Dog Training /Views on Cesar Millan.

M

Moll Flanders

Guest
I was wondering if anyone could tell me anything they have read about Cesar Millan whether negative or positive and whether they believe that his methods work for training dogs/puppies?

I am planning on hiring a dog trainer that uses his ideas but I read online that some animal behaviourists dislike his way of teaching dogs because it can lead to more aggression.
 

Pickle Juice

Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Reaction score
753
I really don't think there is any one way that works for all dogs. You have to know the nature of the individual dog, whether the dog is submissive, aggressive, dominant, etc. I'd be looking for a dog trainer who recognizes this and is able to tailor their training to the dog's nature. The only rule I stick to for all dogs is always using positive reinforcement. Finding what the dog is willing to work for and rewarding him with it when he does what you want him to.
 
OP
OP
M

Moll Flanders

Guest
Thanks for replying PJ.

Yes, I thought that one approach wouldn't work for all dogs, after all they are individuals. I wasn't sure if Millan's methods were considered as good as the positive reinforcement training styles? Is there anything about his methods that make you uneasy? I have only had my pups for a few months and I don't want to do anything that might be considered too harsh.

I know Wolfie agrees with some of his methods so I assumed there must be some merit to his teachings.:)
 
M

mlp

Guest
Some of his methods work for some dogs. But his methods are basically all about the human's role as the alpha pack member, which is of questionable utility with dogs - they are far removed from being wolves. Milan just doesn't recognize enough of the individual variation in dog personalities. He also opens himself to criticisms of cruelty by using flooding, and by basically exercising dogs into submission through exhaustion.

I know that if I had continued to use Milan's methods with Toby, I would have ended up with a dog who would have been too dangerous to live with. Of the five dogs I have currently, all but possibly one would have been damaged by using Milan's methods. Of the five dogs I have had in my adult life before these five, Milan's methods only worked (to some extent) with one - the others benefited from other types of training, and Milan's methods would have been detrimental to them.

Personally, I would not employ a trainer who advertises himself as using Milan's methods - I think that's a sign of someone who is too fixed in one mode of thinking about dogs.
 
OP
OP
M

Moll Flanders

Guest
Personally, I would not employ a trainer who advertises himself as using Milan's methods - I think that's a sign of someone who is too fixed in one mode of thinking about dogs.

I have spoken to various dog trainers and they have quoted different prices, one was £50 an hour, one was £300 an hour and one was £500 for a whole day.:eek: It's not just about the money obviously but I think some people are overcharging slightly.

(I am leaning towards hiring this guy as he seemed quite reasonable and if it doesn't work or if I disagree very strongly with anything then I will just pay him and ignore his advice!:D )

One thing he said was a bit iffy to me. I have been using lead harnesses on the dogs as the rescue centre said it was kinder for small dogs but he thought a face collar would be the best as you can control where the dog's moves more easily? Any views on this please?:)
 

Muggle

Forum Legend
Joined
Jun 4, 2012
Reaction score
1,360
A face collar like a Halti, Gentle Leader or Canny Collar? They're perfectly fine as long as there are introduced and used correctly.
But I don't really know about small dogs. I've seen them used on dogs the size of a cocker spaniel and larger and have brilliant results. What breeds are your dogs?

My main advice about head collars if you do use one, you might have to try a couple of different brands. I would recommend the gentle leader or canny collar over a halti or the pets at home own brand one as the halti and PaH have a tendency to ride up their face and squish their eyes if they pull. http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSvDyT6yO5iMgx2yLQE3kf8bjl4ThGQRhHUnm871euV8ug3ePP1 You can sort of see it starting to happen on that image, if that dog was trying to pull (say if on a walk it saw a cat and tried to lunge after it) then the halti will ride up over it's eye on the side where the lead is. That can't happen on a canny collar at all and it's never happened with a gentle leader on our dogs. But there is no one best head collar for dogs, it depends on their size and face shape. For most dogs I would say a canny collar would be best but it's twice the price of a gentle leader and gentle leaders are brilliant as well...
 
OP
OP
M

Moll Flanders

Guest
A face collar like a Halti, Gentle Leader or Canny Collar? They're perfectly fine as long as there are introduced and used correctly.
But I don't really know about small dogs. I've seen them used on dogs the size of a cocker spaniel and larger and have brilliant results. What breeds are your dogs?]

I was just looking online at a Gentle Leader collar.:) I had not heard of them before actually as I thought (mistakenly) that those types of collars were like muzzles.

My dogs are a Chi/JR cross and a JR so they are small ones.
 

Pickle Juice

Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Reaction score
753
What are their ages? Older dogs are more difficult to impossible to accustom to Halti-type collars.

