Cesar Milan 911: How NOT to Introduce a New Dog
I was flipping through TV channels the other day and came upon a different Cesar Milan show. I think it was the Cesar 911 show. The premise of the show is to introduce a shelter dog to a family hoping for a match. They get two weeks to make a decision about whether to keep the dog, with one mid-trial consultation with Cesar to review and discuss issues. This episode was about a family with two young boys (ages 4 and 1.5), a boxer and a cat that wanted to get another dog. Apparently, the four-year old boy stated he felt he was old enough for his own dog and wanted the responsibility of caring for a dog. Besides the fact that I think four is a little young to be making those types of proclamations or at least to take them too seriously, the rest of the show sounds reasonable.
The family meets Cesar at a local shelter to pick out a new dog. Kudos to the show for that – love the promotion for shelters and to Cesar for stating that there are lots of good dogs at the shelter. They spent some time picking a dog and again, kudos to Cesar for explaining energy and the importance of finding the right type of energy to match the household. While the parents gravitated to larger dogs, the little boy chose a smaller mixed pup – maybe a bit of Chihuahua and Beagle…I don’t know.
Issue #1: Cesar puts all four family members, including the toddler, into the small shelter cage with the dog to ‘test’ his reaction during this selection process. Talk about boundaries – the dog logically freaks a bit at this invasion and almost nips the toddler. The family decides on Zork (names have been changed) anyways and they take him home. We saw no instructions or even a mention of proper techniques for introducing the dog to the household.
The first thing they do is go for a walk with their existing dog – good idea, that’s good way to introduce a new canine sibling – on neutral territory. But then, and here’s where the show really starts going sideways for me, they come home and just let the dog into the house – free reign to the entire place. He goes off, zooming all over like a dog just let out of a cage (hmm…). No crate for him for a safe zone, no restricted areas of the house, just have at it.
Issue #2: There was no proper or gradual introduction to the cat and so their first encounter ends up with Zork chasing the cat through the house. The mans grabs him tries to put him in an alpha hold. Zork reacts with a nip. I’m not excusing the dog for the nip, that’s never a good thing, but the poor thing is freaked out.
Issue #3: It’s no surprise that the dog isn’t properly potty trained and of course starts peeing and pooping in the house, which pisses off the mom. They toss the dog in the backyard and tell the four-year old to leave him be while they regroup. But of course the kid sneaks outside to play with his new toy, Zork. He starts manhandling Zork, picking him up, dropping him on the ground, chasing him around, and the dog again reacts with a nip. Again not good, but not unexpected if you understand anything about dog behavior. But then the kid starts KICKING the dog in retaliation! By now, I am screaming at the TV and hoping they stop the show, come and save this dog from this crazy, unprepared family.
It’s at this point they have their one-week consult with Cesar. The show has installed cameras in the house and yard, so Cesar is able to review all of these episodes with the family. Great for accountability, but the family is so obviously not ready for another dog, I would take the dog and run…but whatever, that doesn’t make good television.
Cesar does address a few of the issues: First, he recommends confining the dog, you know the drill, “rules, boundaries and limitation”. A good idea for a new family member, access to an entire house is overwhelming and leads to a constant state of excitation. It’s best to slowly let them get acclimated, with frequent trips outside to do their business. This family however, confines Zork by tying him to a table – have they never heard of a baby gate? The dog is tied by a 6′ leash to the dining room table…aagghh.
The second thing Cesar discusses with them is using a halter collar instead of a leash. That’s good – no problems with that – especially if you are going to have the four-year old hold the leash…that might be a bigger concern in my book.
They were a little shocked when reviewing the backyard incident, but more concerned that their son sneaked out of the house than the fact he was kicking the dog. At least they recognized they needed to provide more oversight and education about the proper treatment of the dog for their sons. The show falls way short here – this could have been a great training opportunity for families by sharing an open discussion with the boy about respect for animals and proper care. But, we didn’t see any of that on the show. Unfortunately, one of the last scenes of the show is a shot of the toddler chasing the dog around the table.
At the end of it, after their two week trial, they decided to keep the dog. I don’t think the dog got a vote.
To say I was bothered by the show is an understatement – hence the rant. I don’t agree with many of Cesar’s training methods, but he does have a huge platform that reaches millions of people. His advocacy for pit-bulls is great, his philosophy on the importance of exercise for your dog’s is also spot-on. He has mellowed his forceful “leader of the pack” approach somewhat over the years in response to his critics, but this show did very little to take advantage of clear opportunities to educate new dog owners on introducing a new pet to the family and that’s where it was most disappointing.
Have any of you seen the show? What did you think?
Cesar Milan 911: How NOT to Introduce a New Dog http://t.co/qpILGkzofu
— SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) September 10, 2015