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I always thought his philosophies were supposed to be amazing, but it seems like there's a large handful of experienced dog people on this forum who disagree.

I'm new to dog ownership myself, so I'm just curious. And looking to gain as much knowledge as I can.

Why is he so bad?

And also, why is he so good?
 

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One thing that would help is defining his philosophies. I've heard some things attributed to him that he never said/did. And he seems to have changed his philosophies from his earlier episodes, he seems to be a bit more mindful and less aggressive now. But he's a TV personality. . .the disclaimer at the beginning of the show says not to try anything you see without consulting a professional. People should follow that.
 

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I guess I'm looking for a debate about his theories on dominance, corrections, and pack mentality.

From what I gather, he preaches calm assertive energy. Always praise calm submissive energy. Assert yourself as the pack leader, and reinforce (gently but firmly) that you are in charge. Exercise, discipline, and then affection are the dogs basic needs.

He believes corrections are sometimes needed in order to communicate to a dog what kind of behaviours you don't agree with. Then to redirect and show them what to do instead. The intensity of the correction should match the intensity of the infraction.

And then on the other end of the fence, there seems to be alot of people who think the whole pack leader thing, and being the alpha is garbage old school thinking. Dogs respond to positive reinforcement only and corrections should rarely be used if at all. Dogs need love and affection, exercise, and then discipline in gentle ways if at all. We should not try to act like dogs, because we're people and we're not good at it. Dogs know this.

Both philosophies seem to have approaches that make sense. I'm new to dog ownership, so I'm just looking for a healthy debate, and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I want to be a good owner for Phoebe and I want her to be happy!

Thanks!
 

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There's nothing wrong with "calm assertive energy" or "exercise, discipline, affection". But alpha rolling and kicking dogs in the stomach can be very damaging. There are many effective training methods, but doing something that can mess your dog up is generally a bad idea, and unnecessary.

Nobody is saying that positive reinforcement is the only thing dogs respond to. But why hurt your dog if there are less violent but equally effective methods?
 

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I'm a big fan of Zak George... He's voiced his own thoughts on Cesar too. He's got all his videos up on youtube, they're a good watch.

I agree with Willowy.... I don't disagree with Cesar that his methods may work - but why do it the crueler way when you can do it so easily in a calm, much more humane way? Your dog will appreciate it more too... Dog training should never have to resort to prong or electric collars, stomach kicking, or alpha rolling.. Just not right. :(
 

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I'm new to dog ownership myself, so I'm just curious. And looking to gain as much knowledge as I can.
JayandPhoebe ,

I don't know enough about CM to make an informed comment , So... I will tell you what I do know. You are at a place where you can learn more and have a real life connection with folks that share your interests. Welcome to DF......................

Best , oldhounddog
 

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There's nothing wrong with being a 'leader' to your dog, letting a dog know you're in control of the situation is a good thing, being calm and assertive is a MUST with dogs as it shows the YOU are confident and the dog reacts to that energy. However you need to be a benevolent leader and controlling resources, re-enforcing desireable behavior and counter conditioning is a better way to achieve that goal than alpha rolling, hand biting and flooding (forcing a fearful being into the situation it fears).
 

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I'm a big fan of Zak George... He's voiced his own thoughts on Cesar too.
... that he has, my friend. Oh, THAT he has.

Personally, I'd love to see a mud-wrestling match between those two titans --- ZG vs CM --- kinda like a Danny Bonaduce-style "title" bout.

T'would be time well wasted.
 

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I have watched a lot of Cesar Milan in the past year... I've learned some great things from him and things that weren't so great that people on the board said... this is a better method. So like everything, in moderation... good with the bad.
 

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He believes corrections are sometimes needed in order to communicate to a dog what kind of behaviours you don't agree with. Then to redirect and show them what to do instead. The intensity of the correction should match the intensity of the infraction.
There are many types of "corrections" for behavior, including redirecting the dog to something else, but I won't belabor what is meant by "correction". The laws of learning do no indicate what "intensity" a correction should be...only that it reduces the behavior in the future. The intensity then is dependent on the dog in question, the relationship you have with that dog, and where you are on the humane scale. These points are what is argued in the debate, not whether something works or not for the purpose of entertainment.

And then on the other end of the fence, there seems to be alot of people who think the whole pack leader thing, and being the alpha is garbage old school thinking. Dogs respond to positive reinforcement only and corrections should rarely be used if at all. Dogs need love and affection, exercise, and then discipline in gentle ways if at all. We should not try to act like dogs, because we're people and we're not good at it. Dogs know this.
Speaking for *those* people, you've misrepresented them. +R training does not mean permissive. The truth is, you can only get behavior from reinforcement. So +R trainers start with getting behaviors they want. Strangely enough, if you have the behaviors you want, punishing the dog, as CM may, becomes unnecessary. It can be a big difference in thought.
 

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I guess I'm looking for a debate about his theories on dominance, corrections, and pack mentality. Dominance: plays no part in 99% of the behavior and training issues most people experience. Yes, there is often a dog in a group of dogs that will control who has access to resources. No, he/she does not do this by force, biting, rolling, or any other physical means. No, people and dogs do NOT have an integrated dominance hierarchy. You are not "dominant" over your dog, and your dog is not "dominant over you.

Corrections: IMO physical corrections are never necessary, especially in behavior work. Vocal corrections may provide useful information to a dog but I do not know how to use them properly so I do not train with corrections.

Pack Mentality: See dominance above. You are not a dog. Your dog knows you are not a dog. If you want to be part of your dog's "pack" you need to be expecting all sorts of unpleasantness including a new hairstyle complete with dog slobber gel, lots of wrestling and neck biting, and most importantly... every time you see your dogs, it's only polite to allow them a nice whiff of your butt and genitals because that seems to tell dogs everything they want to know about where a dog has been, who they are, and what they do.


From what I gather, he preaches calm assertive energy. Always praise calm submissive energy. Assert yourself as the pack leader, and reinforce (gently but firmly) that you are in charge. Exercise, discipline, and then affection are the dogs basic needs.

I am always calm, especially when my dogs are being difficult and/or if they are feeling insecure or uneasy about a situation. Less information from you will generally put a dog at ease. I am also confident/assertive around my dogs so they can learn by my example. I want a dog who is confident going into new situations and knows that if I'm not freaking out, they shouldn't be freaking out either.

As far as leadership goes, I show my dogs that I am a leader by controlling their environment and interactions with others. If something makes them nervous, I make it go away as long as they aren't being jerks about it. You have to know how to read your dog in order to do this because sometimes (often actually) the signs are REALLY subtle. If they mess up (and they often do), we wait for them to relax themselves using different techniques, none of which include pinning them to the ground or physically manipulating them, and then when they are showing the behavior I want, I praise and we retreat or the scary thing disappears. I know from that point on that I have to be more careful around what triggered the craziness. Most of this leadership stuff comes from avoiding situations that will make you look bad to your dog. A dog that isn't sure you're going to have their back won't be so willing to trust you later when you're trying to let them know that it's going to be ok and they're nervous.

Exercise, Discipline, Affection: IMO, these qualities are NOT the three things I think are most important in my relationship with my dog. Mine would be more like "understanding, trust, leadership." You have to understand what your dog is telling you and your dog has to understand what you expect from them. Your dog has to trust that you make decisions that are beneficial to them and you have to trust that your dog is not trying to be a difficult pain in the butt, he's just being a dog who is learning how to live in human society. Mistakes will be made by both of you, but together you can make this journey a pleasant and fun one! Leadership comes after those two because I truly believe that it will happen naturally when understanding and trust are fulfilled. Remember though, as a leader your dog's pitfalls are YOUR pitfalls, so don't shoot the dog. You may have to re-evaluate what you are doing wrong when a dog is being difficult instead of labeling the dog "dominant or alpha."


He believes corrections are sometimes needed in order to communicate to a dog what kind of behaviours you don't agree with. Then to redirect and show them what to do instead. The intensity of the correction should match the intensity of the infraction.

