Why Cesar Millan Should Never Talk About or Train Service Dogs
The video clip below has been making me livid for decades!
I know, it is bad for my health to get angry, but I can’t help it. I have spent too many decades training Service Dogs.
I think this was one of the first of his TV shows I had ever seen.
Let me summarize it for you.
He is working with an aggressive dog that the owner is afraid will literally “attack” him and, at the end of the video, he recommends that it become a Service Dog for her…
He then tells us: a dog can’t multitask; he can’t be aggressive if he walks and wears a weighted pack.
Mr. Millan, I would like you to give this a go with your local Police Dog.
Put a weighted pack on him and see if he can still bite YOU.
I know many dogs that can walk, wearing a weighted pack, and still chase a squirrel.
What a simple world we would live in if this was the solution to everything.
Encouraging one person to train their aggressive dog to be a Service Dog is a tragedy; encouraging an entire TV viewing audience could be a catastrophe, and a liability.
If only he could be prosecuted for the injuries he has inspired.
Click here if you want to watch it in its entirety.
Let’s Take a Look!
At only 16 seconds in we hear that “Shep” is a fearsome dog, of whom his owner is afraid.
We witness him pull, bark, and growl as he has to be bribed by her son.
They state they “worry about his hostile tendencies”.
When a stranger would come, they say, “He would snap”.
I realize this makes for dramatic storytelling and setting us up for the “big finish” but this story is about to get more dangerous.
“He will bite you really hard”, the son says.
In comes our supposed Savior….
Here they discuss how he lunges “out of nowhere”. She only wants to walk him without him attacking people, because, as she states, she can’t control him. If he wants to he would pull her, and her wheelchair, toward the person/distraction.
Here, I Agree!! There is hope!
The dog needs more stimulation, both mental stimulation in the form of dog obedience and controlled physical exercise.
Wait, but a WALK is NOT the best way at all!
The best way is through teaching him new commands and having him retrieve toys in the back yard and then run through a certain number of obedience commands before the toy is thrown again.
This would be SAFE exercise in the privacy of his own home, away from the fear of biting, and it would better use his body and his mind (this is KEY).
But here is where this takes a serious, dangerous, and preposterous turn. I mean we can differ a little on what it takes to stimulate a dog: i.e., walking vs. retrieve and obedience routine.
But we are told that “Cesar needs to confront Shep to show him there is a new sheriff in town” ohhhhh, why? Why, God, why does he need to go into the dog’s own yard and confront him?
He says he is going to control reactions, but there is literally no way to control the reactions of another living being. They even call the dog an attack dog, and, recognize how “dangerous this will be on his own turf”.
He enters the yard with a strong presence and the dog retreats. He wins, right? The dog is giving up, he can quit! NOPE.
The dog nearly climbs the wall, he looks terrified. But does Millan let down or even soften up a bit. NOPE.
My heart breaks in this scene. He grabs a trash can to intimidate the dog and keep it from biting him, while the dog who has relented is forced to flee as quickly as possible.
How exactly is this building trust?
What disabled person do you know that could do this very HANDS ON, nasty, negative approach with their dog?
Here is where things get super dangerous. Kids: NEVER corner a dog!
The reason he comes out unscathed is because the dog actually does relent and he is afraid to bite him, because he doesn’t know him and Cesar has a very dominant and confident posture.
If the dog’s boy, or a friend, would have tried this, someone would have gone to the hospital and the dog would likely be euthanized.
But beyond that… WHY, just WHY, are we doing this to this dog?
Reinforcing to the dog that people are dangerous, scary, and can’t be trusted…..because…..we want to later train that dog to be a Service Dog? Hmm……
Why wouldn’t the owner just leash the dog and bring it out to be worked?
I mean, I guess this makes for dramatic TV ratings, but the damage it is doing to the dog is obscene and there is absolutely no need for it (except for ratings).
He yells “HEY! RELAX!” and hisses (Hey, Cesar, dogs don’t speak English and your yelling isn’t helping).
Then he thwaps the dog with the leash, repeatedly; because he is afraid he is about to be bitten.
Again, who else is this stupid?
The dog, here probably urinating and defecating himself because he is terrified and has nowhere to go…. he can fight, or he can submit. Tell me again how this is helpful to his disabled owner? Tell me how this is helpful to the dog?
His owner is proud, but she should be appalled.
Actually, she should have never let it happen in the first place, because if anyone else, not as dominant, comes into her yard the dog is likely to pick FIGHT much more quickly because of this horrible experience.
Service Dog, WHAT?!?!
At 7:15 into the video the owner starts talking about how this dog can now be a Service Dog… What the WHAT?
Not THIS dog? … Surely NO… Can he act like one? Maybe, EVENTUALLY, with A LOT of training…. and a muzzle.
“Cesar believes that Service Dogs can better assist their disabled owners when they are given a job”
YES! Yes, real, temperament tested, trained, tested SERVICE DOGS.
One for The Wuss File
Despite the fact that he is recommending THIS dog, yes the one pictured above in red, the one that his owners are scared of, the one who bites, can be a Service Dog; he is too scared to even really handle the dog, still.
See how his head is faaaaar to the dog’s left, way away from his face? He stands almost upright and he has a strangle hold on that leash that he is pulling forward to keep the dog from swinging his head!
If this dog could be a Service Dog, why then can’t he just bend over, put his face in the dog’s face, and get that harness on?
I never in my life have worried that any of the real Service Dogs that I have trained will take my face off.
Because dogs that are aggressive just don’t last as real Service Dogs.
Here he famously and confidently says that dogs can’t multitask…
To some degree that is true, but it doesn’t negate aggression.
And, for some dogs, it doesn’t negate prey drive.
Can your dog walk and pull toward the neighbor kid?
Do you think you could put a weight vest on your dog aggressive dog and cure his aggression?
It is ridiculousness.
I’m Not a Fan
Actually, I am disgusted by his HANDS ON, corrective, nasty training techniques and gruff ways that traumatize dogs and the humans they will come in contact with later in life.
I am just saddened that this kind of horrible hype has caused his career to flourish despite the damage he is doing each day one of these horrible programs is broadcast.
Want a Dog that Acts Like a Service Dog?
Do some hands off and motivational training, like his/her disabled partner has to do.
You can’t issue a good correction or chase a dog in a wheel chair; so why would you want a “trainer” to do that to your dog?
Real, Professional, Service Dog Training taught me to train HANDS OFF and to use my mind to get my dog to do what I want!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.