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Dog Whisperer Training Techniques Inhumane

It’s official. The “Dog Whisperer” TV show uses outdated, inhumane dog training methods. I’m so happy to have found out that it’s not just me, or the many, many dog trainers that I know – in Seattle and around the world – that think the Dog Whisperer show has done more harm than good.
Everyone has been so afraid to say anything possibly libelous, but it’s just the truth, and we need to stop hurting these dogs.The American Humane Association, founded in 1887, officially announced late last summer that they found the techniques on the “Dog Whisperer” inhumane, and stated that the National Geographic Channel should take Cesar Millan’s show off of the air as soon as possible.Here’s an exerpt from the AHA’s September 2006 press release:”The training tactics featured on Cesar Millan’s ‘Dog Whisperer’ program are inhumane, outdated and improper, according to a letter sent yesterday to the National Geographic Channel by American Humane, the oldest national organization protecting children and animals.”

Another excerpt about the “Dog Whisperer” TV show: “It also does a disservice to all the show’s viewers by espousing an inaccurate message about what constitutes effective training and appropriate treatment of animals.”Visit the American Humane Association website for the full text of their press release about Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer show, including how he has asphyxiated dogs while pinning them. He’s also used shock collars on the show, without mentioning it to the viewers. In one such episode, the dog redirected and bit the owner, it was so freaked out from the pain.I just talked with a client from my Growly Dogs class in Seattle, who said that his wife was bitten while pinning her dog, as she had seen Cesar do on the show. I’ve seen episodes where he was bitten, himself.

That problem of redirection is part of what caused trainers in the last few decades to look for alternatives and evolve beyond the use of corporeal punishment. And it’s certainly part of the reason for the statement on the show, to the effect of “Don’t try this at home.”I also have an article on Side Effects of Punishment-Centric Dog Training. Or click here for my training philosophy.Related articles:

  • Beyond the Dominance Paradigm, by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. (“The next time someone tries to seduce you with bad science by saying that “ethology justifies using force to control your dog,” don’t hesitate to challenge them.”)
  • The Dog Whisperer Controversy, by Lisa Mullinax, CPDT – lovely details.
  • He Ought to Call Himself the Dog Screamer by Steve Dale

UPDATE: On January 9th, 2009, I went to look for the full text on the website of the American Humane Association. It was missing! (They have since told me they deleted it because they thought it was “old news” and have said they’ll be putting it back up).I’ll reprint it here, as I did manage to find it in Google’s cache.

‘Dog Whisperer’ Training Approach More Harmful Than HelpfulDenver (September 6, 2006)The training tactics featured on Cesar Millan’s “Dog Whisperer” program are inhumane, outdated and improper, according to a letter sent yesterday to the National Geographic Channel by American Humane, the oldest national organization protecting children and animals.

In the letter, American Humane, which works to raise public awareness about responsible pet ownership and reduce the euthanasia of unwanted pets, expressed dismay over the “numerous inhumane training techniques” advocated by Cesar Millan on “Dog Whisperer.”

Several instances of cruel and dangerous treatment — promoted by Millan as acceptable training methods — were documented by American Humane, including one in which a dog was partially asphyxiated in an episode. In this instance, the fractious dog was pinned to the ground by its neck after first being “hung” by a collar incrementally tightened by Millan. Millan’s goal — of subduing a fractious animal — was accomplished by partially cutting off the blood supply to its brain.

The letter requests that National Geographic stop airing the program immediately and issue a statement explaining that the tactics featured on the program are inhumane, and it encourages National Geographic to begin developing programming that sets a positive example by featuring proper, humane animal training. In its letter, American Humane said: “We believe that achieving the goal of improving the way people interact with their pets would be far more successful and beneficial for the National Geographic Channel if it ceased sending the contradictory message that violent treatment of animals is acceptable.”“As a forerunner in the movement towards humane dog training, we find the excessively rough handling of animals on the show and inhumane training methods to be potentially harmful for the animals and the people on the show,” said the letter’s author, Bill Torgerson, DVM, MBA, who is vice president of Animal Protection Services for American Humane. “It also does a disservice to all the show’s viewers by espousing an inaccurate message about what constitutes effective training and appropriate treatment of animals.”Torgerson noted that the safety of a woman and her German shepherd were jeopardized in one episode by the use of an electric shock collar, which forced the tormented dog to redirect its aggression at its owner, biting her arm. “Furthermore, the television audience was never told that Mr. Millan was attempting to modify the dog’s behavior by causing pain with the shock collar,” he said.

For more information about humane training techniques, please visit click here.About the American Humane AssociationFounded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the oldest national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Through a network of child and animal protection agencies and individuals, American Humane develops policies, legislation, curricula and training programs to protect children and animals from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The nonprofit membership organization, headquartered in Denver, raises awareness about The Link® between animal abuse and other forms of violence, as well as the benefits derived from the human-animal bond. American Humane’s regional office in Los Angeles is the authority behind the “No Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit Disclaimer on film and TV productions, and American Humane’s office in Washington is an advocate for child and animal protection at the federal and state levels. American Humane meets the strong, comprehensive standards of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and has been awarded the Independent Charities of America “Best In America” Seal of Approval. Visit www.americanhumane.org to learn more.Here’s the cache version of the Dog Whisperer press release: Related articles on our site: