Cesar Milan 911: How NOT to Introduce a New Dog

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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.
 
new dog to family
 
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?
 


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27 Comments

  1. Although I’m a huge fan of Cesar Millan, because of all that he’s accomplished and the positive voice he has for bully breeds, I can’t watch his programs, because I believe that they give new dog owners the idea that dog behavior problems can be resolved in a short time. We know logically that this isn’t the case, but I’ve seen so many people pick and choose from an episode and use that teeny bit of knowledge to incorrectly interact with their dog.
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    • I haven’t watched his shows in awhile…and now I remember why.
      mkob recently posted…Cesar Milan 911: How NOT to Introduce a New DogMy Profile

    • I think you make an excellent point that people think you can solve issues in a short time. Probably an issue with episode tv time constraints.

      But I have also seen it on blogs that I read and many of them would never use CM’s methods. Their dog does something they do not like/want and they spend a few hours or a week “training” and then they think the dog is good to go and cannot figure out why Fido has exhibited the same bad behavior in short order. Those of us who actually train dogs know that it can take hours and hours, even years of training to get the dog doing what you want. There is no quick fix. I have a future blog post rolling around in my head on this…lol.
      2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Observations At The ParkMy Profile

  2. I can’t stand that man and I wish they’d take him off the air. He really doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing. While I think exercise and recommending the family pick a dog that matches their lifestyle is great, exercise doesn’t train a dog and neither does physical corrections. Aggression begets aggression. A lot of dogs have ended up worse off after he’s “rehabilitated” them and they end up getting put down. He hung a dog on one of his episodes by a choke chain and the dog turned blue.. No joke. His training techniques are extremely abusive and highly unethical so much so that when he went to Germany, they would not allow him to touch any dogs. He’s a moron and I wouldn’t recommend continuing to watch his shows.

    http://4pawsu.com/cesarfans.htm
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  3. I don’t watch his shows, …. but I respect his intention to help dogs with solving issues and problems that the dogs can stay in their family … even when I dislike his way.
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  4. Ugh. Don’t get me started on crazy town. His “training” is just that, training in quotes.
    melf recently posted…Wordless Wednesday #256 – At the edge of the cornfieldMy Profile

  5. What part of the blame does the rescue earn? They did not take the dog away. I guess anything for promotion. I have no problem with a show showing the good with the bad. I think in far far too many cases issues are sugarcoated. (I read them on blogs all day long. The dog redirected and bit my leg but that’s to be expected because he is reactive. Really????) But ultimately it is up to the rescue that placed the dog to make sure it is an appropriate placement.

    IMO CM’s training has it benefits. He has reformed many a dog that would otherwise get the needle. Has he been able to save them all? Nope. But the fact that he has a track record of success with multiple dogs that are difficult subjects speaks to the merit of his training. People these days do not want to consider his methods. They go along with their own methods that make them feel good but ultimately do not work and end up with dogs that are horrid canine citizens (and sometimes dangerous).
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Observations At The ParkMy Profile

    • I think in ‘real life’ the rescue absolutely has to take some responsibility. In this case, I think CM was representing. I agree that some of his methods and efforts are worthy, but I think this show sacrificed some real opportunities to educate folks on the effort involved in training a dog – especially in a situation like this with existing pets and young kids.
      mkob recently posted…Cesar Milan 911: How NOT to Introduce a New DogMy Profile

  6. I think I did see that episode because I remember the little boy kicking the dog when he was alone with him outside. There are a few things I like about CM, but the negatives far outweigh the positives and his methods can be dangerous for people and counter-productive for resolving issues with dogs.

    My neighbor had a issue with her young dog not listening and being pushy. She watched the show and decided to try the alpha roll technique but got bit pretty bad by her dog. The show tends to make people believe alpha rolls or simulated bites with your hand work like magic to fix dogs.
    Elaine recently posted…Is Your Dog Ready for Some Football?My Profile

  7. “Do not try this at home.” Then why have it on television? People will try it at home. I wish CM would educate himself on how dogs learn and the power of positive reinforcement and force-free training. He could use his celebrity to help people and dogs instead of encouraging dangerous situations. I cringe when one of my clients asks me if I watch him.
    Linda Trunell recently posted…Ten Things Your Dog Wants to Tell YouMy Profile

  8. WOW…. just wow!! I am shocked. I mean, I have never been a huge fan of his, but I have respect for a lot of thew things he does, and what he can accomplish with some of the dogs he has worked well with, but this is just horrible!!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
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  9. I used to watch his other show, but have never seen this one. I haven’t really been a fan since we switched over to more positive reinforcement ourselves, but I try not to have a closed mind about things. Now that I’ve read this, I will never tune into that show. It sounds awful.
    Jan K recently posted…The Rest of the StoryMy Profile

  10. I would have been screaming at the television too. Some people just don’t think or rather empathize with their pets. How would they like to start a new job and be tied to their desk until they get acclimated to their new position? A quiet small office or cubicle would be better, right? Arrrgh!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…What Goes in a Pet First Aid Kit?My Profile

  11. Since NatGeo switched CM to their “Wild” channel, I haven’t been able to watch his shows. Our cable co won’t negotiate with NatGeo, and I’ll go without TV service before going back to satellite.
    Anyway, that aside, I agree with Linda (2 Brown Dawgs) that some of CM’s training does have its merits, especially for “difficult” dogs that would otherwise be put down. AND I agree with you that he missed some golden opportunities to educate the family. Unfortunately, Hollywood has its own rules for TV shows. And those rules rarely accommodate common sense. That’s why they have the “do not try this at home” disclaimer – to protect the network (and, to a MUCH LESSER extent, Cesar himself).
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Always With Us NowMy Profile

  12. That’s so sad… 🙁 I can kind of appreciate that since CM has hit tv more owners have been taking responsibility for their dogs, but I can’t agree with his practices. And for a family to give a dog to a four year old? Really?! Ugh….
    **Too many words so for fear of ranting I have nothing more to say.**
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Building your Relationship with your DogMy Profile

  13. I have not heard very many good things about Cesar Milan. I did watch a video he did about a dog that was “aggressive”. Cesar was aggressive and pretty much forced the dog to protect itself. Not my idea of a trainer. Just because he has a couple of good ideas does NOT make him a trainer.
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  14. Back in a day I red couple of his books and I think he has some good concepts there. As for real-life application, it’s not something I could even stand watching.
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  15. I have not seen that episode, but I still watch the show if it’s on. I figure even if I don’t agree with many of his methods it’s a learning experience. Not really sure how I would have reacted with that episode, I think I’d be pretty pissed, yelling at the TV as well. I could see this being the sort of situation where the dog is going to end up biting that child and he’ll be surrendered as “aggressive” because the parents unfortunately don’t know how to teach their child manners around the dog & didn’t get great guidance on the subject. Just a sad situation.
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  16. I can’t stand ceasar so I don’t watch him
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  17. I haven’t seen the show but your description is making me sick. Awful.

    When one my (then) quite young nephews kicked one of our dogs really hard under the chin, you can bet that every adult in the house was shocked. In fact, I reacted so strongly with an emphatic “talking to” my nephew, that he didn’t speak to me for the rest of the visit! He’s now very gentle and empathetic with our dogs and his (he’s 12 now).

    I am not going to watch this show even if I find it on my TV!
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