What is learned helplessness?

TV’s The Dog Whisperer has made ‘learned helplessness’ all the rage. There is no question that it is possible to get behaviors from dogs using a variety of different techniques. If you stood over your kid with a mallet and threatened them with violence if they didn’t do their homework, you may get the homework done, but at what cost? It is that cost that has gone unnoticed by Cesar Millan and his many advocates when the threat of punishment, intimidation or pain is used to change behaviors in dogs. Dogs that are bullied into behaving certain ways may behave that way so long as the abuser is present, so a resource guarder may allow dad to take his bones away but junior gets bit. It’s not about being alpha, or being the pack leader, it’s about changing how a dog perceives having its stuff handled by people, and that takes training, not bullying.

Worse then just choosing to selectively comply with particular behavior requests is a dog that no longer makes a choice. This is called ‘learned helplessness’ and the laboratory studies done to define and describe this condition are pretty miserable to read about. Basically a dog was subjected to electrical shocks on the floor while in a room with a low divider that had an area on the other side where no shocks were administered. Some dogs were allowed to jump over the divider to escape the shocks, while others were not. The dogs that were not allowed to jump over the divider after repeatedly being shocked stopped trying to escape the shocks, even when the opportunity for escape was offered to them! They basically gave up trying to help themselves.

So what does this have to do with The Dog Whisperer? Ever watched an episode in which a dog was forced repeatedly to walk on a particular surface, be near something, or otherwise be made to deal with whatever scared it? Eventually the dog stops resisting and complies and everyone smiles and feels warm and fuzzy cause the dog has been ‘cured’. In most cases the dog is not feeling warm and fuzzy and has not ‘learned’ to not be afraid of what is scaring it, it has just learned to stop trying to make the terror go away. This may be enough for many dog owners, but it does nothing to create or maintain a positive, trusting relationship with a dog, and has not given the dog, or owner, any new skills in how to manage challenging situations.

I love watching dogs perform tricks, run agility courses, leap for frisbees, fling themselves off docks to chase a tennis ball or sit in front of a toddler with a paw raised and an expectant look on their face as they mug for a treat. A dog performs these behaviors not only because they were trained to, but because the behaviors are fun and rewarding to them. These behaviors were learned by the dog. Dogs can learn all kinds of new behaviors to replace inappropriate ones, but not if they’ve given up believing that their behavior can effect their experience.

Check out this video. The footage of the dog biting its owner after being shocked is a glaring example of negligence by Mr. Millan.



29 comments so far

  1. CJ Anderson on

    Hi Debbie,

    First, it is so wonderful that you are one who works with fearful dogs! They are by far the most challenging of all the problem dogs I have also found! For every one fearful dog I have worked with, I have worked with a good 10 high energy/aggressive dogs to rehab and re-home them.

    It is so sad that in their zeal for sensational ism, that media like what Komo did do not follow up on the long-term results of their stories. Preferring on to take the most sensational clips and then present them out of context and without commenting on the successful outcomes.

    One of the things I love most about Cesar show is how carefully and deliberately they chose to show the consequence of a mistake in judgment can be to both owners or rehabbers. My most favorite example of this is the “Pups on Parole” episode where they actually replayed a total of three times, showing Cesar being bitten several times. That episode probably has been the most instrumental in having me hold to my” line in the sand”, for what dogs are beyond my skills in problems or size.

    There is an error in your statements however in that in that episode as with the others, the dog was rehabbed by Cesar and left with the owner who continues the behavior practices successfully. Even Kane continues to go to school and enjoy his time with the children without fear or suffering. The follow-up stories are to be found in the Dog Whisperer Season 1-3 episode guide, even years later.

    I have become involved in rescuing and working with last chance problem dogs who are going to be euthanized for their behaviors. I steeped up because there was no local “professional” who could or would step up to save their lives. You can see most of these last chance dogs who have been successfully rehabbed and re-homed at my you tune site~ http://www.youtube.com/cjanderson.

    So not only do the problem dogs I have worked with been handed off to others to now live happy lives as well behaved dogs, but just this last year, I am being called by rescues to help with preventing adopted dogs who develop problems in their new environment from being returned to shelters. In the last week alone I have done five. I also take the most challenging “difficult-to-adopt-dogs” when Best Friends (Dog Town) come to Phoenix. All six of these difficult dogs were adopted successfully with no further problems after I worked with them through a weekend.

    I have even been able to turn two of them into therapy dogs and am starting a program to teach others to do that as well by utilizing Cesar’s solutions.

    If I use the word “bike” what bike am I talking about? It really doesn’t matter if you are talking about a motorcycle if I am talking about an exercise bike. That is what is happening with your interpretation of his actions in your context. It doesn’t translate.
    Further, if it harms the dog, it is not Cesar’s way – no matter what any one says.
    Lastly, no one can produce any document from any vet, clinic or emergency room showing that any dog has ever been harmed by Cesar in any way. The complete lack of proof from any of the hundreds of dog owners who have been helped by him in his 20 years of dog work should be enough of a statement.

    Thank you for providing a forum to consider another side of this position.
    God bless you for helping the fearful ones.

    Sincerely, CJ Anderson

  2. fearfuldogs on

    Thanks for commenting CJ.

    As I say, in different words, there are many ways to skin a cat, (I only say that in a dog blog 😉 and it is possible to get behaviors you want through a variety of techniques. And while it is possible for some dogs to be able to ‘suck it up’ and deal with whatever technique they are forced to endure, it does not mean that another, less aggressive technique would not have achieved the same goal.

    I hear comments about training successes like yours frequently and I do not doubt their validity. But the reality is that there is often fall out from the use of shock collars and punishment, and for someone to promote their use on national television, even with disclaimers about viewers not repeating the techniques at home, is to be reckless in regard to the safety of dogs and owners.

    To suggest that ‘harm’ can only be defined by physical abuse and injury is to be insensitive to the damage that emotional abuse can inflict on dogs, just as it does on people. That the use of a shock collar or choking a dog into submission may not leave a scar which a vet could document, does not in my mind prove that no harm was done.

    Cesar’s techniques are not new or innovative, he has taken old school training practices and dragged them into the 21st century. Many viewers without your skill or sensitivity in reading and understanding dogs only exacerbate the behavioral issues they are experiencing with their pets by following his lead. Fearful dogs suffer the most by his use of flooding and intimidation. It is these dogs that my heart goes out to, and for whom my blog is written.

