Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Canine Bully Has a Temper Tantrum

For some time now, the Cesar Millan haters of the world have been engaged in a whispering campaign.

One of those in the whispering campaign wrote yesterday because she wanted me to know that "the debates about him and the concerns about what he does" were "complex."

Specifically, she wanted me to know that it involved "on-camera asphyxiation of a dog, off camera harm of dogs and much, much more."


Sorry, but I call bullshit, and so should you.

My first advice to this woman was that her comments were, in fact, libelous.

Not one scrap of what she said was true, and she had to know it, as she had not supplied a single link or citation.

My second point was that she needed to use her brain. Cesar Millan is a public figure who appears weekly on the National Geographic Channel. If one iota of the nonsense she was saying was true, someone would have won an Emmy and a Pulitzer with it. But guess what? They haven't!

My third point was simply to supply the link to the supposed on-camera "asphyxiation" of the dog in question. Funny that this link was not supplied, eh?

But that's how it is with a whispering campaign -- say anything, support nothing with links or footnotes, never appeal to common sense or reason, and always suggest there's a grand conspiracy behind it all.

Shhhhhhh!!!! I know secret things.

Right. Sure you do. Go ahead and ride the crazy train all by yourself. Lyndon LaRouche is conducting, and Sarah Palin is serving drinks.

The rest of us, however, can slow down and actually watch the clip. I append the clip in question at the bottom of this post, but before you jump to that, let me walk you through it using freeze-frames.

To start, let's set the stage: Cesar Millan has been called in because a large and very dominant Husky by the name of Shadow routinely rips into the other dogs in the house. The owners of this dog, a family by the name of Ament, no longer feel they can control this dog. Do they need to put it down? Does he need to wear a muzzle for the rest of his life?

Look at the picture above. This is from the first second of the video clip. Notice the placement of the tails. The Husky's tail is up and "flagging." The other dog's tail is tucked firmly between its legs. Yes, a flagging tail can mean happiness, but not in this case. These dogs know each other, and one is intimidated by the other. That Husky's tail is flagging because it is excited.

Notice that Millan has the Husky on a short leash with a standard slip chain collar placed high on the neck. Millan is a pretty strong, but he is not a very big man, and he knows if things "go south" with this large aggressive dog, he is going to have to maintain control in order to not get seriously bitten. A slip collar should be high on the neck to use it properly. No surprise that Millan actually knows what he is doing!

Remember that the owners of this dog have called Millan because this dog is very dog-aggressive and has posed a danger to them and their other dogs in the past!

Look at the picture above. This is the sixth second of the video. The Husky has turned away from Millan and towards the Border Collie, with mouth open and ears up and forward -- a classic sign of aggression. Millan has tightened the leash, given a "tssst" sound, and he has also given a light "heal tap" to the back of the dog as a correction. This is often described as Millan "kicking" the dog, but in fact this heel tap is designed to do nothing more than send a corrective message. Notice that the dog's body is not moved at all by the heel tap -- it a simple bump, and nothing more.

This is the exact same second as the shot in the previous freeze-frame. Yes, this is how fast it takes for a dog that is "loaded for explosion," to turn and bite.

Notice that the dog is NOT leaping away from Millan like a dog might if it were hurt. This dog is leaping into Millan, with his mouth open, his teeth barred, and his entire body going upward. This is pure aggression -- a dog seeking to establish injury. For the next three seconds Millan works to control the dog, which is used to biting its way to the top of the household pack hierarchy.

Remember why Cesar Millan was called -- this dog routinely rips into other dogs and people in this household!

The picture, above, is taken in the 10th second of the video. The dog is back under control. This setup does not last long. The dog decides to explode again, and again tries to bite Millan four seconds later (second #14). By second #17, the dog is back under control and sitting. The dog explodes again in seconds 20-26, but then it settles again. It explodes again at second 31.

Apparently these bite-and-release episodes continue for a while. Millan simply keeps the leash high (to avoid being seriously bitten), and the dog cycles through the explosions. The dog is making a choice to explode, albeit a very emotional, excited, and not entirely rational one. These same choices are made in street fist fights -- you keep punching forward until you are either too exhausted or you have your ass kicked.

At the one minute mark in the clip, the dog's emotional melt down has begun to drain off. The dog is exhausted, and he has lost the battle.

This is a simple, but core point: No one can keep a temper tantrum going forever! No one can throw punches forever. There is a reaon there are rounds in a boxing or mixed martial arts match!

Millan knows that waiting out the emotional and physical storm of this dog is critical. Once that happens, Millan has little trouble getting the dog to roll over on its side.

The dog is breathing fine, and the leash is now loose. Millan keeps his hand on the dog's neck to signal to the dog that he is still in control, but the hand comes off pretty quickly, and now the dog is clearly relaxed, resting, and thinking it all over.

In the picture, above, the leash is entirely relaxed, and the dog is resting on its side and licking its lips. This is a frame 1:17. Some have said the dog's tongue is "blue." It is? It is not! Watch the video yourself. That's a very healthy pink tongue being used by a dog to moisten its lips.

What does the dog feel like inside? I have no doubt it feels the kind of physical and emotional exhaustion a small child does after throwing a screaming, hitting and flailing temper tantrum ... and then being put in a time out to allow the emotional tide to drain away.

The dog is now centered inwards. It is resting, exhausted from acting out, but it is also calculating and recalculating what has just occurred.

