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Animal Organisation Labels Cesar Milan’s Dog Whisperer Style Training ‘Inhumane’

UK Dog News

The training tactics featured on Cesar Millan's "Dog Whisperer" program are inhumane, outdated and improper, according to a letter sent yesterday to the National Geographic Channel by American Humane, the oldest national organization protecting children and animals.

In the letter, American Humane, which works to raise public awareness about responsible pet ownership and reduce the euthanasia of unwanted pets, expressed dismay over the "numerous inhumane training techniques" advocated by Cesar Millan on "Dog Whisperer."

Several instances which the society considered to be 'cruel and dangerous treatment' - promoted by Millan as acceptable training methods - were documented by American Humane, including one in which a dog was partially asphyxiated in an episode.

In this instance, the fractious dog was pinned to the ground by its neck after first being "hung" by a collar incrementally tightened by Millan. Millan's goal - of subduing a fractious animal - was accomplished by partially cutting off the blood supply to its brain.

The letter requests that National Geographic stop airing the program immediately and issue a statement explaining that the tactics featured on the program are inhumane, and it encourages National Geographic to begin developing programming that sets a positive example by featuring proper, humane animal training. In its letter, American Humane said: "We believe that achieving the goal of improving the way people interact with their pets would be far more successful and beneficial for the National Geographic Channel if it ceased sending the contradictory message that violent treatment of animals is acceptable."

"As a forerunner in the movement towards humane dog training, we find the excessively rough handling of animals on the show and inhumane training methods to be potentially harmful for the animals and the people on the show," said the letter's author, Bill Torgerson, DVM, MBA, who is vice president of Animal Protection Services for American Humane. "It also does a disservice to all the show's viewers by espousing an inaccurate message about what constitutes effective training and appropriate treatment of animals."

Torgerson noted that the safety of a woman and her German shepherd were jeopardized in one episode by the use of an electric shock collar, which forced the tormented dog to redirect its aggression at its owner, biting her arm. "Furthermore, the television audience was never told that Mr. Millan was attempting to modify the dog's behavior by causing pain with the shock collar," he said.

Cesar Milan has enjoyed widespread commercial success with his TV and media career and is currently the most well known animal behaviour expert in the United States.

In Britain, Jan Fennel is known as 'the dog whisperer'. The Humane Society attack on Milan does not draw comparison or reference to Britain's dog whisperer style dog trainers.

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  1. I am a lifelong owner of ZBorder Collies. Do not call me cruel, but I do use electric collars to prevent my dogs from leaving my property, as we live on a busy road. They have plenty of space, and I love them to bits, but our property is too big to completely fence. We have recently started training our 6 month old puppy for the collars, he has been 'zapped' about 5 times, but now knows his boundaries, and I doubt that he will ever test them again, I would rather him get a couple of shocks, than escape into th road and be killed. We live on a blind corner that people go around at 100km/h, and have had numerous cats kkilled on the road (which is why we now just stick with dogs). Anyway, the point is, it is not considered inhumane to use electric fences on cows and horses, dogs are no different, it is NOT inhumane if the collar is rarely needed/worn. I think Cesar is brilliant, and every dog he trains changes for the better. 🙂

  2. What have you got against the APDT? I think you will find that the fanatics are the Cesar people who won't here a word said against him.

  3. Would you rather the aggressive dogs needing the higher end treatment that Milan administers be put down because they can not fit into any household? I know I'd rather have a dog be straightened out for maybe a week so that it could live a good life for many years.

  4. I agree, even if the dog is in distress, as long as something is being achieved that lets the dog live a long happy life then I think it is acceptable.

  5. Aaron, I suggest you look at the clinical research that the University of Bristol has just released. They have scientific evidence to show that methods based on a dominance reduction programme are based on flawed logic, at best leave your dog damaged and at worst only encourage aggression.

    Why do people think that the only way to straighten out high end aggressives is Cesar's way? There are loads of people doing just that every day without using his techniques.

  6. Wow, I had no idea that the illegal immigrant until 2009 Cesar Milan had everyone so fooled.He is a seller of himself not of dog training he is a farce. He trained dogs in the US as an illegal. How can someone that starts their career off with a lie and an illegel act be considered such a great man. I have watched him hang dogs with coke collars until they submitted. His aggressive measures needs to be stopped and people need to wake up. He was a salesman from the beginning. He sold himself. I tried his methods and was nearly killed by my dog. I went to school to learn to be a dog trainer myself and a behavioralist so I know what is humane and not. His methods are not taught in any behavioral school. I am a dog trainer and I would never suggest to anyone to hold their dog down until it submits, or choke the air out of the dog until he obeys this is cruelty and he should be stopped. His methods are based on the pack mentality. If you ever watch a wolf pack the submission is freely given not forced from the dog. There are better ways to train animals than to hurt them and Cesar Milan shows everyone how to hurt their dog. He is not a saint but a sinner in every aspect of the word.

    And I feel very sorry for the ones that follow him for you will see that your dogs are not better for being afraid of you and all you have done is scar them for life.

  7. Well, cruel or not, his way works.
    I rather do it his way than see dogs end up in a shelter or destroyed because no-one bothered to train them or re-train them I should say.
    Having worked for Animal Welfare in the UK, I admire Mr Millan and I have not seen him fail a dog or owner yet.

  8. I do feel that Caesar Milan is inhumane and at least 30 years out of date. The so called dominance theory has been debunked by many animal behaviorists, simplly as it was formed by observing wolves in captivity not in the wild. In the wild all wolves become the alpha at one time as they mate and reproduce. Dogs do not think of us as the same species, they know we are a different species, As we as humans provide the resources, we are naturally the ‘alpha’ to dogs. There are many notable behaviorists in Canada and the United States as well as in the U.K who use positive training methods. Using physical aversives can only make the dog submissive, and fearful. One does not want a submissive dog, but rather a dog that acts like a dog and is not fearlul of its humans. Correcting behavior problems is slow if done using operative conditioning. To use “alpha rollovers”, choke collars and shock collars is inhumane enough. To tighten a collar to the point where the dog is almost choking is cruel and and produces a dog that will hav fear aggression.
    Yes, Caesar Milan’s techniques work in that the dog no longer has that particuliar behavior problem, but and this is the big but, the dog no longer has joy he has fear of his owner and fear of the trainer. Is that what is really wanted?

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