  3. Vicki Simpson on

    Hi Debbie,

    I would like to thank you for giving us this opportunity to share on your forum. I do have to say that I respectfully disagree with you on this topic and I would like to share a little bit of my story with you.

    I struggled with my two Golden Retrievers for quite a while before I watched Cesar’s show. My two dogs fought terribly.I practiced possitive reinforcement with my dogs for months getting no results when it came to the “aggresssion” problem.

    When I first saw Cesar’s show I was so happy to finally hear someone confronting the owners about their relationship with their dogs. He makde sense to me. Cesar was getting the message across that it’s US that have to change before we can change our dogs. Isn’t it true that there’s a lot of resistance to the word change? People say “What? you mean I have to change? There’s nothing wrong with me? When indeed, it is US who are the problem. I started to see where I was humanizing my Golden Retrievers. I started to see where I did not act as a leader to them and they felt insecure because of that. I watched Cesar act as a leader and I LOVE how he supports women to become leaders. I started practing his methods and low and behold, my dogs got better. I have never ever hurt my dogs in practicing Cesar’s methods. In fact, I don’t even touch them to get the message across. I just use my energy and body language which is calm and assertive. I am a very small woman and sensitive on top of that. To even think of hurting a dog is beyond my comprehension. If I saw that Cesar was hurting any animal in any way, I could not practice his methods. I have watched every episode of and read every book Cesar has written. There are NO incidents of harm or pain to any dog that Cesar has worked with. I would suggest you buy the book “The Ultimate Episode Guide” to hear what has happend to every single dog on the show. I think thats a fair suggestion. It’s best to get all the facts before you give your opinion don’t you think?

    The point I’m trying to make is that it hurts me to hear other trainers out there putting Cesar down. It only makes me want to stay away from those kind of trainers. Cesar has never put down another trainer. He has brought many trainers on his show. He is always willing to learn new things. Have you watched any of the Dog Whisperer shows where Cesar used “massage” to calm a dog down? How about the shows where he took the dogs to get acupuncture to help them heal? Why aren’t you talking about those episodes? I’m sorry but it’s very sad to me. God Bless you with the work you do and I hope some day you can have a more open mind like Cesar does. The world does not need any more “tearing down” of good people.

    Thank you again for letting me share my thoughts.


    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks for sharing your story Vicki. I do not question that Cesar cares about and even loves dogs or mean to suggest that he is not a good person. I also do not doubt that dogs can change their behaviors based on his techniques. I am always amazed at how adaptable dogs are and that they often thrive despite our treatment of them, not because of them. And I have seen how Cesar has changed some of his handling techniques with dogs over the years, and suspect that as he also learns more about how dogs learn new behaviors and change their associations with things that scare them, that he will continue to do so. Much like the author of The Monks of New Skete who has admitted that his advocacy of the ‘alpha roll’ was misguided.

      If hearing criticism of Cesar by some of the best trainers in this country and abroad, along with some of the most well-respected vets in the country (and indeed they are the ones finding fault with his methods) causes you to want to stay away from them, that is your choice but seems to be contrary to your encouragement that I be fair and do follow up reading on every dog Cesar’s shown on his show.

      I think it is wonderful that you found a solution to your problem with your dogs’ aggression problem and that you were able to do it without even touching them and I can understand your idolization of Cesar Milan. I have no quarrel with the man, I’d love to join him on a walk one day with too many dogs. But I would not for a minute let him handle my own damaged dog.

  4. Carolyn on

    Learned helplessness? Lordy, what’ll they come up with next!

    I’ve got a pit mix that had several issues. I took her to a positive only school, and she did quite well there. What we didn’t get was consistently good behavior – in and out of class. She would SOMETIMES listen to me and do as I ask, but not always. She also had issues that the trainer was baffled with (water obsession, dog aggression, insecure around some humans, to name a few) and she had no idea what to do about them. She just knew how to “lure” the dogs to perform certain things, with a treat bag glued to her side.

    Soon after taking that trainer’s course, I discovered Cesar’s first book, “Cesar’s Way”. I instantly felt the “aha” moments while reading and “yeah, this makes total sense!”. I started implicating some of the things, and getting decent results, but still not consistently. I joined an online forum that discusses Cesar’s methods and energy (as well as positive only methods- it all just depends on the situation). This kept me more in tune with what I was missing. I soon realized that there are several pieces to the puzzle. It’s not just a method or technique. It’s our (human’s) energy. It’s what we do to demonstrate to our dogs that we are their pack leader. Yes, dogs are still pack animals – even though we’ve domesticated them. That’s been proven. Hurricane Katrina is one situation in which pack behavior was strongly evident among the lost and stranded canine victims.

    So, I show Cesar’s book to the trainer. She immediately said she’d heard of him and that he’s just some Mexican guy without any “real” training that happened along some rich and famous people who gave him his big break and that she’s heard he’s abusive, etc. His words in his book just seemed to make too much sense to me to pay any attention to what she said, so I read on.

    Anyway, belonging to this online forum and reading and communicating frequently about successes and failures really kept all the information fresh in my mind. Well, my dog is just awesome now. I can honestly say that she no longer has any issues. We didn’t even have to work on each one! Just by being her pack leader, many things have just fallen into place. She doesn’t have to stress out and take the lead anymore, she trusts me. I’ve never hurt her, and I won’t hurt her. I also don’t have to carry a treat bag with me! And I can tell you that I know she adores me, as I do her. With my demonstrating my pack leadership to her, she’s not stressed that she has to be in charge. I give her lots of exercise, rules/boundaries/limitations (aka discipline), and then affection. Well, to be honest, I’m pretty sure I give more affection than Cesar would say is ok, but well, that’s just me. And because she’s such a darn good dog, I think that’s ok.

    I have watched all his shows, read all his books, taken his online training course, constantly keep up to date with others that use his way, and have his dvd training courses. I can tell you that he does NOT hurt the dogs – mentally or physically. I’ve found that there are some episodes that I think are a little difficult to watch, but not because he’s hurting the dogs – because he’s not. Some are difficult to watch because the dog goes through a tantrum, much like a human going through withdrawal from drugs. These dogs that he’s affected are RELIEVED to have someone take the lead for them! They know they’ve got someone calm and assertive that’s in charge and everything is going to be ok.

