Archive for the ‘Bad dog advice’ Category

This is one of the dangers of the Dog Whisperer show– young fools try to imitate him.


These boys weren’t even being serious, but they were doing all the behaviors that Cesar exhibits on the show.

The dog still could have bitten them– whether they were being serious or not.

This is why memes can become so dangerous.

People see Cesar on TV,  and when they do it, even as a joke, bad things can happen.

Maybe that’s why the show has that disclaimer that says “Don’t do this without consulting a professional.’

Something similar was put on the Jackass and Wildboyz series. Of course, those shows were for comedic and shock value, not how to shows, like The Dog Whisperer. And people imitated them and got hurt.

That’s probably my biggest issue with the Dog Whisperer. Those techniques he uses are not safe for the average person to use or even imitate in a joking fashion.


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Into learned  helplessness:


This is why I don’t watch this show.

This poor dog spent most of its life in a garage.

It is like Bill Tarrant’s experiment with some coyote pups.

He kept them in a kennel run for their entire lives until they were about six months old.

When he opened the kennel door to free them, they didn’t want to go.

And when they did go, they were–um– barmy.

They were scared of everything and knew only to run in straight lines.

This poor dog has every reason to be scared of everything.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this dog wasn’t afraid of men after this encounter.

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Now can any of you tell me that this is good, sound advice on how to treat a shy dog?


I don’t know much, but I do know that dogs are controlled by that thing between their ears– not by their tails!

Now, I’m sure that someone will come on here and give me some pseudoscientific reasons for controlling a dog’s tail.

I should tell everyone that I used to watch The Dog Whisperer every Friday night.

And then I started seeing things like this…



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I am trying to keep my blog from sucking.

So I do two things:

I keep my blog topics diverse.

I don’t jump onto bandwagons.

And those two issues make it very hard for me to have a blog network the way that some bloggers have.

For example, I don’t buy into Cesar Millan.

I saw that show in the 1990s. That was Uncle Matty Margolis. Blah.

(And now I will be defamed in the comments for disparaging someone’s favorite dog training guru. LOL. You people need to get lives, think for yourselves,and not believe everything you see on TV. And don’t believe every word I say either. Please look up what I say. Please challenge me. I don’t have a monopoly on truth. No one does.)

I also don’t buy into Raymond Coppinger’s theory on dog domestication. I find it very simplistic.

But the ones who critique Millan often resort to using Coppinger’s theory, which posits that dogs are a unique species derived from some sort of degenerate scavenging canid that is not a wolf. If it’s not a wolf, then all that Millan says about pack hierarchy is wrong.

But dogs are wolves. Or rather they are as part of a very diverse species that has historically produced chihuahuas and giant wolves with bone crushing jaws. (That is what fascinates me more than anything about dogs and wolves–this great diversity in phenotype and behavior that can be found in just a single species.)

Wolves do not always form packs. They are also quite capable of learning different ways of relating toward each other and toward other species.

And not all relations between wolves and between dogs can be reduced to hierarchy.

Which is exactly what we’re getting with Cesar Millan.

I don’t buy into two major camps of the dog world.

Both groups are using what I think are empirically quite nebulous and scientifically dubious theories to position what a dog exactly is in our society and in the grand scheme.

I should mention that this is really what all of these fights come down to:

What is a dog?

Is it a degenerate, garbage eating canid that is related to the wolf?

Is it a Machiavellian animal that seeks to rule the world?

Or is it both something far more simple and something far more complex?

Nobody yet has answered that question about the dog’s identity.

I am trying very hard.

But it is like an onion. Each time a bit is peeled away, another layer is revealed.

Anyone who thinks he or she has all the answers about dogs is full of crap and should be avoided at all costs.

The truth is we’re dealing with a higher nonprimate mammal.

We’re also dealing with an animal that bonds very strongly to both people and its own species.

And in that way, it become entangled in the vagaries of our culture, our society, our economic and political systems, and our own views of ourselves.

