The truth about Cesar Millan and his training methods are finally starting coming out! Professional trainers and behaviorists who use science-based training methods that do not include punishment or any type of physical correction are NOT the exception, we are the norm.
Does the star viciously beat dogs? No, but the methods used are unnecessarily rough and there is significant evidence that physical punishment such as shown on the show can be harmful. Cesar strongly believes that alpha rolls work. They don't! And he's ignoring that. The Alpha Roll, once hailed as the premier way to prove to your dog who's "Alpha" (Boss) in the family, has been replaced by a gentler, more successful way of training. Now the Alpha Roll, besides being obsolete, has proven to be detrimental to the health and mental well-being of your dog, as well as downright dangerous to the "Roller".
Why The Alpha Roll Is Dangerous
Dog Park member Violetcows said it best:
"The only reason that a dog will FORCEFULLY flip another dog over on its back is to kill the animal. By forcing an animal to submit in that way you are literally putting the fear of death into them, they think you are trying to kill them. It is not surprising that a lot of people get bit trying to do the alpha roll - the dog believes that the human is trying to kill them so they try and defend themselves. Doing this behavior to an already dominant animal can increase the likelihood of aggression. Doing this to an already submissive animal will increase the fear in that animal - leading to submissive urination and possible fear biting. Hands should never, ever be used to hurt an animal - an alpha roll does just that and its efficacy at asserting."
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:
-A Gentler Approach Is More Effective-
Positive training is more effective for training any species any behavior that they're physically capable of doing. You might say, "But how can not punishing my dog actually be more effective? I have to tell her what she did wrong."
Or, at the very least, you're nagging the dog with machine-gun Sits (“sitsitsitsitsitsit”) or not giving the dog any direction other than “NO!”, until she just shuts you out completely. Think about when you're learning something new. How would you feel if every time you goofed, the teacher kept saying “Wrong!” It would get really frustrating, to say the least, and you'd probably end up disliking the teacher or the subject.
The very idea that a dog “escapes punishment” or “gets away with it” is terrifying for some people. Our entire society is so based on punishment that it's hard for us to comprehend how an animal can actually learn better without it. But really, it works because attention is the best thing in the world to a dog (and humans, too). In fact, if you do physically or verbally punish the dog, you run a very high risk of creating much worse behaviors than the ones you started with.
Say that your teacher asks a question and you think you know the response. You raise your hand enthusiastically, blurt out your answer, and oops, you get it wrong. You get smacked for guessing incorrectly. The next time a question is asked you'll sit on your hands and avert your eyes to avoid the possibility of being called on. The rest of the class who witnessed your punishment will also be sitting on their hands.
Now for the flip side. The teacher walks in with a huge jar of candy and announces that anyone who attempts to answer a question will get a piece of candy. The students who give correct answers will get a whole handful of candy. More students will try harder, pay closer attention to the lesson, and do their homework more thoroughly and with more enjoyment. This system—positive reinforcement—encourages the students to think! It's more effective to teach dogs' minds rather than manipulate their bodies. You should work with, rather than against, your dog during training sessions. And you should help inexperienced dogs rather than reprimand them.
Read more here:
In the episode Fondue, Chip, Hope & JoyJoy, small dogs are lifted several feet off the ground and swung by the scruff of their neck. In Teddy, a Lab's feet are pulled off the ground by hanging him from the leash. Most disturbing, Shadow, according to veterinary experts who have viewed the footage, shows signs of asphyxiation after being hung by the leash.
Another example is JonBee, a Jindo who is forced to lie on his side. After a significant and dangerous struggle (during which the dog has urinated), the dog finally gives up and allows himself to be rolled over. However, the dog is not relaxed. Quite the opposite. The dog exhibits numerous signs of stress, and is exhibiting a phenomenon known as learned helplessness, often referred to by trainers as "shut down."
Learned helplessness occurs when the dog (or human) just shuts down because nothing he does is ever right, so he just gives up.
Learned helplessness was originally observed by scientists who placed dogs in a box with no escape and shocked them through the floor. The dogs first tried to escape and then, exhausted and finding no exit, simply lay down on the floor, despite continued shocks. The dogs weren't enjoying the shocks more than they were in the beginning, they had simply given up.
It does not take physical injury to traumatize a dog. While some dogs can recover from traumatic experiences, others will have lasting behavioral problems as a result.
Just as in humans, chronic stress causes serious medical problems in dogs such as weakened immune systems, digestive diseases and heart disease. Acute stress can sensitize the dog to specific environments and people, creating a more negative association than before and escalating behavior problems in the long run.
If a person (other than Cesar) was seen doing what Cesar does, someone would probably call the SPCA or even the police.
Seattle Slew: Faster
Positively trained dogs—those who are not punished—will freely offer behaviors in an effort to elicit a good response from their trainers, will grasp information more quickly, and will be able to learn more advanced behaviors at a much earlier age than most other training methods encourage.
Behaviors that take months or years when using punishment-based methods are now taking weeks, days, hours, or even minutes to teach using positive methods.
No Bad Side Effects
You may sometimes hear the phrase “balanced training.” There's nothing magical about balanced trainers, other than a nifty catch phrase.
What this means is that the trainer uses traditional, force-based techniques, as well as positive reinforcement when the dog is correct. As discussed previously, this is just confusing to the dog and makes him less likely to offer behaviors. This type of training teaches the dog to possibly work for you to avoid punishment, but it does not teach the dog to willingly work for you. Other dogs may just shut down from the punishment and end up doing absolutely nothing.
Punish your dog for “bad” behaviors and you risk creating aggression, fear, anxiety, learned helplessness, or a stubborn or stupid dog. Sure, you may immediately suppress the “bad” behavior, but that doesn't mean that the “bad” behavior is gone forever. Here are some examples:
- The dog might stop eating your socks, but he might start chewing on the wallpaper instead.
- Punish your dog for jumping and he might become so afraid of people that he bites instead of jumping.
- Punish your dog for doing a behavior wrong and he might become neurotic about trying again.
Cesar Millan has become a household name in the world of dog training and millions of television viewers tune in to his show every week.
It is undeniable that the Dog Whisperer TV show oozes Millan's charm and charismatic appearance, and the use of smoke machines and soft focus lenses only helps to increase the cinematic appeal of the program but controversy grows as many professional dog psychologists, trainers, behaviourists and canine experts claim that Millan's archaic use of choke collars and physical and mental force borders on animal abuse and cruelty. Clients are at risk if they attempt these interventions themselves. These are not appropriate measures and compromise the welfare of the dog and the safety of people. His explanations are false and not based on science as we know it. Cesar's types of interventions are wrong and not in the best interest of dogs or people.
Please urge National Geographic to remove his tv show from their channel.
p.s. Here are some other petitions you can sign: