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Why the Latest Cesar Millan Incident Isn’t Just About a Pig

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by Vicki, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator Staff Member

    Why the Latest Cesar Millan Incident Isn’t Just About a Pig

    If you’re involved in the dog world in any way, chances are you’ve heard about the latest incident involving Cesar Millan. In a nutshell, on National Geographic’s “Cesar 911,” a dog named Simon who was a known pig killer was brought to Cesar for rehabilitation. The televised incident that has so many up in arms occurred when another man restrained a pig by the hind legs, causing it to squeal, and Simon, having been let off leash by Cesar (who previously had him on a long line), ran at the pig and bit its ear, drawing blood and, according to many reports, removing a chunk of the pig’s ear. Shortly after Cesar applied his brand of “rehabilitation,” he leashed Simon to the pig and boasted about how wonderful it was that they could be together in that way without violence. The incident was reported to Animal Control and Cesar is now under investigation.

    There are so many things wrong with the pig episode that it’s difficult to know where to begin. For starters, the dog never should have been off leash in the first place. And later, when they were tethered together, the dog, who was showing avoidance behaviors, had no choice but to follow the pig. The pig had no choice, either. That’s rehabilitation? But before I address the bigger issues, I am aware that many people’s responses to the outrage over the incident has been some version of, “So what? It’s a pig!” or “Pigs are treated even worse in the meat industry, why aren’t you up in arms about THAT?” For the record I’m vegetarian, but that’s not the point. And I agree that the meat industry has some horrific practices; but that’s still not the point. This isn’t about a pig being harmed in the food industry. It’s about unnecessary pain and suffering caused to an animal in the name of training. And that is not okay, whether the injured party is a pig, a dog, or any other animal.

    As a canine behavior specialist for over 20 years I, along with many of my professional colleagues, have been protesting Cesar’s methods for a very long time. His modus operandi is almost always the same: get the aggressive dog riled up to the point that he will demonstrate the aggressive behavior; punish the dog to the point that he shuts down and does not dare do it again; declare the dog rehabilitated. It certainly makes for good drama on television. But should our concern be what’s best for the animal, or for the viewing audience? Having worked with what Cesar terms “red zone dogs”—dogs with severe aggression towards dogs and/or people—for many years, I can tell you that rehabilitation does not require violence. The vast majority of dogs who are termed “aggressive” (yes, even “red zone dogs”) are displaying fear-based reactivity. Whether due to lack of early socialization, traumatic experience, or some other reason, the dog is not comfortable with other dogs. The barking, lunging and other aspects of the display certainly appear aggressive, and serve to cause the other dog or person to move away. It works, so the dog continues the behavior. But even in the small minority of cases where the cause is not fear-based reactivity, the dog already has a negative association with other dogs. So what is the answer? Should we scare or hurt the dog through harsh physical corrections every time he displays the aggressive behavior? Since dogs learn by association, although he might stop the behavior at the moment, a negative association is being strengthened. The dog’s underlying feeling about other dogs is, if anything, worsening. Any “improvement” in his behavior is due to fear of correction.

    The foregoing describes setting the dog up to fail and then punishing him. The dog may no longer show aggression around other dogs, and may even display avoidance behaviors, because he knows other dogs coming around is going to be trouble. In this scenario, we have seemingly “fixed” the problem by strong-arming the dog into stopping. I wonder what the result will be when the human who did the strong-arming isn’t around, and the dog has access to another dog? And I wonder what sort of trust the dog now has in the person who choked, kicked, or otherwise punished.

    Now the other side of the coin: modern, enlightened training methods. Using classical conditioning, for example, positive associations are created by pairing rewards with the appearance of another dog. At first, the training happens at a distance where he does not react. Gradual progress is made as the dog is comfortable. The dog is never pushed into a situation where he feels that he must react. It might not be scintillating action for television, but it results in a dog who is happy working with the person, and whose underlying association with other dogs changes, thereby resulting in a natural change in behavior. And for those dogs who are never going to like other dogs regardless, alternative behaviors to lunging, barking, etc. are taught. Again, the default behavior changes without causing harm to the dog or the relationship. Yes, even with “red zone” dogs.