It is almost impossible to look at dogs objectively.

Same goes with wolves.

Our connection to these animals is so deeply ingrained in our culture.

It may even be beyond culture.

It may be so deeply ingrained in our evolutionary past that we cannot help but relate to these animals in any way but culturally.

We cannot look objectively at them.

For example, I can easily defend lion hunting to promote revenue for conservation, but it is cognitively harder for me to do the same for wolves– even though the economic and ecological advantages would be the same.

I find that puzzling.

I don’t think I could in good conscience shoot a wolf or a coyote.

But biologically they can be culled without making them extinct.

And because I have to consider all of these things in order to write credible nonfiction, I am not about to jump onto any one theory about the dog.

I’ll keep my topics diverse. I know that some of my readers don’t want the wildlife or prehistoric animal posts. And others want more breed histories.

And others want more about dog domestication and behavior.

But I’m doing okay with keeping things diverse.

I keep my comment moderation fairly open.

This blog is about dialog.

But one should be skeptical of those who have grand unified theories about dogs and have not included any careful analysis about how dogs are distorted through our human lenses.

It is not just that people “spoil” dogs.

That is part of the equation.

But the other part is that we have decided that we must force our will over dogs, never let them be dogs, and never let the have off-leash exercise.

Spoiling dogs can make them neurotic.

But the denying them some liberties in life can’t be good for them.

I’m not being anthropomorphic here, but the dogs where I grew up were fairly well-behaved.

And they had plenty a lot of freedom to socialize and walk off-leash.

Humans love to be bosses. We are hierarchical.

Our egos revel  in hierarchy.

Any half-assed theory that says we must have more power is going to be very popular with us.

It may not be the real world, but it sounds good to us.

Because of all of these reasons, we need to be careful what think about dogs.

We need to be skeptical of bandwagons and crap you see on TV.

Read books.

Talk to real experts (Hint: I’m not one.)

My goals on this blog are not to spoon-feed you bromides.

Think for yourself.

Think for your dog.

And try to give it the best life you can.

Don’t assume that because someone is on TV that they know what the hell they are talking about.

That’s a big problem in this country.

I don’t carry water for anyone. I defend those who talk sense, as near as I can tell.

So while I am trying to keep this blog from sucking, I’m not going to reduce myself to bandwagons.

It’s just not me.

And I do nuance. Dogs do nuance, too– but it’s less nuanced than ours would be.

Dogs will bend to fit us. And we’ll congratulate ourselves for their effort.

That’s the way it always has been.

That’s the real important thing about dogs.

They genuflect to our needs in so many ways, and we don’t really seem to marvel at that.

Maybe we should just do that.


And stop the BS.

Be skeptical.

You owe it to yourself and your dogs.




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Cesar thinks so:


Um. In case you haven’t noticed, he’s full of crap here.

Cesar has Chanticleer’s fallacy– big time. Chanticleer was a rooster who appears in Medieval English folklore. (He makes an appearance in the Canterbury Tales, if my memory serves.)

In one of the stories about him, Chanticleer is dead certain that his crowing makes the sun rise. He does not realize that the two events are merely correlated, and he assumes that correlation is equal to causation.

This is exactly what Cesar is doing here. He is assuming that because dogs carry their tails aloft while walking that he can just raise the tail of a dog and it won’t be nervous or insecure.

He’s literally telling us that the tail wags dog here.

It’s hooey.

And yet still a he’s a great dog expert.

I’m not a dog expert at all. I don’t claim to be.

But this is such nonsense.

I think he literally made this up on the spot.

Which is nice.

But please don’t assume that it’s anything like reality.

Otherwise, you’re talking advice from the Chanticleer of dog trainers, excuse me– “dog rehabilitators.”

Here’s a hint: the brain controls what the dog feels. The tail is merely an outward expression of emotions that originate in the brain.

And yes, I’m aware that actions, like licking, can cause the dog to release endorphins and that will make them feel better.

