a deficit that needs to be addressed. The situation in the show you describe is not only irresponsible but shows a lack of uderstanding of basic behavior-and is the mark of a bully. When I have been bitten-and I have-it was my fault and my failure, nothing to brag about.

    • Dee Broton says:

      Lovely response! I would love to share this with my clients who have had their dogs bite other trainers.

    • Jamie Robinson says:

      I have scars 🙂 Almost all of them were gotten when playing with my own dogs and miscalculating where the mouth was going to be. I have a few scars (maybe 5 in 40 years) from biting client dogs – all but one of them from dachshunds. The one was a pit mix who got out of her collar and bolted out the door, bit me and ran back inside. It was our first meeting.

    • Nikki says:

      I show my scars as learning experiences on my part. 🙂

  5. April says:

    Went to a clients house this morning with this problem. Her children are much older and we talked about managment while they work on the problem first, but they were jabbing and flipping the dog as well. They won’t be doing that anymore. This clip made me sick and I cannot believe we’re in for another season of this:(

  6. Alex Strain says:

    This is awful and distressing. And people do actually attempt to mimic this method too. Thank you for posting. If only you had the reach he has.

  7. Anna says:

    Thank you very much for this. The fact that this sort of garbage is labeled “dog training” makes my blood boil. Real trainers strive to NEVER be bitten, & if/when we are, we carefully assess what we did wrong. Because we know we had to have done something wrong or else the dog would not have felt the need to bite. This man’s lack of understanding of basic dog behavior & basic learning theory, coupled with his complete misinterpretation of canine body language floors me.

  8. julie says:

    Maybe this is why cesar is successful in his rehabilitations, because he follows through and the rest of you “trainers” don’t. The dog was not willing to back down therefore neither was cesar. If this were a dog on dog situation, it would not have been different. Nothing “cost this dog her life” if anything cesar saved her by taking her out of a situation where she could have seriously injured someone, even the child, resulting in the euthanasia of said dog.

    • debby says:

      REAL trainers actually modify behavior as opposed to scaring dogs into submission. Babies cannot stare down a dog nor should an adult with an ounce of common sense. REAL trainers modify this kind of behavior every single day, following through completely with amazing success. If you knew anything about REAL trainers, you would know that but clearly, you are drinking the kool-aid.

    • Andrea says:


      I’m sad you feel it is necessary to lower yourself to behaving like an animal in order to change the behavior of a dog. Comparing a dog-dog interaction is never, in my opinion, relevant to human-dog interactions. We are not the same.

      You see, there are many of us who are much smarter than dogs and know how to successfully manipulate their behavior. In doing so, we can change not only the outward symptoms (aggression/biting) but actually manifest change to the cause of the behavior. In this case, discomfort at the approach of a human when in possession of food. Using humane techniques one can teach such a dog not only not to bite, but to be -happy- about having their owner approach their food bowl.

      Using intimidation to affect change would only work until the dog no longer feels intimidated. The dog becomes afraid to aggress, but is still not comfortable. Eventually, the behavior is likely to manifest once more because the problem has not actually been solved.

      The only thing I can agree with you about is that the dog could not be in a home with a child.

      • jan says:

        “You see, there are many of us who are much smarter than dogs and know how to…. .”

        really? can’t be over who is smarter ego thing?

    • Dianne says:

      If this had been a dog-on-dog situation, it would have been VASTLY different. Dogs have all of these calming signals for a reason – so that they can settle disputes over things like food and still survive to reproduce. A dog that would do what Cesar did is generally whittled out of the gene pool. And, being forced into biting him might very well have cost this dog her life, because now she has a bite history, and that remains on record for future evaluations and/or animal control reports. An experienced evaluator knows what body language and signals to look for in a dog’s behavior – forcing a dog to bite someone is highly unethical, as well as downright cruel.

    • CM was certainly not successful in this situation. Why would anyone provoke a dog in such a way when the dog is giving calming signals. The dog had backed down, it was CM continuing to provoke him that caused the dog to bite. Sometimes enough is enough….and I’ve certainly had enough of CM to last a lifetime.

    • “Rehabilitating” and dog is not making the dog behave for one person in all situations; it is about modifying behavior so that the dog’s behavior is predictable and manageable by EVERYONE in ALL situations. Dogs obey me all day, long, but that is not a success story. It’s a successful training/behavior modification program when the behaviors and respondent conditioning protocols are generalized so that the dog is comfortable and work operantly in multiple and unexpected circumstances.

  9. Laura says:

    Great article. I have complained to pet people more often then not about mans methods. All fall on deaf ears it seems as TV portrays him as all knowing. Nothing could be further away from the truth. Happy to share this on FB. Keep up the great blogs.

  10. Really great post. Says it all, thank you.

  11. Nicole says:

    Reblogged this on musings of a pirate and commented:
    out with the truth! I’d watched the clip just yesterday and the fact that the music played was in favor of Cesar and the continuous time markers shows how ignorant most of society is to simple body language communication. I’m also constantly irritated at the amount of people who “wonder” why I object Cesar Milan’s “dog training” or anyone else for that matter who goes about it “training” dogs in the same way. It is pathetic that now, we are aware of this body language, and aware of how dogs are communicating with us and yet we still go about using the same barbaric methods.
    we need change in the dog training world, or just to make this common knowledge. Thank you for posting this!

  12. Sheryl G says:

    I have less and less respect foe Cesar Milan the more I see if his training methods. This was really unnecessary and plain stupid.

  13. Abbie says:

    This is a great post, Nicole. I’m a firm proponent of not needing to push a dog to his or her limit to “see what happens.” It’s just not necessary and leads to really bad situations for both the humans and the dog :/

  14. Wow! Just wow!
    Sometimes my beagle is toy possessive, and she growls a bit, but mostly she tries to put the toy in your hand to play tug-o-war.
    I am extremely shocked at this video clip, and I am so glad you wrote it out the way you did, because I am sure had I known it was Ceaser i would have thought differently.

  15. Joe says:

    So NOT the way to handle a resource gaurding issue. The dog was displaying so many calming signals. I DID see that coming. You can see from Cesars scars on his hand that it’s happened many times before.

  16. It’s one of those situations when you don’t want to appear arrogant enough to say that I could have seen that coming but, yes, I could see it coming. You’re point that this is a bigger deal when the person is Cesar Millan is right on since the danger is not limited to those around him but to the millions of impressionable viewers who take this approach to dog training as gospel.

  17. Torie says:

    I am totally shocked. Why would you provoke a dog like that? There are other ways of dealing with guarding. “no” for a start. I have a lab retriever guide dog and would never think of provoking her. (She is a big gentle girl). I’m sure the dog didn’t want to bite. Is that not cruelty? Totally horrified :(. X.

    • Dianne W says:

      Actually, even “no” has no place in the behavioral modification needed to remediate this problem. At all. What Andrea said above is right on.

  18. nate simpson says:

    if you dont know…. sometimes health and safty should take priority over ratings…. yeah the rating went up every time the dog growled, now because it was cali a dog who was pestered to the point of self defence will be put down when they ccould of fed the dg in a pettaxi

  19. Linda Groff says:

    even more sad (I actually watched the whole show, not just this trailer) is the follow-up filming by the owners of how the dog had become even more aggressive in her crate, biting at the bars with no food in the picture. 😦

  20. Jase T says:

    Words fail me!!

    How many other good dogs are being destroyed because their well meaning and good intentioned owners have applied techniques such as this that they have learned from this ‘Expert’. It is such a shame that doing it nicely does not make for good TV ratings.

  21. 4dogday says:

    As a Dog Owners Coach I have seen this clip today and commented on CM’s inapt ability to read Holly and her situation and pleaded with clients to not think of this person as an expert or dog trainer. What they were seeing was something that a person who understood dogs would not inflict on an individual . Holly displaying all the body language of a dog who didn’t want conflict. Actions cause re-actions and he set this up text book. Why have people become so obsessed with dogs and their food? Nicole you have written this so professionally because as read it reads like a what not to do scenario.(on CM’s part) I’ve grown up around dogs and I was never bitten, because the dog was fed outside in his own space and we were told ‘leave him alone while he’s eating or you will get bitten’ and we learnt to respect the dog when he was eating….where did it all go so wrong that our dogs now have to give up their daily or twice daily feed for us to handle, fondle and steal from another family member. Do we do this to our kids? Or do we teach them that they eat what’s on their own plate and everyone respects each other food and space?

  22. Jase T says:

    Please pardon the second posting but as i thought more about this.

    Holly is actually a pretty good dog here and I think she could be applauded. She showed every sign we expect to see, gave him plenty of opportunity to back off, tried to get her self out of the situation and when she did bite the outcome was fairly minor (compared to what she could have done, one may say she has fairly good bite inhibition). How many people have seen or experienced dogs with resource guarding issues that display very few warning signs before resorting to aggression. The fact she gave him the warning (yet he was unable or unwilling to read them) speaks volumes for her. Maybe not ready to be in ahouse with a child but certainly not a lost cause (although now she has rehearsed biting as a means of getting out of a confrontation)!!

    I will be using this video to point out the key body language signals to those I work with so they can learn from it and maybe some good can come out of this video!!

  23. Thank you for posting an incredibly well written article.I get very frustrated by tv shows that miraculously rehabilitate every dog in half an hour for ratings.All too often in fabulous homes of the wealthy not in an average every day family home or showing a single individual with a dog problem.
    I am not a dog trainer but spend days around dogs and know personally there is always new things to learn. This challenges my ethics and values at times to not cave into what is trendy etc.
    I love your stance on training techniques and your expertise, and will be back for more!