I actually don't know too much about Cesar Milan's methods. I'd worked with and for a couple of dog behaviorists before he became known, and now that my own methods of training are where I think they need to be I don't familiarize myself with newer schools of thought. Mlp echoes what I have heard others say about him though.
 
OP
OP
M

Moll Flanders

Guest
The Chi is older, he is just over 2 years old and he hates having the harness put on him and he dislikes going out of the house in general although he loves it when he actually gets to the park. I think he was definitely undersocialised at his previous home. I get the impression that the woman must have treated him like a handbag dog until his cuteness wore off for her.

The JR is a 6 month old pup and she is very high energy and probably wouldn't mind any collar that allows her to go out for a walk.:)
 

Pickle Juice

Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Reaction score
753
Two years old may not be too old to get your Chi used to a Halti. Between two and five years is usually the cut-off for the ease with which dogs accept change, though they are certainly capable of learning throughout their lives.
 
M

mlp

Guest
The face collars are useful as a training tool for dogs who otherwise pull hard and are difficult to control. I have used a halti on Gracie, who is incredibly strong even though she's only 60 pounds - she can, and has, pulled me off my feet. I have never needed to use a face collar on any of my other dogs, and two of my current dogs are 90+ pounds, and I had a 115 pound dog.

They are useful, and IMO should only be used, until the dog is trained to not pull. If used long term, they are merely a substitute for training. Used improperly, they can and do cause injuries, and there are schools of thought that they are actually more likely to cause injury than a choke collar.

I prefer the halti, because even if they slip out of it, the lead is still connected to the neck collar - you don't have a dog running loose. Also, IME, the halti (if fitted properly), doesn't push up against the eyes as much as the Gentle Leader.

Those prices are crazy. Really, the point of dog training is to train the owner to be observant, to react promptly and consistently to reward good behavior and discourage unwanted behavior. Unless you have a real problem dog, I think you're better off to go to an obedience class instead of hiring a one-on-one trainer. Obedience class has the added benefit of socializing your dog(s) to the presence of other dogs and other humans.

Gracie was a total wild child when she came here last year. She is the first dog I could not cope with without help. We have been going to obedience and agility classes, and she's a different dog when she's in class - on breaks, she starts to act out. She needs that constant stimulation of learning new things. It costs me $109 for an eight week session of one hour per week.
 
OP
OP
M

Moll Flanders

Guest
Gracie was a total wild child when she came here last year. She is the first dog I could not cope with without help. We have been going to obedience and agility classes, and she's a different dog when she's in class - on breaks, she starts to act out. She needs that constant stimulation of learning new things. It costs me $109 for an eight week session of one hour per week.

Sooo cheap, wow. It's London prices I know but I think some people are trying to gouge me and it's annoying as they all claim that their way is the best way. I think my JR Molly would like agility classes.:)
 

Lord Snot

Parsley Provider
Joined
May 7, 2012
Reaction score
1,917
Age
32
Location
South Hertfordshire
I did a three year degree in animal behaviour and all the lecturers warned us against his methods in the most objective way they could. The degree was pretty open in that we learned the skills and knowledge to diagnose any animal's behaviour regardless of species, and it was up to us to choose which species we learned more in depth about. I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to go into dog training or behaviour consultancy so I didn't do much extra research on dogs. All I can tell you is that the experts we learned from think he is pretty bogus.

What I do know is, like mlp said, general obedience or agility classes are often just as (if not more than) effective as one-on-one behaviourist advice for a problem. The classes aren't really for the dogs, it's teaching their owners how to control them and get them to do what you want. What are the specific problems you're looking to deal with? I think you mentioned barking at male dogs, is there anything else?
 
OP
OP
M

Moll Flanders

Guest
I did a three year degree in animal behaviour and all the lecturers warned us against his methods in the most objective way they could. The degree was pretty open in that we learned the skills and knowledge to diagnose any animal's behaviour regardless of species, and it was up to us to choose which species we learned more in depth about. I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to go into dog training or behaviour consultancy so I didn't do much extra research on dogs. All I can tell you is that the experts we learned from think he is pretty bogus.
What I do know is, like mlp said, general obedience or agility classes are often just as (if not more than) effective as one-on-one behaviourist advice for a problem. The classes aren't really for the dogs, it's teaching their owners how to control them and get them to do what you want. What are the specific problems you're looking to deal with? I think you mentioned barking at male dogs, is there anything else?
#

Oh really?!:( What are the negative results of using his techniques as I seem to find biased views online and they are usually animal trainers themselves so of course they want to make money. So is there a reputable and not too expensive training class/trainer you would recommend in the London area LS? *Sigh* It's so hard to find someone. I have tried a few of the other training ways in the books I have read and the dogs ignore me completely on most of them. I was advised by a behaviourist (the £500 one) not to take Gizmo to a class of dogs as he would react too badly to them but the trainer today said it would be great for him to socialise with other dogs. :rolleyes:

Molly- usual puppy traits so I imagine any training will help her.
Gizmo - he is very wary of people and other dogs, nervous barking and aggression and he has bitten me although I have worked out how to avoid being bitten now.
 