    I watched the entire first season of The Dog Whisperer back in the day, and have seen plenty of episodes since. I have watched horrified as dogs are forced to confront things they were terrified of (flooding), put into situations where of course they were going to bite because they were scared and pushed too far (bang trimming, nail trimming episodes come to mind), and more. In the infamous Holly episode, a resource guarding dog is pushed and pushed until she finally bites Cesar. There was a huge uproar over it, and yet nothing changed. Then there was the episode where he pushed a poor wolfdog who was dog reactive so far that the dog reacted. The dog was then hung to the point that he appeared unconscious. And this is rehabilitation?

    Veterinary colleges, behaviorists, and all manner of trainers have protested time and time again. The point is, it’s ultimately not just about the pig. The problem is a man pushing dogs over threshold time and time again until they react, punishing them for it, and then deeming them cured. The problem is showing the public that this is the way to train dogs. Any show that needs a “Don’t try this at home” disclaimer is clearly using methods that can be dangerous. I have personally cleaned up countless messes where people have tried those very methods and things have gotten worse. Whether these owners applied the methods correctly is debatable, but what is not debatable is that many of them were bitten by their own dogs or, at the least, the fallout was a damaged relationship. The general public should not be trying methods that can result in harm to them or their dog. In fact, no one should. Meeting violence with violence is never the answer. With all we know nowadays about the way dogs think and learn, and all the safe, effective, scientifically based rehabilitation methods, there is no excuse for these Neanderthal techniques to still exist, and certainly not to be televised. No animal should ever suffer physically, emotionally, or psychologically in the name of training, period.

    Why the Latest Cesar Millan Incident Isnt Just About a Pig | Wilde About Dogs
    Grabo86 and Box Bulldog like this.
  2. Saiyagin

    Saiyagin Chihuahua Premium Member

    So its not really about the pig but a bunch of people that do not like Cesars training methods, so they are using this pig incident to stop his practices. Sounds like a Witch hunt. LOL

    Reminds me of the time a bunch of people wanted to tell all parents/guardians how to raise and discipline there own kids. LOL Oh no you cant spank your kids its barbaric get with the times you need to put them in the "NAUGHTY CORNER". LMAO
    reddirt redneck likes this.
  3. phoenix walk

    phoenix walk Big Dog

  4. Kostas81

    Kostas81 Big Dog

  5. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    I know this is going to end up causing some cognitive dissonance in some, but the best response I really can have to this is the the actual studies that created pack leader mentality, and what has been done since disproving it. No he is not a trainer, and no he is not a behaviorist/rehab. Watching him, one can see he does not have the least bit of understanding in dog body language much less dog behavior. You can feel free to debate this with "opinion" as much as you'd like, however, science is not on your side. When the people that did the original study admit its flaws, and that there is actually no merit to it, it is sad to see uneducated people carry on with the practice. Same goes for two guys that coined dominant and submissive behavior. They wish they had not done so because it is used wrong in a majority of situations/cases today. I would also like to add that in order to be a behaviorist, one needs a Ph.D, not just growing up on a farm and deciding to call yourself one because you believe in a faulty study. If one does not acquire a Ph.D in this area, the best you can call yourself is a behavior consultant, another area he leaves himself open to lawsuits in. Another point here, is are we all aware that Germany requires trainers to actually be licensed? When Cesar went to do a seminar he brutally failed the training test! He was able to talk at the seminar, but was unable to actually handle any dogs!