What the hell just happened here? A lot of work for no gain! This is new. I am tired, and I have exhausted myself physically and emotionally, but for what? No gain.

Slowly a simple realization drifts in
: I do not seem to be running the world anymore. When did that happen?

For a dog or a child, facing calm non-reactive discipline for the first time is more than a bit of a shock. Up to now, the world has revolved around them, and they have been able to manipulate their way to success or bulldoze their way to the top through sheer force of will or body strength.

But apparently, no more.

Will this be the last explosion we can expect to see from this dog?

No. Probably not.

But it is the beginning of the end, provided the dog's owners can show they will also not be bullied into submission.

Now watch the entire video tape below.

This is the one and only "horror show" that Cesar Millan haters point to, and yet it shows Cesar Millan successfully saving a dog's life, because is there really any question where this dog was going?

Powerful dominant dogs like Shadow are pretty rare because their genes tend to get weeded out of the pool.

Why does Shadow bite?

Some will suggest that Shadow must have been abused. In fact, Shadow shows no signs of abuse. Dog-on-dog aggression is not a sign of abuse.

Some will suggest that there must be something wrong medically, and a veterinarian should be consulted. A vet will have no answer for Shadow, other that a shot of sodium phenobarbital to end his life.

Cesar Millan says the problem is that Shadow is a rare, but truly dominant, dog.

A lot of folks have problems with the world "dominant."

They sniff that Cesar Millan is not a "trained" animal behaviorist. No doubt they also think paper from the AKC signifies quality, and doing the job in the field does not. Sorry, but that kind of nonsense is how we got into trouble with dogs. I am not sure it is the road out.

They say they read somewhere that wolves are not really dominant, and that "in nature" wolves live in family units as imagined by Walt Disney. Only in the "artificial" wolf packs created in large wolf-pen enclosures is wolf-on-wolf dominance and aggression ever shown.


Do Shadow and Riley look like a "family group" to you, or an artificial pack with no sanguinity? How about the dogs in your house? Funny how the "instant experts" always leave the obvious off the balance sheet!

The simple truth is that some dogs, like some people, are bullies.

We all know bullies. We grew up with them in grade school.

Bullying is a self-reinforcing behavior. What that means is that bullying is entertainment for the bully, as well as a means to an end -- respect, power, money, food, or sex.

A bully will continue to bully until he or she loses social status, gets a punch in the nose, or is hauled away by the police.

Even if there is no obvious reward other than entertainment, a bully will continue to bully.

In the dog world, that means some dogs will continue to bully other dogs even when the other dog is submissive, and it also means that some dogs have learned that people are also pretty easy to cow.

All of this can be pretty confusing to a young dog with no real role-model or calm assertive hand (human or canine) to lead the way.

Call this dominance if you want. Call it bullying if you prefer. In the real world, it's pretty much all the same.

Most of the folks who hate Millan and who point to the tape of Shadow as evidence of abuse, do not know very much about dogs, and are not competent to judge what is going on.

Some are simply liars.

Let us dispense with the liars -- the folks who say Millan kicks the dog, for example, or who say the dog has a blue tongue. If that's a kick, then I too have booted a lot of dogs, and if that tongue is blue then so is mine!

The main issue with this tape is that most people cannot read Shadow and the other dog very well at the very beginning. They see a dog's tail up and think that means a happy dog. They see Shadow turn to the other dog, but they do not see it as an aggressive move.

Let's pause for a minute to look at the face and body postures below. This is from an old (was it Konrad Lorenz??) illustration on canine communication. It is a bit stylized (as are human versions of the same thing). No dog presents exactly like this, but the general thrust is correct and clear -- dogs do communicate aggression and fear, dominance and submission, through facial expressions and body posture.

1. Threat; 2. Uncertain threat; 3. Weak threat; 4. Faint threat - the dog is very uncertain; 5. Fear; 6. Expression of uncertainty in presence of dog of superior rank

1. A self-confident, dominant animal in the presence of another dog; 2. Threat; 3. Trying to impress (tail wags from side to side); 4. Unconcerned attitude; 5. Uncertain threat; 6. Posture when eating; 7. Subordinate attitude; 8. Uncertainty between threat and defense; 9. 10. 11. Subordinate attitudes in the presence of a dog of superior rank.

Photo manipulation has shown that humans too can read and send massive amounts of information by making very slight changes in facial expression or body position. The slightest movement at the corner of a lip or eye can change the message entirely. So too with dogs.

Millan is very good at picking up on canine signals early on, and so he can often nip aggressive behaviors as they develop, and before they manifest themselves into a full-on throw-down.

Many of the folks who call themselves dog trainers, however, are not very good at reading canine signals. Most will never see a truly aggressive, domineering, or bullying dog like Shadow, and if they do, they will get bitten and suggest that perhaps the dog should be euthanized. The dog is clearly broken beyond repair, and they know this because they cannot fix it!

Of course, there is a place for euthanasia. Just as there are paranoid schizophrenics in the human population, so too are there dogs with this condition. Should we treat these dogs with medication? No. The cost is too high, and the medicine does not work that well even with humans. There are limits to all things, and those limits are lower with dogs.

But is Shadow one of these dogs? No. Not apparently.

This is a dog that acts out against other dogs. It is not nuts all the time -- it is specifically nuts. It is dog-aggressive.

