Stockholm Syndrome?

I was reading a post in The Crossover Trainer Blog and was struck by the implications of this comment made about her observation of Cesar Millan at his ‘Dog Psychology Center’.

“……..He walked in with me and one could definitely sense he had an effect on the dogs. I concede he does have “something” about him that effects the dogs. ”

Not sure why there is an implied apology in ‘conceding’ he has an effect on dogs. There is no doubt he does and the Orwellian irony of what it is seems lost on many, including him, with his talk about ‘unstable’ pack leaders.

Dogs, even dogs with behavioral challenges are not stupid. Many are hypervigilant and extra sensitive to anything they perceive threatens their safety. Anyone, man or beast, who comes into their environment is immediately assessed for their potential threat to the dog’s safety. Even if a particular dog was not physically restrained, alpha rolled, choked, shocked or poked (all main techniques of Mr. Millan’s ‘rehabilitation’ repertoire) they will respond to his ‘presence’ and the reaction of those dogs who have been ‘dominated’ by him. It’s not unlike sitting on a subway and having a young thug get on the car and giving you one of those, ‘I WILL kick your ass bitch’ stares. They too will have an ‘effect’ on the pack of riders.

The Stockholm Syndrome is a real and well documented psychological response to fearing for your life. One need not even be submitted to constant abuse in order to ‘give up’ trying to fight or flee. The random threats of violence are enough to keep kidnap victims sitting in cars while their abductor runs into the gas station for a cup of coffee. Some victims even fall in love with their captors. Take away a dog’s control, an easy thing to do with choke chains, muzzles, shocks and prongs, and it’s easy to get the same kind of ‘compliance’.

cesar millan taking away choice and control from a dog

What choice does this dog have?

A dog subjected to repeated acts of ‘dominance’ by their handler, acts which likely seem as random and unreasonable as those portrayed in movies by the bad guy who pistol whips the hero for looking at his shoe laces, can also be adversely effected by this treatment. That Cesar Millan repeatedly misreads signals and cues from dogs is no secret. That he, and trainers of his ilk manage to convince pet owners that their mythologies of dog ‘psychology’ are accurate and justify their abusive treatment- the more upset and needing special attention the dog, the more abused they are- is no surprise. But I will leave it to the therapists to determine if there is a form of pathology in it and our willingness to watch and pay for it.

One day when our consciousness evolves there may be a tribunal and people who abuse animals, in the name of training or rehabilitation, will be called to task for it. And seats should be saved for the TV producers who seek these people out to make a profit off of the recorded and televised abuse of dogs.

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76 comments so far

  1. megan on

    Very well said.

  2. kirsten rose on

    Very thoughtful and insightful, enjoyed reading your article.

  3. Hazel on

    Since getting my sweet and loving but very fearful Dusty I have learned that anything that will work for a fearful dog will work on any dog. Anything that wont work for a fearful dog wont be used by me for any other dog. Even an old human (50 when I got my fearful boy) can learn new things.

    My sister told me I should contact Cesar for my Dusty and I told her that I wouldn’t let him any where near my fearful boy.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Your dog is among the lucky ones!

      • Hazel on

        Thank you, my vet says the same thing BUT I feel like I am the lucky one. I have learned so much from him and this wonderful journey he has taken me on.

    • Diane Cummings on

      Good for you

    • kim on

      Get a real trainer that understands Control Unleashed. Now THAT works but not in 1/2 hr;-)

      • Robyn on

        I’ve heard of that book- I have an Aussie, and am thinking of getting that book and trying it – good to hear more positive feed back on it.

      • fearfuldogs on

        Books by Patricia McConnell and Jean Donaldson should be on every dog owner’s shelf 😉 Easy, insightful reads.

    • darlene blair cunha on

      good for you for care about Dusty 🙂

  4. 2 Punk Dogs on

    When we first got Maggie my parents told me about Cesar’s show. I watched many episodes looking for tips that might help, and there was nothing, just dominance of untrained dogs and owners. Finally there was a show on fearful dogs, and he said “this is a worst case scenario”, great, that’s what our dog is like! It was easy to see that he had no idea how to help fearful dogs.
    So many people have commented that we should call Cesar, he’d “fix” our dogs right away. Anyone looking for a quick fix like that has no business adopting a fearful dog. I completely agree with Hazel!