    Many of the dogs he works with are last chance dogs. Dogs that have TRIED the positive only approach and it hasn’t worked. Many of these dogs are dogs that, if he can’t help them, will be euthanized. Cesar gets results and gets results NOW. Some things do take longer than others, and he’s sure to inform his viewers of that. Whenever there’s a case where the dog does not improve, it’s because the owner hasn’t followed through – the owner hasn’t changed. But yes, like someone mentioned above, check out his episode guide, I think you’ll be enlightened. Sorry this was so long, but I had so much to say. Thanks for reading and best wishes to you. Carolyn

  5. Kaelinda on

    Hi, Debbie! Thanks for letting us comment on your story. I’ve only known about Cesar for two years, so I haven’t followed his TV shows as much as some of the other people who have posted on your forum. What I can tell you is that I adopted a “mutt” eight years ago, and she was extremely dog aggressive. I tried exposing her to other dogs at a distance, but if she could see them or smell them, she wanted to attack them. Then I found Cesar. By simply walking past the dogs my mutt wanted to eat, and refusing to allow her to stop and attack those dogs, just as Cesar has shown over and over again, my mutt found it easier and easier to be around other dogs. She still barks when a strange dog approaches our house, but she doesn’t try to break through the window to get to him, she no longer pulls violently against the leash when we walk past them, and she is comfortable in the presence of any other dog I’ve allowed her to meet.

    And I do attribute all that to Cesar’s philosophy: “Calm, assertive energy” and his fulfillment formula “Exercise, Discipline (which means rules, boundaries, and limitations) and Affection.”

    In any event, the point I’m trying to make is that I have tried positive reinforcement only and it simply doesn’t work for viciously dog aggressive dogs. My dog got herself so wound up so soon after spotting or smelling the other dog – one that her handler couldn’t even detect – that no form of treat or toy could distract her. Other trainers couldn’t get her to stop, and I was advised by three others to have her euthanized because she wasn’t rehabilitatable. Obviously, once I started watching Cesar and reading his books, I learned that she WAS able to be rehabilitated and she was and is. Please don’t put Cesar down unless and until you have talked to the owners of the dogs he’s helped. They’ll tell you themselves that Cesar does not cause “learned helplessness.”

  6. suzie on

    Hello all, I have a pack of 14 dogs who have been successfully rehabilitated thanks to Cesar’s Way. Some of these dogs were fearful dogs, they have now mved on from those fears and live balanced lives within my pack – they are not in any way “learned helpless”, while I work as a professional so I do understand this dog psychology term, in my experience the most cases of this I do see is when people have used Time-out, and the dog cannot make an association so becomes overly submissive “just in case”, I add that Time-out is not part of Cesar’s Way. There is a big big difference between overly submissive and submissive – the dog tells us this through their energy and body language – we need to be there in-person to read the dog properly in my opinion rather than make “judgements” based on assumptions or what we think we see.

    The other time I see such a condition is when people use angry or negative emotional energy such as frustration, Cesar uses calm assertive energy which is why in my opinion the dogs can be helped to recovery.

    I have a large GT Dane who was very fearful, as we moved him through his fears having been inspired by watching Cesar work with Kane, he is no longer the big fearful boy and has a much better quality of life. Where he used to be afraid to walk on the sand at the beach where we live, you should see him now running and playing with the pack and making his own choices of what to do in the time when I allow “dog time” so they can go sniff or look for seals in the sea.

    I think it is great you help fearful dogs, and it will always depend upon the individual dog as to what method of treatment is best. We can only see what we see – we are not there and do not have every piece of info that Cesar does, but the follow-up with the owners tells us of success and recovery, let the dogs speak through their owners is my opinion.

    Good wishes to you with your work to help dogs, I hope more and more people learn about dog psychology so that we can bring more dogs to balance.

  7. Mary Murray on

    I wanted to comment on your blog as I too work with many fearful dogs. Our breed is seen as a tool, abused with forced retrieves, and traumatized.
    Seven of ten of our dogs come in emaciated, and with hw+ from being left outside. Many spin their entire lives in circles due to living in the confines of an outdoor kennel.

    I applaud you for your work, as these are indeed some of the most difficult dogs to work with.
    Now, our dogs can also be sharp…prey sharp/people sharp. This is where Cesar has helped me to connect with my positive energy. His methodology has been tremendous to help with bring the dogs in correctly, and giving me the tools to be confident, visualize the outcome. I have learned so much from his shows…dvd’s, and books.
    We have what we feel is a mistreated/possibly abused GWP here now, that is extremely food aggresive. I used many of my tools I have used through the years, and was able to view Season 3, with the Swiss Mountain dog that also exhibited the behaviors I was working with. Cesar was slow and methodical, using a leash to teach a down stay when the food was given, the dog allowed to wait until he was in a calm submissive state. We have applied this exercise consistently for 2 days, and she is beginning to improve.

    I see 98% of his work such as this, and do not see his techniques as harmful or abusive. As my rescues have been through enough, I would never add to their baggage of abuse or neglect. His Methodology starts with the owner, and then trickles down to the dog. He has a special gift and I feel has been a true savior to our breed. Most of our dogs going into shelters were euthanized before our group became active 5 years ago. Seen as a lost cause, we have embraced our positive energy, won them over with leadership, given them confidence. We also win them over with treats when they are not as fearful, as fearful dogs will freeze and refuse food.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to post. I owe everything to Cesar, and do embrace other methodolgy that never harms the dog.

    Mary Murray
    GWPRescue, Inc

  8. Tiffany on

    Debbie, I’d like to make a few comments based on your comments to the posts above, as well as tell you some of my own personal experience with my fearful dog.

    To C.J., above, you wrote:
    “Cesar’s techniques are not new or innovative, he has taken old school training practices and dragged them into the 21st century.”
    -actually, Cesar does not base his philosophy on old school training. In his book, ‘Cesar’s Way’, he tells about how he learned dog behavior by watching dogs. The things he mentions in his books I have seen myself when I watch dogs. For example, I have seen many dogs correct other dogs for unwanted behavior, just as Cesar talks. Dogs DO use physical touch. It is not mean to hurt, but to send a message-‘hey, that is not excepted’. Just as dog’s may correct by growling, moving towards, snapping in the direction of, and in cases where an unwanted behavior was ‘bad’ enough, biting, so Cesar uses corrections such as a verbal noise or word, a snap of his fingers, a firm touch (not hitting!) using his fingers, and in yes, in severe cases he uses a ‘claw bite’ to mimick a dog’s bite. His corrections are always done with matching intensity to the behavior.

