« U.S. versus U.K. | Main | CEO Pay »



It's all about what kind of relationship you want with your dog. Cesar's methods appear to be quick and effective because he uses force and intimidation. Using reward based training as an alternative is much more fun for both the person and the dog, and overall more successful. If you think that reward based training is bribery, then you are doing it incorrectly, but at the end of the day, it doesn't cause any harm. If Cesars methods are done incorrectly, you are abusing your dog. I have little faith in the general public to be able to apply his methods correctly, especially when National Geographic is leaving out most of what he does (according to Malcom). There are better alternatives to his methods, which are scientifically based and proven.... so remember- just because we can, doesn't mean we should! So how do YOU want to live your life?


Well that's one thing that's right - it IS about the kind of relationship you want with your dog. Bribery/reward based training is fine if you think of your dog as a person that you negotiate and made deals with. Like people who bribe their kids to get good grades. Its far better to raise your children with a sense of responsibility and your dog with a sense of being a dog. And if there's one thing that dogs don't do naturally it's bribe each other to behave with little treats. You may have their attention, but you certainly do NOT have their respect.


For God sake’s, they're dogs, not human beings. I love my dog but I don't for one minute she thinks or responds to life the way I do.

I must say I am a fan of Cesar Milan and have watched his shows. I don't understand how a person could take his methods and turn them into abusive behavior directed toward their pet if they loved their pet. Isn't their some inherent behavior in all of us to know right and wrong?

I think the main thing that he teaches is attitude, which I guess, ties into the movement theory to a degree. How many of us are attracted to people that seem to have confidence, strength and intelligence? I would guess it is the same in the animal kingdom--which I think is the basis of Cesar’s methods. It's all attitude, baby. If you think you're in charge and exude confidence, people can sense it and I am sure dogs can, too.


If you think reward based training is bribery then you need to do more research. Classical and operant conditioning are not bribery. Everything you do to your dog, your kids, your husband, your wife, etc fits into the categories of positive or negative reinforcment and positive or negative punishment. In reward based training a dog does something for a reward. In Cesars way, a dog does something to avoid an aversive. Both ways work, but reward based training makes more sense, is way more fun for both parties and is less physical. My dogs choose to walk loosely on a leash, to sit nicely for attention, to wait before going through doors, etc. They don't do this because I am bribing them, they are doing it because I built up a history of reinforcement. Other dogs walk loosely on a leash to avoid being jerked on their choke chain, they sit nicely for attention to avoid being kneed in the chest, and they wait at the door to avoid being yelled at and jerked back if they run out. Both work, but what seems like more fun? Why do humans resort to using force and intimidation when using rewards is more effective? If you hold a treat in front of a dogs nose and lure them into place, yes you are bribing them. But if you fade the lure and they offer the behavior on their own and you mark the behavior and then reward them, then they are doing it by choice, not because they are being bribed. These methods have been used on over 100 different species and are scientifically proved. I have two suggestions- 1. research Skinner, Pavlov, and Bob and Marion Bailey and 2. Try teaching a dolphin to come back to you in the open ocean using force and intimidation and I'd guess they'd give you the finger...if they had one.

Susan Solomon

I grew up in the south in the 50's, and ran the neighborhood with from 10-15 children most of each day. The neighborhood dogs ran with us. At no time were the dogs in our way, or underfoot. They never harrassed us, nipped, pulled on clothes, begged for food, or jumped in our faces. On our part, there was no child who would tease a dog, offer food, or use physical force to intimidate or even influence behavior. No adults did this either. Somehow we were reading the language of dogs in the same way Caesar reports it was done in Mexico, in his recent best selling book, 'Cesar's Way.' When young in America, it seemed to me the world understood dogs in the natural way we children did. Dogs were corrected with the voice, or with a hand signal, involuntarily, by any 3 year old child. The attitude was stern, but calm. When people commanded a dog they meant it, with a quiet confidance. Dogs were deeply respected, and most of us had many episodes not just of imagining we had a Rin Tin Tin or Lassie, but that we were them. We understood that what was marvelous about dogs was that they were not human, that they saw the world in a simpler and more dramatic way, that they could be devoted to us in a way we, in our complex world, could never be devoted to anyone or anything without losing ourselves. It was their privilege to worship humans, yet be entirely sensitive to even our minor weakneses. Hence they brought out our strongest qualities and made us self aware. The idea that we could waste our time or the dogs' time with ambivalence, or analysis of motives and 'feeling states' had not yet reared its remarkably inane head. Caesar relates to dogs, though with more talent, exactly the way most people did in past years. At least in my old fashioned somewhat British derived childhood, our way of being with dogs, as with Caesar's Mexican culture, now seems to have represented the remnant of a very old commeraderie.
When I read Janis Bradley's blog entry, I was perplexed by her description of Caesar. Whether the show is made up of 'highly edited snippets' or not, he appears coherent and linear in his approach to interacting with the dogs. If you don't get what he's doing he explains it. The dog does not become 'helpless' anyway, it becomes attentive and responsive. What does she see? I see a dog who has tuned in his sensory aparatus, rather than one, often before Caesar arrived, who was busy drowning chaotic human signals by dominating them with noise or aggression. The misbehaving dogs Caesar is called upon to change seem to be asking their humans -- 'Are you afraid? Do you need protection? Should I run for help? Should I start a hunt? What's this? It's scaring me and you're not helping.' And so on.
I have had no training in this field other than growing up surrounded by dogs and assuming we had some kind of telepathic sympathy. I realize now it was no more than a shared language that allowed us to be around each other in any circumstance, peacefully and naturally.
What possesses Caesar's critics? Despite Gladwell's defense of Bradley, something tells me if I looked closely, I would find some kind of nitwit in her, or so we would have said fifty years ago, before the advent of the fancy behavorists and the 'tyranny of the dog.' I have seen the 'kindly' and constructive approaches of the last few decades and they seem more like sucker bait for the ignorant than meaningful methodology. The dog industry is hugely prosperous and set in its ways. Is it using and promoting the more sincere, if misguided, amongst them to trip up this resurgance of a sensible and authentic knowledge of dogs? Should Gladwell be so intellectually indulgent of her? The 'edited out' material he mentions from the Dog Whisperer seems identical with the unedited material I see on the show, at least so far as Caesar's emphasis on the owner's attitude and weaknesses, and the amount of time he spends correcting compared to enjoying the dog.
Thanks, Susan Solomon

