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  1. #291
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    One Person’s Experience with the Dog Whisperer
    Posted by The Crossover Trainer
    I recently came across an article that had been written by someone who had their personal dog go to the “Dog Psychology Center” in LA owned by the famous Cesar Millan. There is no one better to talk about the Dog Whisperer than someone who has worked with him and hired him directly. This is the story of Ligia Morris and her experience with the Dog Whisperer so that others can learn and avoid her mistakes.
    Filas and The Dog Whisperer

    dog whisperer experience
    Ligia’s dog is the large brindle dog in the middle.

    “I can’t remember precisely which year, but on or around 2003, 2004 – I started watching the “Dog Whisperer” show on Nat Geo. I’m not a professional dog trainer, yet it’s always been something I was interested in. I earned a living in the film, TV and entertainment industry as a costume designer and lived in Los Angeles, California, at the time.

    What got me interested in the show:

    It’s name – which was taken from “horse whisperer” Buck Brannaman – whom I had known and read about..
    The title “dog psychologist” – who could ever imagine that the Nat Geo channel would put a show on the air with a “psychologist” that isn’t?
    The 5min. “quick fixes” and results shown.
    The Nat Geo brand association.
    His “saving” pit bulls from death row.
    I’m going to back track a little, just to throw some perspective of where I was coming from. I had moved to LA from NYC, there I had 2 Daschunds that I brought with me to LA. In NY, I had trouble potty training my older female – so, I got my first dog training book “Dog Friendly Dog Training” by Andrea Arden. In order to understand how to apply what was written in the book, I hired a trainer from the humane society, recommend in the book. So that was my approach to dog/animal training. I’d see or read something interesting and if I had the opportunity or the money, I’d hire them. Besides, back then there weren’t so many youtube vids for us to see trainers applying their techniques.

    I moved from a kitchenette type apartment in NYC’s East Village to a nice house in LA with a nice back yard and behind the back yard a huge park-like lot called the “The Red Line Trestle Footings”. The perfect place to have the dog breed of my dreams: Fila Brasileiro – I did a lot of researching online for a good breeder [that is an whole subject of its own], got a lemon from a highly recommended breeder. That first Fila died at about 1 y/o from an “immune mediated disorder”; it brought me to tears. Although, later, I realized how fortunate I was, because the dog was highly reactive and would bite me if I approached when he was barking at the gate. That is not part of the traits of the Fila. However, I had hired a dog trainer to guide me on how to deal with that dog and used some reward training, but also recommended a prong collar. She had been to several Ian Dunbar seminars.

    After “Biggie’s” death, I was very sad.. My husband bought me another Fila as a gift. This time we got a “show” quality Fila Brasileiro. A note of caution: “pet quality” for some breeders, is code for “vet quality”. At this point, the “dog whisperer” show had debuted on Nat Geo and I saw an opportunity to call his “psychology center” for a consultation.

    My gorgeous dog Cherokee was around 5 to 6 months when he met Cesar. My Daschunds were probably 3 and 2, respectively. They got along pretty well. He walked in with me and one could definitely sense he had an effect on the dogs. I concede he does have “something” about him that effects the dogs. However, he immediately pointed out to me that I should be dominant over them, that my dog Cherokee was competing with my other little Daschunds for supremacy. Plus, he showed me how to walk my Fila pup – all this with a lot of tsssts – leash jerking, claw hands on neck and body. I look back at it now and think of how intimidated my little dogs were of all that and how my 6 month old Fila shut down. CM, told me that my FB dog could not wrinkle his nose to the little dog, which he said I wasn’t aware of because I didn’t understand dog body language. I tried to tell him how things were friendly and easy going at the house and that all I wanted were some pointers if there were something to happen out of the ordinary. He was not hearing any of it and basically said the FB was not a breed for me, I would only be able to handle him if I had an Alpha personality, which I didn’t, in his opinion..

    After that visit, I started convincing myself that everything I had done till then was totally wrong and I was a major wuss. The stuff he showed me looked like it had immediate result, that day at my house. But, I didn’t know I’d be gifted with the long term side effects that would present themselves later [the gift that keeps on giving]. Cherokee and Tex (Daschund) were friendly with other dogs before that day. But, after my consultation and my newly developed leash skills – a radical departure from what I had learned from more positive trainers till then, they became increasingly unfriendlier and reactive to other dogs. To the point where I could no longer take them to the park and I had to walk them only late at night, or very early in the morning. Every meal from then on, was tense, because they all had to eat together and I had to stand over them.. I’d become an uber control-freak about discipline. I became a defender of CM and I recommended him to friends! Even fellow Fila Brasileiro enthusiasts did not approve of his methods. Curiously and specially the folks that dealt with Filas in rescue and ACO friends.

    The positive part is that I did take my dogs out for walks every day and they got exercise. Can’t say the same about canine social skills.

    On one of my trips overseas, I called the “psychology center” to board my dog there for 15 days. Because of his breed, it was nearly impossible to board him anywhere else. He was accepted there. It was more like a boot camp. Several pit bulls and pit mixes, and human monitors ready to tssst at any movement that remotely resembled interaction between dogs. Little dogs were kept together and they all slept in the same cushion in a room. Big dogs were made to stay together, as well as eat together. and many had shock collars on, at the time I really didn’t know what they were.. . Cesar explained how things were done there, I took photos of my dog as a souvenir of my celeb experience, said goodbye and was off to my trip – entirely relaxed and sure things would work out fine.

    When I picked up my dog from the psychology center, I noticed he was injured on the eye lid, and I questioned the monitor what that was about. I didn’t get a straight answer because the person had not been there earlier and didn’t see anything. Also, my dog had an electric collar on. I got home and waited to talk to the person that was his manager at the time. I was told is that my dog was a fighter – that is part of the breed characteristics [total nonsense] and I signed a waiver, there was nothing to be done..

    Well, that episode opened my eyes quite a bit. After that stay, Cherokee’s behavior became very bizarre when I left the house. He would follow me. Nothing could contain him. He would act very distraught if I left him. On the other hand, I started getting involved in volunteer training for Search and Rescue with him. I had become much interested in the work dog world, including taking my Daschunds for earth-dog trials. I learned so very much of reward training with the officers from the Sherrif’s office and the earth-dog people. That’s when I began to realize the effect os aversion and coercion in training. My fila had been damaged by those methods and developed an anxiety disorder. He had developed noise/storm phobia associated to separation anxiety, which he had never presented before those 10 days he was “whispered to”..

    He became too big of a dog to follow through with the S&R, so then I took some herding instruction with him. He did well in that also. I learned he wasn’t a full blooded Fila, that he had some mastiff in him – that’s a whole other issue, though.. However, he learned to be a very well socialized dog, thanks to the herding and S&R, he does get along with other dogs pretty well too, well part of that might be from the shock collar training I suspect; but he paid a high price. I’ve been able to manage his anxiety disorders, only through positive techniques, relaxation protocols, bands and DAP. But, it’s not going away as can be seen in th video. The long term effects of CM’s influence [including his use of an electric collar] on my dog have been devastating to him.

    Cesar Milan has a television show. I am a professional that is involved in the entertainment Industry – The show’s producers have a script to follow, and they must keep those sponsors. They heavily edit the footage to make long processes and mistakes look instant and to cover up some of the even harsher techniques he uses.

    Also, other things one can’t even imagine, which I know that happened at a herding instructors facility, but are protected by confidentiality agreements and other waivers. Cesar is self-taught and he doesn’t even appear to understand why what he does works [or their long their term effects, for that matter]. There are professionals out there who really do understand the whys and hows of dog behavior and their consensus is that Cesar’s explanations are mostly nonsense. Bottom line is: Cesar is training for television entertainments, he uses difficult techniques with hocus-pocus explanations and that, in spite of his macho prowess, he frequently gets hurt!

    The reward that has come from my experience with CM is that I have learned to be an ok trainer myself, and have learned about Quandrants, operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, scent articles, stock-dog and livestock handling, evolution of dogs, wolf behavior, etc.. I have met many different trainers and learned incredibly efficient methods that require everything but force and are a lot of fun and partnership for me and the dogs!. Today, my dogs live with me in Brazil, on a farm. I have 3 more pure-bred Filas which I am attempting to teach snake detection, but all of them work with stock, in fact one of them got a 3rd place in a USBCHA event against 10 border collies, 2 rotties and 2 GSD’s. I consider myself a cross-over hobby trainer, I use clicker, herding techniques, search and rescue techniques, SATS. I read a lot, and research as much as I can. I hope that from my recount, I can steer people toward a different direction, specially one that might spare their dogs.”

  2. #292
    Expert yote hunter's Avatar

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    I have seen on his show before where he "Cesar" has been bit by a dog and I believe anyone would know that training is a long proses and not a 5 min. task... TV does make it look very easy to do but anyone who has had a dog or other animals know it takes time.... Its like breaking a horse to ride you don't just throw a saddle on and get on and take off...
    " Molon Labe 3%'er " If I have to explain you wouldn't understand...