It is, in the words of Ceasar Millan, "dom-eee-nate." If it were a human, we would simply call it a bully.

Back to the video tape.

Notice that Cesar Millan was calm and controlled throughout. This is not a man easily riled. He is not adding to the chaos of the fight -- he is simply handling it. Even at the end, his voice is amazingly calm.

Notice too how quickly he reviews what happened in his mind -- the high tail of Shadow, the low tail of the other dog. He does not use the word "bully" but he knows that is exactly what has been going on.

Some women love to tut-tut about Cesar Millan. They will tell you that "aggression just begets aggression." This is patent bullshit from people who know nothing about it. I have never heard a man say it.

The reason so many kids are miserable in grade school is because their mothers and their teachers (all women) tell them to "just ignore the bully" or else to "try to move away."

What is being missed is that bullies choose their victims because those victims make "prey noises." What I mean by this is that the folks who act submissive and intimidated by a bully are the ones who are reinforcing bullying behavior.

You know what does not reinforce the bully? Someone who will punch him in the nose.

Yes a smaller kid may get a beating out of it in the end, but that bully will not be coming back to repeat that experience, provided at least one good hard punch to the nose was gotten in by the smaller kid.

Notice too that bullying tends to fall off pretty quickly after grade school. Ever wonder why? Simple: Police.

The cops do not click and treat. They hit you over the head with a nightstick, throw your ass in jail, remove your driver's license and fine you a month's wages. They may put you in a cage and leave you there for years.

And guess what? That works! Most young men have a run-in with the law at some time or other, and that run-in is not designed to be a fun experience. It is designed to pull you up short and get you to re-examine the way you have been doing business.

And guess what? That's exactly what happened to Shadow in this tape.

Shadow just dicovered there's a new sherriff in town, and his name is Cesar Millan.



YesBiscuit! said...

I have read, more than once, from those who disagree w/Cesar's methods that dogs like Shadow are not learning but actually "shutting down". This is viewed as cruelty by some. No matter what one calls it, the dog has, probably for the first time in his life, STOPPED BEING AGGRESSIVE. He doesn't appear to be physically or mentally harmed in my opinion so I call that a WIN. I agree that without Cesar, dogs like this are most likely going to the landfill in a trash bag.

compcat said...

Meh, I just don't like Milan as a personal preference. Uncle Maddie would have told that family to euthanize, mainly because they were not prepared to handle this dog. I suspect that it's only a matter of time before they backslide, and then go overboard correcting (rookie mistake), and then somebody needs stitches.

But then, I don't like showing inexperienced people how Milan worked with Shadow. When I worked with a rescue, I had to foster a dog that had learned to "protect" his collar from your hand thanks to misuse of this practice. Pain in the a.., ummm, back..

I've also seen dogs think about this, and then come back with an extra dollop of aggression towards either the owners or an innocent bystander a couple of days later. Cesar's fast and has practice. The owners don't. I'd feel better if Cesar had kept this dog. (Though I assume he kept working with the owners.)

Really nice dog, too bad his owners were a total mismatch for him.

Jonzie said...

dammit! the video is now unavailable! I really wanted to watch it!

Heather Houlahan said...

The interwebz shrieking over that clip has been ear-splitting.

He kicked that dog!

Kicked? Seriously?

I will stand next to you all day while you try to "kick" me by passing your right foot behind your left leg.

You will fall on your face long before I stop laughing. Oh yeah, when you fall on your face, I'll be laughing even harder.

Ask any of them what they would do in the same circumstances and ...

mumble mumble mumble ... shouldn't have gotten so close ... mumble mumble ... avoid ... mumble ... abuse ... mutter mutter ...

The real answer is, "I'd have gotten my face bitten off."

That "dog" (am I the only one who sees wolf-hybrid?) is a true example of a interspecific badass. Yes, they are rare. But they exist.

I've got a foster guy here who came to me for rehab of his dog aggression. One trainer was present when the sight of an empty food bowl caused this PUP to charge across fifteen feet of space and latch onto another young dog. The trainer picked him up to get him to release, and was shocked to find she had BOTH dogs suspended in the air.

And the whole time, it never occurred to him to turn around and bite the trainer. Inconceivable. She was human. Not to be bitten.

This pup -- not a badass. Almost the opposite. But definitely a bully with his own species and pushy with ours. Also, seeds of greatness.

The real badasses, the ones that not only redirect onto humans, but keep coming cannot be rehabbed with avoidance, cookies, and lurve. They have to first learn that they can lose before they can go on to the lesson that they now cannot win at their old game.

Most trainers should not try to handle such dogs. In recognition of some dings and dents I nurse here in my fifth decade, I don't take on real badasses that are above a certain size anymore.

But physical vigor is not what limits these wee trainettes. They can't see the difference between fearful defensiveness (dangerous, usually avoidable) and a balls-to-the-wall assassination attempt that comes from the deepest Fuck You of the dog's being.

Ain't Misbehavin' said...

There are a few of Cesar's philosophies I have a difference of opinions on but his handling of the dogs is not one of them!!

He has great insight into the canine mind and energies-can read them very well and has impeccable timing.

Since anyone can hang out a shingle, there are far too many obedience instructors and schools that feel if a problem can't be fixed with the use of a gentle-leader or halti--then the dog should be disposed of.

Holly said...