    To CJ above, you wrote:
    “Many viewers without your skill or sensitivity in reading and understanding dogs only exacerbate the behavioral issues they are experiencing with their pets by following his lead.”
    -This is why the disclaimer “do not try this at home…consult a professional” are put on the shows. People don’t want to take the time to completely understand Cesar’s philosophy. They don’t really listen to what he is saying, they don’t read his books or watch his DVD’s. People today want a quick fix. They see what he does and try it theirselves. That’s where the problem lies. Cesar talks about having calm assertive energy and being your dog’s pack leader. People don’t get that and often don’t try to get it. They go to correct their dog and it turns into punishment because they have frusterated, angry energy behind it. That is what causes a dog to fear someone.

    As far as my fearful dog, I did not start making progress with her until I became her pack leader. She was snapping at and charging other dogs when they would sniff her. She would tuck her tail and pee when people approached her. I tried having friends feed her treats. I tried distracting her with treats when other dogs were nearby and desensitizing her. I tried socializing her more often. I tried other methods, and nothing worked. She got worse for 3 years. It was only when I read Cesar’s first book and learned about what my dog NEEDED from me that she actually started to improve. My dog needed me to become her pack leader so that she would trust me in those ‘scary’ situations. I started by mastering the walk-I led the walk, not her, so she followed me. She had to sit and wait patiently for her food. She was not allowed to demand attention from me by jumping on me, nudging my hand repeatedly, barking at me, etc. As she learned to respect me as her pack leader, she learned to trust me. She learned she was not allowed to show aggression in any way, even from fear, because I corrected her. She learned to look to me for direction and trust me when people are in our house. She will now greet them with a wag of her tail and will then come lay down by me because she trusts me and feels safe with me.

    She is afraid of the clothes washer, gas stove, and toaster popping up. Before I was her pack leader, she would go into learned helplessness, like you talked about. She would try to disappear into the wall, ears down, eyes averting any attention I gave her, and would shake. If I tried to use a piece of chicken or steak (how much yummier can you get than that?!) to work on distracting her and desensitizing her, she would completely ignore it and wouldn’t even look at it. We’re working on the stove now. I keep her on a leash tied to me while I fix my food. She’s still scared, but she follows me around the kitchen now willingly instead of shaking and freezing up, she will do obediance commands for treats, and she will constantly look at me. This is the biggest accomplishement for me. This shows me trust. None of this happened before I was her pack leader.

    She is not completely over these issues yet, but the progress has been tremendous, but only since I have become her pack leader. Being a pack leader is not about having a dog who is trained to do certain actions. It is about a dog who is ‘trained’ to exhibit certain behaviors. I have a dog who respects me and trusts me. She may have loved me before, but she did not trust me. She is a pleasure to live with because she is respectful. I don’t have to teach her a command to get a certain action. I taught her that, as her pack leader, she needs to look to me for direction. She doesn’t lunge for food dropped on the floor, she doesn’t bolt through an open door, she doesn’t tear into her food and growl at me to back away. I can trust her off leash in any situation, whether people, cars or dogs are around. She doesn’t jump on people, she doesn’t bark to demand attention, she can settle down and stay calm in the midst of chaos because she reads my calm energy.

    Her fear has lessened the past 2 years because I have become her pack leader. Do I correct her? Yes, I do. It does not cause her to fear me, it does not intimidate her, it does not scare her into obeying me. I correct her physically or verbally, she stops what she’s doing and I direct her in how to behave instead whether that means stopping her fear aggression, stopping her insecure dominant energy, stopping her prey drive towards a cat, stopping her from going into a room she is not allowed in, etc. Then we continue on. The moment is over. The correction was made, the behavior was changed, and we’re both happy.

    Just a little insight into how Cesar has helped my fearful dog!


  9. Craig C. on

    I have been involved in rescue and rehabilitation of dogs for over 11 years, I have placed dozens of dogs into good homes just in the last 3 years, and have only had one come back to me (who, has since gone to another home with success). I am involved in advanced obedience and agility training at competition level, and I have lived with multiple dogs, big and small, all my life since I could walk (35 years and counting).

    Anyone that knows Cesar Millan and studies his techniques in detail understands there is *never* any “hitting”, man-handling, or any abuse of any kind, on or off the show. What he deals with in many cases are what he classifies as “red-zone” cases – dogs that are highly aggressive and are a danger to their owners, other people and other dogs. Dogs that are literally on their way out to a shelter or worse if Cesar can’t help them and their owners. Many of these are dogs that most trainers and behaviorists would most likely recommend be put to sleep. These are dogs that most trainers and behaviorists won’t touch.

    This is where Cesar comes in. He has helped literally *thousands* of people and pets to live peacefully together, by explaining why dogs react the way they do to nervous, insecure energy (or moods, if you will) given off by humans. To him, there are no “disposable dogs”, regardless of the breed, size or temperament. He understands what it is to match the energy and intensity of a dog in that state of mind, knowing that the wrong rehabilitation approach can actually *nurture* the aggression and other unwanted behaviors.

    In fact, in so many episodes I’ve seen him utilize MANY different positive-based approaches. If you follow the show, it’s not all about “alpha-rolls”, and when it is there is a very good reason for it (creating calm-submission in a dog that literally wants to kill something or someone). I’ve seen people brought to tears with gratitude that they didn’t have to give up on their dog(s), including those that have service dogs that they rely on to live as normal a life as possible. Cesar has touched so many people and has saved countless dogs’ lives throughout his career, and there are many more to come.

    I would also like to explain the difference between what is called a “touch” and what is considered “punishment” or “hitting”. Let’s start with clarifying “punishment” vs. “discipline” as well. An example of punishment would be angrily taking a dog and putting him in a crate after an unwanted behavior occurs. Or, rubbing a dog’s nose in feces after the dog has made a mistake on the carpet. Or, simply yelling at a dog. All of these are examples of punishment, and they don’t work. It’s all human psychology that many humans will try to apply to a dog. No one will ever see Cesar doing this, it doesn’t happen. An example of “discipline” would be addressing (blocking or redirecting) a dog’s behavior right before / at the moment / or within 1 second of the unwanted behavior occurring. My main point here is he applying dog psychology to correct unwanted behavior and reward good behavior, instead of applying human psychology which gives the opposite of the desired result.