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thank you. No professional trainer will tell you they can ‘fix’ your dog. The reality is that for many dogs there’s nothing wrong with their behavior. They are behaving exactly the way a scared dog would be expected to behave.

  5. Debbie Tucker-Smith on

    Fearfulness – even aggression arising from fear – is the opposite end of the spectrum from dominance and dominance aggression.

    I’m not sure why so many want to tear down someone who has saved so many dogs that would not have a life if he had not helped to rehab them. The coming season will actually be about dogs that have been deemed ‘unadoptable’, I believe. He will be rehabbing dogs destined for imminent death, as so many in shelters are.

    What I would like to see with some of these people who criticize Cesar is for them to take a dog similar to the dominant type that he is often called to work with – that has shown some clear aggression/bite behavior – and then you can film and document your progress. Do that with about 10-20 DOMINANT biting dogs, and then you will have a history of success to show others how it’s done. I would watch with interest, since I have learned that if you use ;fearful dog’ methods on a dominant dog, you WILL get bitten! And if you use dominant methods on a fearful dog, you will NOT get good results but can cause more fear. Simple if you ‘read’ the dog correctly. Dangerous if you don’t, or can’t ‘switch’ quickly once you suspect you may have made an incorrect assessment.

    Fearful dogs require calm leadership and structure and confidence building, knowing that someone is there to ‘protect’ them from the world, someone else is in charge. Dominant dogs require leadership and structure and learning that they are NOT in charge anymore. Fearful dogs do NOT want to be in charge, dominant dogs DO. Different attitudes, different actions, and the handling comes from a different perspective/approach, even when it seem similar. Fearful dogs are relieved to find out that someone is taking over, dominant dogs will usually challenge that person – which can easily mean biting them quite aggressively! Very, very different.

    If you have truly studied a lot of what has been on Cesar’s shows, you will have seen the timid Viszla transformed with kind, supportive training, and learning that he could RUN in the city. You will have seen the ‘shut down’ Coonhound that had been part of lab experiments, and had not opened up after a looooong time (years?) in a real home – Cesar connected in one day and helped to bring the dog out of its shell. It was truly transforming, and NOT done with methods used on dominant dogs, because these methods are NOT useful on every dog. There are many, many sessions where he simply needed to do minor work on non-dominant dogs that have simply been untrained. To characterize him as always doing certain things is totally wrong, maligning and illogical.

    • fearfuldogs on

      There ARE trainers out there who are taking dogs with all kinds of aggressive behaviors and rehabbing and saving their lives without using force or coercion. That they don’t have a television show or marketing budget should not be taken as an indication that it either isn’t or can’t be done.

      I don’t have to ‘study’ Cesar Millan’s techniques to know what he’s doing. I study dog and animal behavior and it’s very clear to me (and the host of professional training, veterinary, and animal behavior organizations that have also come out against his methods) what he does. That there are dogs that respond positively to his methods only means that dogs are tolerant, resilient and adaptable, not that what he’s done is appropriate or necessary.

      And I would welcome seeing the data on the dogs who have been subjected to his training methods. As a professional trainer I have been contacted to help owners whose dogs have become aggressive after being subjected to them. And I am not alone, which is why many of us are sick about the fiction he creates about dogs.

      If a doctor boasted about their successful treatment of bunions and then showed you all the people whose feet he cut off, we’d contact the medical board about them. That Cesar Millan and others can point to a shut-down dog and say they’ve attained ‘calm submission’ isn’t any different IMO. That they might have had success with broken fingers isn’t reason enough to allow them to keep cutting off feet.

      • Martina Schoppe on

        YESSS!!
        I’d like videos of all the dogs Millan had his hands (and feet) on – living happily ever after in theire family!

        If he is so good, that should present no problem!

