Dog trains man

Thursday, January 6, 2011

He came, he saw ... and did not whisper

The Dog Whisperer supporting the message against shock- and prong collars. How did that came about ?

Cesar Milan came to Denmark today, invited by the Danish national television. During the whole week up to the show the TV station couldn't keep a lit on their excitement about having this celebrity on their show. Commercials and teasers reminded us daily about this upcoming event, inviting people to take their dog and come meet the "Dog Whisperer". And not just any dog, dogs with issues please.

But something changed during the week. A lot of people wrote to the TV station expressing their concerns. Not only conveying their second thoughts about the use of harsh methods like yours truly, but also about Cesar's earlier shows on National Geographic where shock collars, prong collars, etc. where used. As it happens, these collars are illegal in Denmark.

The TV channel did it's research with a legal department working overtime, and changed the show at the last moment. No "Dog Whisperer magic" was shown and the whole thing was cut down into a 8 minute clip: After addressing the many concerns the station had received during the week, Cesar was interviewed about the use of shock- and prong collars. The host closed the interview by shortly stating - clearly directed to the viewers - that these type of collars are illegal in Denmark. Only one dog was invited in to meet Cesar for leash pulling issues. Cesar's session with the dog was not aired and the host only commented that "during the session we did not witness the use of harsh or illegal methods." Cesar's fans must have been really disappointed.

No promotion of "dominance" and "pack leader" methods, but focus on the harm done by shock- and prong collars. What a wonderful outcome.

Update January 7:
You can find a video of the clip here: "Doglovers angry on "Good evening Denmark". Cesar is interviewed in English. Unfortunately the initial introduction and close is in Danish and not subtitled.

Update January 8:
The discussion still continues in Denmark. Most major newspapers wrote about the story and the sentiment is the same. One newspaper, B.T., made a clip with their interview of Cesar. Note how the press officer in the end breaks off the interview: Accused of animal abuse. The Danish Kennel Club criticized Cesar's training methods "officialy" in one of their press release's on their website.


  1. Yay! I'm glad the message was less about dominance and more about what's illegal. Wish that stuff was illegal here in the U.S.

  2. I agree with Roxanne. Though he is not nearly as bad as some others who I will not name because I don't want them googled any more than necessary, I am just done with all the Milan craziness. Done.

    I wish I could see his backtracking on e-collars as a positive thing but all I see it as is a way to get into Denmark.

  3. It's fantastic the television station responded to the concerns voiced by the public. That was a great outcome, and encouraging that perhaps the media is listening (at least in Denmark!)

  4. @Roxanne
    Well, he did leave Denmark again :)

    Thanks for stoping by Laurie! Until that happens I hope people getting smarter. They could start by following your excellent blog!

    We know him from Animal Planet and also another commercial station aires his shows. Undoubtedly promotion on the national network was the goal, but due to this unexpected turn of events is was bad publicity at the least for CM.

    Finding out they would promote something that made use of illegal methods might have motivated them even more :)

  5. He sure is making his rounds. He was just in Canada prior Christmas. But he gets more bad press than good these days so must have needed to step up the campaign trail. I know you know my thoughts on scare and violence of dogs by trainers.

  6. I think the real heroes in this story are all the folks who wrote and called the television station about their concerns. Yay for democracy in action!

    And for those who are discouraged by Mr. Millan's ever-increasing fame, I have to second Krstine's comment that we've seen worse. 20 years ago, the leading dog training books promoted even harsher techniques.

    I choose to see CM as one stage in the evolution from pond slime to walking upright. 20 years from now (and hopefully sooner), people will wonder why anyone listened to him. We just need to keep speaking out.

    Thanks for sharing this encouraging story.

  7. @Miss Kodee
    You are right, apparantley it is part of a European tour

    Thanks for the positive note. It has gotten a lot better. And I like the thought that in some years from now we look back wondering how this could have made sense.

  8. Hi! We just started our own blog recently, and we're going around trying to meet other bloggy pets. Our Mama used to read Cesar Milan's books because the mean people she lived with before said she'd have to get rid of Lily if she didn't train Lily better. They made Lily wear a shock collar. It made our Mama very upset so she moved away from those mean people and took Lily with! We've seen some good things of Cesar Milan, but we sure don't like shock collars!

  9. I'm sorry to be a muckraker here, but prong (or pinch)collars are severely misunderstood. I have personally used a prong on Jersey, when I was training her because I find them to be a MORE HUMANE alternative than a regular choke that more trainers will use.

    If you don't believe me, try this little test. Put a pinch collar on your arm and pull it, then try that with a regular choke. Which would you rather have on your neck? The prong evenly distributes the pressure while a choke can infinitely tighten, choking the dog, PINCHING neck skin between the chain and the control ring and possibly causing spine and throat damage. Prong collars look scary, but they are far better for the dog if used properly.

    As for Cesar, if all the haters stopped talking about him, he would just "go away". Negative publicity is just as good, if not better than good publicity. I'm sure that after airing the edited show on the Danish TV, thousands of curious people headed over to his website to see how "bad" his training methods really were.

