About Cesar Milan, Master Illusionist

“I’m so glad I’m not Cesar Milan’s dog.”

Cesar Milan has a new program coming out on National Geographic, so I thought it was time to update my opinion on his methods. I watched this program, and it had many of the features of past versions of his show, with some new surprises. https://youtu.be/Wm66HLT2j3E

Cesar Milan isn’t always wrong. After some legal and personal troubles ( https://www.bphope.com/cesar-millan-discusses-his-depression/) it seems he did take some training classes and supplement his so-called “natural” (“magical”) ability with dogs with some actual education. In this show and in some other examples, he is acknowledging fearfulness more often (whereas in the past he was often labeling it “aggression.”). But this is still all about entertainment playing off fear of dogs, and it employs his regular techniques.

  1. Violence. It’s not Cesar Milan without a dog fight and/or bite, amirite?!? Bad animal handling makes for exciting videos. If there’s not a dog fight, some sort of blood (dental surgery?) ! But don’t try this at home. And not at my place either.
  2. Editing to create a more dramatic storyline. Dun dun dun dun dun dun Hear the scary drum beat? and narration to make you feel this is a SERIOUSLY dangerous dog? It’s a golden retriever for crying out loud! But Milan manages to set up an aggressive incident so the viewer is wowed. First, he shows Leon with one dog, no reaction. Then, he’s got a dog fight a minute later. Milan says this is because the woman is in the picture, but the fight involves a different dog, and also Milan has brought toys ( a ball and a ball launcher) into the pen. We don’t know really what’s caused the fight, but we know Milan needed fight footage for his dog show.
  3. He blames the woman, and her emotions. A consistent feature of Dog Whisperer episodes is editing to make women look like idiots, frequently playing clown music, but in this case playing a “danger danger” drumbeat. This makes it appear that her concern is A. wrong and B. the cause of the aggression. But look again. Competition over toys can often cause a dog fight. And we know that resource guarding is a common cause of this type of aggression. The woman knows her dog. But as usual, Milan doesn’t give advice about resource guarding, he takes no responsibility and offers no apologies. He delivers pop-psychology and congratulates himself for “stopping the fight before any dogs were hurt.” They even title this episode “Stopping a dog fight” because, it titling it “Cesar Causes another Dog Fight” wouldn’t sell as many ads.
  4. Milan hides the ear twist. I saw the ear twist at 3:28. Did you? Funny that he doesn’t talk about that, but in past episodes I’ve seen him, on camera, deliver very swift kick to the ribs. Usually, he chokes dogs. And now this ear twist. Who knows what other techniques he employs on the dogs off-camera? https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2224252/Yes-I-dogs-electric-shocks-use-spike-chokers–Im-NOT-cruel-says-Hollywoods-favourite-pet-guru-Cesar-Millan.html That little “sst sst” intimidation sound he makes? It’s a warning, and Milan follows up on that. So, whatever you think about using punishment, he isn’t talking honestly and openly about these techniques on camera. Viewers are led to believe it’s just calm authoritative male energy that is subduing the REALLY DANGEROUS (not really) dog. But, the ear twist, kick in the ribs, choke and off-camera zaps mean that the relationship Milan is growing with the dogs isn’t a friendly one.

So I’ve seen all that before but there are some new twists to the “dog psychologist” schtick. This is the first time I’ve seen him traumatizing and injuring other species. Actually he calls it “herding” at 7:40 and then he takes that back, “not herding, just sheep and Lorenzo.” I’d call it chasing.

“Leon has been getting into fight after fight since he’s been here.” (whoa. And you’re still in business?!) “I want to give him a new job.” Show this to anyone you know who keeps sheep or lamas. The dog chases the animals and Milan is pleased at the dramatic shot of the terrified lama colliding, bash!, with the camera man. “Camera alright? You got a good shot there.” And then the dog is given another opportunity to chase, which he does until he is exhausted. Again, Milan treats the owner like she’s an idiot and applauds his mistreatment of the animals, asking her, “Have you ever seen herding?” The right answer would be, “No, Cesar, have you?” Because apparently not. How in God’s name is this produced by National Geographic?

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