      • fearfuldogs on

        Thanks Martina. I suspect that given the number of dogs he’s been filmed with that it wouldn’t be impossible for them to find some that survived relatively unscathed from his handling. That is testimony to dogs’ ability to learn whether they are threatened or rewarded. But why threaten? I know you would ask the same question.

        The answer often is the same, the handler lacks the skills to teach skills otherwise. That they are enjoying the threatening should never be discounted as a motivator IMO. And of course there are the buckets of money one has been able to make doing it. Very powerful reinforcers for behavior.

        That his fiction has been absorbed and become part of the cultural mythology of dogs and behavior is very distressing.

      • Cacky Vincent on

        i agree with you 100%. I am a professional dog trainer and as such, have seen many problem dogs. The one thing that needs to be said is that the majority, possibly 95%, are fearful dogs. These dogs need gentle encouragement and handling.
        As a professional dog trainer, you have to be able to ‘read’ the complete dog. In order to do this, you have to know body language inside and out. That takes a lot of training and working with many, many dogs to get a good understanding of what is going on. It also doesn’t mean that you can put one label on aggressive dogs.
        I just saw an episode where he was trying to get control of a huskie and he had strung him up with a prong collar numerous times. It was really distressing to watch. By the end of the episode, the dog had shredded his sleeve. I’m sorry but this is NOT dog training but abuse.
        Most people who agree with this abuse are the ones who want a quick fix and don’t have the time and/or inclination to work with their dog.
        If you can see immediate results it must be right? Abuse is abuse…

      • fearfuldogs on

        Thanks for your comment. Luckily there are more trainers like you out there to help pet owners understand.

    • Megan on

      I have always struggled to understand why people defend him because he’s “saved so many dogs that would not have a life if he had not helped to rehab them.” As Debbie mentioned, that is a true testament to the dogs’ ability to be tolerant, resilient and adaptable despite our shortcomings in training. I think the bigger issue is that anyone can point to any method of training and show some success stories — we’re not discussing effectiveness in-and-of-itself here — but shouldn’t we pay more attention to the negative outcomes of each method, and then use the methods and tools that produce the fewest behavioral problems while using the least amount of force? Won’t we have greater success and better relationships with our pets if we work in cooperation with them, rather than as adversaries?

      Furthermore, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of dog trainers out there working with “dominant,” highly aggressive and biting dogs who you claim need these CM-type training methods — and they are doing so without these harsh methods and having significant success, they just don’t have television shows to advertise to the world what they’ve done. I personally know several trainers who work with these types of dogs every day. And these dogs, these success stories, are proof that humane training and humane behavioral modification based on scientific principles can work, and they do work. To me, it’s very simple — people can choose to use force, pain, and coercion, or choose not to — there is a very clear line. I just don’t understand why anyone would choose to use pain, force, and coercion when there are other options out there that work, that are proven to work, and are very easily demonstrated and used if people would simply put the effort in to learn.

    • KellyK on

      Fearfulness – even aggression arising from fear – is the opposite end of the spectrum from dominance and dominance aggression.

      The problem is that *dominance* is not clearly observable and definable, and that Cesar and other people who are big on dominance see just about every dog behavior as a sign of dominance. Dog pulls on the leash? Dominance. Dog doesn’t obey a command? Dominance. Dog humps another dog? Dominance.

      Viewing things through that lens makes it easy to believe you have a dog who needs to be taken down a peg when you might really have a dog who is confused, distracted, nervous, or any number of other things.

      Stating that you need to use a certain protocol with dominant dogs–one that is horribly damaging to fearful dogs–rests on the assumption that you can easily tell which is which, and that dogs can’t be both. I don’t think that’s a valid assumption. I’ve seen my own dog, who’s very obviously timid and shy, do things that are defined as dominant. She pulls on leash, especially when excited. She leans on people. She tends to carry her tail high unless she’s really concerned about something. She barks and occasionally even growls when strange people come over.

      A lot of people would take dominance from those behaviors, especially if they didn’t see her hide or cringe any time there’s an unfamiliar noise or someone she doesn’t trust makes a move toward her.