  10. Ha, look at that. I'm glad the people made themselves heard!

    At Karen

    I understand what you say, I use a martingale collar to help train my pup but the problem with these types of collars are not the collar themselves but how the public uses them. More often then not I have seen pinch, choke and martingale collars used wrong cause some person just picks it up from a store and uses it without a trainers advice and think they know how just because they read/saw something that Cesar said. Just saying.

  11. @Trixie
    Thanks for stopping by and congrats on your new blog. Good for you dropping the shock collar, glad to hear you take so good care of Lilly.

    You are most welcome to weigh in!
    And you are absolutely right about the choke collar being as harmful, or even worse, as a prong collar. Actually I don't know why the choke collar is not illegal in Denmark also. Guess there is still room for improvement.

    On the contrary, I think that all the publicity for Cesar helps the lobby for positive reinforcement based dog training getting the word out. I doubt being quiet will help at all and see nothing wrong in people to go see for themselves after viewing the show.

  12. I almost never watch television, but if I do put it on, no matter which station, Cesar Milan is almost always on either with his own show or with an interview. I hope to see the same show with a cat whisperer one day. Does anyone know if this exists?

  13. @My Cat Avalon
    Not that I know of, maybe because a cat can eat any kind of "Whisperer" for breakfast :)

  14. @chelsea
    You are totally right on the money! Most owners don't know how to properly correct a dog let alone use training collars effectively.

  15. Interesting post! I've never been a Milan fan, so I really don't know much about his training methods. But shock and prong collars are just wrong. There are much better training methods out there than that.

    We found you on the Blog Hop and just became your latest follower!!

  16. I'm impressed that your television producers scrapped their original presentation and instead made a much lesser production that was, from the sound of it, more balanced with a warning about inappropriate tools used to correct dog behavior.

    Thanks for the update, too! Does Eric know he's now famous in Denmark??! He did such great work on his video critiques of what Millan was doing and why and how it was inappropriate or worse.

  17. @chelsea @Karen
    There are other and better ways to correct a dog than with collars (or anything else that is on the end of the leash)

    Thanks for stopping by and following us!

    Hi Mary, Eric's video critiques are terrific indeed. I did let him know with a Twitter DM and he replied that he was happy his blog was able to provide some background.

  18. That's terrific news that the appearance of Milan got a discussion about positive training methods started and that so many people -- including you, kudos! -- called the station and were heard. Given the discouraging fact that he was even invited to appear in Denmark, that's the best possible outcome.

  19. Thanks Edie, I did some fudal attempt to rally some people beforehand but to no avail. First when seeing the show I found out I was not alone! I just havn't meet them yet :)

    Apparantly it is part of a promotion visit for his upcoming European seminar tour. He will return to Denmark in May. Which will probably be sold out with all the publicity. But Cesar earning some $ is a small price to pay as I expect that his seminar will most definitely ignite a media storm about positive dog training methods. We loose some, but we gain more.

  20. Kenzo - I am embarrassed I missed this most important update. How phenomenal! I am glad that people weren't afraid to question his methods or the use of the shock or prong collars.

    I found it interesting that those two types of collars are outlawed, but Denmark has no oppositions to exterminating certain breeds. Seems odd they would worry about dog's welfare on one hand and not on the other. Why do you think the disconnect?

  21. Glad you asked! It is odd isn't? And not only the BSL, also with the lack of legislation on puppy mills. It makes no sense. Except for politicians: The banning of the collars is made based on a sound decision and to prevent animal welfare. It is also "easy" as the collar producers hardly have a lobby. Denmark has a major mink farm industry, one of the largest in Europe. They have a strong lobby that prevent further legislation. This also has its effect on puppy mills. BSL is born out of fear with the public after dog bite incidents, and politicians using that fear to score votes.

    Politics always seems to have a need to complicate things :(

  22. Having watched a great number of episodes of The Dog Whisperer, I have rarely seen him use tools such as shock collars. What Ceaser teaches is a common sense approach that is very in tune with the natural habits and behavior of dogs. His approach is mostly psychological, with minor physical or vocal corrections. These corrections are especially minor when compared to the massive tugging, pulling and loud vocalizations I have seen from mainstream trainers that are supposedly up-to-date on the latest in politically correct dog sensitivity methods.

    Have a treat and good boy may work well for minor problem dogs and puppy training, but these trainers fail miserably when faced with serious problem dogs. This is why shows featuring mainstream dog trainers rarely feature the more serious cases. Ceaser Millan, on the other hand, focuses on rehabilitating dogs that your precious mainstream "experts" have failed to help. If mainstream advice were followed, a lot of these dogs would have been euthanized.

    Dogs are pack animals, the natural order they hail from is hierarchical with natural pack leaders. However, in this day and age of political correctness hysteria, it is taboo to talk about natural phenomena such as dominance and pack leadership. There's this notion today that any problem in the world can be solved with a soft hands-off approach, and by sitting down and talking about our feelings. This is why I suspect that the criticism of Ceaser Millan and his methods is more politically motivated than anything to do with actual dog training.


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