Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cesar’s Way, or the Art of Intimidation

Cesar’s Way, or the Art of Intimidation

by Heather Harris

I attended a seminar by Cesar Millan a few days ago. Wait a minute. I think it
was a seminar. No. Let me think. I attended a lecture... No, that won’t do
either. I attended a performance by Cesar Millan a few days ago. Yes, I think
I’m getting somewhere now. Maybe not.
Let’s start again. I bought a ticket and went to a public venue where I
listened to a rather inarticulate man narrate anecdotes about his upbringing
and current family life while folks around me swilled beer and grunted. There
were pictures. Video clips too. And some amusing props. And some very
unfortunate props. They were dogs.

If my introduction seems disjointed, it is merely a reflection of the event I’m
attempting to describe. I sat through two hours of what was supposed to be an event designed to impart “valuable lessons and insights” into the human/canine relationship, but what was in fact part of a thinly disguised public relations tour to promote upcoming television programs and refute recent criticisms of Cesar’s methods. There was, for example, a very obvious attempt to deal with any bad publicity surrounding the video clip of Cesar’s work with the yellow lab that bit him.

Millan’s message can be summed up fairly easily. He is the product of an “instinctual” society in which man and animals live in harmony. Americans, on the other hand, are out of touch with their instincts as a result of the hectic, stressful lives they lead and are therefore unable to interact with dogs appropriately. The pictures he paints are so full of flaws that it would take a lengthy essay to analyze them properly. But I don’t want to bore you to pieces. Suffice it to say, folks, that all you need to do to gain dominion over your canines, is to achieve a state of supreme calm and stand up straight. (Of course, you will also need a nice slip leash with which to choke your dog until its tongue hangs out and its sides heave from stress and oxygen deprivation. And you will need to practice a rapid backward kick to the dog’s flank to get its attention. )

There were a few specific lessons about canine behaviour which I must share. First, if you want to get a puppy’s attention, carry around a bowl of fragrant food. It never fails. Second, if you have a dog that self-soothes in the face of excitement and stress by playing with a toy, you must deny the dog access to
the toy even if the dog’s tail does go between its legs. Under no circumstances
should you use this fascination with toys for training purposes. Third, separation anxiety can be resolved by telling your dog to relax on a doggie bed while you go about your business before you leave the house. Everyone knows that dogs naturally laze about on pillows for long stretches of time and there is no need to worry about training this behaviour. Fourth, if your dog pulls on leash, put a slip collar on the dog, hold the leash no more than 12 inches from the dog’s head, choke the dog every few seconds and occasionally kick the dog’s flank until it is no longer capable of pulling. And don’t worry about what happens when you’re not choking the dog into submission. It will most likely have another lie down on that doggie bed and contemplate life.

I could go on, but I really must pull myself together and take Kiwi out for some
training. I think that for the slip collar, I’ll substitute some leftover steak. And I think I’ll practice some dance steps rather than the flank kick. Oh, and every now and then, I’ll whip out a toy and play like a fiend. It’s a hopeless situation. I’ll never have a well-adjusted, well-trained dog.


  1. I have been waiting for a decent review of his current seminar.. no lecture.. performance..?.. whatever. I am not disappointed. Thank you.

  2. Great review - I loved it

  3. A brilliant review and so true:-)

  4. Finally, the truth, from someone who deserves their money back for being forced to sit through the rantings of a charlatan. Apparently, the seat is getting hotter if he thinks he has to defend himself against the Holly video, which, incidentally, looks far more truthful with the captioning done by a legitimate and respected dog trainer who evaluated it frame by frame.

  5. Excellent and thank you for taking the time to write this. I can remember thinking about the time, 'I wonder if good will come out of the unfortunate Holly scenario' and it has, though admittedly to her cost, poor dog.

    His back is against the wall now and he's in the very situation he puts dogs in on a daily basis. Stressed. I wonder how he feels.

    The walls are closing in Mr Millan - and not a day too soon.

  6. What a neat summary, brilliant:-)

  7. Excellent review, my friend went to one of these last year & her reaction was the same

  8. Loved the intro, painted a very accurate picture for us. I must admit I do not have the tolerance, nor the masochistic urge to spend my money and put myself through one of these events, so bravo for doing it. Much love from Confident Companions, the Toby and Fudge Dogblog, and myself!

    Nikki x

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. If you can please explain in detail why.

  10. Great review of this tour. Agree with you 100% I hope everything turns against him soon before he damages any more dogs lives.
    Im 16 and I trained a CHICKEN (who has since been on TV showing her tricks) with clicker training to prove that animals can be trained with love and respect and not by hurting them!

  11. I've deleted a comment. Please feel free to repost without the coarse language. Thanks!