Friday, May 22, 2009

Cesar Millan: Controversy or Sign Of The Times?

I'm hearing and reading more and more lashings out agains Cesar Millan and "The Dog Whisperer" show. And while I disagree with the majority of his training methods, I am also heartily against all this finger-pointing. Some articles sound as if we should through the poor guy into cage full of angry pitbulls. Educating the public is critically important. But getting nasty is just counter-productive.

Firstly, I believe in my heart that Cesar is a true dog lover and wants to help people. His intentions are good. He has explained himself that the methods he learned and uses are from observations and experiences since childhood. He is not a Ph.D, a veterinarian, certified or even holds any professional memberships. He is completely honest about his "resume". You know what you are getting.

Charismatic Cesar became popular among "the stars", including Oprah. Because of his increased exposure, NatGeo gives him a show. Because he's on TV, people watch. When people see it on TV, they believe it without question.

AH, here is the real problem...

Should Cesar Millan modify his training methods? Sure, I'd love that. But when millions of people buy his books and videos, there is no motivation for change. The fame and fortune positively reinforce everything he is doing.

Shouldn't National Geographic be more responsible about what they air? Millions of viewers continue to watch, and advertisers are still paying. No matter how many "tsk-tsk" letters and blogs are written, the dollars are saying "yes give us more".

My concern is not as much about what Cesar does, but that people just blatently accept what is spoon-fed to them. "Oh I see he can calm an agressive pitbull, so his methods are definitely right for my Golden Retriever". Um, no probably not. What you see is a 10-minute clip of entertainment. Oh, you missed the disclaimer explaining you should contact a local professional trainer? That's alright...just copy the 30-minute TV show that EDITED hours/days/weeks/maybe even MONTHS of behind-the-scenes work that went into the training. It obviously wasn't important.

This mentality is pervasive in Western society, and quite frankly frightens me. It's a problem not only with the people we follow, shows we watch, materials we read. Most of us don't even know exactly what's in the food we eat, where and how our products are made, and more.

We are busy people and need quick fixes. Hey, if you have heartburn, don't go through the trouble of analysing and changing your diet. Continue to eat fast, easy crap and just take our magic pill. Mother Nature says women should menstruate evey month...what does she know? Our medication will put a stop to that nasty inconvenience.

We are a culture of Instant Gratification. The Public does not want to put a lot of time, effort and money into our pets. Cesar is obviously giving people what they want. Do I agree with it? No. But I'm also not going to lash out against a dominance-based trainer by being a bully myself.

In closing I also want to point out that the popularity of "The Dog Whisperer" and subsequent training/rehab shows have done good. In my area at least, more dog owners are asking for professional help. I thank them for that.


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  2. The problem is not his methods, it's the idiot on the street who assumes too much without educating themselves.

  3. As far as "the problem is not his methods" I, countless trainers and The American Vererinary Society of Animal Behavior disagree.

  4. hey.. Cesar's programme has taught me a lot & encouraged me to get myself a rescue dog.... my bullmastif cross is 19months now, and his behaviour is pretty good, am always being complimented on his behaviour on street & @ home... all thanks to Cesar Millan. Sylvia Charles.


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