Cruelty to animals is a serious crime. Whether it’s a cat, dog, horse, pig or any living creature treating them inhumanely is an atrocity. It is up to us to protect all animals and to help prevent them from suffering. But what makes my blood boil is hearing about people who work with animals and promote themselves to be teaching people how to treat them humanely.
I have no problem admitting that I don’t know much about dog training, but what I know is that any animal training should be done gently, compassionately, and with great patience. I believe that “trainers” should be partners to the animals with whom they are working, and should never use any methods that are harmful to the animals’ psyche.
Strong-arm tactics don’t work. We are learning more and more that the use of punishment in training animals only leads them becoming frightened and distrustful of humans. In contrast, consistent positive reinforcement rendered immediately works beautifully, since it develops trust. It is becoming the gold-standard with the animal trainers who truly understand the emotional and physical needs of the animals that they are training.
An excellent example of inappropriate dog training methods is the type of training that Caesar Millan (who bills himself as the “Dog Whisperer”) uses when working with “uncooperative” or aggressive canines. I have watched his show a few times and I always find myself gritting my teeth and becoming aggressive myself toward Millan. There have been times when I simply wanted to wring his neck for the way that he treats these dogs whose behavior is considered “unacceptable”. In my opinion his tactics would only sweep these dogs’ problems under the rug; but the dog’s emotional issues would never be understood or resolved; they would only fester.
The other day I thrilled when I came across a headline on the “Los Angeles Times” which read, “’Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan investigated after animal cruelty complaint.” According to authorities Los Angeles Animal Control confirmed that Millan is presently under investigation for possible animal cruelty arising from an event that took place during the filming of the hit TV show, Nat Geo Wild’s “Caesar 911”.
Apparently during the show Millan was working with Simon who is a bulldog-terrier mix. Millan was using a live pig as part of Simon’s training session to teach the dog not to attack his owner’s two pot-bellied pigs and other his pets.
But in what turned out to a highly unsuccessful training session, Simon attacked the live pig; biting the pig’s ear which ended up injuring the frightened pig, and Simon only becoming scared of Millan.
A 24-hour notice was issued to Millan to contact the investigators who want to know the pig’s whereabouts and the extent of the pig’s injuries since his ear was bleeding and online reports and petitions claimed that a part of the pig’s ear was actually bitten off. It seems that a huge furore arose following the airing of this episode. It is rumored that over 8,000 animal lovers have already signed a petition insisting that the “Caesar 911” show is removed from the Nat Geo Wild lineup.
It goes without saying that Nat Geo is refuting the accusations of animal cruelty that have been made stating that the situation was carefully monitored, with Millan fully in control.
However, professional dog trainer Laura Nativo (who started the petition) stated:
“It was really difficult to watch. It’s not the way to rehabilitate an animal that is fearful and aggressive to pigs.”
You can decide for yourself! Watch the video uploaded to YouTube by Vicki Dawe Flyball. During the video there are written comments superimposed on the footage that describe Millan’s inappropriate training methods used to “rehabilitate” Simon. After you view the video please share your reactions in a comment.
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