  24. Blanche Axton says:

    I found this clip so very depressing and so very sad. I was anticipating that bite from the very first approach to the bowl Mr. Millan made–and knowing how he keen he is on the whole dominance nonsense, I was just waiting for the dog to either go into complete shut down or bite him.
    Your run down of the clip was excellent, by the way. Much more clear headed than I could have been.
    I watch his show with some regularity and have recently finished reading Be The Leader of Your Pack. Since I’m quite critical of his methods, I feel I need to watch the show and read his stuff. What I found interesting and bizarre is his insistence in the book that he isn’t a trainer, but only does rehabilitation. Seems odd to me to think that you can rehabilitate dogs if you don’t consider yourself a trainer as well.
    In any case, thank you for this very fine article. And poor Holly.

  25. Gayle says:

    Wow really? crate trained dog and its aggressive. Wow you people will do anything to make an animal look good huh. It is not always the owners or the people trying to help. So much breeding has actually caused issues with animals, I lean wow, puppy mill much. I had a dog that the worst we ever did was swat her with a newspaper. She growled and bared teeth at my husband and kept me from being able to go to bed. Actually tried to bite me. Then she went at my 3 month old son. We are animal lovers and I have never in my life hurt any of the oh 10 animals I have had. I raised my Pebbles (Boston terrier) from a baby. Saved her life. I have three cats at the moment. I swear to god people see abuse and wrong doing everywhere you turn and blame people even if they have loved that animal all their freaking life. Wow!!! So they try to get help everywhere I am sure and this guy on TV is a last resort I am sure and here people are defending the dog that has been aggressive to the family before this guy steps in. So are they supposed to protect themselves and their child or the dog that has gone loco??? Really!! Who are you people!!!

    • KellyK says:

      That’s the thing. The dog hasn’t “gone loco.” A dog who has learned that they need to protect their food if they don’t want to starve will growl or bite if you hover over them while they’re eating.

      If you were sitting down to dinner and a stranger hovered over you, staring, and made a grab for your plate, you would probably yell at them too. If they jabbed at you and grabbed your face, you might even hit them.

      No one is criticizing the family for turning to Cesar–he’s a big name in dog rehabilitation, he has a wildly successful show. And no one is saying they shouldn’t take steps to protect d themselves and make sure their kid has a safe environment.

      The entire point of this post and the comments is, “Cesar pushed the dog until she bit, while the dog was giving clear signals that she didn’t want a conflict, and the dog was behaving in a way that made sense from a canine point of view, when confronted with a threat that wouldn’t go away.” That’s it. Not “the dog is a canine angel and the people who called Cesar are mean and evil.”

    • RescueMom says:

      Gayle, any behaviorist worth his/her salt will require a thorough veterinary exam before acknowledging the issue is truly behavioral. Anything that causes pain can result an aggressive response, so the need to rule out health issues such as Lyme Disease, thyroid imbalance, joint issues/dysplasia is absolutely necessary.

      I, too, am an animal lover, and never intentionally hurt any of the 11 dogs I have had – nor have I intentionally hurt the over 300 I have fostered for rescue. Some dogs do have to be humanely euthanized for aggression, but there is generally a medical reason for doing so, such as a brain lesion.

      What, pray tell, were the results of the thorough veterinary exam on Pebbles?

    • Dianne says:

      “Who are you people!!!” I won’t speak for everyone, but a lot of people who read Nicole Wilde’s blog and comment on it are dog trainers and animal professionals. The actual REAL people who work with animals and have made the effort to learn animal behavior – not celebrities who couldn’t care less about animal welfare if it meant bad television ratings. If you want to know why “you people” are saying what we are saying in these comments, as well as understanding your own pets on more than just an emotional knee-jerk level, you should talk to a certified trainer or behaviorist in your area to gain a better understanding.

    • cmcnaught@knology.net says:

      We are the people who are highly-trained to recognize issues that can be successfully overcome through proven protocols. I don’t weigh in on neurosurgery or accounting issues. Perhaps you should not weigh in on behavioral issues….

  26. in any other walk of human life that would be classed as bullying, pure and simple. People get sacked from the work place for bullying!
    Unfortunatly Gayle you may be right, these people may well have thought they had no where else to go simply because they did not know and gaining access to this sort of information can be an absolute minefield. So many for and so many against CM but hey he has a TV show on National Geographic so he must be ok.
    There really is no reason to push any living being to such a limit that it feels forced to defend itself……..let me ask you detractors, if this was actually your child at scholl being bullied to this extent, would you not want to retaliate? Why is it acceptable to bully an animal? I ask do we use this form of bullying and intimidation with any being, human or animal, that crosses our door just to see what it is capable of, in case it might actually do something?
    The dog clearly, CLEARLY was saying please, please I don’t want a conflict – if this had have been with another dog, hopefully the other dog would have seen all her signals and heeded her pleas.
    BTW: some dogs can be barrier aggressive – ie: the crate or lead, makes them feel trapped and with no means of escape, so they becaome aggressive in their fear. I remember watching one of CM’s resource guarding cases – the owners stated they followed his advice from the TV show (which we must remember has that disclaimer at the start of the show for people NOT to do these things without expert help!) and beacsue of his TV advice the dog got worse and worse…..in the end even he could see the damage HIS own advice had done to the dog, and took it away to be “rehabilitated” with “the pack”!
    Agreed, if the owners do not feel comfortable with the dog near their child, the dog should be re-homed, perhaps somewhere without children. But why has it now become acceptable to expect 200% compliance rate from the dog, yet not from children. I actually had a parent tell me (after wanting to know how she could 100% guarrentee the dog would not bite her children – ranging in age from 8-14years) “you cant tell children how to behave”.when I said it was a 2 way street, the children had to be taught to respect the dogs space and property and vice versa!

    • KellyK says:

      Yikes. Scary how someone wants to hold their dog to an infinitely higher standard than their kids (who have the advantage of speaking and understanding English and being a lot smarter than the dog).

  27. Mm says:

    If anything, the dog showed remarkable restraint despite provocation.

    If someone were to do the same to the child in question and it cried or bit the man, would we be saying there’s a dangerous child that should be put down.

  28. WolfSong says:

    Idiot, idiot moron. Oh my god. That didn’t need to happen like that, and from experience, I can say, if that had been my dog, that would have created more problems than it could have solved. There are so many ways that could have been handled better, and I’m telling you, had that been my dog, no way would I have stood in the background watching while this ass challenged her, and had he hit her in front of me, the camera crew would have had to pull me off of him.

    First and foremost, people need to work with their dogs and the food dish as soon as they find out they are having a child. Most obedience schools have classes to help prepare dogs for when a child comes along-and the people too, because you can’t just drop everything you’ve done with your dog, to raise your kids, and not expect problems. The dog has to stay a part of the family unit. Oh, and as the kids grow, take the time to teach *them* to leave the dog alone while they are eating.

    Common sense folks, goes a long way, and keeps idiots like this from ruing dogs lives.

  29. Cissy Sumner says:

    I’m sorry, the video is truly frightening from the dogs perspective. I was actually laughing at CM when he was squatted down in a weird position. And he didn’t see that bite coming? Hard to believe.

  30. Barbs Atwill says:

    Yes Cissy – it beggars belief that someone calling themselves a ‘dog whisperer’ could be so blind to dog communication signals !! and yes Gillian I agree that CM is just a bully and so full of his own self importance it’s frightening. The dog clearly has some issues around the food bowl but just what has it actually learned from this experience? Any reputable trainer/behaviourist will tell you that when a dog practices a behaviour and it works – the behaviour is strengthened and likely to be repeated. This man is a danger to dogs and owners alike.

  31. Thanks Nicole for an excellent post. I haven’t kept up with him but my clients do, so am sorry to hear things are getting worse not better :<

  32. rainblindfan says:

    I’m a fan of Cesar Millan, so yes the expectation is already formed, I don’t mind ^^

    Not a dog-realted professional, so I won’t go with the intelectual dog-related part since most of the people here are really smart and “the real professionals” and I will fall short

    I’m just going with the common sense….

    This is the questions me and lots of friends hv been questioning bout the critics for CM
    We see critics bout “I’m right he’s wrong” or “my technique is rigt his technique is wrong” but we don’t see solutions coming out of the article.
    and Cesar does the postive reinforcement, many times…. I mean for us who watch most of the DW series, we are blown away by how gentle CM can be with a dog.

    It’s confusing really,
    The professionals dog trainers who against CM method never really show us how
    If ths side of the world brings forward a great person with great gift and talents (certainly using postive reinforcements with afection afection afection) to help our loyal companions’ issues…. I don’t see why the whole world won’t rooting into that person n ditch CM.
    And please don’t against the tv shows, not everything is bad,
    u want global supports u know u need a big media coverage like tv shows where u could actually influence people. It’s 40millions viewers, airing in 110 countries for CM’s case, how can u agains that??

    And of course word of mouth does wonder. It’s no secret that CM is the man to go for A-listers, people who will or will not recoment u,
    Fact is, they keep coming back, they recomend him to their friends… If he did as bad as most of his critics said, as far as claimed CM “cost a dog life”….. I don’t think his former clients would recomend him, instead they would talk bad about him…
    Infact, early years…. CM was the man to go for rescue group, drop their unadoptable pups for rehabilitations bfore took them back for forever home, and he did it for free.

