Cesar Millan's dog training philosophy and methods.
He's a terrible dog trainer and knows nothing about domestic dogs and his television is hazardous to the well being of any dog who lives in a household that watches it.
Regarding Pro or Con:
I am a little confused as to our roles. The way you phrased round one seems invested, as in; you dislike Cesar and believe he is outdated, disaproved, etc... But then you selected Con meaning that you will be defending Cesar and his techniques, please elaborate, will you be defending Cesar's techniques or criticizing them? I ask because you are new and I suspected perhaps you actually meant to fulfill the position of Pro.
Clearing the Semantics:
Considering the context - canine training techniques - "terrible" should be defined as 'of very poor quality'. Poor quality in respects to training techniques would mean they're ineffective and inefficient.
To conclude, we must debate whether Cesar's techniques are:
1) Outdated - Meaning less credible and or relevant than newer techniques and research.
2) Disapproved of - Meaning the majority of the scholarly community specializing in animal psychology and training disagrees with Cesar's methods.
3) Cesar's techniques are terrible - as in ineffective and inefficient toward the end of training dogs.
Are these agreeable goals? Thank you for bearing with my request for clarification, the clearer these things are the more productive our debate will be!
1) "Terrible" Definition #3c As accessed on 5/14/2015 - http://www.merriam-webster.com...
1. Why it's outdated
It's based off the premise that dogs behave like wolves and that wolves have a strict pack hierarchy kept in place by force and control from the alpha pair. Both of these ideas came from a study on captive wolves done in 1947. After that, a few more studies, saw the same harsh fighting, and the alpha pair using force and aggressive dominance to keep incessant control on lower members of the pack but these were all studies done on captive wolves, often from various places put in a zoo enclosure.
More recent studies, observing in the wild find that wolf packs consist of a breeding pair and their pups from the past 1-3 years, and occasionally, multiple breeding pairs and past pups., and that fighting for dominance was extremely rare, and was highly situational, http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov...
Cesar claims to have witnessed the aforementioned violent pack behavior in feral dogs around his home. Its now understood that feral dogs are solitary, or form a bonded pair, and have their own feeding territory, and spend most of their time alone. There is no evidence of an alpha in feral dogs.
2. Does the majority of scholarly community in animal behavior disagree
Absolutely, and overwhelmingly so.
The American Association of Pet Dog Trainers has disproved it and has taken a position against it.
The Human-Animal Mutualism Division of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants is against it.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior is against it
The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors is against it
3. He has an ineffective and inefficient training method
Of course if the harsh assertive dominance doesn't exist in wolves, and domestic dogs don't even have the pack mentality to have an alpha, there's no way to conclude a domestic dog's bad behavior is due to their owners lack of dominance and is a weak pack leader.
Therefore, rolling the dog over to submit is pointless. You cannot force a dog back into a submissive role when they're not trying to step out if it in the first place.
He often floods a dog with a stimuli that's causing the dog to react poorly, and when the dog "submits" to his "calm assertive energy" he claims he's fixing the behavior. In reality, the dog is entering learned helplessness, a common response to flooding.
His other main training technique is positive punishment, a training technique that has a much higher risk of anxiety, fear, and aggression and statistically, dogs trained with positive reinforcement are more obedient.
This study observes how punishment is met with a higher level of aggression or fear
Based off my opponents response in round two, I understand that her role is Pro and I am to assume the role of Con.
Regardless of what Cesar's books say, his actions ARE extremely intimidating to dogs.
around 12:20/12:30 you see him jabbing the dog in the neck, and standing over the dog, trying to move the dog away from his food bowl. The dog responds aggressively, of course. He continues to stare the dog down until he starts showing appeasement behaviors (lip licking, hand licking, and laying down)
What he fails to do is address the actual issue. In this situation, he's only communicated to the dog that growling and biting does not clearly communicate to Cesar what the dog wants. This often ends up with a dog that's "unpredictable" because all of his warning signs have been ignored or punished.
Around 21:20, you see him again pushing the dog away from the food bowl using "tsst" and a fake hand. The dogs hackles are up and her tail is tucked. She's not calm and attentive, she's very uncomfortable.
A dog that's properly punished, through the correct application of positive punishment, may be calm and attentive.
Cesar does not properly apply positive punishment.
here, around 8:30, you see him with a French bulldog mix on a herm springer collar. A tool often used for corrections in larger dogs. It's not recommended to be used on smaller dogs because it can be extremely harmful to the trachea. (especially brachycephalic breeds like the bulldog, who already have trouble breathing)
around 8:50, you see the dog growing increasingly uncomfortable and scared, while Millan continuously applies punishment. The dog is clearly intimidated.
Again at 25:00, he's goes back in forth with the dogs "tsst" and shoving fingers in the dogs faces, again intimidating these dogs. They lower their heads, and ears and tuck their tails. These dogs are not attentive, they're scared.
Basically, in Millan's book, he paints a pretty picture of "calm and assertive energy" but his actions are very obviously intimidating and aggressive, contrary to what his book says.
here's a link that contains more instances of him harming, and intimidating dogs. Sometimes bordering abuse. http://4pawsu.com...