      When there are methods that can be successful with any and all dogs, why use dominance-based methods that are harmful and destructive if a dog is misjudged as dominant?

      • EngineerChic on

        My fearful dog has similarly confusing behaviors that can read as aggressive (barking & charging at someone who enters the house) but anyone who knows dogs enough to understand the dreaded ‘spontaneous anal gland expression’ can understand he’s super-fearful. We’re working on gradual counter-conditioning and building his ability to respond to commands in incrementally more stressful situations (commands like, “go to your bed” or “sit” right next to me).

        A heavy-handed approach of “YOU MUST OBEY” would only add to his stress. God knows the poor dog lives with enough of it already. It’s tough for non-fearful dog owners to understand it, though, when they see me apparently coddling a dog who is acting tough.

      • Viv on

        What you say about the tendency to interpret nearly all problem behaviors as dominance is very true. I have a dog who was a shelter puppy with many problems I couldn’t seem to find a way to work with. Friends gave me many dog books, mostly by CM. The poor animal got worse and worse as I struggled with his supposed “dominance aggression”, until I figured out on my own that he was not aggressive and trying for domination, despite what the local dog-trainer said, he was afraid of the world and over-stimulated, having lived his entire life before I got him in a cage in an overcrowded shelter. I radically changed how I approached him and now have a very happy, outgoing, affectionate, confident and emotionally-stable dog. I’ve found The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell to be really useful for understanding dog behavior, and seeing why a dog really does something is the first step to changing a behavior that is dangerous.

      • fearfuldogs on

        Thanks for mentioning Patricia McConnell’s book. I’ve enjoyed every one of her books that I’ve read.

    • Meira Frankl on

      I don’t understand so many people’s obsession about dogs wanting ‘control’. Nor do I understand why people still hold onto the dominance fallacy either. Both have been disproven. Over and over, and have been done so scientifically.

      No dog wants the ‘control’ that you speak of. People tend to forget that dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years. If dogs were out for world domination, or out to ‘control’ us, then they would have died out a long, long time ago. This type of behavior, (dominance and control) is not very conductive to working with and for people, which is what dogs have been bred for.

      There are MANY trainers out there who work with aggressive dogs. Some are even more dangerous than the dogs that Cesar has on his show, too. But the thing is that these trainers are not out to become world famous, nor are they looking to get rich. They are in it for the dogs, that’s it.

      A lot of what Cesar says is great, a lot of it is, no one is against the good he says. But people are worried and against the very outdated methods that he employs. Positive punishment, negative reinforcement, flooding, intimidation, learned helplessness….all of which are very, very old school.

      I would never let a doctor perform surgery on me only using 50 year old methods and science. Nor would I hire a mechanic who would only use 50 year old methods and tools. I would only hire those who are up to date with scientifically proven methods. Most people would. With everything in their lives, their health, their kids, their cars, their homes….everything except their dogs.

      If people want to learn about real canine behavior, and about fearful dogs, (which is what almost all aggressive dogs are) then this site is the place to start.

      • fearfuldogs on

        Thanks again. Our choir is growing!

      • Ashley on

        wonderfully worded!

    • awesomedogs on

      Why are people opposed? Because if it is so painfully difficult to tell when not to “dominate” – so difficult that Mr. Millan has been bitten on numerous occasions and he claims to be an expert – then what hope do novice owners have of getting it right? In my opinion it’s setting owners up for a bite. Research shows many of the techniques trigger aggression. Doing it right is so difficult that Mr. Millan stated in an interview that his methods probably wouldn’t work for most families as they are too difficult. He said that many dogs need to go back and get “refreshers” because the problem comes back. He blames the owners for slipping. But, science shows that many punishment based techniques (technical use of the word) are temporary. The show carries a warning saying, “Do not try this at home.”
      Why do people disagree? Because as someone who works with aggressive dogs, I am very tired of people dominating their dogs, getting bitten and then saying the dog needs to be surrendered to a shelter because they can’t risk another incident. That comment is about those techniques – not any particular trainer.
      Every trainer on the planet can point to a few dogs they have “saved”. The question is, “How many have you failed?” We do not know the answer to that question without interviewing people after the show – not the producers doing the interview – an unbiased reporter and a temperament test being done.
      I personally don’t see temporary “fixes” that come back and need “refreshing” as a fix. At best some people think it makes for good television. But I certainly do not want to spend the rest of a dog’s life watching, vigilently, waiting for another incident to rear its ugly head. I want peace and calm in my home. I want owners with dangerous dogs (perhaps due to medical conditions) to be aware if they need management. I do not like to see trainers misrepresent and say they are offering “cures” on dogs and then a child is bitten. Again – speaking of techniques – not an individual.

