Friday, September 3, 2010

Are You Experienced? How human behavior affects dogs & what to ask dog trainers before you hire them

When a new client sends in a behavior history form or contacts me I feel like a fireman hoping for a “cat in the tree” type scenario. However many times people are getting in touch because the dog’s behavior has reached a point where it cannot be ignored. Its true people rarely call a dog trainer to brush up on some basics. More times than not it is a problem and there is stress involved. Many times I am contacted with a three alarm fire scenario raging in the form of fear, aggression or some type of behavioral scenario that has the family stressed out.

I realized a while ago that my main job for dog owners is to reduce stress. Of course I have to educate and demonstrate for people how to train. Moreover I have to implement a plan that will as soon as possible relieve the house or the dog walks of stress.

This is usually accomplished by having a management plan and reassuring clients that "it is perfectly ok to manage”, in the immortal words of my mentor Janis Bradley. Then a plan to train or modify dog behavior that will achieve results sooner rather than later has to be issued. That plan is based on the three D’s of dog training Distraction, Distance and Duration. As these come into play in all dog behavior scenarios.

Far too many people think that the ill mannered dog has too meet every one that comes to the home, or that they cannot crate train and gate train around kids or other dogs that may have an issue. Additionally many people sequester the dog when what the dog needs to be trained and socialized or engaged in the proper way so the dog learns appropriate responses to social situations.

Far too many people have so much disinformation about dog behavior and training that they are literally in a state of abstention about what to do. This leads to inaction which in many cases will cause unwanted behaviors to increase.
Or it leads to using methods that are iatrogenic, meaning they are making the problems worse by the approach they are taking.

Normalizing dog behavior for people is in many cases the exact thing they need to relieve stress. Once they have a legitimate understanding of why the dog is behaving the way it they can get some perspective and start to reduce the unwanted behavior.

The next step is getting some tools and training in the hands people that will give immediate results. The caveat here is that everyone has different mechanics and timing which are the hall marks of being a good or great dog trainer. However if you have a dog, your already using mechanics and timing to some degree, and once you learn how to improve mechanics and timing you’ll see an improvement in your dogs behavior.

Here are some basic things to consider.

* For the door dashing ill mannered greeting dogs that have jumping as their greeting card, get a gate or barrier up right away. Once you a have management plan to stop the unwanted behavior you will see an immediate decrease. Give your dog a work to eat toy to keep him busy in the crate or behind the gate while you deal with the visitors. If it is planned visit, make sure your dog is hungry, skip a meal and leave 3 – 4 hours of “hungry time” for your dog to be super motivated by the work to eat toy, put some super yummy food in there as well, this helps keep interest,. You’ll see your stress with visitors evaporate right before your eyes.

Then start setting up practice greetings with willing participants. The nano second the dog jumps have the people leave. Do this until the dog can keep 4 on the floor or sit for greetings. Instruct people to be relaxed and stand upright ignoring all jumping.

* For the dog that has aggression with other dogs in the home, get a gate or train your dog to like a crate. You cannot have the dog rehearsing aggression as it will only make matters worse. It may cause irreparable damage to the relationship between the dogs.

* Contact a board certified veterinary behaviorist. This may be the extra step you need. You always want to rule out medical causes and perhaps have the appropriate medication as part of the dog’s protocol.

If there are small kids in the home under the age of 16 you absolutely must consider their safety. When dogs are aggressive it is out of fear, and fear generalizes very well for dogs, kids under 16 do not have the capacity to assess risk.

Adults will want to set up 100% no fail management protocols for everyone when dealing with aggressive dogs. This will help to relive stress for dogs and people almost immediately. Use a visual barrier of needed, a blanket over a baby gate can be a great way to stop unwanted spats between dogs.
Remember aggression’s purpose is to create distance, so create distance for your dog by using gates, crates and visual barriers.
Once you have your management system set up, meaning you have discussed it with the family, the dog walker etc…you then need a proactive and humane approach to reducing the dogs fear and aggression.

This is done with counter conditioning the desensitizing the dog.
It sounds fancy but it’s not brain surgery, but I’ll tell you this; it is precarious and the devil is in the details. Too many slip ups and you can make it worse and the reduction time will be longer.

You don’t want setbacks of the dog rehearsing the fear or aggression.
Knowing what triggers the dogs fear and or aggression will greatly help you and the dog from being in situations where it is rehearsed.

The first step in behavior modification is an outright stoppage of the unwanted behavior or a dramatic decrease by humane means. This is done through management and awareness so it is not triggered and rehearsed.

It is highly advised that you seek out a humane non force dog trainer for all your dog training needs, especially when your dog has fear and aggression problems.

It is sad that we still have the antiquated notion floated by some “trainers” that all unwanted behavior is rooted in some form of the dog being intentionally bad or misbehaving to strive for a high rank. That is like blaming the rain you got wet. It is a ridiculous notion, cannot be proven, and it’s purely the work of misguided uneducated people culpable in the mistreatment of pet dogs by way of spouting unscientific mumbo jumbo.

You’ll get way more mileage out of jolly talk, and reassurance, or padding situations with high value food rewards than by scolding or causing the dog pain. Fear cannot be reinforced with food, but it can be made worse by using fear and force. Fear also generalizes well in dogs, so you may be creating a generalized fear of life for the dog.

Think of it like this, if you are afraid and a friend comforts you and creates distance from the fearful thing/situation you will feel better. Now imagine of you were yelled at and hit while you are afraid. Get the idea?

* For the dog with no behavioral emergencies such as fear, aggression, or anxiety it all boils down to the humans in their life being proactive with a legitimate approach to create a well mannered and attentive dog.

If there was a quick fix or some magic way of having dogs attain 100% perfect behavior all the time every time, it would have been found out by now. It does not exist. Behavior is contextual and humans just have to deal with that, like they deal with gravity or taxes, its part of life, so get used to dealing with the fact human behavior has to change.

Despite the claims of half wits and hacks, there is nothing that replaces kind consistency and leg work to build; yes build a sound and reliable dog. As Jean Donaldson calls it in her book “Oh Behave”, it boils down to owner imprint.

Just what are we humans imprinting on our dogs or dogs in general with our behavior? Human behavior has the largest effect on dog behavior.
Even a onetime meeting with a dog leaves that dog with an impression.

Pam Reid PhD says “learning for dogs is a change in behavior based on experience”. What types of experiences are we subjecting our dogs too, hence what are WE teaching dogs? Dogs are learning all the time, taking in thousands of bits of information mostly through scent. So humans would do much better by looking at their behavior first, and then proceeding with training that is kind and consistent.

Changing human behavior is the hardest part of my work as a pet dog trainer. In most cases I can usually get a dogs behavior to change relatively fast, sometimes right away if it something simple, like say the dog needs to disengage from something that it’s looking at or the dog needs to relax and chew while I speak with the client.

Once I know the issues based on a lengthy behavior history form we have people fill out, it’s either kind consistency or some form of management or teaching the dog a DRI, a Differential Reinforcement of an Incompatible behavior.

This fancy term DRI means teaching the dog an alternate response/behavior to the one they have been doing that you’d like decreased.