    So, it’s confusing…….
    As confusing as it can be, human needs to see to believe it.
    I see what CM does, the entire thing, most of the episodes, not just some sort clips… This particular clip I would say it was mild, u have to see eps with “trinity” or “Gigi” or the famous “shadow”
    Or watch this particular clip full episode, but Nat Geo really seems like they’re make fun at CM’s critics, hehe… 😀
    All being said, stil chosing CM better than no proof arguments based on prabability which is not necesarily a reality (with all respect) b(^^)d

    • April says:

      It’s not so much “he’s wrong, I’m right”, it’s “he’s not a qualified trainer, has never mentored under anyone, has conducted no studies and his methods are based entirely on flawed and outdated studies. It comes down to the “educated vs. the ignorant” The details of what you don’t see on the show (behind the scenes) give an entirely different picture of him and that is horrifying when we take into account the things that make it to air. Hanging a husky til it turns blue, pushing a dog to the brink to make sure it displays aggressive tendancies, are all for the glory of television and in no way help the dogs. Let me ask you if you think adding fear and anxiety, intimidation and pain to a situation that a dog is already anxious about is in any way helpful to the dog?
      The reason you see no solutions in the article is because the solutions for resource guarding cannot be summed up in an article or 30 minute segment. It is NOT a quick fix problem (no aggression problem is) and at the onset of behavioral issues you need to contact a qualified trainer or behaviorist to help you. We successfully help these dogs every single day without resorting to pain, fear and intimdation. We don’t just stop the behavior from happening, we actually change the way a dog feels about a trigger or stimulus. You cannot just put a bandaid on behavioral problems. You need to address the underlying emotional cause of the problem. In not a single episode do I see that happening.
      I understand his charisma and he does make some very good points as to exercise, discipline (never physical), and affection.
      I think his methods appeal to a lot of people because a.) they are looking for the quick fix and it appears to work very quickly, but the fall out from these training styles are detrimental to dogs and people. b.) some people just need to dominate and punish something. For the most part I think people want to understand their dogs and him being the most public figure right now will fall prey to his star status. There are much better resources for understanding and helping your dogs. People who have decades of studies behind them (Pavlov was nearly a century ago and his findings still hold true). People who have successfully rehabbed thousands of dogs as well, just less publicly and with better results, using no pain or fear.
      As for him being the go-to guy for stars, they tend to flock to where the camera’s are. The more they are in the spotlight the better it is for their career.

      • rainblindfan says:

        Let’s take a deep breath 😀

        there u go again….
        Still sound “I’m right he’s wrong” kind of thing , that’s the real conversation here
        Yes, He didn’t go to school but he went to a better school, the “Nature” itself….. 😀
        Walking 40 agresive dogs everyday without them fighting each other sure teach him something the books never explain
        Not many dog-related professionals are lucky to have such privilige and u know it’s true 😉

        This one thing we don’t trust…. Every argument based on “studies”, yet some studies seem to contradict each other most of the time
        We read books (studies) but we are given mother nature to see by ourselves and have our own studies then decide

        There’s no such thing as quick fix, true…… CM mentioned that many many times, it takes as long as it takes.
        He said “dogs don’t have time limitation as us human, so when we rehab a dog we work as long as they need”
        There were many cases that took 2 until 8weeks of rehab such as; Viper, Gavin, Baby Girl, Titan, Hardy, Jody, Maurey, Cricket, Curly, Nasir, Sumatra, Apollo, Coco, Preston, Trinity, Baxter, Argonout, and many more of them.
        Cases such as chaos at the door usually fixed very quick, but took the owner repetitions for some times 😉
        U should hv seen an episode with a dog groomer who complained bcoz CM showed him a way but took a long time to handle one hard case dog to groom while he has 20clients a day
        CM said “It might not be good for the money but it’s good for karma” ^^

        What behind the scene footage!??? U’ve seen them?? WOW……. May I seen some 😀
        C’mon……!!!! There’s a pure lie there
        As much as u hate the man, please respect urself, don’t lie and don’t use sentence like “not in a single episode….” when u didn’t really see at least 50episodes, but short clips
        U even fall short with the husky thing, Shadow wasn’t a husky, it’s a malamute…. It was pointed at the begining of the episode, and Cesar didn’t hang shadow. I might not know dogs body language in detail, but I know tail up relax and wagging is the dog enjoying itself, and that wht shadow showed after the ritual (while critics said shadow was shut down)… Confusing again -__-

        Anyway, If u really want to see pure postive reinforcement technique from CM, please watch episodes featuring Nasir, Sissy, Luna, or Cobar to say the least….. If u call that whatever u criticize CM, u really get us at lost -__-

        Yes, we do have “better professionals” out there…… So why worried over one man??
        CM can’t help 40millions dogs out there
        Every professionals in town has the opportunity fair and square. They’re doing great they’ll get recomendations from clients, they failed…. Well, no recomendation and it’s not bcoz people around adore CM too much.
        CM always said in every episode “please look for a local professionals help” or “my way is not the only way”……
        Publicity is not always a negative thing, if u did for the right reason if u want to help, don’t against it too much, u take every publicity as much as u can……. Fame is something that come along.
        This is said…….. If u want to redirect people mind from the oudated abusive aversive “magic” CM uses….. Show us the way, and for that u can’t do it in a single article as u said. U deff need major network and strong support system
        Urs take a long time, so does CM’s…… It’s just that they hv to edit it out into one hour show.
        Please don’t keep coming with the excuses with things like “can’t be explain” or “don’t like publicity” or “people are ignorant”
        Do u really believe 40millions people are ignorant people?? O.o
        Nat geo is a money oriented channel??
        The DW or DPC team are heartless people, who just ok seeing dogs being abused by CM??
        Many of them are dog-related profesionals or dog lovers themselves.
        FYI, CM is a honorary member of International Asosiation of Canine Profesionals (IACP), becoming the front face of the webpage, and the best part is Ian Dubar also the member of IACP 😀

        Ooh, I didn’t say STARS, I say “A-LISTERS”….. Those people who can pay u as much as you ask as long as they satisfied, who can bring ur bussiness to the top or bring it down….. We know these kind of people have the best networking system in the world, and they don’t want to hear reasoning, want an action and a solid result, the hardest people to handle 😉

        And, glancing at the group of people who say “We know Much better”
        Never heard CM said that to anyone, he will sit there listen to them even ask them to trust their own instict….. And he even sometimes asked to learn couple things from the owner that he can’t
        So, The only one who know much better is absolutely the “DOG”, not you not me not CM
        Stop being so arogant, u won’t get ur message across with such atitude

      • Dianne says:

        If the “real conversation” is “I’m right and he’s wrong”, as you say, rainblindfan, than you’re not really interested in hearing anything that might enlighten you, because you’ve already defined the discussion. If stating facts is “arrogant”, and flashy television isn’t, then, once again, you’ve drawn your conclusion about what you want you want from the world.
        Here’s an example I’d like you to ponder, though, if you like: Would you have an operation performed by a surgeon who uses ether and doesn’t wash his hands (and I’m excluding women because they’re usually not this “arrogant”), because he’s decided the last 80 years of medical advancement are hogwash? He believes he has a natural gift for surgery, and that’s enough to convince people he’s competent to perform it. Maybe he would lose his certification to practice medicine? Probably. Now, what if the medical profession was completely unregulated; there was an optional certification process available, but anyone with the desire could call themselves a surgeon, list their business on an “international” directory (which is all the IACP is – you could join tomorrow if you wanted), and choose to follow or ignore (or nor even bother to learn about) any advances made in the field of medicine at any point in time. This is the quandary the field of dog training is in at this time, and you have “surgeons” in this field like Cesar Millan.

      • debby says:

        Diane, your post about the surgeons is spot on. Great job! You cannot fix stupid so you are wasting your time trying to educate that CM fan.

    • Dana Fedman, CPDT-KA says:

      I think what is confusing is that this is a TV celebrity and what we see is edited with spooky or happy music depending on the situation.

      There are still many successful dog trainers who fervently believe that intimidating, hitting, pinning, kicking, choking off air, using electronic collars are the best ways to deal with aggression. Sometimes it “works” in the sense that the dog may stop showing threats to the person(s) who are able to mete out the punishment or the threat of something very unpleasant but that does not mean the dog is no longer highly stressed or conflicted in whichever situations are triggers for that dog.

      As we saw in that video, even though Cesar’s crotch was in the Holly’s face, she (bless her heart) – even when trapped – went for the hand he hit her with.

      Cesar essentially forced Holly to “go there.”

      Many, many trainers believe when “experts” provoke dogs into biting this is cruel and inhumane. Because the only time Cesar backed off was shortly after she bit him, she’s learned a powerful lesson that’s what she has to do to prevent people from pushing into her space when she is upset. This is an unsafe thing to do to a dog with food bowl aggression, especially given that this is a home with an infant.

      That is why a lot of trainers are so mad about it.

      It’s another way of looking at this situation. You cannot “correct” a dog into being comfortable around a food bowl, just as you cannot “correct” a dog into liking other dogs or being friendly toward strangers.

      It makes a lot of us crazy when this type of treatment of animals is shown on TV as state-of-the-art or something to be emulated. This is what people did to dogs routinely 20 years ago. We know much better now.

    • RescueMom says:

      Google Sophia Yin Low Stress Handling, or watch some of her videos on YouTube. I suspect it will become quite clear that there is indeed a “right” way and a “wrong” way, and where CM fits into the equation.

    • Matthew says:

      The reason many can rightly and confidently say CM is wrong and they are right is the science behind what trainers like Nichole and many, many others use to actually train and modify unwanted and dangerous behavior is out there for anyone to find. It’s peer reviewed and stands up to actual trial and use.

      All it takes is a little effort to find it. but not much, since it’s available at most libraries and basic college level courses and various internet sites. It’s NOT cutting edge newly discovered stuff either. The science behind actual animal training and behavior modification is pushing 60 + years old and it is NOT hidden…its’ out there just waiting for people who want to learn to go read the material.

      Trainers like CM are clinging to the equivalent of sun resolves around the earth and the earth is flat ideas of dog training. they just don’t stand up to scrutiny.

      • rainblindfan says:

        WoW….!!! ^^

        with so much rightness in your part and all wrong in CM’s part, weird how millions of people (including professionals, in all walk of life) flock into CM’s way so steadily and strongly.
        I believe completely yours def not the wrong way, neither is Cesar’s way.