2. Response to rebuttal
Dominance is of course seen in the wild, but only when resources are limited.
The domestic dog (again, an animal that we have no evidence to support it having a pack mentality as wolves would, therefore, they cannot possibly have an innate concept of an alpha, or the desire to be one) is not competing for food or breeding rights in a regular household. Us as humans control that already.
Submission behavior and relaxed behavior are not the same
Here are some links that work
this study shows that dogs trained with positive reinforcement are more likely to respond to a command (vs your source that says a dog in a follower position will respond with a " nearly instinctual response to the "pack leader's" commands"
This study observed dogs trained without punishment were less likely to show any aggressive behavior
Arguments 1&2 Rebuttal
Cesar's success started in a time when we really did believe dogs were trying to dominate us. Saying that his success must hint at the fact that he's correct is like saying Hitler's success also meant something.
The ASPCA doesn't believe in dominance in dogs
Bergin University does support Millan, but their alumni and students do not
Its been rumored that the support Millan receives is based off of his donations and funding
My response to your conclusion:
You haven't posted any sources that say his methods are effective or efficient, nor any that say cesar has actually successfully saved any of these dogs.
He cannot teach in Germany due to the training test he failed (that his spokesperson blamed on the language barrier, but that proved to be untrue)
And this talks about the lawsuit Millan's TV Producer filed against him for mistreatment of his dog.
this post does a good job of outlining the flaws in Millans methods as well.
This article is written by someone who Millan "helped"
her dog ended up more aggressive.
It's hard to find testimonials from people who's dogs actually interacted with Millan, barring what he has written on his website. That in itself is suspicious.
So to summarize my response
-Cesar Millan does use aggressive and intimidating styles of handling, regardless of what he writes in his book
-Dogs don't have a pack mentality and have no understanding of an "alpha" figure.
-His success and support do not automatically mean he's correct in his way of training and understanding of canine behavior.
First off, I feel silly for my confusion regarding my role. DDO is a guilty pleasure of mine while at work, the quick tabbing in and out led me to read Round 1 as the Title Statement. Much thanks to my opponent and the readers for their patience with my misplaced but well-meaning requests for clarity.
Rebuttal 1: Cesar & Holly
Context: Con presents the 'red zone' case of Holly the Lab, her dog parents Kelly and Hyrum Lai had confided in three trainers  prior to Cesar's involvement. Holly exhibited outrageously aggressive resource guarding, this was particularly troubling due to the risk of their 18 month old son suffering attack. With resources guarding at this level it's quite feasible that the fourth trainer at the humane society (if one was even offered) would conclude like the latter three that Holly was a lost cause - resulting in her euthanization.
Hackles & Discomfort:
Con suggests that Holly's raised hackles were due to Cesar's 'intimidation' technique. However, at 2:20 of Con's linked video we see that Holly's owner (since she was a puppy) is very far from her, with non-threatening body language and yet still her hackles were raised.  The owner moves a broom handle around three feet from her and she lashes out viciously.
Logic, and the Belmont Veterinary Centre indicate that when a dog is resource guarding "backing off will reward the dogs’ behavior making it more likely to do it again".  The logic is clear, if the dog growls and bites to defend it's food and the dog observes that this method is effective, the credibility of the behavior to the dog will be reinforced. Other sources also concede to this notion [3, 4]
Proper Application of Positive Punishment
I would argue that a case with this degree of aggression has passed the point of calm and attentive behavior as is evident by the failure of three other trainers. Cesar mentioned that he was attempting to 'snap' the brain out of the wound up and aggressive state so that calm submissive behavior could be acheived and then reward could follow.
Addressing the Problem
Con proclaims Cesar "did not actually address the problem" Con goes on to say; "In this situation, he's only communicated to the dog that growling and biting does not clearly communicate to Cesar what the dog wants." Which correct me if I'm wrong, is exactly what Cesar intended to communicate. Holly needs to understand that growling and biting are not proper communication methods.
Consider 21:55, you can already see improvement on an violent behavior that had persisted and been reinforced over several years. 
Also from 20:20 to 22:20 we see Cesar using Desensitization Therapy, the same therapy one of your sources condemned, while the ASPCA encourages it.  Most importantly, we've seen in the evidence linked by Con that it actually works. 
We need to understand what is the touch, how should it be done and what function does it preform?
What is it & Contexts: In the context of a dog that has an issue of barking, the touch will be just the simple contact of human and dog with minimal to no pressure applied. In the context of a vicious dog attack, clearly one must increase the speed of the touch to avoid being bitten, Cesar warns that this is never to be done in anger or with the intention of causing pain, it is simply a psychological wake up call.
Why: When a dog is in a very anxious, high energy or excited state of mind, the touch is used to snap them out of that state of mind.
Here is the 'touch' in a different context: In the following citation, we see Cesar using the touch to almost immediately produce results that seemed impossible for the owner  It is critical that we pause and observe the dog's body language, the dog did not respond with any fearful or anxious language. 
