Dominance-based Training May Come Back to Bite You

Dominance-based training techniques aren’t only prevalent in the horse world, but in other animal training situations, as well. Here’s a very thoughtful and sensible commentary on an incident when dog trainer Cesar Millan, the guy who calls himself a “dog whisperer,” got bitten while working with a food-aggressive dog. (Here’s a link to the video in case the Flash player below doesn’t work properly.)

I feel so sorry for this poor dog, who was pushed and pushed even after she tried several times to set a more appropriate boundary. He just kept coming at her even after she made several attempts to retreat peacefully.

If he had backed off the first time she did the dog equivalent of the lick-and- chew behavior we look for in horses, don’t you think there could very likely have been a much better outcome for all concerned?

Release the pressure, let the animal process and get out of the reacting mode into thinking mode and actual learning can take place. Keep pushing any animal into a corner and escalating your aggressive stance and you force the animal to keep reacting instead of reasoning.

I wasn’t a bit surprised when she bit him. I expected it from about the 1:29 mark when he continued to hold his absurd-looking dominant stance after the dog practically pleaded with him to back off so she could power down. She tried to make a good choice – the one he was supposedly working toward. He missed his chance to make the point he needed to make, then proceeded to misread her over and over.

Painful to watch. I sure hope the dog didn’t get put down as aggressive because this human made a very public mistake and got himself bitten.

Additional Information:
Food Aggression and a Famous Trainer
The Cesar Milan Commentaries
Beyond Cesar Milan

2 thoughts on “Dominance-based Training May Come Back to Bite You

  1. It seems natural that the dog is protective of her food. I believe that “survival” is the dog’s highest need rather than “acceptance” by a human and this training session is not congruent with the natural behavior of the dog. It disappoints me that CM does not consider the dog’s body language. In fact, I think he setting up his readers to be dangerous situations with their dogs.

    • Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking those things; especially that it was going to encourage viewers to try to face down their dogs in this very crude and disrespectful way.

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