1. I'm not a zombie, troll, time waster (err...maybe that), however I am a real person with real dogs and a real blog. You are welcome to come on over. Click on my name (for those who don't know how)

I do not hate CM, but do not advocate his methods either.

2. "engaged in a whispering campaign"

I don't whisper. I say it out loud. What CM does, he does well, usually. He often gets tagged (as in touched, scratched,bitten,injured). If the people who are using CM, are *able* to do what he will work for them like it does CM. However, I think most cannot do what he does, even partially as well, let alone with a dog as dangerous as the one featured in this clip.

"and yet it shows Cesar Millan successfully saving a dog's life, because is there really any question where this dog was going?"

there is .still. that question in my mind. The aggression has not been resolved, with anyone except CM and I'm not sure it's been permanently resolved there. It would take time to determine if the dog "got" the lesson and we aren't following this story for that long. We also don't see the owners dealing with it. Of course this is just a clip so it could be that they suddenly stepped up to the plate and did apply the method to the degree CM did. I doubt it though.

Here is a huge problem for me with this clip. CM gets tagged and bitten or scratched or injured in some way several times (3ish). If there are multiple family members in the house, and any of them are children, this dog will try it with them. He's a big dog. They are even shorter (part of why he got tagged was that he could not keep the dog sufficiently far away)and less strong that CM and will be injured. *If* CM is taking the position that he has now "cured" the dog....I have a problem. *If* he is saying that the family can do this I have a problem, I don't believe they can, considering how far away the other family member went with the other dog.

However, if he is simply demonstrating that there are possibilities for this dog...then *shrug*.

Do I think +R would work? Probably in the right hands, and it might or might not be as dangerous for the humans in the problem. I am very nearly certain, however, that they could not apply the negative aspects of the equation as long or as well as would be needed though. And +R alone will not work.

In my personal opinion, this is yet another gray area dog who is living with the wrong people, perhaps for long enough that he won't be able to find a correct home. I would classify him as a dangerous dog and the options for a slightly gray area (slightly aggressive) dog are limited, the options for a dangerous dog are far more limited.

One other point and then I will let this go. Aggression very often does beget aggression. Shadow responded to a very mild correction with very escalated aggression. The dog was already aroused, so it did not take much, but it was also aggression/aggression.

Seahorse said...

Here's the equine equivalent to Cesar:

It's worth 1:09 of your time to see the masterful handling of a young stallion at a Japanese training center for race horses. This horse had dumped and terrified every rider that got on him. Notice the rider, Paul Williamson, has no stirrups and doesn't do one thing other than to stick on (unbelievable talent shown)and wait until Billy Bad Ass is done. Once the horse's exe. program has run out, he calmly walks off to the track.

Paul takes all the bad actors and fixes them, in an effort to prolong their lives. In Japan, if you don't run they EAT you. When our Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand wasn't producing enough sperm in his old age, despite all the foals he'd produced in Japan, they ATE him. It was not an honor, it was their way of doing business.

Paul, who has since relocated, does all he can to fix horses, and one controversial method he calls "The Tap". He uses it extremely sparingly and extremely well, and 99% of people shouldn't even consider trying it themselves. It works by gently putting the horse on the ground so they can get over themselves. You can see it on his other You Tube videos, and notice he's not trying to hide anything. In the old days putting horses on the ground was done very forcefully using ropes and tripping the horses, and the horses were terrified. Paul lays them down as gently as a horse can go down, and while they are down he pats them and reassures them, calming them. When they decide to get up (sometimes after a nap!), they are different animals, and the lesson usually sticks after once session. Same animal training coin as Cesar, just a different side. It takes a depth of knowledge most people don't have to see what is really going on and not just to squawk away on "the internets".


Gini said...

Wow! I guess I am honored that such a slight comment from me sent Mr. Burns into such a tizzy. However I did not accuse Millan of choking the dog. What I was concerned about - and clearly stated - was all about the rage at clicker trainers and the implication that the only people concerned about Millan were clicker trainers. The blog seemed to imply that the debate about Millan ws aolely about the use of clickers - and Millan's lack of use of clickers. What I stated was that the debate was more complex than that. It didn't occur to me that Mr. Burns needed my help in finding information about the debate, or about the fact that the groups expressing concern about Millan are many, and most have a great deal of expertise and experience. I have followed those discussions, but I have rarely - if ever - seen clicker trainers involved in it. So I didn't understand the rage focused just at them. Now I see that likely all it took was one innocent comment from any clicker trainer to generate such heat. I have always though of this blog as a source of information about the complexity in animal issues, which is why I was surprised and concerned in this instance. I am not a behaviorist, nor a clicker trainer. I was simply seeking more objectivity in the passionate defense of Millan. I am glad to see this analysis of this one incident that is part of that broad discussion. However, the debate is broader than just this one incident, and is far to long to explain in a comment to a blog. I encourage everyone to ready broadly to get the full picture - both pro and con. There's no question that Millan and his program have helped a lot of dogs. That does not mean that others cannot express their concerns - except here, of course.

PBurns said...

Gini, I am hardly "in a tizzy"

Nor am I "enraged" about clicker training.

What I did was call you out on your unsupported assertions about Cesar Millan.

Or your lies about Cesar Millan.

Pick one.

I called you out on what the clicker community does with Millan (and which you are now becoming a perfect example of), which is engage in a whispering campaign unsupported by fact.

When I call you out, you simply retreat: "I am no expert... I was just repeating and ...."