- A barking dog cannot bark with a bone in his mouth, or a cream cheese filled Kong.
- A dog that has a rock solid sit or down stay is less likely to jump for greetings.
- A dog that sits and waits at all doors is less likely to door dash.
- A reactive dog that has the appropriate distance (management) and learns to “leave it” or simply gets a high value food reward for not reacting will take the food and focus on the handler more times than not.
- A dog going for an illegal object like a shoe, will stop if you’ve practiced the “leave it” cue and have you good timing in your rewards and consequences.

All of these interactions require the human to change their behavior. This behavior change in the human also reduces the human and the dogs stress.
Even learning to reassure your dog, that “it’s ok” in time when they are frustrated has a calming effect on the human and the dog.

When dogs alert bark around the home or even on a walk, and the human addresses it with “its ok buddy”, the dog will get out one or two barks and then stop. You can reward or redirect the dog at that point.

Time and time again I hear “You are really training us humans”. Or “Wow once we stopped yelling, hitting, jerking etc…it became less stressful and the dog’s behavior improved”.

In the end the goal of pet dog training is to create bonds not binds.

There are some important things dog owners need to ask when considering hiring a dog trainer or joining a class.

1 - What Methodology do you use? What exactly are they going to do to train the dog and educate you? If it is all choke chains, throwing mesh bags of chains and yelling, or dog forbid shock collars, or teaching you to be a “pack leader”, or asserting your dominance, run away and don’t go back. Your already in charge, what you need are practical approaches to reduce unwanted dog behavior. If you need an overhaul of your personality or some confidence building, seek out people with legit qualifications to work on your behavioral issues. That is not the job of a dog trainer, if it can happen through the process, great. But it’s not taught in any dog training school I know of.

If the dog trainer does not explain it in a scientific or verifiable way, by saying they use classical and operant conditioning in humane ways, that is the key here, in humane ways, then stay away.

2 - Do you offer after session support in the form of written reports, email support, class homework and phone consults? If they say no, again question the level of commitment this dog trainer has to you and your dog. No one gets all the information in a one hour or two hour training session.
Responsible dog trainers will have some type of written back up for their clients so that they have a plan to reference so the dog and the client have a better chance at success.

3 - How comprehensive is your service? Many dog trainers will only work with the basics, but can they effectively address the issues under the surface of the problem? For instance, the jumping to greet dog that has a sit stay without distractions needs to be worked at a level the dog will succeed. Far too many people have come to me after seeing two or three “trainers” and the dog is worse or the same. This is because far too many dog “trainers” are one or two trick ponies and have no real education in how to decrease unwanted behaviors and increase behaviors dog owners like. Understanding what is causing the dog to behave in the context is a great asset in setting up a training plan, without it you might as well be blind folded. So if a “trainer” tells you your dog is dominating you or trying to take over or spiteful or jealous, say Thanks you and move on.

Essentially these hack “trainers” are not equipped to educate, instruct and then issue a well written training plan for the family to follow. This leaves people feeling ripped off and more stressed out.

It’s not all fear and pain based dog “trainers” that are letting people down. Sadly I’ve heard of positive pet dog trainers also ill equipped to handle basic issues let alone serious fear and aggression cases.

The main thing for me is to set people up for success by reducing stress. Then educate fully and completely by answering and addressing all questions with verifiable information. Once that has been accomplished in the initial session I deliver written training plans and include email support.

Credentials mean little as quite a few dog training “schools” are little more than camps that do not teach any real legitimate behavior knowledge or skills to their students. There are a few I do recommend.

The now defunct SFSPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, check the alum referral list for trainers in your area.
Karen Pryor’s Academy.
Pat Miller’s Behavior Modification Academy.

The dog trainers from these schools will have a much better understanding than most, and they will not hurt or scare your dog to “train” them. This is what you are looking for.

No matter how great the dog trainer is and how well detailed the training plan is success is based on client compliance.

In the end YOU have to train your dog, no matter how great a dog trainer is they do not live with your dog. It is about how well they can educate you and support you with written materials and how well they instruct you in live sessions.

You have to do the work between sessions and well, for the life of your dog.

I do not recommend you send your dog away to a boot camp. You need to be there when your dog is being trained so you learn how to train. Plus dogs are great discriminators and they may discriminate the training to the facility or to that particular trainer.

The goal is to keep the dog in the house when appropriate, (more on that later in another blog) with as little wear and tear on the family dynamic as possible. Dogs can be a joy to live with, and when they have issues serious, silly or somewhere in between people need humane practical ways to address dog behavior that will achieve results sooner rather than later, that means client compliance to the training plan which translates to a change in human behavior and dog behavior.

This way that joy of living with and caring for a dog stays in place and the bond becomes even stronger, because you’re helping your dog legitimately without creating more problems.

SFSPCA Academy Referal list

Pat Miller

Karen Pryor Academy

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Everyone is a dog trainer

Everyone is a dog trainer

The information we receive about dogs comes from every imaginable source. I was even told once that “Joe the hot dog guy has some great advice” It seems no matter where you look or who you ask, everyone is a dog trainer. Just ask someone with a dog about something behavior related and more often than not, they’ll have the reason and the why and the how all set go and many times without hesitation recommend their approach to you for your dog. This is not always a bad idea, and it’s not always a good idea either. However considering the layers of variables that exist within dogs and their human counter parts, it would be best to steer clear of advice that comes from sources without any legitimate credentials, and furthermore ask yourself if the advice makes sense. Dogs and their owners are individuals despite the generalizations that we all share, what is usually the best advice is advice paid for and received from someone doing an individual assessment of the dog and the dogs daily dynamic, as well as taking into consideration the dogs reward and consequence history.

If you have a dog or are with a dog you are training the dog. Dogs are influenced by everyone they meet, and especially learning from their owners, whether the owners realize it or not, even if it’s just one time for a few second the dog has learned something. Dogs are masters at discrimination, figure out sequences very well and they only generalize fear well. This is something far too few people understand. The broad based generalizations that people place on dog behavior is one of the many reasons dogs do not receive the proper training they should.

This notion of dogs dominating us, or labeling a dog aggressive when they have no bite history and may just be poor at greetings or leash reactive, has led far too many dogs to death or to lead a life of unsocialized isolation, or perhaps receive the harsh end of the training spectrum. Sadly many too many dogs are euthanized or pain trained into submission.

There are roughly 74 million owned dogs in the USA and at any given time around 5 million dogs in shelters. I’d say the vast majority of dog owners and shelter staff care deeply for dogs and would only want the best for them but would like to see the dogs flourish in their new home. Yet I meet countless dog owners and shelter staff & volunteers that despite their love for dogs have no clue about how to train, what to train or have any legitimate behavior knowledge that could help them decrease most of the dogs unwanted behaviors. It’s all some form of fingers crossed and a magic conversion in the stars. It ain’t magic kids, and if it appears that way, I can bet that there are contextual influences and some intrinsic human mechanics and timing that are leading you to the success you are having or seeing people have with the dogs.

I like the analogy of cars. There is not a legal driver on the road that has not passed a test for driving a vehicle. The driving test does not make you a better driver, but it does set you up for success, and other drivers and pedestrians are made safer by the rules of the road. Yet with dogs, anyone can get a dog and within the span of a few years, in some cases a few minutes many people feel they “know” about dogs.

It may be due to their upbringing and having a dog as a child. How much did you really learn as a kid while your mom and dad took care of the dog?

Aside from tossing a ball and giving the dog affection, food and water, where was the real learning about dog behavior and training? Just as with driving, we all saw our parents do it, they may have even explained it, but we had to take a test in order to actually drive the car legally. Most kids are busy with being kids, then teenagers and mom & dad do the bulk of the work. So the notion of having a dog as a kid is not grounds for dog knowledge. Neither is having had a dog once.

We’ve come a long way in understanding dogs, not only as far as their behavior goes but how our behavior affects them as well. Consider that a dog will remember the scent of everyone it has met, even if for a few seconds. Dogs house millions of scent memories in their brain and their fear center, the amygdale is connected directly to their nose. When you consider this it does shed light on the fact that dogs are basically looking to be safe. After all they are animals, and animals are not burdened with the desires of humans, except for food, fun and sex dogs are not interested in many of the things us humans are. The desires of dogs are on a short list, food, water, shelter, procreation, some form of socializing & fun with dogs or humans and sleep. That’s pretty much it.

The anthropomorphic dressing that is placed on dogs will in many cases lead them to be either treated with disregard for their intrinsic canine behaviors, treated unfairly or inappropriately or on the far end of the unfair spectrum euthanized. Sure we can discuss dogs in an anthropomorphic way at the bar over a few beers, but when we have training and behavior concerns we need to get down to the legit view and help the dog and the people in the dogs life feel better.

Take the dog that is merely frustrated and viewed as aggressive, he may be put down, or if the human(s) in care of the dog are not aware of the difference between barrier frustration and aggression the dog may be kept away from dogs and people and then socialization slips further, or worse the dog is viewed as dominate and now someone applies “training” that is harsh and painful, either making the dog worse, or the dog becomes shut down and lives in a state of learned helplessness or tunes out the human, now the dog is labeled stubborn. The sad thing here is that we’ve got the humane information to address all dog behaviors in a way that can actually help decrease unwanted behaviors.

I have been perplexed for a while now as to why dogs give people a false sense of knowledge, why dogs make people feel like they are gifted? How on earth do people feel compelled to risk a dog’s life based on a patchwork of what they were told at a dog park once, what their grand pa said, and a few websites they visited once. Perhaps it’s the disposable mindset some people have; perhaps it’s just plain old laziness? I often think why do people not leave a major league baseball game and believe they are as good as their idols. Mainly because they cannot replicate the players, and they know it, yet if a dog does something we ask it imbues the human with a sense of accomplishment far beyond the task of hitting a ball, the human just communicated with an animal, and the animal obeyed, it must be magic, right? Maybe, but I’d say it has more to do with reward and consequence history in the context the behavior occurred.

Maybe this sense of knowledge about dogs is because by and large dogs make us feel. They make us feel special, they make us feel accomplished (Look I can get this creature to obey), they make us feel altruistic (I saved this dog).

Dogs can also make humans frustrated, fearful, and stressed out. On the opposite end of the spectrum where the non dog loving humans live people are either ambivalent, slightly concerned because they are caring individuals and do not want to see dogs harmed or they are outright fearful. No matter where you fall dogs usually make us feel something. For dog owners, and people working with dogs, these feelings can be a hindrance or fuel to learn and grow. It all depends on who you are and who you want to be.

It’s in these feelings that the human can lose site of the fact the dogs are feeling right along with us. It is more about what the dogs are feeling and less about the human’s feelings, this is where the experienced and legitimate dog trainers/owners differ from the people that are simply with dogs or have a dog.

I am not taking anything away from anyone’s love for dogs, or their concern for dogs. Love and concern are great foundations, but love and concern do not train dogs or modify dog behavior. That is accomplished through legitimate knowledge of dog behavior (which is not too difficult if you apply yourself) and good old leg work.
It seems people have a hard time admitting they do not know something, or perhaps it’s a belief system that is so firmly in place that the thought of it not being 100% accurate is frightening? Or maybe it’s the “give it to me now” instant gratification conditioning that the 20th and 21st Centuries have plagued humans with.

Yet, when someone says they love dogs and they know dogs and they are incapable of discussing let alone educating others about dogs they do damage to dogs when they dispense false advice or put faulty training methods into practice. There is a ripple effect that goes from one dog to the next to the next…

When I work with dog owners I ask them to fill out an 18 page behavior history form. This tells me allot about the humans behavior as well as the dogs behavior. Context is everything and even having a basic description of the events daily or otherwise can allow me the window in I need to begin to address the situation.

Asking questions and them approaching dog behavior in a way that set’s the dog and human up for success is to my mind, common sense. Having a reasonable expectation is also a major part of success with dogs. Knowing that the dog does not have to be 100% perfect all the time is freeing for people, and think how your dog will feel about not having to be a battery operated machine 24/7.

There are some people out here that have expectations for dogs that are so unreasonable they could not live up to these expectations themselves. So why does the dog have to be a perfect robot, if the human does not. Further more if you are looking to have a “perfect” dog, you’d better get your knowledge base of dog behavior in line with the legit crowd and your training chops better take on rock star status in the way of mechanics, timing and humane methods. Because if your sloppy your dogs training will reflect that.

Knowing that human behavior has to change first, and then dog behavior will follow is tantamount to setting up the dynamic of dogs and humans to be less stressful.

I see where the problem exists and hopefully the knowledge gap will start to close sooner than later.

· Dog training requires that the human be humane, kind and consistent in both rewards and consequences.
· Dog training is all about human mechanics and timing. These mechanics and timing will have to be adjusted based on the dog and the context that you are in. This requires patience and being more observational than emotional.

· Dog behavior is contextual and dogs view the world as safe, unsafe or neutral. By and large humans can help dictate this world view by our actions.

· Don’t make things up to suite your opinion. It’s 2010; there is no shortage of legitimate information about dogs that is founded in humane approaches based in the science of animal learning theory. Reading is fundamental and essential for humans to be educated on anything. It’s ok to play it safe and say ‘I don’t know” then get the right information to help the dog.

· Dogs are sentient beings that have feelings and emotions and most would argue are a big reason why we humans made it through history. If you live with or work with dogs, you owe to them to get the best and most sound advice from trusted legitimate sources.

Everyone is a dog trainer, and it’s about time we took the job as serious as other far less important tasks that are in our lives. This goes for dog owners as well as people in the business of training dogs. It is a gift that we even get to have dogs, think about it.

Dogs in the USA are worshiped and celebrated, not so in many other countries.
Dogs are a large part of the economy that is thriving, the pet care industry is a 48 billion dollar business, and dogs are a huge part of it. So we’d all be wise to take care of our investments and treat dogs with the same respect as we treat our beloved automobiles. You take your car to experts, to people that fix it not “break it”, why? Because you need it to survive, and I’d say it’s high time we thought of dogs the same way. Let’s get them the best so they can be their best.
Want one more reason if that is not enough. Dogs are the source of free, yes free, joy, love, entertainment and health. Dogs are good for us and we owe them the benefit of our intelligent compassion.

So who’s with me? Are you going to be a dog trainer or just someone with a dog?