    As for our school, we primarily teach a positive foundations, and not we do not charge exorbitant amounts of money or extend training longer than it needs to be as common accused of positive reinforcement. Teaching the dog what the expectations are is of utmost importance to a stable dog from the start. When done this way, there is very little need for correction in the future. Now I am not saying corrective training is never needed, but this is a night and day difference between harsh corrective methods vs a slight correction when the dog know what he is suppose to be doing (as shown with the pos. foundation) and just needs a simple reminder. This is actual training. Relaying on purely dominance training, physical corrections, e-collars (which are implemented wrong a majority of the time, prong and choke chains is simply forced compliance! It takes a strong handler to know how to introduce and mold behaviors in a dog, whether they are soft or hard. Forced compliance methods are simply that...hardly any talent involved. It is also easy for people to hold onto older harsh methods that have been proven wrong because frankly it takes a long time to learn about how dogs actually learn and process information, and be able to use that to your advantage. There are no better examples of watching working dogs, and seeing the difference in the once with positive foundations, that are able to free think in situations and are rewarded for proper decisions Vs. the dominant trained ones, which are often times so nervous to make a mistake the will return to the handle prior to being sent off again in fear of doing something wrong. These differences are often subtle, but noticeable when we know what to look for!

    Another thing to keep in mind, which is always the counter argument here, is "these older methods work" look at the Cesar video above! Well you put any form of structure, even poor structure on something that has zero structure, and you will see a measurable result! But what is the overall success rate. maybe 4 to 6 out of 10 dogs get results, vs 9 to 10 out of 10 dogs when done appropriately. There are many misunderstanding about positive reinforcement, and even more about dominant training methods. Unfortunately, there are too many hardcore ignorant people in one and too many fruitcake fluffy people in the other!

    First here is an article published in the Whole Dog Journal. And let me stop the common counter attacks on this as well...this article just pushes the positive agenda...welll you are absolutely right, so my response is to ignore the "opinon" side and extrapolate the fact factual information, which are the studies that you can verify on your own! http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/14_12/features/Alpha-Dogs_20416-1.html

    The next was someone with actual dog behavior knowledge has broken down many of his videos, including the famed pig video. But this is what one actually sees when they have a solid understanding of dog behavior. Cersar is antagonistic, and when he says dogs go "submissive", they are commonly in shutdown mode, which we know from the shock box experiments Pavlov did that dogs are not able to learn anything in this shutdown state!

    There are so many more examples, as well as a number of other studies that have come out since, so to insinuate it is a witch hunt by those charging high prices is not a statement that can really be defended intelligently, once we educate ourselves on the facts and differences. I certainly do not mean offense to anyone specifically with any statements here, but facts are facts, and unfortunately opinions die hard!

    I am all for educated debate on these matters, but with all the information out there these days please have solid references to back up any counter points, not just opinion or what has seemingly worked for you, or what has been seen in edited video clips stating success stories!
    Grabo86 likes this.
  6. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    To clarify, my post is in response to the not even close to the same parenting example, and the hater gonna hate response. I encourage you to have an intelligent debate about this, instead of random statements, with resources to back up the argument as done above.
  7. bamaman

    bamaman GRCH Dog

    Just sounds like the dogs natural instincts taking over and who cares ?If you don't like this behavior how hard is it to avoid pigs ? I don't even see the relevance of this discussion.
    bks and reddirt redneck like this.
  8. Saiyagin

    Saiyagin Chihuahua Premium Member

    Studies disproving pack leaders huh, are all pack leaders the same? All animals look for leadership including humans that is why we humans blindly follow a dumb ass president even though we know most of them are all full of shit. LMAO We follow leaders/teachers as early as preschool or 1st grade....we follow leaders when we enter adult hood in the working place.....we follow leaders in our state and government.....its no different for dogs/animals to follow a leaders rules and teachings..........Science is not on your side???? You do know that most of those Scientific studies are based on THEORIES which are opinions. Its so funny how one with a degree feels there opinions become truths and everyone without a degree there opinions are just opinions. LOL Those that believe science is the absolute truth are living in a brain washed society. LOL.......I dont know Ceasars personal background of where he learned his training methods but I do know from his shows that he was titled as a "DOG WHISPERER", I am not sure if you need a degree for that title. LOL

    Ignore the opinion side as if those so called factual info is really factual because a scientific THEORY says so? LMAO.....your cliches are so funny like facts are facts and opinions die hard. LMAO.......solid references to back you up? got it. LMAO

    Now with all that you've said here is what it comes down to. Every owner has the right to train/discipline there OWN DOG they way they want too, the same way a parent/guardian can teach and discipline there own child they way they want.....Nobody is forcing anyone to take there dog to Cesar for training.....so what is the problem?....that some of you do not like his methods?.....then that is a witch hunt as a witch hunt means one does not like anothers methods or way of doing things.
    XLR8, Kostas81 and JimAm*dam like this.
  9. Stratman

    Stratman Big Dog

    As for our school, we primarily teach a positive foundations, and not we do not charge exorbitant amounts of money or extend training longer than it needs to be as common accused of positive reinforcement. Teaching the dog what the expectations are is of utmost importance to a stable dog from the start. When done this way, there is very little need for correction in the future.