Freesia

not my business.
Joined
Jun 3, 2012
Reaction score
7,598
Lifestyle
  1. Other
I agree with an individual approach. Holly needs a firm manner as she is very tough and strong willed. She is naturally a very disobedient dog which is part of her playful personality but with no discipline she would be a real handful : ) . Even more of a handful than now.

I remember a nose collar was tried with her for a while but she just continued to drag whoever was walking her....

Some dogs are more sensitive though and respond better to a more gentle type of instruction. Gypsy (not a dog though) is very sensitive and if she is scratching the couch, all I need to do is touch her paws gently or say "Stop that" and she will stop instantly.
 
M

mlp

Guest
Moll, without meeting your dogs, I can't give you much advice. What I can do is tell you about Gracie, so that you can see whether anything sounds familiar.

When she came to me last year, she was two, and had already been through four homes, and possibly six or seven. I have her original adoption papers, so I know she and the rest of her litter were taken to the shelter at much too young an age - before the time a mother teaches her pups some basic manners. She is very intelligent, very athletic, very high energy. She didn't have a chance to learn basic dog common sense from her mother. She gets into everything, so her prior homes kept her crated pretty much 24/7. That of course made the problem worse.

It's been a full time job, keeping her alive while she learns the basics that most dogs learn from their mothers. She has a strong protective instinct. Not long after she came here, the neighbor stopped by. I had her out on a leash. She was on three legs at the time (foot injury that ended up in tetanus). Despite that, she lunged at the neighbor with such force that the only way I could stop her from reaching him was to drop onto the ground so that I became a dead weight.

Although not naturally dog aggressive, she didn't know basic manners, sets other dogs off, and doesn't back down. While trying to break up a fight between her and my Great Pyrenees, I fell and broke my wrist, which now has a metal plate and a dozen screws holding it together.

I thought we would need one-on-one work. I arranged for the head of the training center where we ended up taking classes to evaluate us. She said that one-on-one wouldn't be necessary - group classes would do. And they have. Plain group obedience and agility classes have turned her into a dog I can take out into public. She still sets some male dogs off - I think it's because she is so very confident - but she now ignores them, even dogs who lunge at her. She treats Tascha, the Pyr, with appropriate deference. Another couple of years, and she'll be a great dog. She's already a good dog. And it's all done with positive reinforcement.
 

Lord Snot

Parsley Provider
Joined
May 7, 2012
Reaction score
1,917
Age
32
Location
South Hertfordshire
#

Oh really?!:( What are the negative results of using his techniques as I seem to find biased views online and they are usually animal trainers themselves so of course they want to make money. So is there a reputable and not too expensive training class/trainer you would recommend in the London area LS? *Sigh* It's so hard to find someone. I have tried a few of the other training ways in the books I have read and the dogs ignore me completely on most of them. I was advised by a behaviourist (the £500 one) not to take Gizmo to a class of dogs as he would react too badly to them but the trainer today said it would be great for him to socialise with other dogs. :rolleyes:

Molly- usual puppy traits so I imagine any training will help her.
Gizmo - he is very wary of people and other dogs, nervous barking and aggression and he has bitten me although I have worked out how to avoid being bitten now.

I'm afraid the one I'd be happy recommending to you is in Kent. You could always call him and ask for advice, he's not the kind of person that would refuse to talk to you until you were paying. I'll PM you his details :)
 

Wolfie

Forum Legend
Joined
Jun 5, 2012
Reaction score
497
I didn't read all the responses but will guess I'm on my own here anyway. I love the man. He has done more to dispel myths about pit bulls and other "aggressive" breeds than anyone I can think of. He never called himself a dog trainer either. I am all for using treats and positive reinforcement to train a dog to follow commands, etc., but that's not what Cesar Millan does. He takes in dogs who have been fought, set on fire, screwed up beyond belief by stupid humans, and not only saves their lives but has them getting along in a large group of other dogs who have also been fought, screwed up by humans, etc. He has helped many families who have been told by dog trainers and even behaviorists that they need to put their dog down, that there is nothing that can be done. I have seen on TV how his own dogs respond to him. I saw him live when he did his thing with a shelter dog he had never met before. You can see it in the dogs' mannerisms that they are not afraid of the guy. Dogs don't lie. Their body language would give them away if they tried. Now maybe some dogs that don't know him are unsure at first, but dogs are often unsure of anyone they don't know no matter what's going on. I see that when I volunteer at the shelter vet clinic. Some dogs will cower when any stranger approaches. I go by watching him amongst his own dogs and dogs he has taken to work with if their problems are too bad to fix at home. Those dogs tell the truth about the man.