After all everyone is a dog trainer.

References and some books to consider.

Jean Donaldson - Train your dog like a pro

Karen Pryor - Don’t Shoot the Dog

Pam Reid - Excel-erated Learning

James O’Heare - The Canine Aggression Workbook 3rd edition

Terry Ryan - Outwitting Dogs

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dogs are worshiped, but not protected

Dogs are worshiped, but not protected.

For a few good years those of us that needed to point out the harsh realities of pain training all had the comfort knowing that we could point to a number of respected groups for back up when discussing it with client’s or friends and family. Recently during a discussion with a high school teacher I realized I could not suggest American Humane as a source for why the DW show is harmful. This then rests in the opinion paradigm, even though it’s not, and there are other sources, American Human is the oldest and they have a TV & Film division. So the impact of their position statement is much stronger.

I was given a cordial dismissal via email by the VP of American Humane a few weeks ago. There was no argument, no disagreements. Essentially all conversations were productive and we shared the same concerns. However, I asked too many difficult questions. I kept getting the circular logic double talk, and standard issue answers, but I kept asking questions. I found it funny, because I was told by Karen Rosa of AH’s TV & Film Div, that she admired my “sustained passion”.

Herein lays the problem with not only this AH symposium but much of dog training. If you ask too many questions either people get mad, or they fall silent, or in CM’s case they get the lawyers to scare you. In the case of dog training on TV that celebrates causing dogs fear and pain and falsely claiming it’s not a problem, but a man’s “gift” is out right negligence. Nat Geo knows full well what is happening. CM and his thugs know there are different ways to train, and they also know it’s a matter of time before they get caught, that’s right caught. American Humane is sincere in their efforts; I am not saying they are shady. However they are playing with one slippery fish, and they’re out matched in the PR game. After all, that is what TV stars do, they reshape themselves into whatever sells and work at avoiding the wrong kind of controversy. If CM and his people wanted him to get an education legitimately they would have him take some time off, go on the down low and study, jeeze if he’s so gifted it should take no time at all.

Instead they are attempting to take a short cut, co op some new language and use some legit terms to make it appear as though he's humane.

The following is the last Q&A I had with American Humane

• American Humane has not retracted our 2006 statement that is critical of Cesar Millan training methods.
Yet it is not on your website. Which sends the wrong message to the entire community of positive reward based dog trainers and concerned dog owners. So in essence you did retract it. Once you put it back on your website it will be a public statement for us to point to when we need back up during counseling and training sessions. How helpful is your statement unless the public can see it?

• The decision to remove our 2006 statement from our website was made in consideration of moving forward with the planning of our Summit.
I get that, it was undoubtedly a condition placed upon you by Millan Inc. You should not have acquiesced to it. It has sent the wrong message to the very people that are out here working towards a more humane profession. You let us down.

• We are not partnering with Cesar Millan in hosting the American Humane National Dog Training Summit.
You keep saying that, and I believe you, however Millan or his people keep pushing the notion you are. There is a PowerPoint floating around the web stating you are “partnered” with him, and his website announcing the symposium conjures up the image that he has been invited and that you are in support of him. When I asked if you were going to move towards getting it taken down, you said that “freedom of speech would protect them”, yet your freedom of speech is not exercised by leaving your statement on your website?

• Neither Cesar Millan nor his affiliates are giving us any funding nor are they influencing the planning of our Summit.
Again I believe you that he and his people are not funding the event, but you cannot expect me to believe that they are not influencing the event, they got you to take down the statement against his show, so they are influencing the event, Millan has a statement at his website making it seem he & AH are copasetic. My question is what Hollywood star has their high powered lawyer behind the scenes making everyone dance to Millan’s tune? That is my question.

• Cesar Millan’s representatives reached out to open a dialogue with us a few weeks ago and we accepted an invitation to that dialogue.
Again, I understand the sequence of events that took place for the meeting and the symposium, yet Millan’s PR team has it twisted that you asked him to be part of the event, when in fact it was them that came to you. I also know that at first you said no thanks, and then went back with the notion of a broader educational possibility. Education for whom? Millan hopefully. You cannot seriously think that Millan will be teaching anyone at the symposium anything, unless you count how to hoodwink and hack train as educational for other people. He's had plenty of opportunity to become educated. It's not AH's job to educate Millan, nor is it anyone else's job, it's his job to educate himself. That is also a slap in the face to every person that has taken it upon themselves to become educated in dog behavior and positive training. We have to work for it, while he gets a private audience with the best and brightest?

• Mr. Millan has expressed interest in attending our Humane Dog Training Summit and has stated that he is open to evolving his training methods and learning from other trainers.
He may have stated that to you in private, however in public and on his website he does not say that he is interested in learning from anyone, he paints a picture of himself being asked to participate, casting himself alongside other humane trainers/behaviorists et al…as an equal, as being accepted, and American Humane’s bungling of the roll out of this event is mainly to blame. You placed no conditions on him or his people about announcing the event on his website until it was all confirmed and set?!?

• Mr. Millan has not yet been invited to our summit, as the date and location have not been determined.
Look at his website it is quite obvious that he is going to the event and again making it look like he has already been invited.

• Any formal invitation to Mr. Millan will be issued at the same time that we issue such invitations to all of our other Summit guests.
Yet he is touting that he has been invited. This is like your once public statement that is now private. Looks like he is dictating the way the event will be perceived. After all, his entire PR team is better than yours. In the end that is what you’re dealing with, like it or not. Why else would they jump so readily to announce he’s part of the event? It gets them much needed validation from critics. They did not waste a second did they?

• As yet we have not determined a date, location, venue or final guest list for the Summit and we are only in the very early stages of planning for the event.
In these early stages you have already caused him to be aligned with people who are opposed to him, given the impression that you no longer have a position statement against his show, methods or ideology and let down a vast majority of the humane and positive dog training community.
Why should I or anyone else believe that this event will not be twisted into a photo op for Millan and his people to just use it for a re make of his image? That is already taking shape. Where is the assurance that he will in fact learn anything, other than he can get away with his shenanigans? You have not even confirmed the event or the other guests and he is touting he’s invited. Can you not see what his people are doing and it’s not even a reality yet. They are so desperate for anything resembling an affiliation or an acceptance from the humane legit crowd that they’ll even take the promise of it.

End of Q&A with American Humane.

Some of the people reading this will be asked to attend this event, and may have already. Some of the people reading this will not be asked. Some will just go back and hang their heads and sigh. The last reaction is what Milan Inc. counts on and what has largely been the reason he’s been able to bully his way through dog training culture, oh sorry dog psychology, or is it now that he modifies behavior?

Whatever side you fall on, know this; the reason why this is important is simple. Dogs deserve not just our worship, dogs deserve our protection.

You might ask why the hell I am so adamant about this topic. CM & I share one very singular distinction, dogs are the reason we’ve got anything in life. I would venture a guess that a good majority of the dog trainers reading this would have to agree they too are secure in life due to dogs. The massive difference is that those of us who train humanely, that have dogs as companions and do not cause them fear or pain, are being high jacked by a charlatan. The culture of dog training is in danger, and dogs everywhere are now in jeopardy of being mis diagnosed and then jabbed, kicked, choked and shocked into submission as a way to “train” them. Personally I’m tired of cleaning up this behavioral mess, and I know many others are as well.