I believe dogs can learn without corrections. My own dogs are proof of that. They are "balanced," well behaved canine members of society. They surely didn't start off that way. Brody was a human/dog aggressive mess of a dog. He just earned his canine good citizen title and goes to all kinds of events, classes, and seminars where he meets many new dogs and humans. He also lives with a 3 month old little girl (my daughter) and they're best friends.

And then on the other end of the fence, there seems to be alot of people who think the whole pack leader thing, and being the alpha is garbage old school thinking. Dogs respond to positive reinforcement only and corrections should rarely be used if at all. Dogs need love and affection, exercise, and then discipline in gentle ways if at all. We should not try to act like dogs, because we're people and we're not good at it. Dogs know this.

Agreed.

Both philosophies seem to have approaches that make sense. I'm new to dog ownership, so I'm just looking for a healthy debate, and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I want to be a good owner for Phoebe and I want her to be happy!

Thanks!
My own two cents are in bold. Take it for what it is: exhausted ramblings from a long-term dog lover who has only recently delved into the world of current professional dog training and behavior theories. I've had success in teaching dogs the old school (collar corrections, be the boss, control the dog so the dog doesn't control you) way, however I have had greater successes recently thanks to less hands-on and more brain-on training methods and an aggressive dog that needed some guidance.
 

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Cesar Milan is a savant who can read body language like most people can read the newspaper. However, he's not perfect and he doesn't always handle situations the way that I would like to see them handled.

I don't believe that dogs need to be forced to the ground and forced to submit. I do think that the best dog trainers are themselves calm and assertive and not afraid of their pupils.

I think that most people misinterpret what they see Cesar doing on TV. People have to understand that it's TV for Dog's sake and it's the canine version of a reality TV show. Things are going to be blown out of proportion and made to look worse then they really are.

My fear is that some jerk with a rottie is going to try to force his dog to the ground to imitate Cesar and the dog is going to be like, "Oh, I dont' think so," and then the end result will be a man in the hospital and a dog in a grave.
 

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I haven't watched his show that often so maybe I'm missing something. But from what I've seen I've only ever seen him alpha roll a dog once and it was dealing with a very aggressive dog. I don't think I've ever seen him advise people to alpha roll a dog. But maybe I've missed something because I have only seen his show a few times.

From what I have seen most of the time it's a dog who is under-exercised and under-stimulated and all he does is teach the person how to walk the dog on a leash. Or a dog with some odd neurotic behavior like attacking the vacuum cleaner...

Overall his message seemed fine...your dog needs confidence in you, it needs exercise and stimulation, and boundaries/limitations need to be made clear in a way the dog understands.
 

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I don't think I've ever seen him advise people to alpha roll a dog.
Maybe he hasn't (I don't watch his show, I've only caught a couple episodes). But the problem is he's on TV. He doesn't have to advise anyone to do anything. Uneducated viewers are watching him, see what appears to be a dog that is successfully corrected using his techniques (the success is questionable, because he's on TV, and the show is edited) and may try to use those techniques on their dog. He didn't advise them to do it, in fact, I think there is a disclaimer on the show saying not to do that, but lots of people are going to do it anyway.
 

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If you need to get control of an out-of-control dog, laying it on its side as gently as possible, and holding it until it calms down, is not the worst thing you could do. I've never seen Cesar do it in anger or frustration, or just to "show the dog who's boss." Most of the time he does it, the dog is headed for a lethal injection anyway.

Dogs will follow a leader, and a dog who considers you his leader will try to cooperate with you most of the time. I learned this from a big yella hound way before I ever heard of Cesar Milan. Call it "alpha" or "pack leader" or whatever you like, the man really is dialed in to what dogs are thinking.
 

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perhaps they should do a "road to the horse" thing wih digs btw the three biggest "names" in dog training today & see for one & all who is tops. (kidding of course) for arguments sake, dogs know we aren't dogs, true just like a person from [insert country here] knows you aren't native .... BUT they WILL understand of you are fluent in their language ..... So ..... Why can't it be the same with dogs ?
 

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Geez, it's television entertainment. We could just as well be debating Homer Simpson's work at the Springfield Nuclear Plant.
 
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