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Has Cesar Millan Benefited or Harm the Dog Training Community?

When I was in high school and, even into college, I was a huge fan of Cesar Millan. I read his books and watched his fairly popular TV show: “The Dog Whisperer.” Then I got my first puppy, 8 month old Esther. And I did what those books said. I followed his training methods.

For those who haven’t had a the honor of having a new, untrained, rambunctious puppy, oh boy are you in for a treat. With Cesar he talks about how you need to be a “Pack Leader” and believes that anytime your dog misbehaves the dog or puppy is challenging your authority and trying to take over.

This creates an interesting dichotomy in the relationship between you and your pet. If every mistake they make, like jumping up on you to welcome you home, you see as a challenge to your authority. They’re trying to be the boss and overthrow you, so you better put them back in their place.

Surprisingly I did this with Esther for almost 2.5 years. And she was just as crazy as she was when I first got her (silly Jack Russel Terriers!) Then I met an awesome lady named Lindsey who showed me what clicker training was and started me on my journey towards becoming a positive focused, forced free trainer.

The issue is, most people don’t have that revelation that I did. They see a professional who tells them they have to “alpha roll” their dog, or “tap” him with their foot, or yank up or down on the collar to show him who is boss. THIS HARMS DOGS. It harms the relationship you have with your dog. Plus it’s based on a misunderstanding of a no longer relevant dog theory (aka dominance theory) taught to you by a televised reality show host with no formal education or degree in dog psychology, behavior or learning theory.

While force methods can work, the statistics state your risk for injury increases astronomically & thus so does your dog’s risk of being euthanized for that behavior. Using force increases the dogs need to be fearful or aggressive towards others (peoples/dogs) to get away from or stop the pain from occurring.

If any “modern day dog trainers” still rely on these methods and use terms like “pack leader” or “dominant” realize they likely haven’t had any formal education, read modern day training or studied behavior in the last 20+ years. That is how long positive reinforcement training has been around. It’s not new, or cutting edge, it’s modern day dog training, scientific methods.

I hadn’t every thought how much popular shows like The Dog Whisper have set back the dog training world by revitalizing debunked, dangerous training methods. There’s an interesting short video on how Cesar has impacted the dog training community: (~10 minutes) and the full film can be located here: (~1 hr 10 minutes).