Two recent personal events that illustrate this decline in the desire for people to find out the humane way of doing things when it comes to training dogs.

1 - On a recent dog training session my wife Vyolet Michaels CTC was working with a couple that tried CM’s methods based on watching him on TV, and made the dog so fearful, that the dog was a “shaking bag of bones” to quote my wife. After she explained the fall outs of pain and fear based methods the people said they would have “never done that stuff” if they knew the "truth about what could happen". The operative word here is the truth. The good news is that the dog is now on a legit and humane path towards recovery. The warning on CM’s show does not say why not to copy him, it just says don’t do it.

2 – A few weeks ago I was in a meeting with some people discussing a nationwide dog training program for volunteers and employees in shelters. Some guy who claims to be a dog trainer refused to have a conversation about dog training and behavior. He flat out said “I’m not working with you you’re not working with me”.

I had 14 questions that I needed to discuss before I would I feel comfortable getting involved. The guy folded the paper I’d handed him with the questions and stuck it in his pocket. Then chimed in with how he had “no use for science” because his “clients would not understand it anyway, and they had “no use for it”.

I went on to explain that we’d need a common language if we were going to converse about dog behavior for dogs in a shelter, and that there are numerous ways to turn science info into everyday understandable and digestible language.

Plus never assume your audience is dumb.

You might ask, where do I get the nerve to ask someone to discuss their knowledge base? Well I’d ask why I should work with someone claiming to be a dog trainer with zero legit credentials, after all the dogs in the balance here are shelter dogs and dogs in homes that if not dealt with in humane way, may end up in shelters. If I had been able to find any proof that guy claiming to be a dog trainer had some education, some type of credentials in relation to dog training, I would have felt much more comfortable. He had none, and he was not even interested in a dialog.

A week after I met with these folks, I heard through a volunteer at the local shelter this guy in the meeting claiming to be a dog trainer did a play session and a dog killed another dog. One of the questions I wanted to ask and speak to him about is the protocols for dog - dog intros and potential subsequent play sessions.

Ignorance does kill. Education saves lives.

This resistance to learn, this self credentialed validation and the ever popular
“I‘m good with dogs” street degree or “I’ve been doing it for x number of years” is weak. Now bear in mind I have no PhD, no degree from a university, nope. I also know there are brilliant people that simply figured it out and train dogs humanely. I am the poster boy for if I can do it you can too. I freely admit I have no magic, but I do have legit knowledge and I do have solid mechanical/timing skills when it comes to training dogs.

I’m sure there are far too many stories of people trying things on dogs based on faulty info. More stories should be written about dogs that have been subjected to fear and pain based “training”, and the results of these methods, for it needs be exposed. This way perhaps people will learn it is not the way to go. Where you bloggers at? Personally I have tons of files of clients that have tried CM's nonsense and it did not work out for the better.

While re reading the Cass Sunstein paper The Rights of Animals I was reminded about an excerpt from the California Animal Cruelty Laws that I find to be the essence of CM’s show and the way of the pain trainers everywhere.

…imposes criminal liability on negligent as well as intentional overworking, overdriving,or torturing of animals. “Torture” is defined not in its ordinary language sense, but to include any act or omission “whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted.”

This depicts many of the segments on the DW show is it not? CM has a licensed business in California does he not? Just saying…

I am imploring anyone that says they care about dogs that has benefited from them financially through dog training, or media such as books and DVD’s. Please demand justice for dogs, demand the truth from organizations that say they protect dogs, be it your local SPCA or some conglomerate of professionals and experts. Far too many people that have highly credentialed knowledge stay silent, are “too busy” or simply do not have the gumption to confront the lack of enforcement when it comes to dog abuse in the paradigm of training. Please step up and speak up, your voice is needed. We owe it to dogs.

Here are some suggestions for questions and conditions that should be met before this humane dog training symposium takes place. It’s also a good check list for people that claim they have a gift, are a whisperer or some other form of self credentialed “title”.

These questions need to be asked of CM and the conditions based on his answers should be whether or not he can even have a discussion about dogs in a legitimate way with the legit crowd. If he is supposedly attending a symposium on humane dog training and he is touting that he has been invited, as well as he now modifies behavior, that he is an equal; then he should have no problem with these questions. He can post his answers via You Tube without edits, without reading off cue cards just the answers to the questions.

1 – How do dogs learn?
2 – What are the quadrants of operant conditioning? How are they used?
3 – By and large how do dogs view the world?
4 – What do dogs generalize very well?
5 – What are the three D’s of dog training?
6 – In behavior modification what are the four steps that need to be executed?
7 – What is barrier frustration and why does it occur?
8 – In resource guarding tests at what point should the evaluator stop the test?
9 – What is aggression and what is the purpose of aggression for dogs?
10 – What are the levels of the Dunbar bite scale?
11- When doing on leash greetings with two dogs for the first time what is the protocol and what are the variables?
12 – Leash reactivity can be reduced by what human behaviors?
13 – What are the fallouts of using aversive methods such as pain, force, shock, startle & choking?
14 – When introducing dogs for off leash play, what are the three main things we’d like to know?
15 – Define learned helplessness, flooding and conditioned emotional response.
Puppy development pop quiz!
• When should bite inhibition be worked on and what are the protocols
• When does the critical development period end for puppies?
• What are the three main things to work on with puppies?

ANY dog trainer worth a damn should be able to discuss these topics without any effort. This is especially important when these “trainers” are taking money from people or if they have some type of audience or worldwide platform. This is equally important when working in a shelter as a volunteer or paid employee.

I’d also suggest, invited or not to this symposium, all those who care about the future of the profession of pet dog training should simply show up at this event, and respectfully demand they are allowed to witness this event. If CM can say he’s going, even though he’s not officially been invited, then well why can’t we just show up without an invite? I’m not talking about anything in the way of force or violence, please understand this is about asking questions and obtaining answers. Far too many people are being duped into thinking violence against dogs under the guise of training is ok. Training a dog should not act as a loophole to cause dogs fear or pain. In any other context it would be considered abuse.

We have to admit that humans are the greatest variable in a dogs training and behavior; we have the most influence period. So why would anyone claiming to know dogs not be able to answer these questions, or at the very least want to know as much as they could about dogs before they started working with them professionally on the world stage or otherwise.

If people would start hitting the books and stop hitting the dogs we’d have this whole thing cleared up by now.

Until there is a standardized educational system in place for dog training professionals as well as dog owners, dogs might be worshiped but they are not fully protected.

Cass Sunstein’s paper The Rights of Animals

Mythologies and co modifications of dominion in the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan

Whitewashing the Whisperer

Links to information about what is really happening with Milan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm Not Afraid Of Corporate Thugs

I’m Not Afraid of Corporate Thugs.

When I posted a blog entitled The last days of pain training are upon us at Dog Star Daily, I sincerely meant what I said, about the symposium and the need for a change from the Charlatan Manipulator which is my new name for ah… you know Cesar Millan IE: CM.

It seems that despite my optimism and honest assertions, the TV watching lemmings and supposedly some “good friends” of the TV Star flooded the DSD site and then the corporate thugs became jittery and the Charlatan Manipulator’s team did what they do best, threaten. DSD caved.