    So, “touching” a dog vs. “hitting or kicking” a dog. Hitting and kicking are done out of, and with, anger and frustration on the part of the human. The dog *feels* this, it is not effective and it is cruel. Cesar does not “hit” dogs. No one ever should. But there is a huge difference between hitting / kicking and *touching* a dog to redirect his attention – to startle him out of whatever unhealthy state of mind he is in, to help bring back calm-submissive behavior. There is a very specific way(s) of doing this. There is nothing wrong with touching a dog, in fact, it is one of the natural ways in which animals communicate with each other.

    Another point I feel the need to raise, regarding “people have tried his techniques and failed, and made the dogs worse”. Throughout his show, probably, I would say every 30 seconds.. there is a HUGE banner that pops up on the screen that says (paraphrasing) “DO NOT attempt these techniques without consulting a professional…” etc. I’ve heard of people that have also made dogs worse by tossing food at them while they are around level 10 aggression – but personally I won’t blame Victoria Stillwell for that. It’s not her fault and it’s not Cesar’s fault if people are attempting their advanced techniques on unbalanced dogs and not getting good results. It is the responsibility of the human to get proper training and advice before taking on the rehabilitation and/or training an unbalanced dog. It can (and should) take years to achieve this level of knowledge and skill.

    So I think the main message coming from Cesar is that best formula for a truly fulfilled and happy dog, in this order, is: 1) exercise 2) discipline (rules, boundaries and limitations) and 3) affection. Affection is a reward, and is essential to keeping a dog happy and fulfilled – but the problem is that so many dog owners only give affection, affection, affection – creating an unbalanced state of mind in a dog. When a dog is not balanced, that is part of what creates unwanted behavior and conditions (aggression, fear, anxiety, phobias, etc.).

    Finally, something I see a lot on training forums – the lack of clarification between *training* and *rehabilitation* of dogs. There is a huge difference. Cesar’s show is not about training, it is about rehabilitation. To be clear, the only ones being trained on his show are the humans. Sure, dog training is one part of the rehabilitation process, but Cesar’s techniques are not “training” techniques. They are to help unbalanced dogs move on, move forward, and achieve a balanced & peaceful way of being.

    Thanks for reading my post, and for providing a place to have an open, balanced discussion.

  10. Jackie Cassada on

    First, Debbie, I want to say that I think you’re doing a wonderful thing working with fearful dogs. I am hoping one day to open a sanctuary for geriatric animals, probably dogs and cats primarily, because, like fearful animals, elderly animals are hard to rehome after they’ve lost their first one — often one of many years.

    I also think it is wonderful that you welcome reasoned disagreement on your site where many others would simply close off the comments. It shows that you have the strength of your convictions and are not afraid to dialogue with others who have equally strong though different convictions.

    I happen to find that Cesar Millan makes a lot of sense and I do not see the same “inhumane” treatment of dogs as you do. Others have expressed their feelings in this much more eloquently than I can. Instead, I want to comment on the idea of “learned helplessness” from the point of view of a layperson who has come to dogs through…cats!

    I own a Plott Hound named Eve. My sister and I rescued her from the brink of death by starvation — she was literally a skeleton with a skin coat — five years ago and have never looked back. We also have five cats, one of which Eve believes is her “puppy” and who trusts Eve as his “mom.”

    I know a lot more about cats than about dogs, but a lot of things didn’t make sense to me until one day I read (and I can’t remember the source since it was many many years ago) that many of the routines we engage in with our domestic cats are ones that encourage a return or regression — not to “helplessness” but to kittenhood (or perhaps puppyhood?). Petting a cat simulates the mother’s tongue washing the kitten. Scruffing a cat (correctly) mimics a mother cat’s method of carrying a kitten. Cat toys encourage cats to remain playful as they did when they were kittens — and the point of all this is to help ensure that cats don’t emerge as the dangerous predators they would be if they were allowed to reach full adult maturity in the wild or if they did not give humans the authority they would give a mother cat.

    Cats and dogs are both predators, and instead of learned helplessness, I believe that the imposition of a pack (or family) hierarchy on a household of dogs or in which there is a dog mimics the encouragement of puppylike behavior, where a dog looks to a human for guidance.

    I don’t believe that Cesar teaches learned helplessness to dogs — I believe he encourages them to see him (or their owners) as the authority, just as a puppy would see a mother or an alpha female as someone to be both trusted and obeyed.

    There is a lot more to Cesar’s philosophy than this — but others have talked a lot about energy. I just wanted to mention the epiphany I just had about the relationship between “learned helplessness” and “encouraged return to childhood of domestic animals.”

    I use many of Cesar’s methods with my dog, though I have to adapt to the fact that she has to live with five cats and I try to find a common ground where I’m not trying to play by too many rules. I find that calm assertive energy works wonders with both dogs and cats.

    Thank you for hearing me out. Again, I think you are doing good work for dogs!

  11. fearfuldogs on

    Just a few points to make in no particular order.

    1. Quibble if you like over training vs. rehabilitation, both are basically helping dogs learn appropriate behaviors to replace inappropriate ones.

    2. Despite any disclaimers or warnings people do use his techniques. A skilled trainer understands that a dog over threshold (red zone) is not using the thinking part of its brain. An unskilled trainer thinks the dog is trying to dominate them.

    3. The theories in play today about pack leadership and the role of alpha animals is based on inaccurate observations made in the 1960s by David Mech when he studied captive wolves. He has since refuted his interpretations.

    4. Most behavioral problems that people experience with their pets are not due to their dogs attempting to assume the role of pack leader, but rather they are due to confusion, inexperience and immaturity on the dog’s side of the equation. Most of these dogs will respond to any consistent, predictable training and behavioral responses by their owners.

    5. Learning theory 101. Dogs get better at any behavior they repeat and will repeat any behavior they get rewarded for (this reward can come from the owner or is intrinsic to the behavior).

    6. Learned helpless is NOT the same as juvenile behavior.

    7. We can make up all kinds of reasons why dogs behave they way they do, but as John Rogerson said in a recent seminar on aggression in dogs, “Only the dogs have the facts.”

    8. Psychology is an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental functions and behavior. wikipedia

    9. Feral dog packs are different from wolf packs.

    10. Dogs need more walks and stinky stuff to roll in.

  12. Tammy Hartwig on

    Learned Helplessness ~

    While I certainly agree that this does happen, I do not believe that this is what the world is seeing from Cesar Millan. Comparing his methods to standing over a child with a mallet? This statement seems to come from someone that has never watched a show of his, but is rather commenting only on these couple of video clips. The operative word here is “clips” which means; 1) to cut or trim something 2) to remove something from something else, 3) to cut off, or 4) to reduce the time taken to complete something. While all of these meanings apply, perhaps the fourth one applies most appropriately to your article. This is rather similar to what the paparazzi do to celebrity quotes. If you take this quote ~ “Hearing a child screaming, I ran into the burning building and it was really scary because it was totally engulfed in flames but, I got her out”, and change it to ~ “I ran into the burning building because it was totally engulfed in flames”. Without the beginning, all of the middle, or the end; well we’re telling two completely different stories here, aren’t we? One depicts a hero while the other depicts craziness. I am starting to see that the, so called, “real” news has become much more like the tabloids and people really don’t know what to believe anymore.

    You have certainly followed the path that journalism and news coverage has chosen to take; telling not only part of a story but, also only the worst part of a story. How often do we see a “clip” on the news of something like a large, colored man breaking down the door at a home where it is common knowledge that an elderly, rich woman lives alone. We are told that the police have apprehended the “suspect” and the investigation is ongoing. We may hear the outcome of that investigation if the intruder meant harm, but how often do we NEVER hear the outcome? Often neighbors in such a situation are interviewed but somehow never make the news. Their interview may be informing the public that this man is her beloved nephew that one neighbor called because she was concerned when she couldn’t reach the woman. Unable to reach her himself and finding the door locked, he breaks it down; totally innocent of any wrong doing. Am I guessing? Of course I am, but guessing is all we, the general public, are left with. Is this not exactly what has been done to Cesar Millan by you and the news media? You show what “looks” to be a bad situation without showing the end result. Did you or the media check with the owners of these dogs to find out the end result or if the dogs were harmed in any way? The answer to that question can only be one of two things; 1) No I/we did not, or 2) Yes, I/we did and found that the fine ending was not worthy of the news, as it is today. I really came to understand the way the media now works when my Son served in Iraq! I lost track of how many times I was told, and shown, that the situation was NOT as the media portrayed.

    I also find it curious that the other trainers interviewed only stated that Cesar’s way was wrong but offered no other solution. They did not even jump at the opportunity to share their way of training a dog such as was seen in these “clips”. Does that not seem strange to anyone else? It should be noted that most of those who seek Cesar’s help have already spent a great deal of money on different trainers with a variety of different techniques that obviously, did not work or, they wouldn’t be enlisting the help of Cesar in the first place. Cesar is rarely, if ever, where people start. In most cases, especially those of aggressive dogs, like those seen in the videos, this man, Cesar Millan, Dog Whisperer, is their last hope. Many trainers will not even attempt to work with such a dog and some will come right out and tell the owners that the dog needs to be euthanized. If this was your dog, and there was one last hope, would you not take it?

    Another point that I have noticed with such articles and/or videos is, that I have never seen Cesar Millan say one negative thing about any other trainer or training technique. He openly admits that his way is just that…one way, and that any way that works, that doesn’t harm the dog, is fine. He states that they are entitled to their opinion. He does not feel the need to defend himself against such attacks by other trainers or the media because he has proven that his way works. He believes in it and he stands by it. I only see the others as pointing accusing fingers with nothing to back these accusations up. This really only tells the public that they are threatened by him.

    Tammy Hartwig

    • fearfuldogs on

      Ah yes media. Please hold the same lens up to television programs, edited for time constraints and content, and books too for that matter.

      I’m sorry Tammy but I’m having a tough time following your line of reasoning, that the only time people criticize other people is when they’re threatened by them? If you truly believe that top vets and trainers in this country, folks with years of dog training experience and scientific research and study under their belts, are threatened by Cesar Milan, I hate to burst your bubble. Cesar’s techniques are not new, they’ve seen it all before. As some may say, ‘Same s**t, different package’.

      And your reasoning that because someone doesn’t defend themselves against that criticism makes them right, is also a bit tough for me to sort out. It might make them a nice person but it also does not stand to reason that just because you find fault with something it makes you evil.

      As for trainers not offering alternatives, they have, they did, they are! If you’ve never read a book by; Jean Donaldson, Patricia McConnell, Trish King, Pat Miller, Emma Parsons, Karen Pryor, Ian Dunbar, Nicole Wilde, Dee Ganley, Pam Dennison (there are plenty others as well) I highly recommend that you do. You may have even noticed that over the years Cesar has changed his tactics in many situations. He’s not stupid and he likes dogs, I suspect you’ll see even more changes in the future as he enters the 21st century of dog training and rehab.

      Look, do what you like with your dog. If you’ve had success with your dog using techniques prescribed by Cesar Milan, a dog communicator or your uncle Harry, go for it. And I wouldn’t worry too much about Cesar Milan and his critics, he can take the heat all the way to the bank

  13. Carolyn on

    Debbie,of course Cesar’s changed over the years! He’s added to his repertoire of tools to use, including those used by the “pos. only” trainers. It would behoove you to learn from him, as well. And that’s what makes him so good! He’s always open to other techniques and he uses what works! If you really paid attention to his programs, you’d see that he often tries more than one thing with a dog because the same thing doesn’t work for all dogs.

    The people that condemn Cesar and his ways are those with the least knowledge and understanding of what it is he does. It’s obvious. Also, it’s mostly “professionals” that oppose him – because it’s certainly not the people and dogs he’s worked with or that have taken the time to learn from him.

    I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not the magic of editing that makes him a success. It’s because he’s the real deal. It’s because he saves last chance dogs that other trainers have given up on and recommended destroyed. Ask anyone that’s worked with him.

    And to reiterate, Cesar’s techniques are not old-school. He doesn’t punish – he disciplines (or corrects). There’s a big difference. Punishment is done out of frustration or anger and potentially does physical and/or emotional harm. Discipline, on the other hand, is done in a calm assertive manner with calm energy and does not cause harm of any kind to the dog. If you bothered to read his books (reading while comprehending) and really listen to him speak on his programs or at seminars, you’d realize that.

    I would venture to say that most (if not all) of the posters here HAVE read at least one or two books from an author you’ve mentioned.

    I have had the displeasure of a training experience with a trainer that uses the old school physical punishment methods. So I definitely know the difference. This guy took a plastic bottle with rocks in it and would hit a dog in the face to redirect him. Yikes. He would pull a dog wearing a choke chain so his front feet were off the ground and hold him there until he felt some sort of satisfaction. Yikes. The guy would also yell. Yikes. I would never go back to that guy and I would never recommend him. Honestly, I didn’t know people like that existed. But I can guarantee you that Cesar’s methods are not at all like those awful ones I witnessed.