        You expect us to read, and after the reading what happen? We suddenly have our dogs’ issues dissapear? NO
        we need direction, not a book

        I’m not smart, maybe to most of the CM’s critics I fall easily into the “idiot” category, but your analogy with the sun and the earth makes no sense at all.
        I’m sorry, you actually comparing it to a SOLID FACT, that none from the humans in the planet earth would argue, NONE, not even those people lived hundred years ago.
        And this, we’re arguing, not only me and you, but even among experts and profesionals, for years now.

        it’s your task to explain, your agenda to re-educate, if you failed, please humbly blame yourself
        but man, you need to be a little fast…. There are kids all around the globe adopting CM’s way, and CM has his “Way” integrated into a curiculum created by Yale University for elementary school students v(^^)V

        yes I heard, the new generation of trainers who model themselves after CM, wrote in their blogs “The positive reinforcement people rule with iron fist”
        these trainers, happily to report, start opening their own “Dog Psychology Center” to help rehabilate dogs with a pack of balance dogs…. Way to go people b(^^)d

      • Dianne W says:

        >>>”WoW….!!! ^^ with so much rightness in your part and all wrong in CM’s part, weird how millions of people (including professionals, in all walk of life) flock into CM’s way so steadily and strongly….” “…There are kids all around the globe adopting CM’s way, and CM has his “Way” integrated into a curiculum created by Yale University for elementary school students …”<<<

        That is scary to me. (lots of dog bites are sure to follow) The thing about the 'CM' way is that it is very difficult for the average person to reproduce or succeed with. A huge part of his method is his natural responses to dogs, which sometimes are very good and have a calming effect. (other times… not so much!) It is true that sometimes other dogs can help to rehabilitate a problem dog. CM is certainly not the first person to use that method and many behaviorists and positive trainers will use a calmer non reactive dog to help teach another one how to be callm and non reactive
        But getting back to what Matthew said and your aversion to science etc. The thing about the 'scientific' behavioral methods of working with animals is… they work, and lots of people can learn to use these methods. These methods are reproducable. True, there is a knack to them also and learning to read the body language is part of it – understanding how 'in the moment' dogs live is another huge part. This is why clicker training can be so effective – that clicker helps to communicate with the dog (or cat or chicken or dolphin) in a much more efficient way than most trainers or pet owners can achieve. Any person of average intelligence or ability can go to a pet store and take a clicker training or other positive type obedience class (and these are certainly not the best trainers to work with usually) with their dog and if they mess up, no big deal. Even if they are not very good at it, they and their dog will learn something positive. Screwing up with positive methods is far less likely to result in someone getting bitten than trying to follow the 'CM way' and not knowing what you are doing.

      • rainblindfan says:

        Love to hear that you’re afraid, that’s my expectation exactly…. kidding, hehe… ^^

        ~life is simple, we make it complicated~

        you make it sounds too complicated mam, and btw that’s not a good energy…. you scared everybody with a future that is not a reality
        you’re only allowed to be positive about it, that’s your way, isnt it?

        anyway, dont worry…. those kids learn their way just about right
        do you really think Yale University runs by a bunch of CM’s fans? of course not, they experience his teaching 1st hand by inviting him giving the seminar at the university

        anyone who learn CM’s way are taught to use every methods that work for the dogs, they are giving tools to work with…. all methods, all ways, all philosophies that do not harm the dogs are good.
        Cesar’s way is not about certain methods or techniques, it’s about “Energy” and “Patience”
        methods or techniques, you decide which one work.
        It’s not about the methods or techniques it’s the energy behind it.
        fyi, clicker training was introduced in one of DW episode with a fire department dog name wilshire 😉

        of course CM is not the 1st person, but he’s likely the most successful… it’s 40 to 50 dogs, once aggressive, walked together off leash like nothing at all (that’s how he’s making his name bfore getting the show on natgeo)
        and yes, he said he only let an aggressive case join his pack when the dog already gain the trust from the other pack members… and it works, it does.
        in his words it is actually a pay forward system coz that dog would eventually help another dog.

        So dont worry so much mam, dont against it too much….
        the more you persist, the more resistance we could actually be, find a way to co-exist and learn from each other will be a better option
        we’re not supposedly to be restricted only to one method/technique or we’re not gonna able to help

        CM’s way isnt as bad as you think, trust me, all of us there are dog lovers, would we hurt our animals? no
        it’s just being misunderstood

        peace V(^^)V

    • Rebecca Rice says:

      Rainblindfan, I am going to attempt to explain why so many of us have an issue with how Cesar handled this case, and how a positive-reinforcement trainer would have handled it. The big issue that I, and many other people, have with Cesar is that his methods are much more likely to result in people being bitten (and, consequently, dogs being put down) than are other methods. Take a good look at that clip, and read the analysis of the dog’s body language. That dog was saying in every way she could “I’m scared, I’m stressed, PLEASE give me some space so that I will feel safe”, and instead of respecting that message and backing off, Cesar kept the pressure on the dog. And, as far as I can tell, he did that simply because, according to his method, he has to be aggressively dominant until the dog “submits”. Which Holly did, eventually. But what you saw, and what other trainers see much too often, is that the underlying emotional cause of the behavior is not addressed, resulting in Holly biting when she felt threatened again by Cesar’s reaching for her muzzle (an aggressive act in dog language). So, when the average person tries to follow this style of teaching, they are likely to find themselves in the same sort of situation: with a “submissive” dog that suddenly bites because the underlying problem is not fixed. The dog has “submitted” because it had no other option, which is generally called “learned helplessness” by other trainers. In this case, Holly was trapped, and, with no way out, finally just gave up. The problem, as demonstrated by Cesar himself, is that if you push that further, it is possible that the dog decides it has no option but to attack.

      As to how a positive-reinforcement trainer would deal with that serious of a case of food aggression… I do recall an episode where Victoria Stilwell was dealing with a similar situation. Her solution was to put out 6 similar bowls of kibble (the more bowls, the less likely the dog is to feel a need to guard all of them). Let the dog start eating, and then walk up to the bowl farthest away from the dog and drop a really good treat (chicken, steak, prime rib, etc.) into that bowl, and walk away. When the dog goes to that bowl to eat the treat, walk to the bowl furthest away and drop a treat into that bowl, etc. When the dog is comfortable with you doing this with 6 bowls, go down to 5 bowls, then 4, etc., until you can walk up and stand by the dog while it’s eating out of the bowl. Do this correctly, and the dog will start WANTING you to come up while it’s eating, and happily give way before the bowl, because it is hoping that you are going to give it something yummy. You then start phasing out the food reward.

      Which just about sums up the philosophical differences between the two approaches. With Cesar’s way, as seen with Holly, you “fix” food aggression by teaching the dog that growling, biting, etc. to try and keep the food is met with an even greater threat, so the dog better give way to the human around the food bowl. In positive reinforcement, you teach the dog that having a human approach the food bowl means good things are about to happen, so there is no need for the dog to growl and bite. Dominance methods will work, as long as you are able to convince the dog you are bigger, badder, meaner than it is. But let someone approach the bowl who can’t convince the dog of that, say a toddler, and the dog is still going to react, potentially in a more aggressive manner than before. With positive reinforcement training, the dog is going to respond the same way to the toddler and the adult, because it is possible for toddlers to be sources of good things too.

      Since I am pretty sure you are going to say that “you should never reward a dog for being aggressive”, I am going to include a link to Sophia Yin’s video about why counter-conditioning aggression is not the same as rewarding it. To set the stage, she is working with a dog that tends to growl, bark, and lunge when someone blows in his face. Consider how Cesar would handle that case, and then watch the video.

      And finally, I agree that when assessing a dog, you do not need to push so far that the dog goes all-out. It seems to me that intensity would be just as useful (does the dog freeze at the bowl? or growl? or air-snap?) to determine how severe the issue is and how to approach it.

      • Barbs Atwill says:

        What a superb clearly written post Rebecca. Sadly I don’t think rainblindfan will change his opinion.
        All we can do is keep educating people where we can and chip away at the foolish, dangerous and cruel methods we see particularly from high profile entertainers like Cesar Milan.

      • rainblindfan says:

        love you Rebecca > this is what most CM’s fans follow, and nothing else

        thus, thank you for your really polite approach mam, i’ll make sure to make a note and share it to my pack
        lots of respect for you mam *hats of*

        ~ for Barbs Atwill, i wish you would be more free from any judgmental point of view
        it’s not so much what you say, it’s how you say it
        still, best wishes for everything you do, i know deep inside, you’re a wonderful person ❤

      • Barbs Atwill says:

        Rainblindfan – If standing by and speaking about my principles makes me judgemental then maybe I am, or perhaps you are in fact judging me ? Would I be right in assuming that if you were threatened by muggers who wanted to take away something you valued highly – that you would just submit to their threats or intimidation – if so I only hope your submission would be recognised by your attackers and you would not be pushed to a point where you felt that your only option was to act aggressively for your own safety.

