Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Veterinary Behaviorists Take a Stand Against Cesar Millan

Many of you may know by now from reading my blog and from reading the AARF weekly e-newsletters that I am an ardent supporter of positive training methods and completely against punishment-based, aversive training methods.

My views and perspectives are based on the most up-to-date science of dog behavior instincts and reinforcement. As we have learned that spanking a child is not a long-term solution for bad behavior, so too we have learned that choke collars, shock collars, remotes and other punishment methods are not only ineffective in the long-term, they are cruel and do often irreparable damage to the dog's physical and psychological well-being.

I learned recently that one of the most popular and successful dog training facilities in Atlanta now includes a shock collar as a standard part of basic training. I have heard of dog owners using the shock collar like a remote control for the television. Say "sit" and push the button. The dog gets shocked and sits. Imagine the horror and pain that the dog must learn to feel every time he or she hears the word "sit:. I am horrified and sickened to think of people who love their dogs pushing a button thinking they are "training" a dog to do a behavior, and each time they push they button, waves of electric shock pulse through the dog's body.

Unfortunately, this punishment-based method also has a large entertainment following through the shows of Cesar Millan. While I am usually careful to not directly criticize one particular person, group or organization, I have to be explicit in my absolute concern over the damage done to dogs by well-meaning and caring owners who try to replicate his "successes" at home. We often forget that his 1-hour shows are edited from hours of taping, and we are never going to be shown the entire process that the dog goes through in punishment-based training. Millan's methods are based on pack theories half a century old, theories that no longer hold any weight among certified, trained professionals.

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior released a position paper - a condemning position paper - in February on the use of punishment for behavior modification. There is no doubt that this well-respected, professional organization and their members absolutely disagree with the use of force and punishment to train a pet.

Please, please, for the health, happiness and well-being of your dog, don't use punishment-based methods to train. Don't be fooled by training facilities that tell you they can make your dog 100% obedient and that they can do it in 2 weeks. They'll hurt your dog in the process. Effective, humane and long-lasting training takes patience, love and consistency.

If you are looking for a trainer in Atlanta, please talk to one of these following trainers. And if you have questions about a particular trainer, feel free to email me directly. I am more than willing to help you research your options for a trainer that will treat your dog like the loved member of the family that he or she is.

K9U Training & Behavior Modification
Paws-a-tive Results Dog Training
Canine PhD Dog Training

No comments: