Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Somebody's Well Trained

Recently a debate has broken out on my corgi mailing list about the training methods used by Cesar Millan, host of a TV show by the name of The Dog Whisperer. In the show, Mr. Millan takes problem dogs, works his 'Power of the Pack' training magic on them and turns them into well-adjusted, model citizens. The problem, if there is one, is that Mr. Millan's methods involve the use of choke collars and various other negative forms of reinforcement, along with the theory that one needs to dominate a dog in order to train it. Within minutes of the first post on this topic appearing on the list, camps were forming on the 'positive only' and 'old fashioned correction' sides of the fire hydrant.

I haven't seen Mr. Millan's show, although I doubt that a half hour TV show tells all there is to tell about the life of any dog or any dog trainer. But, curious, I went to check out his website at http://www.dogpsychologycenter.com/. At the bottom of the opening page, the rather bold claim is made:

"In essence, CMI plans to make the world a better place, one dog at a time."

Interesting... I started to look for some information about Mr. Millan's methods, or some advice for struggling owners (not that my corgis are problem dogs, I hasten to add). However, it seems that Cesar Millan Incorporated doesn't offer even a hint of a whiff of a trace of advice for free. Rather than making the world a bettter place one dog at a time, it seems Mr. Millan actually wants to make the world a better place $29.95, taxes, shipping and handling excluded, at a time.

Colour me cynical, but that's reason enough for me to avoid the man and his methods.