      • rainblindfan says:

        looks like some of my post are missing, here what is missing *fuih*


        love you Rebecca
        love how you said it, i really do that’s how it’s supposed to be said, with calm and less negativity, i listen, we listen 😉

        it’s not to my surprise about the technique you mentioned, some friends in our forum actually sugested that technique when other members would ask if there’s another way less confrontional becase they aware they dont have enough knowledge to do it Cesar’s way.
        It did work for some, for another some it’s not, perhaps coz every dog is different, some will react to a certain way some are not.
        that way we ussually come up with another technique from other members experience

        to sum it up
        we (CM’s fans) do not limit ourselves into certain way only, we dont cling onto one paradigm, we open to every technique
        we appear as if we tend to belief only on CM’s technique is because how most postive reinforcement people adress themselves to us, with sometime swearwords, all the time negativity, and the “we know much better than you” attitude
        we, only follow through.

        yet, Rebbeca mam, you, by far my favorite, every technique you wish us to try, we’ll try, guarantee you that, but cling only to one paradigm, sure that’s we cannot do… we would love to keep our mind open to everything that gives us options
        Cesar said “when a person say my way is the only way, that person mind is blocked” >> this is what most CM’s fans follow, and nothing else

      • rainblindfan says:

        hi Barb ^^
        in what why am i judging you? i thought i said you are a wonderful person, didnt i?
        trust me, as much as i can, i try to be calm, though yes guilty, sometimes i got too excited…
        if i ever, in any way made you feel as i am being judgemental toward you, i’m sorry… it’s not something i did because i want to do it like that, i’m sorry, and will say sorry again and again and again

        it’s my highly valued belief that actually being attacked, me (and most CM’s followers) being called a name, which i understand because i came to a place where most people support the author’s belief
        yet, as long as i can remember, i didnt react aggressively, and i will deff try to not react that way, coz the label with me already form an expectation… it’s not gonna help me in anyway to react the way i was expected
        you can push me as far as you want, intimidate me as hard as you possibly can, while i might not going to be submissive, i wont be aggressive as well
        i cant be angry, i cant be frustrated, i cant be upset, i can only be positive
        in Cesar words “you didnt have the past, you dont own the future. you live in the now”
        there’s always option 😉

      • Barbs Atwill says:

        with respect – you have expressed an opinion (judgement) of me – albeit complementary and you are of course free to do so just as I am also entitled to have opinions (judgements) about people and issues. I simply asked if you would submit in a situation where someone was trying to steal something you valued highly from you – just like the dog in the clip did – and expressed my hope that your attacker would be able to understand that you were submitting and not continue to intimdate you to the point where you felt your only option was to act aggressively.
        It is a very straightforward question which i had hoped may give you an insight into how the dog felt when it realised its submission failed to remove the threat and it was forced to use aggression instead.

      • rainblindfan says:

        hi Rebecca, me again writing…. i know you’re tired of me, please dont ^^

        have watched Dr. Sophia, one thing i would say, she’s supeeeeeeeeeeerb, deff gonna try and share her techniques to our pack b(^^)d

        what would Cesar do? i dont know…. i really dont
        he is a very instinctual person, even his team dont know what he’s going to do, coz he treats every cases differently.
        i dont say this to defend Cesar, but i did watch this episode entitled “Cesar Going Under” where he worked with a dog who was aggressive toward the mail man,
        you would easily say, with this case, CM would touch touch touch…. he didnt, not at all….. instead he put the dog fave food all over the motorcycle, where he explained “motorcycle should represent something positive”…. and then he started the engine, only lil correction on the leash (exactly like Dr, Shopia did to podee, have watched the vid too), and when the dog really stay still and really calm, he rewards.
        afterwards, he motor ride with the dog running beside him.

        ~ Barb…. hooooooooo… you mean the dog in the video? my bad…. i’m sorry for mistakenly think it was me, my bad #banging my head to the wall#
        for Holly’s case, however…. this is what confusing with all the analysis flying, Cesar clearly (at the moment being bitten) wasn’t trying to take away any food, no food bowl there…. it seemed like he tried to pet Holly, thus it’s not so much an intimidation
        And dogs do bite even when you dont do anything to them nut try to pet (Denver news anchor woman accident), even when your intention is good, they even attack other dogs that’s not doing anything to them
        so i dont know how to think with your philosophy
        what i know is, dogs dont reasoning, dogs dont realize, dogs dont hate, dogs dont questioning, they are instinctual (animal, species, breed)… it’s like a pack leader (a dog) walk his pack for 10miles, he wont stop turn around and said “thank you guys for following me 10miles” , only human do that…
        ~so i would come up with, Holly was still in state of mind “guarding her food”, Cesar hand reached forward means (to holly) he’s going to take away the food, what she’s normally do is to bite, so the bite happen (she’s failed before), it’s her instinct, not the feeling of being intimidated whatsoever…
        i’ve seen dogs fight for food, even a stare can cause a bite, the dog that lose the battle would go and sit far away watching… other time i visit them (they are feral dogs at a play ground), they are playing, i throw food…. and the only dog pick it, is the dog that win the battle last time, the other would look at me attentively till i give him the food, they other guy didnt care, but food on the ground it’s clear belongs to whom.
        anyway, i only use common sense, so i’m very aware of how fragile i am with my point of view

        and maybe u think i’m making up stories, i’m not.
        i’m lucky my company transferred me to work in a quiet small green city with lots of beaches where dogs are not so much domesticated, they get to do what they got to do (as dogs)
        if you want to learn them, please email me at nectar_cluster@yahoo.com, i’ll arrange your stay, but you have to travel for 20-24hours by plane, if you love dogs and really want to learn them in their nature (no leash, no supervisions, no issues, with an incredible structure… i mean, those dogs would gather at the play ground by 3 or 4pm and will go back home around 6pm. trust me, their owners are never around, they just come and go like that), just leave your books at home and enjoy them, u’ll be amazed….
        i guarantee you 100%, you’ll see balance dogs everywhere you go around town… the only dogs with issues actually those dogs whose owners keep them inside the house and not let them out.
        this is an invitation (for anyone) anyway 😉

      • cmcnaught@knology.net says:

        I think we can agree that you are not a trained professional, and that neither is Mr. Millan. I think this thread is best served by making cogent (and understandable) commentary based on scientific fact and quantifiable, measureable criteria and results. If you cannot do that and simply want to talk about common sense and instinct, then there are other good blog sites for that. It’s just not what we’re talking about here, and it is taking what was a great discussion about threshholds and dog body language communication and devloving it into a rather inane and unproductive back-and-forth on opinions based in no fact. Best of luck to you rainblindfan.

      • Barbs Atwill says:

        You are making me seriously lose the will to live now rainblindfan – you just dont get it do you and probably never will. or are you just a wind up merchant.
        I’m leaving this blog now as there is nothing more constructive to add that hasn’t been said by numerous qualified, experienced and dedicated behaviourists and trainers.
        PS – I used the word submit in my posts as I doubted that you would understand what ‘calming signals’ are. Do you ?

    • cmcnaught@knology.net says:

      It’s not a matter of “I’m right; you’re wrong.” It’s a matter of “That’s dangerous and damaging; this is safe and effective.”

      In my humble opinion, Cesar Millan directly contributes to viewers getting bitten by their own pets after watching how he deals with dogs. And yes, I know National Geographic displays a “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME” disclaimer on every episode. But it you can’t use his techniques safely, he’s not helping. So why does he have a show? (Answer: Will Smith)

      • rainblindfan says:

        that’s pretty much the same thing sir 😀
        why does he have a show and why DW gets high ratting regardless all the critics?
        coz he has the DPC, he works with 40-50 dogs at once, he rehabs them, and he impressed his clients, he doesnt try to discredit anyone, he brings the awareness it’s us not the dogsm , and he talks with words we can understand and relate to, nothing more 😀

        quote from u : Cesar Millan directly contributes to viewers getting bitten by their own pets after watching how he deals with dogs

        mine : Cesar Millan directly contributes the awareness to people how it’s important to meet your dogs needs. affection is more for the human.

        peace V(^^)V

      • cmcnaught@knology.net says:

        You’re clueless. Truly. I feel bad for your persistent ignorance, but I cannot spend any more time chatting with you. I have clients that will actually listen, and get results. Have a nice time abusing dogs and getting bitten….

  33. Barbs Atwill says:

    So Gayle – swatting your dog with a newspaper eh !!
    know a lot about dog training and behaviour do you ?

  34. Dana Fedman, CPDT-KA says:

    I sure appeciate your post. Carry on!

    Could he have a lack of dopamine in his brain or is he just a dope?

  35. shana says:

    It seems to me that the owners war eloping for an excuse to justify getting rid of their “dangerous” dog. What the dog did was completely normal behavior; a dangerous dog would have bitten right away. I know, I had one.

  36. shana says:

    “were looking”

  37. Morag Heirs says:

    Notice that he actually says he didn’t see that coming, clearly you weren’t watching what we were watching 😦

  38. Emma says:

    Just watched this – heck I would have stopped when she tensed and tried to cover the bowl a little more and gobble the food a little faster – that was ALL I would have needed to know, it clearly demonstrates shes worried about people near food and from that point on, I’ll work to fix that.
    The signs were exceedingly clear that he was pushing for a massive reaction and BOY did he get one – one I don’t think even he was expecting.

    For those in defence of Cesar, he has access to all the latest science, he has spent time with a fantastic and hugely qualified man, Ian Dunbar, who wowed Cesar with what was actually possible using non-coercive, non threatening methods – and yet he still chooses to use threatening, in some cases violent, aggressive techniques.

    Can you who support Cesar explain why he does that?

    There is a ton of evidence out there, scientific evidence as well as anecdotal evidence, that proves Cesars methods are risky to both humans and dogs, not effective in the long term and damaging to the relationship between dog and handler – it isn’t just me saying this, various national and international canine and animal welfare agencies believe his methods to be abusive and dangerous – and he has access to better information, more effective, kinder techniques…

    So why doesn’t he use them? If you think he is so awesome, explain that?

  39. Reblogged this on K9 Kelts Dog Training and commented:
    Excellent article on resource guarding and the way NOT to treat the problem.

  40. ADM says:

    I think the guy is an idiot. And I think the only reason that he’s still on the air is because there was a contract signed. However, it is BECAUSE of this show that I do not watch National Geographic anymore… they need to catch up with the rest of us and get out of the dark ages of dog training. Completely ridiculous and severely dangerous to put yourself in this kind of position with a food aggressive dog – but that’s his favorite thing to do it seems. Let’s aggravate the situation even more by threatening, kicking, popping, jerking, and staring down an already uncomfortable dog. Watch me – I’m a tough guy that can take this dog down, make it submit to me. What? I got bit? Imagine that. Totally ignorant. Take him off the air and put HIM in rehabilitation for awhile. And never let him near another dog again.