1 – I do not wish any harm to DSD, the Dunbar’s are good people who I consider friends and they have always been kind, considerate and helpful to me whenever I asked. I do not blame them at all for acquiescing to the legal threat. People should be free to do what they like or feel they have to do.

2 – I never wished any harm to the Charlatan Manipulator. I wished only that he would meet with the best of the best in dog training and behavior, and learn more than what his grandfather taught him. That is what the focus of the blog on DSD was about. After all is that not what this is all about learning so dogs get legitimate help.

Now I’m calling him out.

It’s not the methods of humane dog trainers that are in question, it’s his and people like him that in many ways are putting dogs at risk by not having legitimate knowledge. The chosen methods of CM have been in question from the very start by the humane and scientific community. Should this not tell us all something? Perhaps his grand pa’s lessons are out of date and can be built upon? Why would the entire humane and positive training community be questioning his methods and his ideology? They can’t all be jealous as his most ardent fans contest, like Pattie Labelle, who in People Magazine says he’s a “miracle man” and people are just “jealous”. She can sing, but she knows nothing about dog behavior, her dog she says was “different”, after CM did his magic that does not mean necessarily mean better.

However it seems that no one, not even the very people the Charlatan Manipulator wants to meet with these days can have a differing opinion about his dog training methods or his ideology.

If so they will be threatened by a gang of corporate thugs wielding legal threats. Even American Humane the organizers of the symposium have taken down their position statement. Why? What has changed? Clearly not CM nor his band of legal thugs.
This sounds like Nazi Germany, or the Mafia, or some neighborhood roughnecks at the very least. It certainly does not sound like honest open communication. In fact the humane orgs have taken down anything that resembles criticism of the Charlatan Manipulator, resorting to the umbrella banner of pain and fear based methods. Which is ok to a point but let’s not lose site of the fact there is a person influencing culture in a big way on TV. This continues these fear and pain based methods. It gives them credence when we should be warning people against them, oh yea there are warnings on the TV show. But not everyone heeds them.

Perhaps this symposium is under the condition that the humane orgs lay off, and then the thugs and the Charlatan will meet with them. American Humane took down their position statement against him, and they are organizing the meeting, sounds suspicious at the very least. How many more conditions have to be met as this meeting is taking shape?

If the Charlatan Manipulator is so free of wrong doing, so magical in his ways with dogs, why then is it seemingly impossible for him to just speak to these people who are beyond reproach in their knowledge of dog training and behavior and simply explain why he is not doing harm? I have had conversations with a few of the organizations and humane dog trainers that question his methods, if I can speak with these people about dog training and behavior why can’t he? If he knows so much and he is so gifted it should be an easy conversation for him. He claims in People Magazine from 07 that he was “upset’ when Dr. Nicholas Dodman said he “set back dog training 20 years”, but a call from Jada Pinkett Smith letting him know he’s “the man” consoled him. With all due respect Mrs. Pinkett Smith knows nothing about dog training or dog behavior. (Great actress though) Why not call Nick Dodman and speak with him, I did. I learned allot in the process as well.

He later says in the interview he knows he’s “helping dogs”, even if he has to go against “unstable people”. Is this an assertion Dr. Dodman is unstable, that American Humane and the IAABC are unstable? If so the stability question should be leveled against CM. Oh that’s right it has, but the corporate thugs shut it down.
When someone cannot answer basic questions to satisfy the humane organizations that protect animals, it reeks of the suspicion that perhaps the TV star is well, more of an actor than a dog trainer, or is it dog psychologist, or a modifier of behavior as he calls himself as of late, the Charlatan Manipulator seems to change his stance on what his title is every few years when the pressure mounts. I like the new title I’ve given him.

What is comical, and sad, is that these humane organizations backed down. Where I come from bullies have two choices, back up or fall down, it’s their choice. I’m not worried.

I live in the United States of America. I pay taxes and I have the freedom to dissent from ANY opinion and freely speak my mind. There are people that believe the earth is 5,000 years old and ignore scientific fact that the earth is billions of years old. That is their right.

Well it is my right and anyone else’s right to challenge someone’s assertions about how dogs learn, what dog behavior actually means and how to humanely train dogs and council dog owners.

In fact that is the battle here. In fact that is the reason why those of us in the humane camps are so concerned. Falsehoods about dog behavior and faulty methods in dog training are being bandied about under the guise of a man’s magic powers. The trickledown effect on dog owners and hack trainers who copy CM is dangerous. It boils down to consumer protection.

I for one am not interested in the Charlatan Manipulators fame or money, I am concerned with the ripple effect that the harmful methods and false information that is spread on TV have on dogs and how it adversely affects dogs and dog owners. I have seen it first hand and I’m not the only one. There are many people concerned about the Charlatan Manipulator’s TV show and its detrimental ripple effect.
There seems to be the good old root of all evil at play here, yep money. Money is the catalyst and the Achilles heel that will drive good hearted people and normally common sense folks right off the deep end into the dangerous zone of looking the other way or worse being duped into thinking the Charlatan Manipulator is sincere.
Sincerity is proven through actions. Not in giving money to help shelters, not in agreeing that puppy mills are bad, or that BSL is wrong. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence can see that those things are in need of addressing. After all is that not what politician’s do to gain some sympathy from the critics, they give a bunch of money and create well meaning foundations? That may be the tactic to alleviate any concerns. Sincerity is also not found in legal threats; those are the actions of corporate thugs protecting a worried man.

The question that begs to be asked is this, why threaten to bring down the very people that are educating the public about humane approaches to dog behavior and training? Why not talk with them without any conditions attached? That is quite a hypocritical stance, and it’s plain to see, unless the Charlatan Manipulator and his corporate thugs can silence everyone. Silencing critics through legal threats plays out as an admission of guilt. Reshaping an image is not the same as an honest desire to learn, grow and change.

What are CM and his people so worried about? Perhaps its concern he is not all what he portends to be. Perhaps it’s the fear that the cash cow will dry up or worse animal cruelty charges leveled? After all there a few dog “trainers” this has happened to. They are not famous though, they have no big legal team to protect them. One of them, a woman in Chicago Aimee Moore, even calls herself a “whisperer”, sadly the ripple was in effect in full force here.

The CPDT (Certified Pet Dog Trainers) has added a Knowledge Assessment certification to their standards. Should the CPDT members threaten a law suit for being asked to do this? Essentially that is what has been happening with the Charlatan Manipulator. Whenever anyone of merit questions his knowledge or skills, he and his corporate thugs get busy with legal threats. How does that look? I mean if Certified Pet Dog Trainers are being asked to show a level of knowledge and competence, why not the TV star?

Here’s a challenge to the Charlatan Manipulator and his band of corporate thugs.
• Anywhere any time, 100% live, no edits, discuss dog training and behavior before an audience of our peers in the field of dog training and behavior.

• Then let the experts in the behavioral and dog training fields evaluate the outcome, via CM’s written plan anyone can follow, this would be for current or future owners of the dog as well as the shelter staff and volunteers.