    What school do you teach at?
  10. Kostas81

    Kostas81 Big Dog

    I understand that you live out of this thing and I understand your effort to prove that your way is the best way. But the video and the last ten years what Millan has showed, every week with several cases, the worst cases of all, has proven that his system works for "hard-to-handle" dogs.
    Yes, positive training works for pet-breeds when you want them to stop eating their poop, to sit, etc and works for working breeds when you want to train them to do what they were bred for.
    Believe me! You CAN'T train with positive reinforcement, a working breed, to NOT do what they were bred to do! It is extremely dangerous!
  11. JimAm*dam

    JimAm*dam Pup

    Yes I believed it also, look how the police dogs get trained.
    Have nothing to do with abusing.
    The same with humans, they train marines enz,enz it must done the "hardway" to forfill their tasks

    My english is simple but I think you'll understand.
  12. niko

    niko CH Dog

    True saiy except you dont have the right to discipline your children and animals anyway you see fit...you can but your ass might wind up in the slammer lol
  13. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    You are open to your own interpretations/opinion, and certainly some "theories" are exactly that, theories. However, did you actually read the studies. that will anwser all of your misconcpetions without me having an unintelligent back and forth. And I just want to get this straight...the people that actually created "pack leader mentality" denounced it as being a faulty study, but because you feel it is valid it overrides that fact? Interesting. Never did I say "positive" is the only way to go. But studying how dogs actually interact, where the original "pack leader mentality" came from, surely it does not take a genius to see the fault in studying captive wolves to develop "dog theory" Vs. studying the behavior of "actual" wild/feral" canines. Or do we just want to ignore those facts for debate purposes? There is more than enough information at this point to support this, it just takes you to actually read about advances made, and how the conclusions came to be. And comparing human behavior to canine behavior as an example? Not even sure how to address that, as one has nothing at all to do with the other.

    And again, keep in mind, do disproven methods work? Sure, but what are you measuring the success against? A measurable result? Even poor structure, and bad training can show a marked improvement, does this mean it is the most effective way? Or even being implemented properly to make sure no other behavior changes manifest? This is where people should continue learning rather that just holding onto info that has been discounted and renounced many times over, even by those that created it. Not sure why people get so threatened by expanding their knowledge base.

    As for our dog training school, I would be happy to post it, though being that the site that promotes anonymity, I will refrain from doing so.

    I would also like to address the police dog training. Police/military dogs are trained my many different places contracted to selling these dogs. There is a gentleman by the name of Girard Bradshaw that runs one of the top schools for police dog training, and he travels all over the world doing military and police training. Take a look at his stuff, read his articles, books, etc. Go to local PSA (protection Sports Association), also created by Mr. Bradshaw. My point in mentioning this, is go to these actual events and watch the most successful dogs. A majority of top level dogs start off with a positive base. It is about teaching expectation, then holding them accountable for what they know Vs. punishing behavior you do not want to see. So now, how does the translate into field work and practical application, well again, go watch some actual competitions, learn what people use as styles, and watch how those dogs differ on the field. Dogs trained with a positive foundation before being introduced to aversive training methods are often times much more sound in their decision making abilities out on the field. If you actually think protection work is all aversive/dominance training, we can end the conversation right there because that simply could not be further from the truth!

    I am not going to sit here and pretend I know your background, and I would hope you would do the same. I have given more than enough information to support what I have said, and all I have received in return is opinions, meaningless comparisons to human behavior, and reference to a TV show hosted by a person ridiculed by a majority of the dog world.