  41. ADM says:

    Oh and rainblindfan – you might want to research what really happened to Shadow once the cameras stopped rolling – and after he caught his breath. The original owner of the dog had him removed from the family that allowed CM to do that, because he saw the episode, and he felt the dog had been abused. I won’t go into the whole story here – if you look hard enough you will find it. However, I just wanted to point out that perhaps your “protection” of CM’s methods needs to be researched a little deeper before you use an incident that you aren’t fully knowledgeable of.

    • rainblindfan says:

      maybe u can provide me a link, would love to read something about it 😉
      though i didnt understand about the original owner….. why shadow was with that family?
      should they seek the original owner permission before doing anything??
      I watched the full eps, toward the end of the eps (it was two diff cases in one eps), there’s shadow report…… the family could actually stopped its aggression, but CM had to comeback coz the family still have a problem with it walking on the treatmill.
      i see full eps wth shadow, like many times…. and what actually happen after he caught his breath?? wht i saw was he relaxed… on the ground wthout CM even holding it

      i didnt try to protect CM i dont have to…. they guy is doing fine, having his seminars around the world, and he has supports from other dog-related professionals too
      i might not fully knowledgeable, true……. but CM does have professionals with credentials behind his back.

      please bring forward the “real professionals” everybody talk about for us to see

      • ADM says:

        Use your educated self and find it. Believe me, it happened. And the family that allowed CM to “train” (and I use that word very lightly) Shadow, was a foster family. Obviously they didn’t need to get permission to use the dog on the show, or it wouldn’t have happened. You also need to look up the difference between a dog “calming down” and “shutting down” — again, educate yourself. Obviously you are a CM fan, and nothing ANYONE says against him will be heard by you – so why do you even bother responding? Read the article again. Watch the clip without sound. Watch the signals the dog gives before the end result. If you know ANYTHING about dog training (which I’m beginning to doubt), you’ll see the problem. Otherwise – you might want to try pushing your opinions on a Cesar Milan fan forum, there they will be warmly received.

      • ADM says:

        Here – saved you some trouble. Start reading where it says “Shadow Before and After”: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201204/did-cesar-millan-have-hang-the-husky/comments?page=4

      • rainblindfan says:

        Calm down….!!! ^^

        I need you to provide the link, so it’s easier for me, but seem like u’re going to bite me, so I might just watch from far away 😀

        Bout shadow, I remembered the family said they adopt it not foster it, but hey, maybe they lied.

        I have said, I’m not a profesional, I know nothing about training. Used to have my dogs trained, but not anymore after watched DW
        They might know how to sit, stay, heel…. But keep barking and pulling me off during the walk which I thought was ok till I see daddy,
        I prefer to have a balance dog than a well trained dog, which they have now, thank to CM ^^
        I didn’t say trainers are bad though, they are awesome, it’s just that now I have diff beliefs 🙂

        In CM fan forum we actually talk about rescue and rehome, volunteer to local shelter or donate to various international dog-relatend fund rising coz the milan foundation keep updating us about organizations that need help
        Recently, we receive info about 170 rescue pitt bulls frm the pit fights in the philipines and where we can donate
        There are not so much the talk about which techniques are better 🙂
        We might be a bunch of stupid people, but we glad we join the forum that enable us to do some good for our loyal companions across the world
        We are 120k strong and with that number we could do plenty 🙂

      • rainblindfan says:

        Have read the article, thank you…… Muaaaaach, big kisses 🙂
        Feel bad for shadow (if the article even true) 😦
        Will watch that episode again, make sure the family really said shadow was adopted, so I could really believe what it’s said when no picture of shadow with d original owner included in the article, or link to contact the person
        And adding the fact he mentioned Victoria stitwell, another tv personality, who advised an owner to put their dog down over a phone call -__-

        Still doubt the article though, bcoz if I was one of Cesar critics I would take shadow’s original owner to any media I could find to work on my task to educate public that CM method is just wrong.
        I believe there will be major network willing to cover the story. It’s a huge controversial topics as anyone knows, viewers will be jam packed

      • cmcnaught@knology.net says:

        Currently, the only positive trainer with a show is Victoria Stillwell. It is not as wildly popular as Cesar Millan’s because, well, she doesn’t beat the crap out of dogs and so it is not as compelling video. Humans, particularly we Americans, have a fascination with trying to make animals “obey” through force and intimidation. It is starting to change, but oh-so-slowly. If you want to see amazing stuff, watch video of Ken Ramirez of Shedd Aquarium in Chicago train marine mammals and zoo animals. I would LOVE to see Cesar Millan try to work with animals that are bigger and stronger than him. He’d get killed. There at a recent conferent, Ramirez showed an amazing video of a hyena that was clicker-trained to press its neck against a cage so that a vet could insert a hypodermic needle in its neck and draw blood. How would Cesar accomplish that task? He wouldn’t. He’d be lunch.

        IT’s not about “energy” or “dominance” or “submissive state.” It’s about training an animal that a target behavior gains the animal something, while any other behavior does not. REALLY simple concept, but it take patience and precision.

        Here’s a great video of Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS, working on food bowl aggression. Note that she does not get bitten because she has the brains not to put her ACTUAL HAND near the food bowl…..


      • rainblindfan says:

        mr. cmcnaught@knology.net
        u’re funny, entertaining and warm.. muaaaaaaaaaaaaach #big kisses# ^^

        it’s about energy, it’s about dominance, it’s about submissive state…. in nature, it is about those 3 (yeah, i’m rambling)
        come to see the dogs where i currently live, their owners sure dont know such thing as training, but their dogs well behave all the time….. they are off leash in public places
        so it’s not so much about “Training”…. animals dont train each other in their natural habitat sir, only us human do that ^^
        Animals live by instinct

        why would Cesar train a zoo animal? he doesnt have the knowledge
        oh sure, but ask Dr. Shopia to train zoo animal too, that would only be fair and square to your challenge 😉

      • cmcnaught@knology.net says:

        Rainblindfan – I personally would go to-to-toe with Cesar Millan with marine mammal of choice, training a behavior chain – let’s say bounce a ball on the nose twice, put it down on the ground, put a flipper on it, and take a bow? I understand the principles involved and would have absolutely no problem getting the desired result. Shall we say sea lions? That way, he can get his arm bitten off if he tries to alpha roll it.

        Leave the thread to folks who want to debate aggression modification practices and principles…..

      • T says:

        “I’m too ignorant to understand why this is wrong,” is not a legitimate excuse to use or condone harmful, outdated, and scientifically baseless “training” methods.

        Lots of snake-oil salesmen do well More money =/= better than.

      • rainblindfan says:

        Hi T ^^
        not gonna push ya button, just want to give you this to read… really want you to worry
        this story comming from a Vet, and she’d incorporate Cesar’s Way into their staff training protocol 😉
        i give you a reason to worry now, dont i?


        Written by Dr. Sherry Weaver
        August 29th 2012

        When Kathy and Kate told me that they were going to submit Howie to Dog Whisperer, I was excited that there might be someone out there who could help him. Of course, it seemed like a long shot that we would be selected, so, when we got the final confirmation, I was ecstatic. I have to be honest that I was not very familiar with Cesar at the time, which made it an extra special surprise when I got to see him in action. As a veterinarian, I have worked with many trainers, but to see Cesar’s easy, confident style and immediate results was inspiring.

        After the team had set up and shot the background story, Cesar arrived. He wanted to know nothing about Howie’s history, so he could just walk in and get to know him with no bias. I swear it happened just as you see it on the show! He walked into the office (which no man has been able to do before) and immediately made contact. His ideas were so direct and insightful that Kate and Kathy were able to implement them in no time at all. You could see why he is called the “dog whisperer”. He instinctively understands what is driving the dog and what has to change. By the end of the day, the changes in Howie were obvious, and that was just the start–think how much better after we worked with him for weeks and months!

        It was a full day’s work when all was said and done, but what a day! The Dog Whisperer team was so thoughtful about the fact that we are a functioning medical facility, and everyone was so excited at the prospect of helping Howie after his horrible ordeal. You could tell that this is not just a television show for them but a chance to help people all over the world understand their dogs and improve their relationships. Cesar’s techniques are so applicable to every situation that we are planning to incorporate his book into our staff training protocol.

        Finally, I can add a note about the outcome for Howie. After working with him for months, he was able to do things I never had thought possible. He was ready to start meeting forever-home families. After the show aired, we were inundated with calls from well-wishers and people who wanted to adopt him. We were fortunate to have several interested families in our own backyard, and, as of yesterday, he went home with the most wonderful family. We all cried when he left, but they were also tears of joy. We will still get to see Howie for medical care, and the image of our Howie sleeping on a couch in his own home and chasing toys in his own backyard for the rest of his life will be with me forever.

        Thank you, Cesar!

        Dr. Weaver

      • rainblindfan says:

        or this…
        the inmates help to rehab and rehome 130 (so far) former death row using Cesar’s method.
        i just want to say, while you guys busy criticizing, others who follow CM’s way are busy too, helping the animals 😉
        so go ahead with all ur negativity 🙂


        The Pawshank Redemption: Dog Training in an Unlikely Place
        By: Nicole Breanne
        August 7th 2012

        Cesar received a fan letter from a woman named Jhauntain Owens. Ms. Owens talked about the rescue she works for. The rescue is called A.D.O.P.T, they take in “last chance dogs” or dogs that are “too aggressive to be adopted out” and train them using Cesar’s methods. They have successfully found homes for 130 former death row animals and currently have twenty adult dogs, sixteen puppies and few cats. Did I mention that all of this takes place inside Madison Correctional Facility for Women?

