why i am not a fan of the dog whisperer

someone asked me why im not a big fan of the cesar millan so heres my BIG MEGA ULTRA POST on this topic

basically what it boils down to is that he’s dishing out WAY INCORRECT and WAY OUTDATED information about dog and wolf behaviour and he insists that like 99% of dogs issues stem from this concept of ~dominance~ and that if your dog “doesnt respect you” they wont listen to you, and you need to PROVE YOUR DOMINANCE in order for your dog to be a “calm submissive” member of your family

before i keep going there ARE some things that cesar does that i like, im not trying to insinuate that hes the spawn of satan or anything

  • he’s given pit bulls a better rap
  • he encourages actually exercising and spending time with your dog
  • he promotes spaying/neutering
  • he encourages adopting (i think? that was the impression i got, but i may be wrong)

anyway this whole WOLVES ARE DOMINANT thing emerged decades ago when people caught a bunch of wild, unrelated wolves and stuck them in a captive environment and went “WHOA WHY ARE THEY BEING SO AGGRESSIVE WITH EACHOTHER dang wolves sure are concerned with hierarchy and being pushy and rude lmfao” and this somehow translated into dog training

wild wolves do not behave like this. a wolf pack is a family made up of mom, dad, the cubs, and most likely the cubs from last year. there is no scrabbling for “dominance” because the parents are “dominant” by default. think of it this way; if wolf packs spent all their time harassing and aggressing upon their pack mates, how the h would they still have the energy to find food and do other way more important things? wolf packs (families!) have to COOPERATE to survive!

another issue with this is that dogs do not behave exactly the same way as wolves. they are domesticated animals!! they are much more open to new ideas and situations, and they are generally super friendly! they look to you for basically everything in life - food, water, shelter, entertainment, access to the outside world - EVERYTHING!

does this sound familiar? essentially dogs are super big babies and its up to you to take care of them!! 

ANYWAY dominance has nothing to do with dog training! NOTHING!! seriously! even if your dog respects you, even if you control all the resources - these things wont train your dog to come when called or to stop pissing on the rug. you need to actively train your dog to do these things, and here’s my next big issue with cesar millan.

his methods are basically (painfully) “instructing” the dog what NOT to do (don’t pull! don’t bark! don’t growl!), while never TELLING THE OWNERS WHAT TO DO INSTEAD. he rarely, if ever, rewards good behaviour. how is the dog supposed to learn in the long term what it is supposed to do instead if its never rewarded?

(by the way, punishing a dog for growling is extremely dangerous. a growl is a warning; if you punish a growl enough, the dog will no longer have an in-between, and will resort to biting right away because, hey, you told them not to growl! - this is often where “BITES THAT COME OUT OF NOWHERE” actually come from.)

he ignores calming signals. if you don’t know what these are, here’s a handy link. a dog could be giving the body language equivalent of “whoa!! i am super mega uncomfortable with this situation and i’m not a threat! please don’t hurt me” and cesar would go ahead and push them over threshold. if a dog (or any creature, actually) is over threshold, they cannot learn!!

here’s a really good example of him doing this.

the dog clearly wants nothing to do with him and is doing her best to avoid him. what does he do? he jabs her hard in the side. choking dogs, forcibly rolling them, jabbing them, pulling them off their feet.. all these things have no place in dog training. honestly those things aren’t even training, they’re just bullying. 

here’s another example of him ignoring calming signals and overall just being a shitty trainer. watch this video without the sound first, because cesar and the narrator often contradict what is actually going on.

jonbee is muzzled and leashed. he is not a threat at all to cesar, but cesar insists on forcibly controlling his body (what is this accomplishing? what is jonbee learning from this exercise, other than that strangers will sometimes come over to physically assault him?), choking him and dragging him around. jonbee, understandably, reacts by flipping the fuck out because he’s scared out of his mind - what does cesar do? he “alpha rolls” him. jonbee at this point is exhausted from struggling, but is still very stressed - he isn’t calm or submissive, he physically has no strength left to move. this is called learned helplessness (“In the learned helplessness experiment an animal is repeatedly hurt by an adverse stimulus which it cannot escape.”) or “shutting down.”

watch jonbee’s face at 3:39. the average joe dog owner might see this as a calm or even happy dog (a lot of dog whisperer fans will say that a dog is only happy when it “knows its place in the pack” or something hokey like that), but if you know anything about calming signals and body language, you can see that jonbee is stressed out of his fucking mind.

watch this video. (link isnt working but the video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iUeD4oxGLs&feature=relmfu) forget everything you know about dog behaviour for a second and just watch it using common sense. this dog is muzzled, leashed, harness and is being jabbed in the side and forcibly held down in a corner by a stranger. how would you react in this situation? i know i’d try to bite and fight back - for all i know, i’m fighting for my life. is this honestly how you’d want someone to “rehabilitate” your dog when there are non-forceful, fun, patient, scientifically backed (“dominance” has been debunked by tons of animal behaviourists), and maybe most importantly KIND methods of dog training that builds a bond between dog and trainer instead of destroying it?

ANYWAY this is getting long and preachy and im pretty stressed after watching those videos tbh haha I JUST HOPE SOMEONE LEARNS SOMETHING FROM THIS!!! go forth and give your dog a treat

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    Cesar and his followers are the exact reasons my baby, Lily, is so scared of strangers. She’s been in our family for...
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    I’ve never liked his methods and they don’t work. Explain to me how treating aggression and fear with more aggression...
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