  3. #293
    Master CindyE's Avatar

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    I watch Cesar sometimes, and have read some of his books. I don't agree with everything he says, but he is gifted. I take issue with his statement at the beginning of his show, "No dog is too much for me". Maybe that is true, though doubtful.
    Recently, I have known of some dogs with aggression issues (not just pits), that seem to have been escalated by the owner simply allowing the dog too much, too soon. Letting it up on the furniture, sleeping with them, etc. While there is nothing wrong with that, I think it shouldn't be allowed until pack order, training, etc. has been firmly established and the dog has proven to have a very solid, sound temperament.

  4. #294
    Master 87iroc's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by OutdoorDad View Post
    Breeds look, and behave differently. Generally in allignment with the breed standard.
    In other words, I don't buy the "a dog is a dog" argument for a second.

    Can you get a terrier to retrieve? Sure. But you are training against nature. It's far easier to get a retriever to retrieve. You can also teach a monkey to wear a suit and ride a bicycle. But when stressed or threatened, that monkey isn't going to loosen his necktie and pedal his bike to safety. He's going to climb a tree.


    My most recent dog was a terrier with an ENORMOUS prey instinct.
    If he hadn't been deaf and mostly blind, he would have gotten every squirrel and chipmunk in Indy.
    VERY aggressive towards vermin. Super friendly towards other dogs (a lover, not a fighter) and mostly disinterested in humans.

    My first, a Doberman with a goofy personality who loved to cuddle and was an incurable "leaner". She always assumed other dogs wanted to play, cats wanted to be chased, and people were friends- unless she picked up a vibe that told her to behave differently. And I can't say she was ever wrong when she got protective.

    So when I read that a pitbull or pack of pit bulls escaped their yard and attacked another animal, or child, or elderly neighbor, or just someone passing by; I'm not surprised nor shocked.

    No more so than if I read a story about a bloodhound tracking down a lost child or a Labrador winning a dock competition, or a border collie winning an agility competition.

    Just my 2cents.
    Profound observation. We have an Akita mix that is the sweetest dog...until another dog goes after his food(or even a kid trie to reach for his bowl). If he gets stressed or a few key things happen, his first instinct is to attack. 'Its just his nature'...its how his breed was derived. We keep an eye on him...but we had a young chocolate lab pup we found for a few days until we found the owner. That dog tested his territory...and went home with some extra scars unfortunately. We knew to watch for the warning signs..but sometimes things hapened to quick.

    I believe I will keep your statement above...even as I'm sure there will be those that downplay it
    Those that say they make no mistakes....do nothing in the first place.

  5. #295
    Expert ruger1800's Avatar

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    A lot of dogs have latent drives, that can come on like a light switch, from being stimulated, maturing, exposure to aggressive dogs,teasing ect.. dogs with strong drives ( real game dogs, Rottweilers german sheperds ,labs)can become dangerous if not handled properly.

  6. #296
    Grandmaster Dead Duck's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger1800 View Post
    A lot of dogs have latent drives, that can come on like a light switch, from being stimulated, maturing, exposure to aggressive dogs,teasing ect..
    You have just described my ex-wife.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nehemiah View Post
    "Don't be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!" - Jerusalem 445 BC
    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus View Post
    "If you don't have a gun, sell your coat and buy one." - Jerusalem April 14th, 30 AD - Thursday, 11:38pm IST
    Quote Originally Posted by Fenway View Post
    INGO SUCKS.....

  7. #297
    Grandmaster rhino's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dead Duck View Post
    You have just described my ex-wife.
    She still misses you, by the way.

    However, she has been practicing and her aim is improving.



    "The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State."
    INDIANA CONSTITUTION
    Article 1 - Bill of Rights - Section 32

    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

    To prevail you must ACT!

  8. #298
    Grandmaster actaeon277's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by rhino View Post
    She still misses you, by the way.

    However, she has been practicing and her aim is improving.
    "Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem."

    “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” -Plato

    "A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and substantial reason' why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The rights existence is all the reason he needs." Benson Everett Legg - Woolard v. Sheridan

    If you're a noob, develop thick skin, and read the FAQs


  9. #299

  10. #300
    Grandmaster 1911ly's Avatar

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    Yep, and I am sure they were raised as cuddly lap dogs.


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