        A.D.O.P.T stands for “A Dog On Prison Turf” and it’s run by Jessica Bradley. The program was only supposed to have fifteen animals at a time, but Bradley just can’t say ‘no’ to an animal in need so she wound up with forty.

        There are twenty-six women in this program they are all level one or level two inmates and have less than a six year sentence. Bradley told me that the women in her program have become model inmates. They have confidence in themselves, patience, and they will leave the prison with a new job skill. After I spoke with Bradley she sent me several stories written by the inmates and a few from the forever homes the rescues found through the program.

    • Dianne says:

      The National Geographic Channel canceled The Dog Whisperer, just so you know.

      • ADM says:

        I did know that Dianne – however, he has a new series starting, where he will be filming in Spain… a place that isn’t as picky about animal abuse as the US and other countries. I certainly don’t think that National Geographic should have signed him up to do more damage.

      • Dianne says:

        Oh! That’s really too bad – oh well, baby steps….

      • rainblindfan says:

        Sorry to ruin ur party, but the Natgeo VP said the DW series will still be on the rerun for many years
        Cesar also said he was ready to end DW 2 years ago, but the channel didn’t agree with it.

        All can be read from New york times article

  42. gary says:

    Caesar Milan is a MORON. Did anyone see the show with him and the “Wolf-hybrids”? That episode is proof he is an idiot.

  43. pawbla says:

    Great article. When I started reading, I saw it coming… I knew it was Cesar Millan. He’s such an ignorant person. I think he’s not purposely doing everything wrong, but he is completely ignorant on what to do!

  44. Michele says:

    I like to thank CM for his show and his awesome training! When clients are going around pointing at their dog(s) and saying SHHH! SHHHH! SHHHH! along with taking their dog(s) down as if they were playing in the NFL….. I know I have my work cut out. (Thanks CM)Most have a fearful or reactive dog. Some dogs just don’t listen… The bond and trust has been broken, and they wonder how this happen?

    However, I also know this is my chance to educate and redirect their bad behavior with a much better behavior! 🙂


    • rainblindfan says:

      Awesomeeeeee job b(^^)d
      Why don’t u join us in the national anual pack walk with CM and scobydoo this november 29th, help to rescue, rehab and rehome dogs
      All for good cause, thousands of paws already sign in and ready for the walk 😉

      • Michele says:

        Sorry rainblindfan, I was being sarcastic…… I have many clients who watch his shows, then try his techniques at home, most are first time dog owners….. Even though the little box on his shows tells viewers “Don’t Try This At Home” they still do……

        I have watched the show to see what all the hype was about……. I will tell you this. I think trainers should take what they like from their schooling, mentors, shows, books, DVD’s, Seminars and so on, pending on their methods.

        I have a good friend who is a dog trainer in CA who is a CM fan. One thing I did take from her is the Pack Walking. I saw how positive one can be with a limit of dogs (5 or 6) and set rules. So yes, I have a meet up group for my students and friends and we have “Pawsitive Pack Walks” once or twice a month. “Cheers”

    • rainblindfan says:

      it’s okay, i’m not here to judge anyone 😉

      you’re right,
      Cesar also advocates the same thing…. find the right training method for your dogs because every dog is different.

      and i can understand what you feel, a friend of mine is telling me the same thing bout his clients, but since he modeled himself after Cesar, he actually re-educate his clients what Cesar’s way is really about, when it is to correct a behavior, and to control your energy, most people forget how to be calm, things CM actually mentioning a lot in his shows

      in saying so, i believe every method is good,
      at the end, we try to accomplish the same goal, a loyal companion that do not drive us crazy, hehe ^^

      I support your “pawsitive pack walk”,
      everything for the good of our for legged friends is great
      keep doing what u’re doing Michele d(^^)d

  45. Dianne says:

    Thank you so much Nicole! You have added a superb article to a growing list of similar articles I’ve been seeing lately. Some are written by people we expect to see, others have come from former aversive and “balanced” trainers who have realized they can’t remain in that ignorant place anymore. Even though the content you used was depressing, I don’t personally believe that things are getting worse. I think that there is real progress being made, everyday clients are getting educated (and educating themselves!), and trainers are beginning to understand that there are standards they need to hold themselves to in order to continue their work ethically and humanely. It’s just happening slowly, steadily, and the “revolution is not being televised”. Thank you again!

    • jan says:

      “everyday clients are getting educated (and educating themselves!)”
      yes they are. amazing isn’t it? hopefully most think for themselves and don’t blindly emulate anyone. rainblindfan left a big clue earlier… did you catch it? people don’t much go for finger pointing and negativity. we’ve heard…. move on.

      • Dianne says:

        You mean the anvil being dropped on everyone’s heads (complete with emoticons and exclamation points)? Internet trolls aren’t known for their subtle “clue leaving”.

    • rainblindfan says:

      u hate too much -___-

  46. Jessica says:

    I’ve worked with dogs that have a really low bite-threshold – where they’ll go after you for stepping in too close, or for walking by them – but with aggression, the bite thresholds need to pushed back very slowly while building trust in the animal so their stress level decreases. Every time a dog gets in a bite, that dog is more likely to do it again. Going past that threshold is always a slip-up on the trainer’s part and if it happens you can’t act like it never occurred but neither do you push a dog so hard and fast that you MAKE that dog bite.

  47. sally says:

    In the end you don’t solve aggression problems with aggression. You may suppress the problem so it looks like it was fixed but it will probably surface again at some point because you have not changed the dog’s underlying emotional response to the problem. you have only told them not to show aggression…so you think anyway.

  48. ADM says:

    rainblindfan – again you have your stories screwed up. However, this is not surprising, as the whole Victoria Stilwell having a dog euthanized over the phone comes up a lot from C.M. fans – probably as a last resort. It’s interesting that this is always what you guys fall back on to, I don’t know, prove that Victoria is a bad trainer? Well, whatever the reason, let me educate you in that area as well. Here is a link to an open letter that Victoria wrote regarding the issue. And uh, yeah, it’s really from her – it’s on her official site… so no need to question it’s authenticity. And by the way, pass it around to your C.M. Fan friends, so they know the whole story too – share the knowledge. 🙂


    (And as you can see, if you read the other posts on this particular topic, the ones arguing are, surprise surprise, C.M. Fans.)

    Anyway, this clip is what this blog post is all about – and as you can see, the majority of the people responding are horrified, at the least, at the actions of Milan. And the majority of the responders on this post are experienced dog trainers and behaviorists. Doesn’t that tell you something?

    Jim Crosby – a person that has worked with dangerous dogs for many years, including those that have actually killed people – also wrote up a second by second assessment of this clip, and guess what? He comes to the same conclusions as this blog author. Again, that should tell you something about the unnecessary bullying that is done to this dog by C.M.

    • rainblindfan says:

      i’m comiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing back 😀

      have done another watch from the shadow clip
      owner Alan & Alex ament adopted shadow from a rescue group
      they were doing all they could before asking for Cesar’s help, contacting professionals, reading books, and look for other resources but nothing happen
      they were thinking to give up shadow
      Alex said “we are his (shadow) last chance, if he can live with us he’s not gonna have much chance to live” 😉
      so the letter posted at that web was pretty much a lie, adding by the fact it was posted by a less objective web ^^

      ~ have read that letter from Victoria, thankieeee…. muach muach ^^
      apologize greatly to Victoria, have always believed she’s a great trainer and she might not have had better choice since she cant guarantee anything…. it’s for the good for everyone, salute b(^^)d
      wht would CM do in her part though, i believe Cesar would take Benji into his pack and end it there if he couldnt find the right energy people to adopt Benji…. but that’s only because Cesar has the resources, the DPC and the support of his 40-50 dogs at the center.

      bout CM fans, they made mistake, absolutely yes, it’s not something anyone could feel proud of, they should stay calm when Victoria’s fans attacked them, but for them it’s u touch i touch kind of thing.
      see, the guy who wrote the letter mentioned victoria, me by nature only follow through. none in my comments mentioning anything bout Vic until i read that letter.
      I myself dont really care bout Victoria, but i will say she’s doing a great awesome job, that’s two thumbs up b(^^)d

      For the video above, i’m sorry I have to stand still…. sorry ^^)
      Would only interested to see what the critics have to offer beside blaming and giving words… what about see any of these critics in action with similar cases 😉

      about Jim Crosby, watched his “bleu” video with my sister, she said “what they critics Cesar for? that dog has it tail between the leg most of the time” ~ and he (forced you to cry) entered a sad song, pleaseeeeee -___-
      you’ve got to see a dog whisperer episode titled “The Saga of Sissy”, similar fearful dog
      the only difference was, Cesar didnt wear any gloves (gloves??????? -___-), he worked it 3 hours (not minutes), and worked in complete silent and no sad song to bawl your eyes out 🙂
      Cesar said “MOther nature runs on her own time table, you cant rush rehabilitate a dog”

      the majority of the responders here might be professionals but it didnt tell me anything until they come up with videos working the same issues and nailed it
      Humans need to see to believe it 😉

  49. diana says:

    i think we’ve gotten far off track from what i believe was nicole’s original point in her post: how far is too far to push a dog for the purposes of evaluation/assessment? this is not a ‘how to fix aggression or resource guarding dog’ post. which is something i personally believe should only ever be done in person anyway (not via internet; if in-person really isn’t an option, then perhaps via video or skype or something similar but then only with a qualified trainer and dog guardian that is willing to listen and follow instructions closely).
    in any case, i think nicole did an excellent job of describing what she observed in the video and then offered her opinion that there is no need to push a dog over threshold (and why this may not be a great idea) to accurately assess the problem.
    no need for her to offer specific suggestions for ‘fixing’ this problem as that is not the point here.
    thank you for your thoughts, nicole.