That's how a whispering campaign works.

"I am not saying the Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, all I'm saying is that there's a controversy ... and it's not just Republicans raising the question... go out and read...."


This is how whispering campaigns work.

They are not designed to educate, but to obfuscate and insinuate.

"Teach the controversy" say those who oppose Darwin, knowing this is the only way they can get equal time for their nonsense.

What is illuminating here is that, as far as I know, Cesar Millan has NEVER said one bad thing about clicker or rewards-based training or any other method of dog training.

But folks pushing pure-positive clicker training never give a presenation without insinuating that Millan is cruel, ignorant and antiquated.

Hmmmm... Someone is defensive here, but it is not Millan. Why is that?

Millan actually helps people with real dogs solve real problems.

He is RE-habilitating dogs (in this case a violent one), which is a hell of a lot harder to do that training a dog to come when called, isn't it?

But of course, everyone with a leash, a clicker, and a cheese ball thinks they are a dog trainer these days.

And a lot are.

Basic obedience training is pretty easy if you follow basic operant conditioning principles. But RE-habilitating a dog like this one is not easy, is it? No.

And that's why Cesar Millan has a TV show, but his critics who teach "sit" and "heel" with clicker training do not.

What the click and treat trainers are doing is important, but it's also a different thing, and a pretty simple thing.

It's also pretty boring which is why it's perfect for a 5 minute Youtube video, rather than a syndicated TV show that plays across the country and around the world.

_ _ _ _

P.S. Did you know Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990? True, and quite a controversy there!

3Laiki said...

Seahorse! Glad you brought up Endospink. I enjoy watching his videos. However, your link was for Vicks Vapor Rub First Defense. Funny...but not what you were going for. Try this one instead:

Seahorse said...

OOPS! I dropped the wrong link! See if this one works:

Patrick, if you care to bother, you can fix my original post and delete this, thanks!


Heather Houlahan said...

Clicker trainer: "Those other trainers with their CHOKE collars that they use to TORTURE the poor goggies are all CRUEL. We clicker trainers are kind and gentle and laugh in the sunshine."

Balanced trainer: "WTF?!"

Clicker trainer: "Why all this RAGE against clicker trainers?"

Seahorse said...

3Laiki, I caught my mistake afterward and asked Patrick to fix it for me. I was reading another post from this blog and copied the wrong link, DOH! Glad I'm not the only one here who is familiar with Paul. He's truly masterful at working quickly, by necessity of the racing business, and helping the animals. I'd recommend viewing as many of his videos as one has time for, as there is something for everyone in watching how easy it looks when done with no drama and great skill.


PBurns said...

I've been flying today -- saying "yes" to comments from regulars without even reading them (I figured I'd play catch up when the surf abated), so I missed the vid clip link problem, but now that I have gone to see the horse clip, I might use in a future post about extinguishing. This is an under-used training technique and can be very powerful in the right circumstances. As I noted in the Dogs Today article posteed a week or two back, not too many dogs are barking at the refrigerator door in order to get it to open!


Jacob said...

I don't know if you know this book, Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog but I love it. I love it because it is not crystal clear, the diffrent postures shown can be very very similar but meen express very different intentions. It made me realise how subtle my dog is being and how much more practice I need to be able to react real time to dogs I am not familiar with.


PBurns said...

THANKS for the link Jake -- looks like a fascinating book and one I could use. On the (not too long) list!!


Seahorse said...

I'm flying by, too, Patrick, and appreciate you "yes-ing" my posts, even if I've made errors. Here is the direct link to Endospink's You Tube page (Paul Williamson).

As the rearer's video is a couple of years old, one has to scroll down the page a ways. He has a video update there, too, along with the rest of his fascinating videos, several showing him "tapping" the horses (and some done just for fun...he has quite a sense of humor).

Seahorse--> out to earn an honest living training horses, too ;)

admin said...

Yup, sometimes Mr. Milan does good things.

It confuses me why some people try to condemn *everything* he does. There are plenty of clear examples of him doing patently stupid things, and reading dogs completely wrong, why not pick from them?

Viatecio said...

Don't forget that this clip is also in contention for "Most AbYOOsive episode EVAR" prize.

Notice how the DOG is the one doing all the thrashing and snarking and jumping around like a shithead? Notice how Cesar is NOT jerking or hanging or even attempting at all to asphyxiate/strangle the dog like some other "Trainers" would be doing?

I'm reminded of cartoon fights where one character is punching and kicking another, so the bigger guy just picks up the one where he hangs in the air flailing and punching nothing until he's just hanging there panting. I know there's a part in The Jungle Book where that happens, I think with Baloo and Mowgli, but I can't find the video. Baloo just lets the kid fight it out, and then puts him down again when they can have a civilized conversation. This is exactly what I see with Jonbee, and the only reason the leash is taut is because Cesar needs to keep the dog from tangling himself in it.

For remaining as calm as he does, during and after each event, the man has EARNED my respect.

As much as a common comeback as "Well I'd like to see YOU try it" is (and as immature as it can be), I really would like to see a clicker/positive-only trainer deal with a dog like this without saying "Euthanize," "Rehome," "Could take months/years" or any derivations thereof.

Has anything this dramatic ever happened on that BDSM stiletto-heeled wannabe-trainer's show? Or does she just do obedience/lower-key problems? I don't watch it, so I do ask out of genuine curiosity.

