Quotes from Experts

World-renowned dog trainers, behaviorists and veterinarians had all warned National Geographic that Millan's methods had the potential for disaster. Below are quotes from noted experts:

  • "Cesar Millan's methods are based on flooding and punishment. The results, though immediate, will be only transitory. His methods are misguided, outmoded, in some cases dangerous, and often inhumane. You would not want to be a dog under his sphere of influence. The sad thing is that the public does not recognize the error of his ways. My college thinks it is a travesty. We've written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog training back 20 years."
    • Dr. Nicholas Dodman - Professor and Head, Section of Animal Behavior
    • Director of Behavior Clinic, Tufts University - Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
  • "Practices such as physically confronting aggressive dogs and using of choke collars for fearful dogs are outrageous by even the most diluted dog training standards. A profession that has been making steady gains in its professionalism, technical sophistication and humane standards has been greatly set back. I have long been deeply troubled by the popularity of Mr. Millan as so many will emulate him. To co-opt a word like 'whispering' for arcane, violent and technically unsound practice is unconscionable."
    • Jean Donaldson, The San Francisco SPCA-Director of The Academy for Dog Trainers
  • "A number of qualified professionals have voiced concern for the welfare of pet dogs that experience the strong corrections administered by Mr. Millan. My concerns are based on his inappropriateness, inaccurate statements, and complete fabrications of explanations for dog behavior. His ideas, especially those about "dominance", are completely disconnected from the sciences of ethology and animal learning, which are our best hope for understanding and training our dogs and meeting their behavioral needs. Many of the techniques he encourages the public to try are dangerous, and not good for dogs or our relationships with them ."
    • Dr. Suzanne Hetts, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
    • Co-owner of Animal Behavior Associates, Inc., Littleton, CO
  • "Cesar Millan employs outdated methods that are dangerous and inhumane. Using a choke chain and treadmill to treat fear of strangers and dogs is completely inappropriate. Hopefully the National Geographic Channel will listen to the scientific community and discontinue production of The Dog Whisperer."
    • Vyolet Michaels, CTC (Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Counselor)
    • Owner of Urban Dawgs, LLC of Red Bank, NJ
  • "On his TV show, the main method Millan uses for aggression is aversives (leash jerks, kicks, snaps of the hand against the neck, and restraint, among others) applied non contingently. The aversives are non contingent because they are so frequent that they're not connected to any particular behavior on the part of the dog—the dog gets popped pretty much constantly. This results in a state called learned helplessness, which means the animal hunkers down and tries to do as little as possible. This is what Millan calls "calm submission." It's exactly the same thing you see in a rat in a Skinner box that is subjected to intermittent shocks it can do nothing to avoid. This can happen quite fast, by the way, shall we say in ten minutes? The dangers to the dog are obvious, ranging from chronic stress to exacerbating the aggression, i.e., some dogs fight back when attacked. This latter is the simplest reason that aversives are a bad idea in treating aggression. Even used technically correctly as positive punishment for specific behaviors like growling and snarling, aversives do nothing to change the underlying fear or hostility, so the best you can hope for, in the words of famed vet and behaviorist, Ian Dunbar, is "removing the ticker from the time bomb." Thus such methods substantially increase the risk to humans of getting bitten."
    • Janis Bradley, Instructor at The San Franciso SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers
    • Author of the book, "Dogs Bite"
  • Excerpt of letter from Lisa Laney, Dip. DTBC, CPDT, CBC to National Geographic before airing "The Dog Whisperer":
    • "The intended program depicts aversive and abusive training methods - treatment for some serious anxiety and fear based issues - being administered by an individual with no formal education whatsoever in canine behavioral sciences. The "results" that are shown are more than likely not long lasting changes, but the result of learned helplessness, or fatigue, neither of which impact behavior to any significant long term degree - at least not in a good way. For those of us who are pioneering the effort to end the ignorance that drives the cruel treatment administered upon our canine companions, it is disappointing to see that this programming will reach the masses - especially on the NG Channel. The ignorance that this program perpetuates will give equally ignorant people the green light to subject their dogs to abuse. In turn these dogs will react even more defensively, will bite more people - and end up dead."
  • "I have serious concerns because his methods are often intimidating rather than motivating. On TV, the dogs do comply but often they're being forced to - you can tell by their body language: tail down, mouth closed, ears back, eyes dilated... I argue that motivating leadership is far more effective than leading through intimidation."
    • Steve Dale is the author of the twice weekly syndicated newspaper column "My Pet World" (Tribune Media Services).
    • He's also the host of syndicated radio programs Steve Dale's Pet World, The Pet Minute with Steve Dale; and Pet Central, at WGN Radio, Chicago.
    • Steve is a contributing editor at USA Weekend, special correspondent/columnist Dog World and editor-in-chief of PawPrints (a newsletter for veterinarians).
    • His books include "American Zoos" and "DogGone Chicago."
    • Steve has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show; National Geographic Explorer; Pets Part of the Family on PBS; several Animal Planet Shows; Fox News Channel, and Balance TV (Canada). He was a regular on WGN-TV Chicago.
    • Touted as reaching more pet owners than any other pet journalist, Steve is a frequent guest expert on radio shows all over America and Canada; he has been quoted in dozens of newspaper and magazine stories, including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Redbook.
    • He is certified as a Behavior Consultant by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and the recipient of many awards including the prestigious AVMA Humane Award.
  • American Humane Society website