    As others have said, bless you for helping the challenged dogs you do help. But I’m very sorry that you’ve closed your mind to such a wonderful resource for the world of dogs and their owners that Cesar is.

  14. Carolyn on

    And one other thing about that bad training experience I had with the old-school training…. his own dog literally quivered in his presence. I’ve never seen anything like it. You’ll never see that with dogs that have benefited from Cesar’s Way.

    • fearfuldogs on

      No really I mean it UNCLE! I get it! Exercise, discipline, affection. I get it!

  15. fearfuldogs on

    Just in case you folks miss this. I’d probably like Cesar Milan if I met him. I do admire him. I am impressed by his convictions, his motivation, his history. I’m serious when I say I’d enjoy going for a walk with him and his dogs, we probably share some genetic disposition to feel best when in the company of dogs.

    I just happened to disagree that the problem with most dogs is that they want or need to be dominated. I think that most dogs just need to be trained. The science of how dogs learn and change associations is growing by leaps and bounds. We have so much information now to help us work with our dogs.

    It’s one thing to have a ‘feel’ for working with dogs, it sure helps, but unfortunately many dog owners don’t, so instead of providing them with dominance and hierarchy paradigms on which to base their responses to their dogs, I’d rather they were given more accurate information about how dogs actually learn new skills.

  16. Craig C. on

    I think we are all working toward the same goal, and there are a number of ways to achieve balance in a dog. We all do what works best for us, we all have our little “tool box” of sorts that we rely on. Adding to that tool box, discussing different approaches – keeps us all well-informed and better handlers, trainers, owners, companions, etc. in the end.

    Personally speaking, I take what works for me from all different styles and approaches. I have learned a lot from K9 police dog trainers, from positive-only trainers, from rescue / rehab people, from vets, and from Cesar. I have also learned a lot about myself, and I give all the credit for that to the dogs that have come into my life.

    Thanks again for an open discussion, it’s nice to not see comments not being “blocked” simply because people are sharing varying opinions.

    Thanks all,

    • fearfuldogs on

      I am not surprised by the passion which Cesar’s fans jump to his defense, we are after all talking about dogs. My purpose in pointing out the risks of any technique, Cesar’s or others, is so that people working with phobic dogs understand those risks. For Cesar’s fans to say that those risks don’t exist is wrong or misguided. The people who point out the flaws in Cesar’s techniques are not likely doing it cause they are threatened by him, or are jealous or don’t like him, they do it because those risks are real, and just because someone hasn’t been affected by them, doesn’t mean they’re not. If someone believes that swallowing raw eggs is a good thing to do, is a doctor who points out that there might be health risks, picking on them? Eat raw eggs if you like, plenty of people do (why is beyond me) but just cause you’ve never gotten sick, it doesn’t mean that someone else hasn’t, or that you won’t one day.

      People with dog handling skills are probably going to be able to take any technique and get their dogs to behave appropriately. But is is apparent that many people, including people who have commented on my post, do not really understand the risks of using certain techniques with dogs. It’s not about whether you punish your dog or not. Punishment is a training technique and it works and is part of most trainers’ tool box, including most PR trainers. It’s not about whether your dog ends up with bruises that indicate whether or not you are ‘harming’ your dog. Most anyone would agree that physical damage would constitute harm and abuse.

      I brought up the topic of learned helplessness because it’s important when we work with fearful dogs. It’s obvious that most people don’t understand what it is. It’s not as one person commented, anything like juvenile behavior. It’s a response to a condition a dog finds itself in and it effectively prevents the dog from learning new skills. Many dogs when faced with the ‘suck it up and deal with it’ approach can muster whatever it takes and deal with it, and they can then learn additional skills. But there are lots of dogs that can’t! I’ve seen The Dog Whisperer and I’ve seen dogs give up trying not to do something Cesar wants them to do. The key phrase is that they ‘give up’ they are not actively choosing to do something because they want to, they are out of control. Down the line they might get there, and these are the dogs we see on the show. To the home audience it looks like a miracle cure. And being out of control is part of the pack leadership philosophy, the human is in control and the dog learns to thank him for it.

      For fearful dogs their rehab is based on their ability to learn new skills. Some dogs do not have the brain power (for lack of a better way to describe it) to learn new skills easily. Subjecting these dogs to conditions in which they are frightened over and over (aggressive behavior is often caused by fear) again not only seems mean it is not helping their brains change in the ways it needs to in order to learn new behaviors. I know people will say that Cesar isn’t being mean, but I say that he does what he does because he thinks it’s what the dog needs and is going to help them, AND I think it’s mean. By helping a fearful dog learn how to be in control of its experiences it helps them to become less reactive. So you can either corner a scared dog, leash it up and make it work, or you can teach the dog to allow you to handle it, to come to you for handling, have it see the leash as a positive thing, without making the dog’s heart race. It’s about the technique you choose based on what you think the dog needs, and why it is behaving the way it is.

      The problem as I see it on the TV show is that the diagnosis of the problem is usually the same and that is that the dog is trying to achieve dominance over their human. The dog is unskilled, the human is not being clear about what constitutes appropriate behavior, and all the other problems pet owners have. So what you might ask, if they get positive results? The problem is that the relationship and then subsequent reactions to the dog are based on faulty conclusions as to what is actually going on for the dog. Not a big deal for many dogs, but can be harmful (with no physical bruising) to fearful dogs. To the home viewer every inappropriate behavior they deal with in their dogs is caused by a challenge to their pack leadership, when for dogs like mine, they’re just plain scared out of their minds.

      I agree with the guy in many ways, as I can find similarities in how I believe dogs need to be handled and treated, with other trainers as well who I also would not want working with my scared dog.

  17. Tammy Hartwig on

    Debbie ~

    For some reason I believe that my entire response was taken wrong. I was merely speaking of the presentation of these clips and my observations. And yes, when I use the word media, I am holding the lens on all forms.

    If read as written, I never said that Cesar not defending himself made him right and I also, never said that finding fault makes anyone “evil”. What I said was ~ Cesar does not feel the need to defend himself because he has proven that his way does work, he believes in it and, he stands by it. Of course other techniques work…even he says that.

    It’s a bit like parenting. I may not agree with the way Jan, down the street, does it but it does not make either right or wrong…just different. And who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to judge anyone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If both families’ children are growing into fine young people then, it’s all good.