Sherry Black

I'm puzzled by the critics of Cesar's methods but maybe they've never been around aggressive dogs. When we had golden retrievers, they wanted to please us. Treats, pats on the head, kind words... those worked great with the goldens who couldn't do enough to make us happy. Now I have a dog who has been aggressive towards strangers and other dogs because I didn't socialize him when he was younger. Offering this guy a treat in return for sitting quietly was a joke. He wasn't motivated by food or praise. He was looking for a fight or the thrill of going nuts when someone came to the door. Three weeks ago, I started taking him for a walk everyday, and yes, he's wearing a choke collar. He has a thick neck and is very strong, so I wasn't sure even that would control him. The first few days, I had to wear a leather glove to keep the leash from tearing up my hand when he lunged at another person or dog on the trail, but I stayed with it. I've used Cesar's concept of quick corrections and trying to keep myself calm and contolled as well instead of getting tense, panicky and fearful when other people or dogs come in sight. Before watching Cesar, I hadn't realized that my getting upset and yelling only made my dog more aggitated. This morning, we were able to walk by a man and woman without a dog, then by a man with a dog and there was some interest from my dog but virtually no struggle. I wasn't sure that would ever be possible without a personal intervention by Cesar. Now I know my dog won't be confined to the house or backyard for the rest of his life. He can walk in public on a loose lead without pulling, so we can both enjoy the daily exercise. My dread and apprehension are gone and I look forward to our excursions. Today, at the end of our walk, I stopped to let a car go by before we crossed the street, and my dog sat immediately and waited calmly. The woman driving the car slowed down, rolled down her window and said, "I wish my dog behaved like yours." That made me laugh! "Three weeks of consistent walks with me in control," I said back to her. Oddly enough, this very independent dog is now affectionate which he wasn't before, and we seem to have a real connection. So Cesar's detractors can say what they like, but his methods aren't cruel. He may not be right for everyone, but he's certainly given my dog a chance to get outside and enjoy a walk in the woods everyday. Thank you, Cesar!

Treva Bauer

I totally agree with the last post. I have two dogs, the largest is 22lbs, that may not sound large to some people, but I am only 100lbs and 49 yrs old with Osteoprosis. I have watched many of Cesar's episodes and 2 days ago, I figured I would give it a try walking the biggest one.
Within 30 minutes, he was doing excatly as Cesar explained. I had walked him a few times with a harness, it was terrible, he had pulled me so hard I couldn't hardly move the next day. Then, I came home and put the other dog on the leash, she is a Rat Terrier, and weighs about 14 lbs, she protested at first, and I let her for a few minutes, then gave her the human bite...she sat down, then I said ok...and she walked...no problem. I don't see that Cesar does ANYTHING wrong. As responsible pet owners we ALL must do what we need to do to protect other people and other pets...whatever it takes. When I took the largest one to the groomer yesterday, they were amazed on his new behavior and asked what happened, I took one of Cesar's DVD's up to them, they are also going to give it a try.
We live in a VERY small town with 4,500 people, lots of farmland, not everyone here watches alot of Tv. I personally think Cesar is doing a wonderful job and service.
If you have watched some of his shows, there are pet owners that have had 2 sessions of training and didn't help at all, he comes in and talks with them and tells them what to do FIRST, then shows them...it can't get any better!!!
His instuctions DO work, and he does NOT hurt the dogs!!!


I just want to say, although I did not read the article in the New Yorker, we, my husband and I, have watched the "Dog Whisperer" and we do agree with many techniques Cesar uses.

