2.5
April 16, 2010

Is the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, teaching us an outdated, mean philosophy?

Bad Dog Whisperer!

Cesar Millan has long been one of my idols—he helped me learn how to be a guardian and friend to my rescue pup, Redford, and to learn that aggression or anger doesn’t help—it’s a sign of weakness (besides, it’s mean to be mean).

There’s an anti-Cesar Millan Facebook Group, which is full of angry dog trainers who seem to cherry-pick videos that slo-mo Cesar in his most intense situations—my reaction is, well, at worst, no one’s perfect, and Cesar never claims to be. I do agree that the “dominance theory,” based on wolves, may be a bit outdated—dogs are domesticated, more or less, after all.

My invitation to Cesar’s critics:

It seems strange, though, that whenever I share a personally-helpful video via Dog Whisperer I get (aggressively!) shouted-down on our Facebook Page. So I’m trying to learn, and see if Cesar and his show aren’t telling us everything.

But, so far, I just see a lot of talk about all-positive reinforcement. I don’t know. You can’t offer just “the carrot” all the time—not even with children, who of course can better understand, generally, what you’re saying.

Is it possible to discipline out of compassion, without being at all abusive? I, for one, think so.

Videos:

And one from his show:

Here’s a video about positive reinforcement:

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