Quick preview: I am by no means a fan of Cesar Millan. I went to his live show so that I could provide accurate information to clients when they ask about him.
Okay, on with the post:
A dog training friend and I went to Cesar Millan Live last night. We arrived, took our seats and the show started. He started his show out by talking about his past. He talked about how he grew up on his grandfathers farm and learned about dogs and dog training from his grandfather. He then went on to talk about how he illegally jumped the Mexico/US border. After that he talked a bit about his children and how he raises them in a similar way that he trains dogs. Then he went on to explain that when he got to the US he saw all these people wearing piles of things to walk their dogs and how strange that was for him. He brought out the first two dogs, a chocolate lab puppy and a Blue Heeler puppy. All he really did with them was feed them. Didn't even touch them which was pretty bizarre and useless. Then he talked a bit about his dog training "tree". This "tree", like his other diagrams, was very strange. His tree basically stated that Positive reinforcement and "traditional training" cause fear, anxiety, war, and poverty. I find it very ironic that he says "traditional training" is not the same as what he does because really, the principles of his training and traditional yank and crank training is pretty much the same.
Next dog up was a "wolf dog" who apparently guards her owners property from bears. the whole time this dog was on stage, both Cesar and the dogs Handler were commenting on how "calm and submissive" the dog was being. meanwhile the dog was panting, licking his lips, yawning, squinting his eyes etc. Which are all calming signals. That indicates to me that this dog was not calm by any means. He was in fact very stressed.
Then after some more useless blabber, out came the next dog. Cesar's first on stage "case". An intact male pit mix. His issue was pulling on leash. The dog came out wearing a flat collar. Cesar took the dog from the handler and put his signature nylon slip leash on him. He promptly corrected the dog for pretty much everything it did. Threw in a couple of rib "touches" too. After a few minutes he gave the leash back to the handler and taught him how to correct the dog with the slip lead. Lot's of calming signals coming off of this dog too. In the end the dog really didn't learn anything.
Next "case" was a foxhound looking dog. This dogs problem was excitement over toys and clapping/cheering. So again, Cesar takes the dog and puts it on a little slip leash. then proceeds to correct the dog every time it looked at the toy or dared try to TOUCH the toy. It was quite a sad site considering all the dog really had was toy drive! By the end of about 5 minutes the dog was shutting down. Absolutely no confidence left. Slinking on the ground, major whale eye, lip licking etc. That dog was confused and terrified!
They also brought out a black German shepherd "police dog". Watching that pair work, there was obviously lots of praise and positive reinforcement happening. That dog was doing his job for the toy and loving from his handler. Not because it knew it needed to be "submissive". I also learned upon further investigation, that this pair was not from the Kamloops police department but actually brought in from a private security company in the US.
He made several statements that reinforced to me how absolutely clueless he is. He mentioned multiple times that a dogs past is not an important part of training. That dogs live totally in the present. That I disagree with. Knowing a dogs history can really help you determine the best course of action when you are trying to help a dog through behavior problems. He also said that on an "aggression scale" of 1-10 his favorite place to work at is 2.That is wrong on so many levels. For optimal learning, dogs should be completely calm and relaxed at 0. When you are doing any kind of behavior mod, keeping the dog as far under threshold as possible will help the dog learn faster and more effectively. The more stressed and over threshold the dog is, the less effective your training will be. Good dog trainers always try everything possible to keep the dog at 0. One thing that really disturbed me about Cesar was his pride in having been bitten. He seemed to take it as a sort of "badge of honor". I would NEVER take pride in having been bitten. Being bitten in a Behavior Mod situation likely means that you pushed the dog so far over threshold that they had to resort to using their most intense defense mechanism, teeth. If you are pushing dogs over threshold so far that they are biting, you need to reevaluate what you are doing because it isn't working. Something is wrong. Accidents happen but don't take pride in pushing a dog to the point of biting. That's just wrong.
To summarize, it was pretty worthless. There was really no substance in the whole 2 hours. It was all just fluff and sparkles. Whether you are a Cesar Millan fan or not, it's not worth your money. It was really just him repeating this idea that dogs are trying to "take over the world" with their dominance and that they need to be put in their place, which is simply untrue. There are much better ways to actually TEACH a dog to do something rather than just walking around with a confused, shut down dog that has no idea what is going on. I really didn't get anything from it that I couldn't have gotten from watching his TV show. I also felt really bad for the poor dogs. Cesar Millan or not, that was a scary environment Definitely not a situation I would ever put my dogs into.