• Then a “board review” of the dog’s behavior he worked with and its training and the training plan by the best of the best in dog training and behavior. See just how good his observational skills are for behavior. See if his skills match up with the most humane and effective methods for behavior modification and training. I don’t think a basic knowledge test to see if the man understands dog behavior and training is too much to ask. CPDT's are asked this.

• All proceeds or monies derived from this “event” can go to a humane org of his choosing. We can even do it at the symposium everyone is talking about if he’d like.

I’m not worried. I mean let’s put the money where the mouth is. I freely admit I’m not special, gifted or perfect. I do however have a very solid education in dog training and behavior, I council people everyday about how to live with their dogs safely and effectively. I work with all sorts of behavior issues, fear, aggression (proven bite histories), house training, puppies, reactive dogs; separation anxiety, you name it I deal with it, 12 hours a day 365 days a year. So if he wants to have a discussion with me on the down low, get at me.

Let the games begin. We’ll see if the Charlatan Manipulator’s “grand pa education” can match mine or the best of the best in behavioral science and positive dog training. It’ll be quite interesting indeed.

Somehow I have a feeling the Charlatan Manipulator and his corporate thugs will not take me up on the challenge. We all know the moral of the story to the Wizard of Oz, right?

Links of interest
2007 People Magazine Interview with CM,,20062474,00.html
Dog Trainer abuse cases

AVSAB Position Statement

UPenn Study

Jo Jacques CPDT, CPCT & Sandy Myers CDBC

Dr. Karen Overall

Are The Last Days Of Pain Training Upon Us?

Are the last days of pain training are upon us?

This blog is revised from the original version that appeared on Dog Star Daily which was taken down after DSD was threatened with legal action by the corporate thugs.

On February 12th, 2010 American Humane announced that there will be a symposium on humane dog training and behavior. The impetus for this symposium is that for 6 years the ideology and methodology of Cesar Millan and his show The Dog Whisperer have been under fire by everyone from humane organizations to positive reward based dog trainers as well as aware dog owners.
There was a collective position statement that was brought against Millan and his show in late 09 by a number of humane organizations. This was shut down by his corporate thugs with legal action.

There are even whispers Millan’s show will not be picked up by Nat Geo for new shows after his contract runs out in a few years.

With all this pressure mounting, it’s no wonder that Millan and his people have asked for a sit down with the best of the best in dog training. Remember, he and his people asked for this due to mounting pressure. This is not a joining of forces per say; that remains to be seen. It may be spun by the Millan machine as a meeting of the minds, but in actuality this is in essence a clean up your act or else situation.

There is skepticism in the positive dog training community about the sincerity of Millan’s interest in a different approach to dog training. After all this criticism is not new and he and his people obviously have had access to the same information as the rest of us. So why now is there a desire to meet and learn? Perhaps that cash cow of a TV show is in jeopardy of not returning, and they have nowhere else to turn except to the legitimate humane crowd.
The simple fact that Millan and his people have asked to meet with the people that have been criticizing his show/methods & ideology is an admission that he needs to change his way.

But why would they continually threaten the very people that they are looking to meet with? What do they have to hide? Why are they worried about differing opinions and criticisms from some of the best in dog training and behavior?
Regardless of why it is happening we should all rejoice that it is happening.

Look at it this way...

After the symposium is complete and Millan and his people are educated first hand, it will be hard for him to go back to his fear and pain based methods, simply because he has now been schooled by the best, and he has met with people willing to teach him how to be humane. He is under the spot light and it’s hard to hide when you are on TV. Will it be an education or a photo OP? That remains to be seen.

The jig is up as they say. If he was not doing anything harmful, why would there be such a clamor from everyone from dog owners to behaviorists, humane dog trainers and the humane orgs about his methods and ideology?

Dogs are conduits of the truth and you cannot mess with them for too long without getting caught, it’s that simple. Looks like the truth is out, they’re worried.
This meeting of the minds is the beginning of the acknowledgment by Millan and Nat Geo that indeed his methods and ideology are faulty, harmful and not humane. If they were this symposium would not be happening. Think of this an intervention of sorts.
What has many people concerned is that Millan will do a 180 and become a humane trainer over night. That he will not admit to doing anything wrong or that his show has caused countless dogs to be unfairly harmed under the guise of his training ways/advice.

A new spin on his old show will however not be enough to really satisfy. There will have to be a public admission that he was wrong and that he has now seen the error of his ways, without that it will reek of entertainment people scrambling to save their pay checks. That might be the case no matter what, but as long as he admits he was/is using out dated methods and was under the guise of a faulty ideology who really cares? The goal here is to help dogs and owners get the correct information.
The other reason we need Millan to come out and publicly decry his ideology that dogs are dominating us at every turn and that some of his approaches are harmful is so dog owners and copy cat “trainers” that religiously follow his advice and mimic his methods will stop doing so and seek out legit and humane approaches. This is perhaps the most crucial aspect concerning the outcome of the symposium.
There is also the question of the Dog Whisperer shows that run on Nat Geo, and soon on Fox (where else) that repeatedly show the out dated methods and spew the Dominonsense ideology. This will be a big question and a legal one for Millan, Nat Geo and the American Humane TV & Film unit to hash out.

After all once Millan changes his ways, and he will, what about the old shows? Once he denounces his old ways, why would he want them represented on TV and on DVD? Syndication of his show is a large question to be answered and that has more to do with legal contracts and a whole lotta money at stake than anything else.
This ripple effect that Millan has had to the detriment of dogs, could in one fell swoop begin to reverse that damage by him simply asking his followers to follow the advice of behavioral science and humane organizations and reward based dog trainers and to give up his old ways.

It would be a big step, but it is the necessary step for us to believe he is genuine in his admission that he wants to not only learn about humane dog training but also become a legit and humane dog trainer or modifier of behavior as he calls himself these days. Without a change in his ways, this will be seen as lip service and a photo op.

This is the “educational opportunity” that American Humane speaks of in their announcement of the symposium; the education of Millan and the trickledown effect it can have in culture. The ball is already rolling and the tide is already turning, but is it?

All we need is the Oprah moment of “I’ve seen the light” and it will be complete.

Now; if nothing changes on Millan’s part and he takes a few new ideas and implements them into a watered down version of his show, he’ll look really foolish and no one in the legit dog behavior and training camps will trust him anymore than they do now. I do not think that is what he or his people want out of this. In fact I think what they want is more money, and what a better way to make more money than include all of us legit people. His show needs new life, and what else has he got left?

Making the personal choice to inflict fear and pain on a dog under the guise of training or otherwise can be done only out of ignorance, a lack of understanding or a lack of information, IE: Education. After this meeting of the minds Millan and his people will not be able to claim any of those as excuses any longer. Of course they can’t claim them now in any believable sense, but after this symposium, they’ll really be foolish to continue their ways.

From this symposium relationships will be forged and doors will be opened, so there will be no excuses any longer. All that will be left will be actions, words will not be enough.