My husband is actually a trainer himself and uses some of these techniques, also. He learned about his love for dog training while being stationed in Belgium. We had a dog while in the States but when we left for Belgium the temperatures were too high to ship our dog, so we chose to leave her with my parents and have her shipped in September. We were making arrangements for her to be shipped on 9/16, then the unfortunate 9/11 happened and everything changed, most airlines had a pet embargo for some time. While waiting for the embargo to expire, she got out of my parents yard and was hit by a truck. She lived, however had lost her leg. The vets worked very diligently trying to nurse her leg back to working condition, this took a very long time and the vets suggested she stay with my parents for the time being. We agreed. At this time, my husband felt we should have a dog in the house for protection, there were many break-ins going on in many American homes in our area from the aftermath of 9/11. My husband contacted a trainer in Belgium, who happens to be very widely known in Europe for his training, he suggested we get a Belgian Malinois.

My husband began training with her, she is a champion dog from competitions held in Belgium. She is the most well behaved dog I've ever seen and I'm not being biased. My husband learned how to train through this trainer and the trainer then certified Nick as a trainer.

We returned to the States in 2005 and live in upstate NY where, as a hobby my husband trains dogs for obedience for people in the our community. We have had several "clients" tell us they notice a difference after one session. My husband likes to have a client come for at least 10 sessions because he feels you cannot change a dogs' behavior overnight. He is very good at what he does with dogs and for that we have two very well behaved dogs that are also part of our family.

And yes, he will continue to use some of the same techniques you see Cesar use, and for that he will also continue to receive some critism, however the positive feedback completely outweighs the negative,I'm sure it's the same for Cesar.

Roberta Cerra

In regards to the show the "Dog Whisperer". I have watched every episope. I am a highly educated woman with a bachelors and masters degree plus I am a vetrinary technician. I am a dog trainer who uses dog psychology. Cesar is wonderful and he has a lot of the same messages as the Dog Listener from England who also had a tv show. Cesar is correct that we must be the leader. I have worked with many aggressive dogs both people and dog aggressive. Cesar's message about the "walk" is vitally important. The problem is most pet stores do not sell martingale show leads and I find them to be the most effective on aiding in mastering the walk. Cesar's formula is on target a dog needs physical and mental exercise. In other words a dog needs a job. Cesar does not use ear pinches or the forced down such as the Koehler method used. Anyone who has worked with dogs knows that body language is way more important than yelling "No". Keys to anyone who wants to be the dogs leader is to ignore the dog when entering the house as a leader ignores them when they return. Also to make the dog work for things not just put the food bowl down. Give the command sit and wait then say ok when the dog can eat the food. Trust and respect is what having a relationship with a dog is about. People like Jean Donaldson, Patricia McConnel, the Stein Monks, the Dog Listener from England and our own Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan are great sources to better your relationship with your dog. My advise is people read what they all have to say and they will see the similarities.

chris mackay

I have worked with dogs for 25 years and it is confusing all the advise dog owners get on how to train due to the many different approaches on the subject. I believe that the owner knows more about their own dog then they think but have a tendency to put human emotions or logic to their dog. Understandable that is where we come from. In reality, dogs are not people they can do incredible things we obviously can't. Therefore, I believe that all owners owe it to there dog/dogs to try hard to understand THEM. I see no problem with
cesar's method. I have worked with aggressive and dangerous dogs but I specialize in timid and abused dogs. I think that people misunderstand greatly what is meant by pack leader. Is is not "domination" as we think of in the negative sense. It is the same as parenting, developing kind yet firm boundaries and enviroment in which the dog can feel secure and loved. Yor will see what I mean if you think of teens with parents that do nothing but yell and boss their kids around to a teen who has loving yet FIRM interested parents. It is no difference with dogs. Do not confuse leadership with abuse, that is not what he is trying to portray. Take also that there is a difference in breeds, some dogs are breed for over many generations to be used in aggressive manners. Fierce protectors or defenders they can be. As uncomfortable as it is for us humans it is necessary to use appropriate methods to gain the respect AND love of a dog that potentially outwieghts you and can do harm if not trained well. Show me some one who has been bite and I will show you an owner that has not taken the necessary steps to ensure both that the dog's safety and human safety. These mistakes range from minor to major but rarely have a good outcome for our beloved pet. We need to be very careful when putting human feelings and standards to dogs. You wouldn't oh that poor lion he is in a cage would you?

Pat Palmer

The person who criticized Cesar by believing he is making dogs depressed a la Skinner's shock therapy is way off the mark. Cesar is using DISTRACTION to prevent the animal from obsessing or getting started in an undesirable behavior.

Trainers using traditional methods are good at teaching dogs TO do something, but bad at teaching them NOT to do things. They also give up on a lot of dogs.

Trainers are not rehabilitators, and they ought not to act like they are.

rose darroch

we just got a new puppy and when we put on the leash she stops dead in her tracks, as long as she is off the leash she does good. help

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo


  • I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference", "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "Outliers: The Story of Success." My latest book, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City.

    My great claim to fame is that I'm from the town where they invented the BlackBerry. My family also believes (with some justification) that we are distantly related to Colin Powell. I invite you to look closely at the photograph above and draw your own conclusions.

My Website


  • What the Dog Saw

    buy from amazon


    buy from amazon

    buy from amazon UK


    buy from amazon

    buy from amazon UK

    Tipping Point

    buy from amazon

Recent Articles

Blog powered by Typepad