But I’ve never seen a single study that suggests that putting a dog’s tail in a position automatically make them feel that way.

I can’t buy this, as kooky as it sounds.

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And if there is, why waste time pretending you’re an alpha wolf?

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This thing sounds something Homer Simpson would invent!


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It was this episode that really made me question whether Cesar’s methods were safe or applicable for the average person.

If a professional recommends that such methods be used, there is an issue of legal liability.

That’s why there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the Dog Whisperer Show.

How many people do you think are capable of controlling a dog like this using these confrontational methods?

My guess is you could count them with both your hands.

And that’s being generous.

If you have a dog like this, it does need professional help.

But you need a professional who can give you advice that you can use safely to correct the problem.

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What do I mean?

Well, watch these clips about a Dalmatian puppy named Wilshire.


I don’t see anything that this puppy does that isn’t normal puppy play behavior. I don’t see a “dominant” dog that wants to rule over a whole fire department.

It seems to me that Cesar is a one trick pony. If a dog is misbehaving or being annoying in anyway, it’s being dominant.  It’s simplistic. It’s reductionist. And in this case, it’s quite wrong.

When puppies jump up, they are actually not engaging in dominance. Jumping up is an appeasement behavior. In traditional dog parlance, we would call this submission. If anything, this puppy is trying to show everyone that he is friendly and gentle.

If this puppy could talk, he would be saying “I’m the baby. Gotta love me.” (Bonus points if you know what that line is from).

Now after Cesar gives his analysis via folk ethology. He starts “rehabilitating” the would-be Stalin of the Dalmatians.


So basically what these people have is a Dalmatian that bolts out the door and jumps up on people. It also steals food.

And this is a dominant dog?


This is an untrained puppy.

I would actually recommend an above ground invisible fence for this dog, but what do I know? I can’t whisper to the doggies.

These fire fighters and this dog’s original owner made a big error that many people do when they get Dalmatians. Dalmatians are very highly strung dogs. They also can be a stubborn and a bit intractable. This problem is further compounded with the very high levels of deafness in the breed. Indeed, if I had a Dalmatian and it developed behavior problems, we would have to have its hearing tested (if the breeder hadn’t already done so). Dalmatians are meant to run for miles with carriages. They very rarely get to engage in this behavior in the modern world.

This dog needs to be taught the command “leave it.” If you think that’s hard to teach, you are mistaken.

This is how it is done with a clicker:


You also can solve some of this problem by never feeding a dog at the table. It looks like these fire fighters were doing just that. Feeding dogs at the table teaches them to think that the food that is on it is something for them to eat.

And because this is a puppy, I would recommend crating it until it was housebroken and learned to leave food alone. If a dog cannot to be trusted to be loose in the house yet, the crate is a safe place to be.

However, keep in mind that this is a Dalmatian, and Dalmatians have lots of energy. They need lots of long walks– preferably off-leash. Dalmatians are lots of work to keep. They aren’t speckled Labradors. No dog should be crated for 8 hours a day, and certainly no Dalmatian should.

Housebreaking is never easy, but there are very good ways to do it. Andrea  Arden explains how to do it:


As for jumping up, that’s another easy behavior to correct. You just teach the dog to sit before ever being fed or petted, and the dog learns to use that behavior to solicit attention.

It’s not very difficult. You can have  a dog that never jumps within a week.

A puppy like this also needs socialization. It needs to play with other dogs, and it needs to learn rules.

It doesn’t need to be finger jabbed.

Now, here’s the kicker. Cesar calls in a real dog trainer to actually teach this puppy commands!


So Cesar put on this show about how to make this puppy submissive, but when he actually needed to teach the puppy something useful, he had to call in a real dog trainer.

That just blows my mind.

The first time I watched this, I laughed very hard. I would’ve called in the second guy long before I called in Cesar.

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Cesar whispering


I love the folk ethology behind this one.

This dog (“wolf hybrid”) hates Cesar.

If I were this wolf hybrid, I would probably kill myself.

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