Sunday, March 14, 2010

In Which Cesar Chokes a Dog

Retrieverman posted this disturbing video of Cesar working with a "Malamute"(aka a wolf hybrid).

Videos like these highlight why I think Cesar is a detriment to dog training and our relationship with dogs.

I think the first question you should ask yourself is this: Can *I* safely recreate Cesar's techniques? In this case, you would be lucky if that dog didn't just bite you in the throat. Is this something you would be comfortable with your mother, father, daughter, son doing?

This is not a repeatable technique. If your technique cannot be safely replicated, it should not be marketed to such a wide audience.

And then the dog, that poor dog. First off, he does not get alpha rolled as per Cesar's normal modus operandi. No, this dog falls over from oxygen deprivation. You can see how he starts to wobble and with one tiny push from Cesar, he falls over. Listen to him breathe. Watch his chest as he gasps for air. Cesar nearly choked a dog to death. For what? Because the dog is dog-reactive and, well, he doesn't like Cesar.

The dog is lucky to be alive. He is lucky not to have suffered permanent tracheal damage.

If you ever doubted Cesar's lack of knowledge on real dog behavior, listen to what he says while the dog is prostrate on the ground, gasping for air. Heavy breathing is an indication of excitement and dominance. No. A dog who has just been choked by a leash will breathe heavy. Heavy breathing is an indication of stress and, you know, a desperate gasping of air. It has nothing to do with dominance.

Cesar may have good suggestions (be calm, exercise dog more, etc), but publicly displaying methods that will get you bitten and that creates a dog who think he is going to die, well, I just cannot support that. Not ever.

Plus, there are just better ways to deal with a leash-aggressive or dog aggressive dog that don't involve dangling the offending dog five feet off the ground. I've seen it done, so I know it's within the realm of possibility.

This is not a unique occurrence, either. I've watched several seasons of his show. He ignored basic behavioral cues, calls them all "dominance-based" signals, and uses a lot of physical manhandling when other techniques could be employed.

All that aside, my biggest problem still remains that what he encourages with dogs is not something many people can safely get away with. If you already have a dog with a low bite threshold and bite inhibition, you have a problem dog and using techniques that mandate an aggressive response (as in this video but seen in other segments) are going to be troublesome for you. Maybe not for Cesar.


clever girl said...

hey, dragonvyxn here... actually that dog is/was local to me and my friend who works with norsled (husky/mal rescue) got a call on him after the taping. my colleague met with him afterward and saw that the dgo is a total softie, had him in her lap and being all muffiny in a minute. dog is rehabbed and doing ok. my norsled friend points out: "If you slow it down on the second portion, he gives a kick to the dog in the side to elicit a reaction and that is what brings it to the 55 second hanging from the choke chain." thanks for posting this. it's difficult to get people to understand how horrible cm's methods are because of the charismatic bs and all that... i can't express how much i simply detest everything that has brought him into fame and keeps him there and what he has done to dog training.

Rinalia said...

I'm really glad to hear that. Did he get rehomed or is he doing fine in his current home?

I think he has done us all a great disservice, but mostly for the dogs. His sexist attitudes decrease his appeal for me as well.

Jennie said...

I used to watch TDW regularly, in the years when we lived in DC and I had no regular contact with dogs. Prior to that I had lived with a Lab who was so passive he never required any serious training at all.

I LOVED the idea put forth that dogs have psychology, have emotions, and should be treated as though they do. However, I remember the first time I tried a leash correction on a dog - our giant foster Lab, Sirius. He didn't get it. I tried again. He didn't get it. I then realized that all I was doing was confusing, upsetting, and probably hurting him. So I stopped.

Now that I work with dogs regularly, I can't imagine why anyone would think it's a good idea to physically dominate a dog, especially when positive training has such a great effect and a sound scientific background. It's great that Caesar is willing to work with dogs who many others probably wouldn't, but since most people can't separate the metaphorical wheat from the chaff in his program (including him, apparently), I think he needs to go.

I'm glad that dog is okay. And ditto on the sexism thing.

Laura said...

i'd really like to put a collar on cesar and choke him until he passes out because *he's* trying to be dominant. and while we're at it, we may as well neuter his dumbass.

CyborgSuzy said...

The first time I saw this clip I didn't think it was too bad. All I saw was Millan managing an aggressive moment. But what good is this kind of treatment for anyone but Millan and/or in the long term?

(Also, why do some people act like he's the only dog trainer who's ever worked with aggressive dogs, ever?)

Every time anything he does is criticized, you get people coming out and saying, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water!" and of course "well, smartypants, what would YOU have done?"

It's mostly BS. Millan isn't above reproach. All his good messages are very general, good advice that you can get from multiple other sources that have a much smaller signal to noise ratio.

clever girl said...

the problem with trying to get to all the other people who hang dogs is that they're all under the public radar. this guy is out in public and you can talk about him freely and see everything he has done because it's all recorded. i'd make chokes, prongs and shocks illegal if i could. using fear and pain to manipulate behavior is unnecessary and cruel.