      • fearfuldogs on

        Amazing isn’t it that we’ve lived with dogs for so long and still misunderstand them?

    • Leonel Duarte Santos on

      Oh dear, I thought that every CM fan would avoid at all costs mentioning the Viszla episode. Then again, I was wrong. It seems that there are living people who buy into someone artificially lifting a fearful dog’s tail in order for the dog to become confident. When someone doesn’t see what is wrong with this kind of manouvres, well, nothing is worth saying…

      • fearfuldogs on

        The lifting of the tail of a terrified dog, which I have seen other whisperers perform would be comical if the dog wasn’t being so tormented.

  6. Susan Mitchell on

    Way to go Debbie! Makes complete sense… and I’m saying that as both a dog trainer AND a mental health therapist!! ANYONE who feels “dominated” without an escape, human or animal alike, can and often will develop both learned helplessness and “admiration” for the dominator. It’s a way to physically and mentally survive the experience. One should NEVER confuse “Respect” with “Fear”….. two completely different concepts.

    ~ Susan Mitchell

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks Susan! I can become very depressed when I see the way our culture deals with the all the ‘special needs’ creatures, human and otherwise, among us. Trying not to let ‘learned helplessness’ get a hold of me!

  7. Kim and Asher on

    Debbie, as always, an accurate and insightful blog.

  8. Tery on

    Eye-opening thought. And a disturbing twist that’s left me more than a bit uncomfortable!

  9. 4dogday on

    I’m with you on this one, this man and ones like him need to learn that ‘dominance’ is only an issue with Them! Learning to read dogs just needs the ego removed, one thing this guy can’t see past!

    • fearfuldogs on

      There is no excuse for not educating oneself on dog behavior, especially when presenting as a professional. The information regarding how animals learn and dog behavior is readily available. That is what put me off of him. For awhile I was willing to say that he loved dogs, and surely would change his behavior once he took advantage of what animal studies have taught us. I can’t say that now.

  10. thelittlebeardogblog on

    Just Brilliant!

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks! Doesn’t get much better than that!

  11. Cybele on

    C.M. is the human version of the untrained, aggressive dog he basks in dominating. Someone should draw a cartoon of a Golden Retriever bringing him toys, smiling at him, and licking his face until he breaks down, rolling on the floor laughing, and says, “who needs a hug?”
    Great blog as usual. C.M. polarizes dog people. Maybe that says something about his techniques. Anyway, you’re doing such a service to people and their canine friends by not letting him off the hook and exposing his dangerous short comings. It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it. Brava!

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks for your comment Cybele. Perhaps like George Wallace, CM too will finally come around and admit the error of their ways. The more I learn about animal behavior the more upsetting seeing him and trainers like him (of which he is not even the worst!) on TV is.

      • Cybele on

        As I wrote my comment I was thinking along the same line as you just mentioned. There should be a civil rights movement for all living things. Probably not in our life times but for future generations to achieve.

  12. Frances on

    There is hope – a very young trainer, picked up by a British TV production company as the next CM and given a slot on a magazine show as a dog training “expert”, caused such a maelstrom of complaints with his handling of a resource-guarding terrier that his contribution was quickly pulled. But he was wise enough to learn from it, and to take up the many offers to show him how to use reward based methods (including time spent with Dr Ian Dunbar). No one ever doubted he loves dogs – now he is on his way to being a thoughtful, kind, training professional.

