Well, today seems like another good day for pissing people off, so I’m gonna do my first anti-Cesar Millan blog. He seems like a nice enough man, and I read his book, and I think he probably does an excellent job with the dogs he trains. Unfortunately, I think that when the information he puts out there gets into average dog owners’ hands, it does more harm than good.
However, in the article I’ve linked to here, I can’t believe what I’m reading. I actually had to stop, because I was getting mad, and I’ll read it again later. But I’m pretty sure he said we should discipline our dogs for showing ‘aggression’ at the dog park. Even implemented by his own no-doubt capable self, that advice sucks.
Try that with your kids. Next time they overreact to a situation, out of fear, or being overwhelmed, or even, possibly, because they have a tendency to become feisty when less than comfortable, punish them (since I believe that Cesar is using the word, ‘discipline’, here to mean some negative consequence, and that is more correctly called, ‘punishment’. Discipline means something else.) See what happens next time your kids are in the same situation. Think they’ll do better? What do you think would happen if you were to say, ‘Jeremy, dammit, if you don’t behave better at birthday parties I’m going to give you a timeout until you’re eighteen?’ Sure, Jeremy might want to avoid that so much that he’d start behaving better, but do you think he’d ever really enjoy himself at a birthday party again, ever be truly relaxed and comfortable and himself?
I’m starting to feel more and more convinced that the combination of this faddish cult of Cesar Millan-style dominance theory training, practiced by a nation of angry citizens who feel life is out of control and who just want to control something, is not only not helping our dogs with their emotional and behavioral issues, but is actually causing a great deal of canine aggression, to the point where I think our whole relationship with dogs is at risk. I believe that any display of aggression by a shelter dog means that ‘euthanasia’ (it’s in quotes because the true definition of euthanasia refers to medical reasons only) is the most likely end to his or her story.
To clarify this in my own mind: positive-punishment (meaning, the trainer makes a negative consequence happen to the dog; in other words, the trainer takes positive action) based training tends to increase dog aggression. Displays of aggression by a dog are more likely to land him or her in a ‘shelter’. Once there, displays of aggression are much more likely to result in his or her death.
So, I suppose I think that trainers who work with dogs using methods which tend to increase canine aggression are, therefore, dog murderers a couple of steps removed.