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11/05/2011 / Julie

Cesar Millan is coming to Norway – My thoughts

Tonight Cesar Millan is coming to Norway, and I suppose quite a lot of people are excited. I am not. The fact that he actually has such a big following in Norway that he will come here in one of our biggest concert halls to give a performance, scares me. There are laws in Norway that should make what he does illegal. In Norway it is illegal to use a shock collar unless you are trained and the only situation it is accepted by law is when a hunting dog is trained to leave grassing sheep alone. That is the only situation where it is allowed. It is also not allowed to use a spiked collar in any situation. Mr. Millan uses both these instruments of torture regularly.

Our law states that it is illegal to use any unnecessary violence towards a dog, or any animal. With full certainty I can say that Cesar Millan uses unnecessary violence towards dogs. All the dogs he has trained could have been trained using positive reinforcement. It wouldn’t have been done as quickly, but it would have been more humanly.

When I first discorvered his show I thought it was brilliant. I believed he worked miracles, and I spoke highly of him, I’ll admit this. I later watched properly, not justed looked, but I saw that what he did was destroying the dogs’ spirit. I looked at his dogs language and I watched the dogs he was “rehabilitating” before he had worked his magic, and after. I soon realised that what he was doing wasn’t rehabilitating dominant and aggressive dogs, but destroying scared dogs and making them completely passive and scared of making any mistakes.

Cesar Millan’s techniques are quick fix solutions. They are not to be used unless you find yourself in a sitution were your dog is in danger, and your only way out is to stop it by hurting it or scaring it momentarily. They are what we in Norway call fire extinguish techniques. You use them if your dog is about to get hit by a car.

It really scares me to see how many people have implemented his style on their dog, and how many dogs have to suffer through his style of animal cruelty. And it hits me that the people usually utilising his techniques often doesn’t have a problem with their dogs, however they often have dogs with alot of energy. Maybe that’s the appeal? After a round with mr.Millan every dog seems calm and relaxed.

He keeps repeating the phrase “Calm, submissive.” The dog isn’t “calm, submissive” it’s “scared, passive.” It’s too scared to try anything except what it’s told. I have a friend who holds quite a lot of classes for new dog owners, old dog owners, and he helps people who have behaviour problems with their dogs in one on one sessions. He uses positive reinforcement with his own dogs and in every class he teaches. Whenever he starts a new class he brings a shock collar and a choke chain, not to use on any dogs, but to demonstrate. He asks if there are anyone willing to have them tried out on themselves. Usually there are someone willing to test the shock collar, but he has never had a willing test subject for the choke chain. I once tried it on my arm, with me yanking the chain, and it hurt. The chain wasn’t even a heavy obedience chain, but an extremly light weight show chain. I am never inflicting that kind of pain on my dog.

With mr. Millan coming to Norway now, there have been a lot of protests and discussions surrounding him online. The most active part of Norway are generally against him, and I find this comforting, unfortunantly, the part of Norway that just own dogs for the company, think he’s brilliant. Hopefully this comes down to a lack of knowledge on the subject of learning psychology, and can be fixed.

The Norwegian Kennel Club has felt a lot of pressure during this. It is an organization that on one side talks about the humane treatment of dogs, that everyone should use positive reinforcement, but on the other side hasn’t change its education programme of instructors since the 70’s. No surprise the books they use are outdated. Apparently the club I’m a part of have ended up almost being thrown out on the NKK (Norwegian Kennel Club) because we use a to positivly based training scheme. But NKK has now shown its true self with Cesar Millan coming. They issued a statement 4th of April saying they were against mr. Millan’s methods, and that they supported methods were you reinforced good behaviour and “avoid punishment in most cases.”

In this clip we have what I think is an American Eskimo, though that’s not important. Cesar explains what is going on.

After the dog has been taken out of the cage and is sitting next to mr.Millan, he says that the dog lifting its leg is a hunting behaviour. This I have never heard in all my life. I know a poiting dog might stop in the middle of a step, thus leaving its foot, back or front, in mid air, but that keeping a paw up in the air whilst sitting down, I have never heard associated with hunting. However it is a very clear calming signal for a dog to sit down with their back towards someone, and lifting a paw ( scroll down to sitting down/lifting one paw). The dog is also displaying other signs of stress, and quite a few calming signals. It licks its lips, yawns and it is making the corners of the mouthe very long, and it is panthing heavily which is a clear sign of stress. What is quite impressing in this clip is the fact the mr.Millan is ignoring every single calming signal.

His show has left quite a few images on my retina. One I will never forget was the Kai he was sent in to rehabilitate. The was aggressive towards something, I think it was people. Mr.Millan puts on a choke chain and starts his process. Pretty soon the dog was fighting against being choked, and was snapping at the one holding the leash. Cesar Millan. Mr.Millan responded to the struggling dog by lifting his arm and the dog into the air. He was now holding his hand straight out with a dog on a choke chain struggling for air, the owner in the corner of the room in the background was crying in her hands, mr. Millan was saying “it’s all a part of the process.” Suddenly the dog stopped struggling and mr.Millan let him to the ground and loosened the chain. Luckily it survived, but I have a feeling that it wasn’t much air left in the poor body.

There is another dog show on Norwegian television that is mr.Millan’s complete opposite. It is “It’s me or the dog.” There’s a show I enjoy watching! No violence towards the dogs, positive reinforcement, the owners themselves train the dogs, not a trainer. Victoria Stilwell unfortunantly doesn’t get to show that she to can train the same type aggressive dogs as mr.Millan. She did once, and she did it brilliantly! It was a Doberman that was extremely dog aggressive, and she worked her magic without destroying the dog. Victoria Stilwell is brilliant. When her show starts there is no disclaimer saying “do not try this at home,” why? because her techniques aren’t dangerous and they do not hurt the dogs she works with. The actually work over an extended period of time, you might have to work longer to get there, but they’ll work longer after you’re done.

No, I am not a fan of mr.Millan, and never will be, unless he changes his tune. I will stand my ground if I ever meet any of his fans, and I will do what I can to show them what I think is a better way of training a dog.

One Comment

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  1. kenzohw / Jun 12 2011 09:52

    Good you are reaching out and voice your opinion about his abusive practices. More people should do that. My story is the same as yours. I started too with being impressed, and slowly started to notice the dog’s body language, and thinking this cannot be right. I found some great and detailed analysis of a couple of his shows written by Eric Goebelbecker on his blog, that convinced me CM was destroying dogs, not helping them.

    There was a show planned in Denmark too. But when he came over for a promotion visit it went sour because people complained about his use of shock collars. It gave him a lot of bad publicity and he decided to cancel his show.

    Glad I found your blog!

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