PBurns said...

I do not know Millan, but I also do not let broad assertions stand without at least *some* support.

You say "There are plenty of clear examples of him doing patently stupid things, and reading dogs completely wrong, why not pick from them?"

Can you name one and provide a link and explain what you think he did wrong (and what you think is right)?


Stacey said...

Wolf Hybrid my ass. It's just an oversized AKC-type husky. That dog is acting like a dominant/aggressive dog, not an overstimulated/aggressive wolf.

From Patricia McConnell's "For the Love of A Dog":

"Wolves are notoriously shy, so much so that researchers used to crawl into wolf dens and handle the pups while the parents hid in fear. These are the same animals who'll fight off grizzly bears to protect their pups, so bravery is not the issue--familiarity is. Remember, fear of the unfamiliar improves your chances of staying alive if you live in the wild..."

In addition, wolves and wolf hybrids are notorious for being able to live in close proximity to humans during the puppy stage (usually to about six or eight months, but sometimes up to a year or two) as long as they are kept in familiar surroundings, but to revert back to the more suspicious, fearful ways of their kin as they age or are taken out into the world.

Milan would have never gotten that dog outside with a camera crew for these shots if it was a mature wolf hybrid.

PBurns said...

Viatecio, you are a little ahead of me -- Jonbee is for tomorrow, when I go over habituation and exinction :)

As for the breed of dog, it does not matter too much. Pot-A-toes, vs. po-tah-toes as far as I am concerned.

Hukies have had wolves crossed into them since the beginning and there are several kinds of wolves in North America (two in Alaska alone), so no one can just "look and tell" whether a dog is a huskie or a wolf.

Native American dogs WERE wolves in all appearance, to the point that when the tribes fell due to disease, most of the "wolves" being shot on the Plains were actually feral Indian dogs (a village of 100 people could have 1,000 dogs, as the native dog was the only pack animal in North America prior to the arrival of the horse).

Is this animal *probably* a simple Husky? Yes. But that's just the odds. Very few of the "wolf-dog" hybrids actually have wolf in them.

That said, the notion that a wild wolf and a tame wolf share ANYTHING in common in terms of basic temperament re: shyness is demonstrably wrong. Wolves raised in captivity are not shy, and are routinely taken out to be exhibited to school children.

But yes WILD animals are shy. That is true for ALL wild animals. A red fox that is wild is a very shy animal, but it is possible to socialize a captive fox to the point that it will hang out with the Jack Russell on the back porch. This is wildlife 101, and it is as true for wolves as it is for black bears, cougars and hawks.

Are wolf-dog crosses harder to handle than most pure dogs? Apparently. But it may simply be that people who own wolf-dog crosses are the same kind of people who want "rednose pit bulls" because they have "locking jaws." A Harley Davidson does not make you a person stupider, but there IS a correlation even if there is no causality. It could simply be that violent, stupid and emotionally immature people are more likely to own wolf-dog hybrids and therefore those dogs tend to "act out" more than normal by maiming people and other dogs.


Bartimaeus said...

Just to add to your point about wild wolves never attacking each other Patrick, The Yellowstone Wolves have been studied more closely than any wild wolves in history.

The leading cause of death of adult wolves in Yellowstone(approx 50%) is intraspecies aggression. So we have some good data showing that romanticized views of wild wolves are just wrong.

Friends Administrator said...

Milan's shows have a disclaimer at the beginning and for good reason. Also have you seen this video called "Dueling Pit Bulls"? Seems Milan failed to heed his own advice which came conviently AFTER the incident.

Any one who doesn't know a dog can be "excited' by seeing their owners and thus starting a fight, must not know dogs very well. Note how his "pack" goes at it as well.

PBurns said...

P (who is entirely anonymous and has never been on this blog before), do you actually HAVE any dogs?

Because if you have never seen a dog fight or had dogs fight in your own pack (much less a pack of dogs with "issues" who have come to be rehabilitated because of those issues) then you are pretty new to dogs (or perhaps you have retrievers, LOL).

Does a dog fight scare you? Have you never stitched up a dog? No?

Do you hunt? Every had one dog claim game the other dog thought was his? Have you ever been in a car where one dog claimed space the other thought was his? Have you never had a dog come to a property and get attacked by the dog it already knew -- a spacial claim situation? No? Then very new to dogs!

As for the disclaimer at the beginning of the show, it is there for the obvious reason that Millan is in the business of REHABILITATING dogs that are often quite aggressive and damaged. He is not training dogs, he is RE-HABILITATING broken dogs. And NO, that is not a job for instant-expert wannabes, any more than sword-swallowing is. The instant experts get a clicker and a cheese ball and a pamphlet on how to use them both together. If they read the pamphlet, they might be able to train their dog to come when called if you give them a few weeks. At the worst, their dog will be only a little more confused, and a little fatter than when it left.


Seahorse said...

One of my first jobs was as a dog baby sitter back in the day when that was a completely bizarre thing to say you did. I took care of 15 or so large dogs (GSDs, Labs, mutts, etc.), in the home of an extremely eccentric and unevenly tempered (read that "total nut job"!) physician who took in all manner of mutts and purebreds. All the dogs were kept in the basement, in three separate rooms, with the majority living in one large room together. It was imperative to pay CLOSE attention to everything as fights could break out if one was less than vigilant. Some dogs hated each other, and yet because of the lay out I was forced to have them walk past their enemies to go outside. I also had to feed them their only meal each day, all at the same time, though in their respective areas. In the 18 months I worked that job (I worked a 45 hour week, 5 days a week), I never had a fight, but I'd come in on Mondays and hear the horrors that had happened over the weekend. Evidently, the fights were epic.

