Tonight America’s most famous dog trainer, Cesar Millan, hits the stage at the Auditorium Theater in downtown Rochester. And his appearance has local dog trainers abuzz with discussions about dominance-based dog training and what many of them call his inhumane training methods.
In fact, a group of local trainers will be outside, handing out an informational sheet that explains why shock collars and other force-based training methods are inhumane, along with a list of local positive-based trainers.
In the interests of full disclosure, I have never seen “The Dog Whisperer” on TV, have not read Millan’s books (although I did pick up a copy of one at the used bookstore recently but haven’t read it yet) and I know almost nothing about Cesar Millan or his dog training methods, other than a brief profile on CBS Sunday Morning last year. (I found him to be very interesting as a person and was impressed that he had about a bazillion dogs living together when I have three dogs and a cat at war.)
But I’ve also seen some of his training clips and thought, “Uh, I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to my dog.” I saw dogs clearly in distress, exhibiting extreme anxiety, and being pulled, shoved, and even … let’s call it nudged with the heel of a boot … into obedience.
But since I’m neither an expert on Cesar Millan or on dog training, what I’m about to say is based only on my own reading about dogs, dog behavior, dog evolution, and animal communication. We’re talking several years and dozens and dozens of books. – and some personal experiences with aggressive dog training methods that in hindsight make me sick to my stomach to know that I put my dogs through what must have been terrible experiences.
What I’ve learned: boo on dominance-based training. Continue reading