America loves a good transformation; and this will certainly be quite a change if indeed Millan does change, and he will because what’s left?
The lemming mind set of the sycophant fans will follow and they’ll make claims of how great he is, how open minded he is, even if the impetus to change may have more to do has with money than a desire to learn. It might be both, we’ll only know if he comes out and tells us. Millan has the chance to fix the damage he has created with his show. He also has the opportunity to get the best help out there in doing so. I hope he takes this opportunity seriously and man up and change his ways.
We should not stop educating people about the harmful effects of pain and fear based training, we should not stop eradicating the dominance nonsense from the dog behavior vernacular, as this will be an ever vigilant job until dogs are protected under the guise of pet dog training by the law and we have uniform education for people about dog behavior that is based in legitimate science and 100% humane approaches.

The larger issue at stake here is the issue of consumer protection in pet dog training. Millan has by and large been the reason why so many people are claiming to be dog trainers and taking money for dog training services yet not doing anything to really help people with their dog’s behavior.
It’s not all dominance, it’s not all force and control, and if it were that easy then there would be no need for anything else. What is being recognized is that these whispery ways are finally come to the end. But why did the Humane Organizations take down their position statements? Legal threats, that’s why. Not really a sign he and his corporate thugs are changing.

Please don’t get this twisted people of the humane and positive training camps, this is not an admission that his ways are legit, it is the realization by Millan and his people that it’s time to change or else. They are looking to clean him up and attempt to side step any admission they have been doing harmful things to dogs.
Even after Millan has a change of ways and he will, because what’s left? However behavior does not change overnight; there will always be a need to stop the spread of ignorance about faulty dog training methods and the need to explain dog behavior in legitimate factual terms. It will be nice to have his help with that, after all people do listen to the man.

We should take some comfort in the fact that this symposium is happening. This is the first step in shining a light on what the real motivation is, though it will not be the last. There are many questions to be answered, especially by Millan.
There is work to do and there will always be work to do. Education is a lifelong pursuit for the person that wants to grow and change and improve as well as a lifelong job for those of us devoted to helping dogs live a better and a more humane life along side us.

It’s hard not to be jaded, we should attempt to have a cautiously optimistic take on this. Let’s try and have some faith in American Humane that they are not swayed by Hollywood. Let’s do our best to have some faith in the human spirit, there is a chance to make a massive change here and it can be done, if the Millan machine is willing to change.

Lastly have faith that dogs are conduits of the truth, and the truth is going to be told very soon in a public forum. Or will it be all glad handing and scripted like all the other Millan events?

Are we are seeing the last days of pain training? Only time will tell.

These are answers to a number of accusations from Millan’s interlopers on Dog Star Daily

To the assertion that I somehow wish Millan harm.

1 - I never said I wished CM any harm, or cared if he was rich and famous. I just want the guy to finally learn about dog behavior and training from some people that are the best in the field with humane dog training; that is what I did. I encourage everyone to do that! I would think consumers would want that in their professional dog trainers. It looks like he’ll get the chance. I’m all for that! My issue is with his ideology and his methodology not his fame. I’m sure he does love dogs and wants to help them, allot of people do, and everyone is motivated by different things. He got the fame now it's time to get some more education, what's wrong with that?

To the assertion I should be careful for risk of slander or liable.

2- As far as slander and liable go, pardon me if I chuckle because I hear my 5 attorneys are laughing. The last time I checked I lived in America and I have the freedom of speech and the freedom to dissent from any opinion, or any ideology and voice my own view of the world and of human behavior and of dog behavior, it seems everyone else can spout their version of reality, why not me? I’m sure CM is not losing any money or being caused hardship due to my actions.

I was sent this slide show that has false information in it, there is no author. So before we start throwing around wrong doing make sure you’re camp is clean.

To the challenge by a “close friend” of Millan that I meet him and speak with him.

3 - If face time is what Millan wants with me, or his close friend on DSD suggests, well CM is in Red Bank, NJ on 2/28/10 he’ll be at the Count Basie Theater. Red bank NJ is where I live and run my business. This is being written on 2/26/10 around 10ish EST, so if you are really interested in having me meet and speak with your friend; hook it up. My websites are listed here in my profile you can either call or email me. I’m free Sat 2/27/10 in the evening after 5pm and all day Sunday the 28th. Make it happen. I’ll answer any question he has, as long as he is willing to do the same for me. I’m down for a dialog. I was not contacted, big surprise.

To the assumption that I’m jealous of Millan

4 - Concerning jealousy, ah that is whole lotta supposition my friends, you assume you know my wants and desires, and we’re not that close. But hey, do what you feel.

To the question of American Humane and their take on the blog.

5 - I spoke with American Humane twice over the past few weeks and I’ve emailed numerous times with the head of the TV & Film dept. She thanked me for this blog, and her colleagues said that they liked it and that I “get it”. So again, I’m not worried.

To the notion that I should get on TV and get a dog training show

6- In the past year and a half I have been approached by numerous production companies about either being part of an existing dog TV show or creating one. In fact earlier this month a TV producer who is represented by CM’s agents contacted me and we’re discussing a dog related training show with opposite methods and ideologies from CM. It’s all very new, nothing concrete. I’m not going to divulge this man’s cell phone or email, but I can substantiate that its real. If it happens; cool, if not whatever. These things take time and I have concerns about entertainment as it relates to dog training and behavior and how it is presented. I’m not in dogs to be famous, not everyone is hell bent on being famous; I did that all that alooong time ago, so I’m cool with that particular chase as it were. I’m an advocate for humane dog training.
I have two simple rules to train dogs and modify behavior, I do not use fear or pain, of any kind, and if a person cannot explain it how can you train it, to others that is, and perhaps how can one train the dog their best in a humane way? Is that not the point? Past those two conditions I’m open to working with anyone for the humane training and behavior modification of dogs.

To the opinion that Millan is some type of gifted genius and it is my skills that are suspect

7- I’m not an “expert", I’m a student of dog behavior and training, and a professional positive reward based dog trainer. I was educated at the SFSPCA’s Academy for Dog Trainers, and I owe my foundational knowledge to their stellar program, period.
The “guru’ in my Pit Bull training website is marketing, simple as that. It’s been a real win – win for the PB community as well. Ask anyone that has trained dogs with me, other trainers or clients. I freely admit I have no gift, I’m not special. I have rocking mechanics, acute timing and a solid understanding of learning theory and legit dog behavior and I’m fully aware of the fall outs from fear and pain that dogs have been subjected to.
CM is 30% mass and 70% water like any other human, meaning he is subject to all the same laws natural and manmade of life on earth just like anyone else is. Like I said if anyone can get him in the room with me make it happen, privately one on one or with an audience. Either way, I’m cool. I have nothing to hide; it's not my methods or ideology that is being called into question by the best in the field of dog training and behavior.

To people that are offended by this blog
8 – I’m not apologizing to anyone for anything in this blog, if you had a chord struck that’s your deal. Perhaps it was struck for a reason. Deal with it, that is what adults do, they deal with it and they grow. I’m not a “cry baby”, or out to get anyone; In fact so many smarter more educated dog training & behavior people have come out and spoken out against the methods and the ideology of the DW show that I’m surprised anyone would think I matter in this debate. I’m actually surprised you all noticed, and frankly thanks for putting in me in such esteemed company as the people professional or otherwise that have spoken out about CM/Whispering. Thanks!

Be well
Drayton Michaels CTC

Links of interest you should check out (Millan interview with Bill O’Reilly)

Dog Trainer abuse cases,0,5761579.story