The situation in that house was as close to an asylum as anything I've ever seen. The dogs were incredibly stressed, the people were nuts and the variables were numerous, and yet at 18 I handled it with relative ease. For me it was all so avoidable, but you had to be careful, in control and observant. It's not rocket science and I wasn't some sort of magical dog trainer. It's largely about being consistent and not letting events get out ahead of you.


Unknown said...

Patrick, your blog came up on one of my million a day google alerts and I read it (and the comments) with interest. I'm one of the executive producers of the show, and also Cesar's co-writer.
There are about half a dozen out-of-context clips taken from over 150 Dog Whisperer episodes (and well over 300 individual cases) that show up on the internet again and again as "evidence" of Cesar's "cruelty." Always the same clips, with no explanations, just cut right in the middle of the most intense moment of the rehab. Shadow is one of those clips. No matter that Shadow's owners have made public statements denouncing the charges of asphyxiation, blue tongue, kicking, hanging, and all the rest of those outrageous words. I think you're the first blogger who has actually explained pretty accurately what really happened in that segment.
I would hope the average dog owner, if they had a dog as dangerously aggressive as Shadow, would not attempt to imitate Cesar themselves, but would do as the Arents did and call in a professional. And if any previous professional had been able to solve this problem with clickers, treats, or avoidance, the Arents wouldn't have contacted our show. I don't know off the top of my head how Shadow is doing...though we do keep up with all the past cases from the show and are pleased with the average 80% success rate of owners who continue to follow Cesar's advice of exercise, discipline (that means rules, boundaries and limitations), and affection in that order, and strong, calm-assertive leadership and guidance inside and outside of their home.
By the way, for anyone who is interested in real wolf-hybrids, we have a special on them airing later this season. We bring in a wolf behavior specialist from Mission Wolf in Colorado to work with Cesar on three wolf-hybrid cases of varying difficulty.
The moral of the wolf-hybrid story? Wild and domestic don't mix.
(And whoever left the stat about the violent tendencies of wolves in the wild is correct - the single greatest cause of death in wild wolves is territorial disputes with other wolves. Wolves are not naturally aggressive, but they are possessive of their food and their territory, and have a prey drive that was domesticated out of the canis familiaris we bring into our homes. Wolf-hybrids can end up with the boldness of a dog but the overdeveloped prey drive of a wolf, making them deadly for small animals and often, small children. And many of them don't have much of the domestic dog's inborn desire to please us.) Just say "No" to wolf-hybrids, please!
Thanks again, Patrick, for your very insightful analysis of this segment. And Cesar himself aside, for all those who are worried out there, the crew of Dog Whisperer are all dog owners and dog lovers ourselves. We're NOT standing by silently while dogs are being "choked" right under our noses. We love what we do because we know we have helped so many people and dogs. And saved many from unecessary euthanasia.
I hope you keep watching - lots of amazing new shows coming up.
Melissa Jo Peltier

PBurns said...

Thanks Melissa Jo!

I will reiterate a point I have made before, which is that I have NEVER heard Cesar Millan say anything bad about any other form of dog training.

And why would he?

They are doing something different than what he is doing, and vice versa.

You do not go to Cesar Millan if you want your dog to learn how to bounce a biscuit off his nose! If that's what you want, there are a 100,000 people out there who can help. But there are not too many people working with dogs that have real serious issues, and even fewer who know what they are doing.

Millan is a rare thing, and there is something to learn here if people will watch, listen and understand what is being done and why it works and in what situations it works.

And YES, thre are basic lessons to be taught about ALL training that can be learned here.


Cassandra Was Right said...

Thank you, Patrick, for your long-time, steadfast, rational defense of Cesar Millan and his methods.

I am frequently puzzled by the critics who seem so determined to misunderstand him, and even seem to be deliberately blind to what he actually does. No, he will not teach a dog how to fetch your slippers; he will teach a dog owner how to keep his dog alive.

Although I am a total amateur (don't try this at home!) I have, with great care, used Cesar's methods to finally bring peace to my dog-plagued household, which includes a bullying, dog-aggressive fear biter whom I was once sure would have to be put down. He has strongly influenced the way I train my horses; my messages to them are now extremely clear, and we are all - the horses and I - relieved and happy.

And as you mentioned, he has never criticized any other trainer or training method. He takes the high road all the time. He is a man who is not only highly skilled at what he does, but is also a man whose character others should admire and imitate...especially those who shamelessly attack him without reason - except, perhaps, envy.

Not only should Cesar Millan not be vilified, he should be knighted.

Thanks again, Patrick.

Friends Administrator said...

Yes, PBurns, I have dogs and have been dealing with dogs for over 50 years. I have dealt with many dog fights and have been chewed up badly. I personally don't hunt but I have family and friends who do. In fact, I have a cousin who has champion field and show dogs.