I know the new belief by some "trainers" is wolves don't have pack hierarchy when they are in the wild, which is not true. They are just much more relaxed about it than wolves in captivity because there are no humans around causing extra stress, but it's still there. Dogs descended from wolves and are much like young wolve pups, stuck in that young and playful mode forever. There is a hierarchy structure within a pack of dogs. I lived among multiple dogs long enough to see this. And I have had the most success with my dogs when following the techniques of Cesar Millan and Jan Fennell and others who focus more on "thinking like a dog" than "dog training."

One of my current dogs is an Aussie mix, likely some lab in there. So she is very smart and very obedient as far as commands. At puppy school at only 6 months old she even showed up the teacher's dog, who had been at it for much longer. She LOVES people, especially kids, and does as commanded 99.9% of the time. And she has tried to kill other female dogs she sees as infringing upon her place in the pack. I give Cesar Millan and Jan Fennell and other similar authors sitting on my bookshelf right now all the credit it the world for helping me deal with dogs who have issues that go farther than peeing on the rug or jumping up on people to say hi. Not that I am comparing my dog skills to Cesar Millan's. I am no where near that talented. But he has never claimed to be a "dog trainer", has never said people shouldn't use positive reinforcement, and has never run down other trainers and behaviorists publically the way some run him down.

I don't care that he's never had formal training either. You can learn a hell of a lot just by growing up and watching packs of dogs the way he did. Turid Rugaas is another of my favorite experts in dogs and dog body language and I don't think she's had formal training either but I'm not sure. I do know she gleaned a lot of her knowledge by simply sitting silently and watching packs of dogs. My own dad had no formal training but grew up on a farm surrounded by multiple dogs along with your regular "farm" animals. He is the one who first told me back when my dog above was moving from puppy to teenage dog that she was going to kill my smaller, older dog. You do learn by watching them all your life. I didn't believe him back then. Oh, they're just playing I said. Well, the Aussie tried to kill the other one twice. I was thankfully able to break it up both times and after an insane amount of money in vet bills, my smaller dog pulled through both times. I will forever live with the guilt of allowing that to happen and I will make sure something like that never happens again. All by following the thinking of Cesar Millan and other dog mind readers. One good thing to come out of it was I know a lot more about dogs now than I did a decade ago.

In my opinion sometimes trainers too set on positive only training are a detriment to dogs. I did a dog training course a few years ago where I had to work with another trainer for part of it. We were working with shelter dogs out of a high kill shelter. There was one who was large and black, already 2 strikes against him as far as getting out alive. He was also young and very wild. If I wanted a good grade in the class, however, I HAD to use a head collar, even though the dog hated it. I couldn't use any "negative" techniques at all, not so much as a no or blocking the dog down when he jumped up. There was a lady interested in this dog but wanted to see if he could be trained not to jump up first. My husky was a jumper and a counter surfer extraordinaire when I got him. I had him taught within a few days that this was not okay by blocking him from behavior I didn't want, much the way other dogs will body block each other. But this was not allowed in my class. I spent the entire time trying to get the dog to accept the Gentle Leader or Halti,whichever one it was. In the end, the trainer decided he was "too much" for the person interested in him, even though she was not an old person. With a prong collar and a few "non-positive" techniques, and I don't mean inflicting pain in any way, shape or form, that dog could have been taught much faster. I never asked what happened to him in the end, but like I said, large, black, wild and high kill shelter. It likely wasn't a good ending. It bugs me when positive only trainers claim their way is the only way. (Something else Cesar Millan has never done.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rosie1

Wolfie

Forum Legend
Joined
Jun 5, 2012
Reaction score
497
Man can't edit my post above for some reason. But anyway, I fully believe MLP trained her dog with positive only methods and patience which is great. But the dog above didn't have that kind of time. I'm just saying a few nonpositive methods could have made him more adoptable much more quickly. It was a shame I couldn't try, too, because though he was wild he had no dangerous issues, like going after other dogs or biting people. (I am not saying there are quick fixes for those types of problems.)