    It makes it difficult when people want to hold onto opinion, and ignore fact based conversation. I hope you take a look at some of the resources I have actually provided. I would imagine that it would be hard for anyone to dispute the validity of studying actual canine behavior Vs. captive wolves, but then again we are having this conversation to begin with so...
    Grabo86 likes this.
  14. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    And just so you are aware, since even the most basic of things here wasn't checked. Cesar himself admits he learned what he knows growing up on a farm, being around animals. I assume you are also not aware of the fact that Germany requires a person to be licensed in order to be considered a "dog trainer", something I heavily feel we need to implement here! Cesar was traveling to Germany to do a training seminar. He was required to take the test in order to actual handle dogs. He miserably failed at passing, and was allowed to speak, but was unable to actually handle dogs while there.

    You can hold onto your "opinions" as much as you'd like, but it is simply that. There is more than enough information to confirm these things, but you have already shown you are willing to take the conversation to the brainwashing/conspiracy level, so there really nothing constructive that can happen here, when one side wants to dismiss hard evidence and hold onto their own perception because of a TV show. I wish you the best of luck.
    Grabo86 likes this.
  15. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    Just to clarify, I never said my way was the best way. Not once actually, so I am confused as to this conclusion. I appreciate your opinion of positive reinforcement being for "pet dogs", as you put it, but I would have to strongly disagree with your overall statement. I would refer to what I wrote above. We work with pet dogs, and working dogs. We have working protection dogs of our own, I have been around many different working breeds, not just apbt, so I am fully aware of what it takes to train.

    I always enjoy having actual conversations about the subject, but this simply is not even conversation. I am sorry working breed dogs make you nervous to point you feel they are dangerous, unless trained. There seem to be extreme misconceptions here about dog behavior, and what positive reinforcement actually is, which is a bit disturbing to see being the forum it is. It is clear what I say is taken out of context and responded to without even trying to have the slightest understanding of what I actually mean. Each post I have responded to has been completely assumptive, which well I think that says it all to begin with.
    Grabo86 likes this.
  16. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    And I truly understand the image that instantly pops in people mind when the term positive reinforcement is used. Unfortunately, even in the positive world there are those as misinformed as some seem to be on this site. We use an overall balanced approach, and yes sometimes aversive training is necessary. That being said, more often than not, these training methods are implemented incorrectly to begin with. Good trainers, with solid understanding of dog behavior, are few and far between in a dime a dozen profession.

    And if positive reinforcement as a "foundation" (if anyone actually understands that meaning) doesn't work on working breeds, I am sure there are a lot of high level working dogs and handlers, that consistantly beat aversive only trainers, that would want to know they are doing it all wrong.
  17. stinkrock

    stinkrock Top Dog

    As long as they aren't people aggressive and do what is expected of them I'm good. JM2C
    Cerberus likes this.
  18. Cerberus

    Cerberus Premium Member Premium Member

    And there is nothing wrong with that obviously. People on here are just funny, when they don't care to actually educate themselves of fact vs fiction or theory vs repeat results during study. I use to be full dominance, and was the same way, si I just find it amusing. My only difference was I was intrigued, so I learned, instead of pretending to know everything. And certainly never casted presumptive
    And that is perfectly fine. That is what I find humorous about forums, and responding to those spouting conjecture. I was previously dominace, as are many, main difference is I didn't take offense to learning things I didn't know. Many things that I more learned just to prove it was bullshit, then saw the results. I am sure what many do work for them, as it did with me. However, there are some dogs I would love to go back and have a chance with again knowing what I know now. I haven't been on in a while and saw the silliness abobe, and just wow.
  19. Kostas81

    Kostas81 Big Dog

    In two simple words.
    Positive reinforcement training works for pet dogs and working breeds when you train them to do what they were bred to do.
    When you want to train a working dog, not to do what they were bred to do, as the french bulldog in the Millan case, this kind of training (positive) won't work. You have to establish your Alpha status and forbid any kind of unwanted behaviour. Even if it is in the breed's genes.
  20. stinkrock

    stinkrock Top Dog

    I'm sure anyone who has been in the dogs wish they still had a few dogs they got rid of back.

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