dog training gone bad



Many of you may be aware of a National Geographic television show featuring a charismatic individual who helps dog owners.  I recently came across this video on the website and I urge you to watch it (preferably without the sound so as not to be distracted by his talking) and keep your eye on the dog.  Here is what you will see:


Within the first 5 seconds, the handler kicks the dog in the abdomen.  When the dog turns toward him he is jerked off his feet.  A struggle ensues where the handler gets bitten several times and the dog is seen to be struggling for air. Finally he gets the dog onto the ground and the dogs tongue is blue and the dog is gasping for breath.  When he finally gets the dog up it appears that there might be urine on the ground and that the dog voided his bladder in distress.


What you have witnessed is not dog training but abuse.  Not only does the dog suffer, but clients are at risk if they attempt these interventions themselves.  These are not appropriate measures and compromise the welfare of the dog and the safety of people.  His explanations are false and not based on science as we know it. We as veterinarians must make our voices heard and let National Geographic and most importantly our clients know that these types of interventions are wrong and not in the best interest of dogs or people. 


As a veterinary behaviorist I have dealt with behavior problems in companion animals for over 25 years and would never confront a dog this way.  Not only would it be dangerous for me and the family, it would be harmful for the dog. My goal is diagnose the problem, and design humane treatment plans that help the family change the behavior of their dog so that they can safely live together. I hope all veterinarians can agree that this is the best approach.


I would love to hear your thoughts. Most importantly, go to the link and scroll down the page to “contact us” and click on that. Let National Geographic know what you think.


Thank you for your time



Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, DACVB


  • I took my dog to training with a dog behaviourlist/trainer here on Vancouver Island. She was totally against Cesar Millan and his methods. I didn't know how bad his "Way" is until I started to do the research. My dog trainer uses the BAT method of training (Behaviour Adjustment Training) and this has helped me with my dog. I will never recommend Cesar or watch his garbage again! Thank you for speaking out against such a horrible animal abuser.

    Shanny, 2 years ago | Flag
  • Comments were closed for the article about Milan on Veterinary Medicine which referenced your comment, so I will post my comment here. The only thing that makes Milan a "professional trainer" is the fact that he earns money for his supposed training.

    proclickertrainer, 2 years ago | Flag
  • As some one who actually trains many dogs, many being rescues with major behavioral problems, aggressions being quite common, I can say that I've given his methods a fair chance before I became biased to them, and they do not work and what I see on his show has become worse and worse, to the point of abuse. And I'm often called upon to UNDO the damage that his methods have caused.

    Positive reinforcement, operant conditioning and similar methods are very effective and do not fail me. They give a dog confidence and security, teach them to make correct decisions (dogs are smarter than people think), and they WANT to please you. These methods make them want to do what you ask of them. They will work with you when training, not against you. There is no struggling like Cesar Millan often showcases.

    Resorting to manhandling and bullying a dog to get them to do what you want is not effective, it doesn't make sense, it's dangerous for both you and the dog, and it is inhumane and damaging.

    There's a reason why so many experts with real credentials are speaking out against Cesar Millan. He is doing a huge disservice to dogs and their owners.

    If, after being made aware of all this, people still want to practice his methods, then I feel can't help but to feel sorry for any dog being subjected to his "training".

    msminnamouse, 3 years ago | Flag

  • josephknechtdvm, you wrote


    Wow, kick a dog to provoke him and then strangle him into hypoxia to sub-due him! A veterinarian who did that in the office woudl be sued for animal cruelty.


    Perhaps you haven't watched a single episode.  Cesar does this on a regular basis and it is not a kick, meaning abuse.

    Perhaps you need to go and visit Puppy Mills, that is real cruelty, while you waste your time inventing preposterous assertions.  Actually Millan was defending himself from the attack of the dog, what would you have done in such a case?

    Keeping mind this "renowned dog behavior expert" has no credentials and doesn't know a thing about modern behavior theory.


    I usually wonder is people really think what they write:  Ol'Thomas Alva Edison, an epitome in scientific achievement didn't have, if any being labelled an idiot at school...

    I'm not camparing Millan to Edison, yet if edison had an innate knack to invent we could extrapolate in this case.  You do not need credentials to be good at something.


    benja, 4 years ago | Flag
  • @Micki,

    Since WHEN did trainers hgo back to the old school philosphy of "submission/dominace"?

    Why in the world would you even THINK a dog needs to "Submit" to you? In what sense?

    The basis for this type of training was developed years ago after a scientific study using wild-caught wolves and their behaviors. First of all, none of the wolves captured were from the same pack - so the entire findings of the study were proven false as you had several Alpha males and females together with omega's etc.

    Aggressive is an issue that can be dealt with using postive reinforement. There is no need to ever strike a dog - unless you are looking to get bit for more veiws.

    A more appropriete way of handleing an aggressive dog like this would have been to not even let the dog GET to the point of biting/lunging. But I guess training a non-menacing dog doesn't rate as high.

    Ceaser trains with a lot of fear aggressive dogs, so instead of taking what the dog is afraid of (Such as house guests or the groomers) he just makes the dog even more frightened until, in many cases, the dog goes straight into avoidence.

    Since Ceasers been around, you get dog trainers getting together and talking about how he's put dog training back 30 years. He also does not stress that his training methods are for sever cases, so you get housewives with new puppies treating them as though they're horrible monsters.

    Since we're talking about Tv stars, heres a nice article on Victoria StillWells method of training a fear aggressive dog.

    Sounds much safer and better for the dog, no?

    BriannaMooradian, 4 years ago | Flag

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