    As for trainers not offering alternatives ~ again, I was only addressing the coverage and showing of this clip, where they DID only state that Cesar’s way was wrong but offered nothing else.

    I also never mentioned that I don’t believe in other trainers, Vets, or even that I owned a dog…these are assumptions that you’ve made from my general observations about news coverage of a fund raising event. Where did I say any of these things?

    However, since you bring it up, I do not own “a” dog…I own 6 and, I foster dogs for the local Humane Society. All of my dogs were fosters first and yes, many of the dogs I have rehabilitated, I have used Cesar’s methods ~ along with other methods! I work with EACH dog individually as, they are all individuals with many similarities but also, differences, hence the term “individual”. As individuals, I treat them, and rehabilitate them, as such. Often a dog comes along that teaches me something new. So, you see, I am very open to many things, even coming from the dog itself. I work a lot with confiscated puppy mill survivors as well as, major medical problems. I have to be open to many things. Also, again, assumed by you that, “if you truly believe that top vets and trainers in this country, folks with years of dog training experience and scientific research and study under their belts, are threatened by Cesar Milan” (spelled Millan), you are wrong. I actually work very closely with the shelter’s trainer and the 4 local Vets. In fact, the trainer and the Vets send people who have dogs with behavioral problems, my way. They have all seen the kind of dogs I work with and the end result. They do not promote ANY particular kind of training but, they believe in me, and my skills, as an individual. So, I work with shelter dogs and owned dog (trying to keep them out of shelters) and, I have even brought owned dogs to my home for a bit, to work with. Do I believe in Cesar’s methods? You bet I do!! But, I also believe, as does he, that there are also other ways.

    But, I digress…as stated, I was really only commenting on my observations of this news coverage, which was apparently taken a bit out of context.

  18. suzie on

    Hi again, As I said before – each case is invididual and I try to find the best treatment plan for each dog, that helps the dog recover – no one way fits all but again I say one has to be there to know what is best, in-person not via a TV, so how can we judge what we really do not know about, personally I trust Cesar and his team to have done the assessment etc and found the best way. Surely whether or not the way/method has been used before, or others opinions on such, are not really relevant IMHO as we cannot have all the facts and be in the context to know the real individual situation – only Cesar can he is/was there!

    Thanks to Cesar’s Way dogs whose owners have been told cannot be helped into recovery are being helped as the owners are being inspried to find help – just today we were with an owner who was told by all other local trainer and behaviour specialists that their dog could not recover from dog-dog fear aggression was within 2 hours out walking with some of my dogs – no fear no aggression – just walking Cesar’s Way. This is what Cesar can achieve all around the world (We are in the UK) – hope and commitment to rehab even in the face of adversity, Cesar’s Way does save lives. There were no commands involved, no training in obedience – just dogs helping dogs with us humans using dog psychology and the “power of the pack”.

    I just wish we had a TV crew that could have filmed this dog recover to play with my large pack of dogs after sufferring 6 years of fear aggression, rehab began within 2 hours, a process of change started rather than a lifetime of fear.

    Like some mentioned here – let the dogs tell the real story – my pack of 14 do and none are “learned helpless” or are still suffereing from fear, we are a pack and I am the respected leader – the leader of 14 dogs who have not been trained in obedience yet walk as follower dogs and recall really well from off-leash, but we do live and follow pack structure (Cesar’s Way) which is how we walk, rest and play!

    Again, best wishes to all helping dogs into recovery from over here in the UK!!

  19. Carolyn on

    Thank you so much, Debbie, for allowing this calm discussion of this matter!

  20. fearfuldogs on

    I will admit that I feel a certain amount of concern when I am confronted with what I can only describe as an intensity that is reminiscent of religious idolatry when it comes to the response of DW fans (fanatics?) to any criticism of Cesar Millan.

    Do people not realize the value of criticism? I believe that Cesar himself does, or at least I hope he does. No one is perfect and each of us has more to learn in regard to how we work with dogs. Few of us have TV shows highlighting our techniques and creating masses of pet owners demanding calm submission from their dogs. Scrutiny should not only be expected, it should be welcome, if we really care about the welfare of dogs.

    I don’t have television so need to rent DW dvds for viewing. I have attempted to rent one that was offered on ‘fears and phobias’ but it appeared in my movie queue for awhile and then was gone. I have long been curious what happened to this DVD and why it was listed and then pulled. Anyone know?

  21. Angela on

    I’m with you 100% on this Debbie, but since when has it been called learned helplessness? 🙂 I’ve always known it by the term ‘shut down’ dogs, they just go into a shut down state of mind.

  22. Debbie Jacobs on

    I’m not sure exactly when the term LH was coined, a good research project for someone. I know it has been applied to people and considered to be a factor in battered women’s inability or unwillingness to leave abusive situations. You learn that your behavior doesn’t make a difference in your life so you give up trying.

  23. Carolyn on

    We know that that’s NOT what CM is doing to the dogs because their behavior DOES make a difference.

  24. Debbie Jacobs on

    Whether it’s CM or other training techniques which make a dog deal with things that scare them, LH can be a result. It’s not difficult to make a dog do things when you have them by the neck or overwhelmed by a pack a dogs, so it’s not just behavior that one has to look at and consider. It’s how the dog feels about the things it’s doing.

    Often people will consider it a success because their dog ‘lets’ someone touch it or another dog sniff it. If the dog is still feeling afraid then that is the emotion that is being reinforced by the experience. It just is.

    Can a dog ultimately get used to things by constant exposure to them. In some cases maybe, but the risk is that if they don’t get used to them they can become sensitized (the opposite of desensitized which is the goal of exposure, and which CM has defined backwards in CW) to them. In addition the relationship a handler has with a dog is affected as well. The damage is harder to repair and is what many trainers who are asked to work with fearful and/or aggressive dogs are asked to do.

    Carolyn I understand that you are a fan and supporter of CM and his techniques. That’s your business and your choice. Why you and other DW ambassadors continue to operate as though by brow beating people like me who have other opinions, we are going to convert or go away is tiresome and in the case of some other people, downright rude. I have never questioned your intelligence, as other DW ambassadors have questioned mine, not that it’s a worry to me mind you, I am just surprised by it. The fervor displayed by CM fans when he is questioned reminds me of high school football team rivalry at its best and religious devotion at its scariest.

    Don’t read my blog if it upsets you. I have agreed to accept that you disagree with me, as displayed by the fact that I allow your comments to appear. It would be a courtesy if you were willing to do the same.

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