    CM has also been influential in the UK, unfortunately, but I am heartened by what I see when out walking my dogs. More and more people seem to be understanding that shy, reactive dogs need space; that calm, gentle handling is better than shouting and yanking; that a pocket full of rewards goes a long way to ensuring good behaviour. It is not universal, but it does seem to be increasing, even becoming the norm. Practically all the local puppy and dog training classes are reward based – and every owner who takes a class sees the difference these methods can make. When genuine experts reviewed the pilot episode of CM’s show they said broadcasting ot would set dog training back 20 years – we are half way through, and perhaps, just perhaps, the pendulum is beginning to swing away from “dominance” and forceful methods.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Yes. I believe you are referring to Jordan Shelley. Seems like a lovely young man.

  13. Quennie Lanada Bonney on

    I agree. I have never been a fan of Millan, and I wish that people would stop paying him money, so he can “fix” other dogs because they’re only encouraging him to do the same thing over and over again to countless more animals and letting other people (who are desperate enough to believe him) to hire him. It’s like buying China made products. If you keep buying their crap, they will never be gone from our store shelves. Stop supporting China, and start supporting American. Anyway, as for Millan, I wouldn’t let him near my dog. People need to wake up. He is a self-proclaimed dog “trainer,” who can be seen kicking dogs as a training method.

    • fearfuldogs on

      I think he actually claims to rehabilitate dogs, not train them. I have never understood the distinction, both change behavior. Thanks for your comment!

      • KellyK on

        I think it’s a fake distinction to make up for his lack of actual training credentials. I think it also serves to justify his failure rates. “Rehabilitation” implies that things are so bad that even the best effort might not fix it, in a way “training” doesn’t. Either way, there’s no *real* difference. If you’re trying to change a dog’s behavior, you’re training the dog.

  14. Jean Donaldson on

    That pat phrase (“rehabilitate/train”) is nonsense. He is attempting behavior change, albeit more like an abusive spouse than a skilled technician.

    What a well-written piece.

  15. emily douglas on

    Succinct and outstanding. Thank you.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Two of my favorite adjectives! Thank you.

  16. Bouncy Armadillo on

    I have a fearful dog of my own. She is naturally nervous but also has the handicap of getting zero socialization for her first six months. I adopted her at seven months and she just turned four, and only in the past year have I really seen a difference in her ability to handle stressful situations. I’ve only ever used positive methods with her and I’ve been rewarded with her complete trust. Has it been a long and frustrating road? Yes. But the bond I share with my dog makes it so completely worth it. I wish that people who espouse CM could understand that *that* is what you lose when you use fear based training.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Hopefully you will continue to see improvements in her tolerance and resiliency! It’s often the case.

  17. Meira Frankl on

    Excellent post, as usual! Your selflessness regarding educating people about their fearful dogs, and dogs in general is more of what the dog world, and their people need. Love your blog!

  18. Blanche Axton on

    I guess I always wonder what the Cesar Millan defenders think those of us in rescues, shelters, dog training facilities do. Do they think that only perfectly behaved, perfectly adjusted dogs come to us? Do they think people drop their dogs as shelters or rescues because their behaviour is too perfect?
    I think anyone who has worked with dogs in rescues, shelters and as a trainer has worked with dogs with serious problems. I see dogs who have been “trained” using Millan’s methods surrendered to rescue on a fairly regular basis. I see dogs with serious dog on dog aggression, dog on human aggression and other behavioural issues ALL. THE. TIME. So do many other trainers and rescue/shelter volunteers and staff. The dogs he works with are not uniquely disordered.
    And personally, I believe that if you can’t train, you can’t rehabilitate a dog. And you can’t train if you don’t understand how dogs learn, how they communicate and how they signal to us their needs. The fact that Millan gets bitten often indicates, to me, that he doesn’t read dog body language very well. The Cesar/Holly (resource guarding lab) showdown video is classic for this. How could he NOT see that bite coming?

