In my previous post, you read about how I saw some good in Cesar Millan.
I felt he could use his influence for a world of good for dogs everywhere… if only he revised his methods.
After all, his downfall took a toll on him. The bad press, the protests, his show getting cancelled – that must have really discouraged him. It had to have inspired him to study with professional dog trainers, become educated in dog behavior and body language, and toss out his dependence on physical punishments and aversive tools. But it didn’t.
Recent events on Cesar Millan’s new show prove to me that he simply refuses to change.
What Happened On Cesar 911: Simon Strikes Again
You can watch a 5-minute clip on Youtube with play-by-play commentary from dog trainer Vicki Dawe. Or, watch the full episode of Cesar 911: Simon Strikes Again on the National Geographic website.
If you can’t tune in, here’s a rundown on what happened:
Simon, a French Bulldog-Boston terrier mix, attacked and killed his owner’s two pet pot-bellied pigs. The owner turned to Cesar Millan to cure Simon’s aggression towards pigs so she could one day own another. Millan said he planned to help Simon create a “positive memory” around pigs – and you can almost feel a glimmer of hope.
Millan brought Simon to his own pig pen on his property, where three medium-sized pigs were peacefully grazing, splashing about in their kiddie pool – unaware that they were about to have a very, very bad day.
At first, Millan had Simon on a slip lead – a leash that can tighten around the dog’s neck to correct it.
“He was so stressed the entire time Cesar had him on the leash,” says dog trainer Jill Breitner.
Simon wasn’t attacking the pigs, or even looking at them. In fact, he was sniffing the ground and panting, avoiding the pigs. Simon looked toward the pigs, then turned his head away from them – only to receive a leash correction from Millan. Simon was showing signs of stress. His ears were stiff, his lips pulled back tight as he pants. He sniffed the ground as though to keep busy, and to avoid drawing attention to himself.
Simon is choosing to avoid the pigs – he’s being a good boy – yet nobody is acknowledging this.
At this point, Millan instructed Simon’s owner to let him loose, “…the worst thing he could have done,” notes Breitner. Simon licked his lips, held his ears back, and paced about, but he still did not attack the pigs.
Behind a flower pot, one of the show producers restrained a pink pig by lifting it by its hind leg, causing it to squeal. This is where Simon got set off. He took off towards the pig as the producer continued to restrain it. Millan successful grabbed Simon, lost his grasp, and then grabbed him again.
The pig’s ear is bloodied; Simon had successfully ripped off a chunk.
Millan then held Simon by the collar and made him lay down, then shook his finger in the dog’s face and scolded with his famous tssst.
Simon, agitated and over-aroused, immediately took off running again, this time towards a spotted pig. Millan leaped for Simon, falling on his side as the dog dashed beyond his reach.
Millan finally caught Simon again as the dog cowered, anticipating punishment. Millan hovered over the dog and pinned him on his side, and jabbed his face until the dog was finally too intimidated to resist.
Investigation Under Way Over ‘Simon Attacks Again’
At the time of this posting, Cesar Millan and his show crew are being investigated for possible animal cruelty, and will be questioned about the pigs’ location and well-being.
Cesar Millan and his employees may have committed the crime of using an animal as bait.
In the meantime, it’s about time Cesar Millan’s TV career came to an end.
The pigs, three stressed and one injured, aren’t the only victims of his “training.”
Thousands of dogs have been intimidated, pinned and jabbed by Millan. Hundreds of thousands more have been pinned and tsst-ed in the homes of Millan fans around the world as people try to replicate his outdated, dangerous training methods.
That’s why it’s time to take a stand for dogs everywhere.
Sign the Change.org petition to ban Cesar Millan from the National Geographic channel and cancel Cesar 911.
Why Intimidation Is The Worst Remedy For Fear
Millan and his crew seemed to think the attack came out of nowhere. But any educated dog trainer could see it coming from a mile away, even in the show’s final cut.
Simon is stressed as soon as they enter the pig pen. His stress intensifies as he’s subjected to Millan’s leash corrections and punishments. “A real trainer would have noticed these body languages and either redirected the dog or removed him,” adds Breitner, “he was way too stressed and then became over threshold.”
How Simon Can Be Helped
For a dog with blood on his paws, management is the most likely long-term solution.
“Once an animal has actually killed another it’s most likely that it will be a dog that needs to be managed …never fully trusted,” says Breitner. As a professional dog trainer, she has successfully helped clients with dogs who have killed cats find teach their pets to live in harmony – without the use of force or intimidation.
Reversing fear-based aggression requires consistent, positive training. The dog needs to be reintroduced to his fear little-by-little.
“If this foundation is laid in a trusting way, over much time, the dog can begin to trust its guardian and not become reactive – thereby become aggressive,” Breitner advises. It can take weeks or months to build a positive association and alleviate the dog’s fear.
Millan’s method in the video is best described as “flooding.” The dog was exposed to too much, way too soon. This put the dog in a stressed, over-aroused state, making learning impossible. Millan claims to intuitively understand a dog’s state of being, yet failed to notice that Simon was beyond his breaking point.
Simon needs to be praised and rewarded when he chooses to keep his cool around pigs. He needs to play games and enjoy his favorite things when he’s in the presence of his curly-tailed foes.
After the incident, Millan continued training with Simon at his Dog Psychology Center in California. If he continued to use intimidation and punishment – maybe even harsher punishments when the cameras aren’t rolling – Simon may feel just as untrusting of humans as he does pigs.
Update: Cesar Leaves Simon Hanging
I wish I had some good news to share.
But after watching the full episode, I can only hope the investigation extends to the physical abuse and negligence of Simon’s welfare – because this just ain’t right.
Early in the episode, Millan takes Simon for a walk to assess his condition.There’s a random guy walking his black lab off-leash across the street – a dangerous set-up. Millan and Simon approach the dog to about three feet away, and Simon doesn’t do anything wrong. He avoids the other dog.
Millan walks Simon up to the other dog again, this time, Simon begins growling and barking from a few feet away. So, Millan brings him even closer to the other dog. The black lab curiously approaches Simon, and now, Simon feels he has no choice but to attack the other dog before it attacks him.
Millan then yanks Simon up in the air by his leash and collar, and for a few moments, Simon is flailing around with all four paws off the ground, hanging by his neck.
To make things way worse, Simon is a mix of two brachycephalic breeds. These flat-faced dogs should always be walked with a harness to avoid airway collapse and dislocated eyes from the pressure of a flat collar. Being hanged like this was not only terrifying for Simon; it could have seriously injured, even killed him.
How To Help Dogs Everywhere
The pig commotion made for exciting, dramatic reality TV. It’s wasn’t only barbaric – it was harmful.
Dogs everywhere are getting alpha-rolled, pinned, jabbed and tsst-ed. All because Millan and his crew refuse to update their training techniques. Dog owners are being misinformed, on a worldwide scale, on how dog psychology really works, and how reactive, fearful behavior should be managed. Fear and punishment-based training methods are never effective or safe for use on any dog, let alone one that is already anxious.