I consider Milan's methods to be out dated and dangerous. If you study pack mentality, you will see that the leader is always having to fight off contenders. They rarely fight to the death because to kill a member of the pack hurts the entire pack, they need each other to hunt. What Milan fails to recognize is that when the contender is put in his/her place, that the contender doesn't lose the drive to up root the leader, it just stays in control until something happens to the leader. If the contender sees a weakness in the leader, then it makes another try at it. Pack mentality doesn't wait until the leader dies of old age, it is the superior member that takes over. So if Milan is subscribing to this theory, then he has to realize that it only puts off the aggression until something happens and then they go in for the "kill".

I think Milan has a lot of good information but he is not wise in how he uses that. And although I am new to commenting, I have been following your blog for quite awhile and enjoy it very much. You seem to have a great deal of common sense although there are some things I would disagree with you on. Very informative blog and I commend you for it. However, I do disagree with you on Milan, I think he is an accident waiting to happen.

The clip I sent shows that Milan didn't use good sense that day because he himself said that dogs become excited when they see their owners, yet he takes the dog out with his pack under those circumstances. Sorry, but I think he is not the brightest one on the block. And he is not the only one who works with aggressive animals yet the others don't have a disclaimer. As I understand, being in LA, that the disclaimer was a result of some lawsuits filed in LA against him. I haven't checked and that could be rumor. Being in LA, his home, I don't hear a lot of good things about him.

PBurns said...

If Cesar is "an accident waiting to happen" it sure is a SLOOOOW accident. Millan has been at this a pretty long time. Sounds to me like some people want an accident to happen. Got that. How sick and malevolent is that? Of course if you want to read about accidents that ARE happening, just go to "Google News" and type in the words "Pit Bull" on any given day. Amazing!

Millan works with very problematic pit bulls every day. You have someone else who does and has a TV show? Who is that? Maybe I do not watch enough TV (that is actually true). A rehomed Pit Bull, of course, is not the same as an aggressive one. Most Pits are pretty fine dogs if a person has a stable home and basic dog handing skills.

You may be reading a little too much into the word "pack." Dogs are not wolves, but that does NOT mean they do not have a pecking order. Hell, chickens have a pecking order! Groups of dogs develop hierarchies. You know that. I know that. So too does Millan. What's the question? Do you not know who is in the alpha male and female slots among your own dogs? My Omega dog is not trying to be a Beta dog, or an Alpha dog. That is settled and it is settled for life. But YES it did have to get settled.

As for the linked video, I think it speaks for itself. You are clearly looking for a pretext and a rationale to not like Millan. I am not. I am, in fact, completely neutral, as I do not need a rehabilitator and do not claim to be one. I just know how few there really are and I think *maybe* they have something to teach.

You say you think "Millan's methods are outdated."

What are his methods?

And his methods to do WHAT?

Do you think Millan is training dogs? He is not.

Do you think habituation is outdated? It's not.

Do you think extinction is outdated? It is not.

Do you think a leash is outdated? It's not.

Do you think excercise is outdated? It's not.

Do you think consequences are outdated? They aren't.

Do you think walking the dog is outdated? It's not.

Do you think clarifying the point that dogs are not children is outdated? It's not.

Do you think affection for the dogs is outdated? It's not.

Do you think the notion that a dog trainer has to be calm is outdated? It's not.

Do you think the notion that a dog trainer has to send clear and well-timed signals is outdated? It's not.

So what is "the method" that is outdated, and what is it being used for again?

This is a genuine question.

I hear "his methods are outdated" from folks, but no one seems to know what that means in the context of what he does, which is rehabilitate dogs.

WHAT is outdated, and what does that have to do with what he DOES?

In the world of dogs today, we have a lot of follks who have yet to train a dog to catcth a frisbee who think they are experts at dog training and who do not understand that dog training and rehabilitation are slightly different things. I had one person come on this blog a while back and slag a man who has had working collies for 40 years, but he himself knew next to nothing except what he imagined in his mind. Glad you are not one of those!


Seahorse said...

"Disclaimers" are a necessary part of modern life in America, whether a person has a TV show or some other endeavor. It's a first step in limiting liability suits. Don't ever forget that ANYONE can be sued ANYTIME for ANYTHING. That doesn't make a suit valid, as frivolous lawsuits are a serious problem in America. But, frivolous or not, you have to mount a legal defense if you get sued, which costs a lot of money. I wish we would adopt that part of the British system whereby the loser pays all legals fees. That would certainly clear our court dockets!


Jeff T. said...

Four and a half years later I want to comment on some of the ideas in this very interesting repartee. I've had dogs all my life but only recently after getting some JRTs and reading this blog have I found how emotionally charged dog stuff can be! It is really strange to me that the idea of dominance is controversial to anyone who knows dogs (or wolves for that matter)! This post was interesting in particular because as a young man I had an Alaskan Husky (supposedly 1/4 wolf) that was the most dog dominant dog I've ever met. Among other adventures he bit the ear off my roommate's dog. Fortunately I was able to foist him off on my parents and their large estate. Anyway having 2 JRTs teaches one a lot about prey drive and dominance- my little black and white guys dominates a 110 lb. Anatolian Shepherd at the dog park... I really like this blog- it has sparked an interest in me for everything canine and I find that you have one of the finest tuned Bullshit-O-Meters I've found on the internet.

Unknown said...

I worked as a field canvasser for nearly 15 years and encountered thousands of dogs. Milan's observations and tips on handling this sort of interaction served me very well and allowed me to enjoy this aspect of my work...for this, he gets my respect and I now can give good advice to my daughter who just rescued her 1st dog.