  19. Daphne on

    A bit weird maybe,but now I finally understand another story; as a dog ánd horse owner Cesar always reminds me of Monty Roberts, the horse “trainer”. One of his famous stories is that of Shy Boy. A mustang stallion he “cut loose” from his herd to show it’s possible to let any horse pick you as a leader. The whole story is too long to tell here,but it’s easy to be found on the internet. After reading this post about Cesar I’m starting to believe Shy Boy too suffered from the Stockholm Syndrome.

    • Kate on

      Just reading through a few replies before I commented myself, and Daphne’s comment touches on what I was going to say. As a horse trainer, I have thought for years that many, many horse, as well as dog, training techniques, that are supposedly about “leadership” and the like must cause stockholm syndrome. I’ve been hesitant to say so publicly as I’m sure I would be accused of anthropomorphism. Glad to know I’m not alone. Wonderful article, Debbie.

      Daphne, I think you are so right. Monty Roberts methods are basically the horse version of CM methods. Other “natural horsemanship” methods use the same, “if you don’t do exactly as I say, terrible things will happen to you” methods. Some of the trainers have considerably more skill at applying negative reinforcement and positive punishment than either CM or MR, but they are still using severe aversives – fear and pain. And usually all cloaked in nice, fluffy, loving language. Which people buy, because the horse and/or dogs often “cuddle up” to the trainer. 😦

      • fearfuldogs on

        Thanks for the comments from the horse training world. One of the things that I have enjoyed about learning how to change behavior in animals using positive reinforcement is that it works for any animal. When we decide to use P+ or R- it is frequently because we have failed to adequately motivate the animal, not that they require aversives to learn.

      • Heather A. Logan on

        Each of us who want to see training of animals become more humane must stand to be counted.
        April 4, 2013 the first offering of Operant Conditioning Behaviour Analysis, Animal Training in the 21st Century will get underway. Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture Nova Scotia is hosting this first of it’s kind multi-species online course. At this time the class list includes dogs, cat, donkey, pony, and possibly a moose:)
        Careful, thoughtful training without aversives is the key.
        When we know better we do better,
        Heather

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        Thanks for sharing this information! Fabulous. Progress happens!

        On Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 5:25 PM, Fearfuldogs' Blog

  20. Heather A. Logan on

    There are times when I believe animal training has come a long way in the past 45 years. Then I turn on the news and hear an animal abuser is coming to my city to teach thousands of my neighbours how to abuse their best friends in the name of training.
    Why are humans so quick to accept punishment and abuse as a viable method of handling animals?

    • fearfuldogs on

      I think we are quick to accept punishment as a solution because it’s what we’ve learned. For most of us, the primary motivators for behavior are probably some kind of punishment or attempts to avoid punishment. So why not so for our dogs. It’s familiar and worked for us, or for some of us anyway.

  21. Stine Theede on

    The timing of this blog post is interesting on a personal level sine I have been doing some thinking about hazing in the Greek system and Hitler’s training program for his Hitlerjugend and how it relates to dog training. The psychology is that when you have to commit difficult, sometimes horrible acts to get into a community you feel more committed to it – it is as if the brain says that since I did these awful things it must be of high value to belong to that group. I have to wonder if that is in effect with people who are persuaded to handle their dogs roughly or even cruelly; that their unconscious defense mechanisms then persuade them to believe that such methods must be good in some way. Our self-understanding does not like to accept it if we compromise our morals and humanity for no good reason. Not the same as the Stockholm Syndrome but related.

    • bobnden on

      I think it is human nature to ‘need’ a leader. The qualities of a leader rest primarily on the fact that are sincerely convicted in their beliefs and that what they are doing meets a common good. This coupled with majority semi ignorance of other ‘systems and beliefs ‘ together with a personable individual who has good communication skills to get their message across can only mean you have a convincing knowledgable leader.
      The flat earth society was correct in their belief at one point by majority consensus, it’s a different story today. Dog training is no different, at one point there was only one way to train a dog, now there are many. Cesar has highlighted to society that dogs need attention to happily co-exist with us in a modern world ie there is an earth, however it’s for the Stillwells/Dunbars of this world to take it to the next step and prove the earth is also round.