    • Barbs Atwill says:

      Well said Diana – I totally agree that this blog has now moved away from the original post – we could debate methods of training /behaviour modification all day long. It is, at the end of the day for the individual dog guardian to decide who and which methods they choose to help them should they need it.
      It is reassuring to know that so many of us are vehemently opposed to the method of evaluation used in the clip. I for one am proud to stand up and be counted when I say “for me there is NO place for this approach in any form of training or teaching whether it be with animals or people”
      Nat Geo should be promoting problem prevention training programmes for breeders and puppy owners if they want to help in any way to try and resolve the horrific problems they are happy to sensationalise.

    • rainblindfan says:

      observing only from one minutue trailer was actually superb…. and insert some negativities, that’s superbly triple awesome
      and another “my way works. his way didnt that’s why he got bit” was actually inspring too
      everybody would listen amd bow

  50. wildewmn says:

    While I am happy to allow comments from readers who agree OR disagree with the blog post, this discussion has devolved into an argument about Cesar Millan, which is exactly what I did not want to happen. I am glad to see so much discussion, but if we could please keep it civil and respectful (and on topic would be nice, too), it would be wonderful. Thank you!

    • Dianne says:

      Please don’t take this the wrong way – it seems also that some of the readers on here might not be familiar with internet trolling – a situation where a person enters a conversation online and stays deliberately off-topic to elicit reactions from others. The general advice I’ve gotten from savvy people is, “don’t feed the troll!” While it is very hard NOT to react, I’ve found that not “feeding the troll” has worked to keep conversations from spiraling into the abyss. Thank you everyone, for describing some really excellent examples from your own experiences with animals and dogs in particular – it has helped me as a trainer.

      • Barbs Atwill says:

        Thanks Dianne – i think i may have been troll’d – so to speak ! I was sent the link to this site by another trainer friend and am new to this type of communication. Have enjoyed the comments and helpful info – my business is fairly small and seriously aggressive dogs thankfully quite rare but I learnt from very experienced people who I respect and admire and admit I did get frustrated at what was being said by one particular person on this blog. A good lesson has been learned today – thank you again.

    • Rebecca Rice says:

      In an attempt to bring it back on-topic, how would you suggest evaluating a dog like Holly? If the owners had called you and said “we have a food-aggressive dog and a young baby”, how would you have arranged the meeting? How do you get the information you need in order to accurately assess the severity of the situation, given that the owner may not be a reliable judge of the dog’s behavior?

      • Emma says:

        I like to have a good conversation with the owners and I will ask them what they see, and also what they have previously attempted to resolve the problem.
        Whilst owner interpretations are often incorrect, I have a fair degree of experience in working out what they mean and will have done – it is useful to know even if not accurate in respect of the dogs actual behaviour if that makes sense!

        Then I want to see the dog and evaluate the dogs general character, so I would want to see her interacting normally with her family and I’ll note what I think might be clues to a problem.

        Then I MIGHT want to see her eat some food from a bowl – but thats only a maybe, because if the owners are telling me that, for example, shes coming off a food bowl to fly at a person, or shes gobbling her food and tensing up, or shes snapping if they walk within a foot or two of the bowl – I don’t need to see that!

        I am more likely to want to see the dogs response to an empty bowl and what happens if we toss ONE piece of kibble into it.

        I will assume the worst, after all I know exactly what a dog IS ultimately capable of, I know what a dogs bite can do (I raw feed my dogs, I know how easily they can bite through bone and flesh!).
        If I assume that she is MORE aggressive and reactive than she actually is – there will be no harm done due to what I would recommend they do.

        I am never going to push a dog to see what she will do for two reasons – firstly its not necessary and secondly I do not want my evaluation to make the dog worse, and each incident where a dog feels the need to use aggression WILL make the problem worse.

        I have sufficient knowledge to understand the potential without actually having the dog realise that potential in front of me!

        SO lets say this dog is gobbling food if people get within a foot, shes tense and if they move closer after that she is air snapping in their direction (which is what we saw Holly do when CM began the process).

        I would advise a safe management strategy to begin with, ie, the dog is always fed in a room alone, the food is put down on the floor and THEN the dog is allowed into the room as the human leaves.

        That immediately rules out a/ anyone getting bitten and b/ the problem being made worse.

        To fix the problem I use the multi-bowl trick – this is a process where we change the association the dog has about people near food bowls.

        Start out in a room the dog is NOT normally fed in, after the dog has been fed, and use three or four bowls placed as far apart as possible and hard kibble that is relatively low value.

        That means that the whole situation is as far removed from normal feeding times as is possible, the dog is not hungry, the food involved will be low value.

        The person will walk from one empty bowl to the next, with the dog loose and free to investigate. The person basically ignores the dog and drops ONE piece of kibble (and I mean drops, not places!) into a bowl as he passes it. He moves on to the next bowl.

        The dog follows around, she can hear the clink of a single piece of kibble drop into each bowl, by the time she gets to that bowl the human has moved on. If she dashes to a bowl the human hasn’t gotten to yet, there is no food in it – food only happens AS the person is by the bowl, and there is only one piece, which is eaten immediately thus there is nothing to guard!

        The person is constantly moving, not looking at her or interacting with her, so theres no threat there. The dog will start to associate humans being near food bowls as a good thing.

        This process may take some weeks, where the owners gradually reduce the number of bowls, can gradually increase the value of the food or the amount of food dropped at each time.

        Eventually the dog will be practically BEGGING the human to be near a bowl, because it means food, so the process has changed the dogs associations with people and food bowls.

        Theres quite a bit more to this than I have written, but the process does not involved any threatening, any pushing of the dog.

        There may well be other issues that need addressing, such as teaching the dog to leave something when asked, teaching her to swap items she has for items I have etc, and ensuring that the dog has not become obsessed with food for some other reason (for example, is left with food down at all times and does not have enough mental exercise).

  51. Barbs Atwill says:

    Unfortunately, I believe that one of the biggest problems when dealing with food aggression and many other problems is that there are many owners who simply want a behaviourist/trainer to go out for one consultation and “fix the problem” that day. Often they cannot or do not want to pay for the follow up visits necessary in behaviour modification programmes. Some are not able or prepared to ‘manage’ the situation or indeed put in any work or commitment themselves to the changes THEY need to make to their lifestyles while following a programme. They may well have tried several ways of dealing with the problem themselves prior to seeking help and often have made the situation worse. If you do not have owner compliance and commitment then any programme is doomed from day one. In these cases and In aggression cases (particularly if there are children in the home) I sadly believe that the dog in question should not stay in that particular home.

  52. Amanda, CVT says:

    With all of the averted gazes and other obvious avoidance behaviors, the clip basically just showed someone bullying a dog. I always turn the volume off when watching his clips because he uses all of this colorful (nonsensical) language to describe what is happening, or at least how HE sees things are happening. I can watch the same clip and come to a completely different conclusion and treatment plan.

    What is the dog learning, exactly, by being backed into a corner until she stops offering any behavior at all (learned helplessness). Where is the talk of management until comprehensive remedial training has taken place? Where is the substitution, the training of an incompatible at the very least. I see no CC&D. I see no attempt to change the dog’s emotional state. In fact if anything, we have worsened it and created more anxiety in the presence of food. I see no working below threshold and then building up. I see no attempt to establish rapport with the dog. I don’t even see anything the owners should be practicing themselves, and isn’t half of the training supposed to be him training the owners?
    (I do, however, in the end of the clip see a VERY pissed off Cesar who is not in any way giving off a calm energy… tensed muscles, hardened gaze and narrowed eyes, jaw flexing, tight lips… I would be moving away from him and fast and I’m a human!)
    If anything, from this clip I would anticipate that with continued practice of this intimidation, my prognosis would be that the dog gets worse… probably starts lunging when the food is put down or what have you instead of just warning them with a growl. I see her becoming more confident in her defensive aggression. I see quicker to bite, lessening of all the pre-bite behaviors… basically the fast track to euthanasia.

    I always feel most sad for the dogs.
    I never have finished the Shadow clip that has been mentioned in the comments, I get to the point where the dog starts showing physical signs of distress and (as a vet tech) I simply can’t watch anymore. A dog showing the same signs if brought to the clinic would be put on oxygen and probably treated for some sort of shock. I have read the comments on that clip about people defending hanging and other medieval correction techniques, but from a veterinary perspective that’s considered a health concern and intentional causation of harm (aka, abuse). Again I go back to: what is the dog learning?

    This is simply not an acceptable form of “training.”

  53. Crystal says:

    Sadly. I know for a FACT that this dog was brought to a PR/clicker trainer FIRST for an eval. The trainer agreed to work with them and when she tried to sched with them, They never returned her phonecalls. Then this appears on TV out of the blue…

    FWIW I would take this dog on personally in a heartbeat. I love working with RG dogs. This is such an easy fix (or management even) in my mind. That and its obvious in the video that most of this behavior was CREATED through interactions and not the dogs true temp. Dogs that are born RG, do not escalate like that unless they are taught to escalate through being pushed… IMO.

  54. Dianne says:

    Just found this fabulous article shared on facebook by Grisha Stewart:

    It covers the science very well in specific regard to what is happening to the Holly confrontation.

  55. really nice, hope to see more from you

  56. Evelyn Haskins says:

    I see a gentle dog being teased to exasperation.

    I would guess that any aggression previously shown with respect tothis dog’s behaviour was from the owners, and that THEY need councelling.

    I woud be pretty cettain that any of my dogs, if approached and cornered by a man behaving that way would attack. And I would expect them too — because ‘no innocent person WOULD behave that way towards a dog.

    Instead of playing Commando with innocent dogs CM should go join any Army that will take him — or he could play paintball, or even take up any of the Asian Martial Arts sports.

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