      • fearfuldogs on

        I can’t debate either what ‘human nature’ is or that it dictates that we ‘need’ a leader. Not sure what it means for those who ‘are’ leaders, or could be leaders, and what that implies in regard to their ‘nature’. But anyhow….that’s for someone’s else blog to address 😉

        It is fortunate that we have convincing, knowledgeable ‘leaders’ in the dog training community to counter the flat earth info of celebrities like Millan. However that dogs need the kind of attention he gives in order to be happy in their co-existence with us is not something I agree with.

  22. N jones on

    There is a movement in the equine community as well towards reward based training. I’m disabled and was having increasing problems with my horse and now he’s nearly perfect now he’s clicker trained. We are lucky to have some great trainers, Jenni Nellist, Helen Spence and in the US Shawna Karresh. Hopefully fighting the tide against the absusive dominance training of Pat Parelli and Monty Roberts.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It is time that the force free, successful methods used by trainers of wild animals trickled down into the handling and training of our domesticated companions.

    • Kate on

      Loving the equine-related replies I’ve seen on this blog so far. I’ve seen a large number of committed dog clicker trainers still fooled into thinking the Parelli and Roberts methods are kind and gentle. They rail against CM, but turn around and say Parelli is wonderful (????) Just shows how good the marketing is, I guess. I do think Parelli is more technically skilled at using force to create very high levels of performance – but that’s not a compliment – he’s still using enormous amounts of fear and pain – and fooling people into thinking they’re doing something kind. Thank you for giving me hope that some are seeing how similar they are to CM.
      Peggy Hogan is another great horse trainer.

  23. Andie Maclean on

    I am wanting to know if the people that let ceasar milan do this to their dogs would let him do this to their children, would they let someone put a shock collar on an out of control child and if not then why would they let someone do this to their dog. My dogs are a part of my family and I would never let anyone hurt my kids in an attempt to gain control over them and as such I would never let anyone hurt my dogs in an attempt to gain control either. I have trained my dogs using Victoria Stilwells training methods no shock collars or other nasty devices used at all and I have 2 very well behaved dogs who listen and obey out of love and respect not fear. Ceasar Milan is just a bully and I hate bullies, he could get the same results if he could just be bothered to train the dogs with love and respect instead of wanting a quick fix so he can keep his fame. I just dont understand why anyone who says they love their dogs would let this abusive bully anywhere near their beloved pets.

    • fearfuldogs on

      I understand your disbelief. I think that the people who contact him are desperate and are grasping at straws. All one needs to do is listen to a few ads or debates during an election season (which we in the US are currently in the midst of) to see how willing some are to accept as truth what someone claiming knowledge and authority is telling them.

      PT Barnum said that there was a sucker born every minute.

  24. J.M.E on

    The thing I had to do with my abused dog was to simpy lie down with her for as long as it took to make her feel safe. Not starting out with trying to correct her gave an emidiate respons. She is now and has been for the past 9 years a loving dog totally without any signs of anxiety what so ever.
    But we had a dog in my family that was totally destroid beeing submitted to simmular diciplin as Ceasars. A dog that was not afraid, but became very self contious and insecure.
    But, in some cases it does make sens to let the dog and your self develope a “Language”.
    The point is it differs as much as the wind blows, and no individual is the sam, whether you are a dog or human. ❤

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks for your comment and nice to hear you had success with your dog. One point I would make is that while each animal is an individual we use desensitization and counter conditioning on all of them. That one dog responds to having someone lie down with them for however long it takes (in some cases this might be months) does not mean that another dog would not be very stressed by this. This doesn’t mean that dogs learn differently, it means that some dogs are more tolerant or resilient to the handling methods we choose. IMHO it’s always best to use the least coercive and invasive techniques available to us. That way a dog who is not very tolerant or resilient is not going to be overwhelmed.

  25. tony walker on

    i need advice on my staffy name of deefa
    since bonfire night deefa will not walk in the street will run and play on park
    very happy very nervouse elsewhere
    please give me advice if poss we are talking about my best friend
    PLEASE HELP


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