Rebuttal 2: Semantics, the Dominatrix
Semantics play a significant role here, we need to understand how one another defines terms -
Con concedes that dominance is an aspect in nature, whether wild dogs in a particular study in a particular context adhered to a specific idea of what a 'pack' might resemble does not refute this concession.
Cesar establishes his very different perception of dominance and pack leaders in my previous Rebuttal 1 & 2. They do not resemble the definitions proposed by Con.
Con states "Submission behavior and relaxed behavior are not the same" This is very true, Cesar makes it clear that to him submission is defined as relaxed attentiveness. Is it against human rights for a mother to tell her son to clean his room and for him to react in submission by saying 'yes, mother' without a tantrum.
We need to be careful to avoid trends of semantic confusion and slippery slopes here.
Rebuttal 3: Choosing a Collar
For argument's sake, I won't ask for a citation on the damage herm spring collar in question can cause in 'small dogs'.
Con attributes the dog owners choice of a herm spring collar for the French Bulldog to Cesar. Cesar does not recommend herm spring collars. 
Con states that the Bulldog "you see the dog growing increasingly uncomfortable and scared". As we established earlier, if Cesar were to release the dog at this point, it would understand that in order to get what it wants it needs to be anxious, restless and tug at it's owner. [2, 3, 4]
As for what we see at 25 minutes I submit the above statement in conjuction with the citations.
Ultimately, I would hope that the reader notes how both of these episodes show cased how the behavior was changed immediately. If you review their body language after the temper tantrums you will see they are quite all right, best of all they remain not euthanized.
Rebuttal 4: DDO & Error 404
The parenthesis in the link caused DDO to render it unusable, by manually merging them I was able to follow the links.
The first link under your third argument was a survey of 53 dog owners who reported that dogs who favored 'physical punishment' techniques tended to preform less than dogs receiving rewards. I'd like to point out a couple problems here:
1) You must prove that this is Cesar's technique resembles whatever it was these dog owners were doing.
2) 53 random dog owners is hardly going to produce reliable results.
3) Without some professional degree of training, the study subjects have far too varying ideas of 'physical punishment' and expressive body languages.
The second link has all the same problems as the first one but a larger study group of 140, hardly enough to quantify an both species which are variables here (humans & dogs). Note that this second link consisted of surveys filled out in the waiting room of a referal behavior service office with no scientific follow up or involvement.
Rebuttal 5: Let's Debate
Concerning the remaining links:
German Training Course: Your scrutiny of Mr. Millan is vicious, he can't even fail an obscure training course in a foreign country without being wholly condemned.
Lawsuit Vs. Producer: The link provided tells the story of a suit that has not even been fully filed, even if it were filed and even if they won, it would be nothing about Cesar's techniques as an outlier cannot be used as a generalizing condemnation.
The other links: Clearly the folks in the latter links are very upset and dislike Cesar and his techniques (or as I suspect are simply caught up on the semantics of terms like 'dominate'). However, they did not provide a single citation and I am not here to argue with them
Argument 1: Rebuttal Review
I'd like to present a few facts from my rebuttals as evidence that Cesar's techniques are indeed effective:
1) Con's own source admits that Cesar uses desensetization therapy, which is a provenly effective therapy method. [11, 12]
2) I would submit Con's video links as well as the entire series to showcase the effectiveness of Cesar's methods. (this should be fair game since it was brought to our attention by Con to begin with).
3) I would also point out the concept of standing your ground until favorable behavior is observed. [2, 3, 4]
I have demonstrated Cesar's use of proven psychological therapy techniques, demonstrated how in many ways Milan is on the same page as even my opponent's citations and rebutted my opponents arguments. I hold that I have successfully defended and reinforced Cesar's techniques.
11) Chamove, A.S. (2005). Spider Phobic Therapy Toy. The Behavior Analyst Today, 6(2), 109–25 BAO
12) CARNAGEY, N; ANDERSON, C; BUSHMAN, B (1 May 2007). "The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violencea34;". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43 (3): 489–496. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2006.05.003
I think it's noteworthy to point out, that the family decided not to keep Holly.
The point of fixing resource guarding is to not stop the dog from biting, but to teach the dog that there is nothing to fear in the first place. Backing off can be seen as "rewarding" and therefore cause reinforcement of the aggressive behavior, but putting the dog in that "fight for food" state to begin with was the first mistake. He could be communicating to Holly that every meal is a fight and she should be on high alert next time based off of the altercation that happened last time.
You don't see "improvement," you see the dog being insecure about Millan's presence near her. She's turning away, licking her lips, and avoiding him. She's not comfortable with him near her. That doesn't indicate the problem has been fixed, but that Millan put a big bandaid on it. Furthermore, this is the aired episode. This has been cut and pasted to LOOK like improvement is happening already. We have no idea if that took weeks to accomplish or hours, or anything.
As for the desensitization therapy. That's not the same method as flooding, which was mentioned earlier. http://www.mdjunction.com...
And the point of desensitization is to get the dog accustomed to the stimuli, so they no longer fear it. Holly jumped away when the hand was put in her food bowl. Millan didn't desensitize her to the hand, he taught her to fear it even more.
yes it is, and he got bit. Walking away from the dog and allowing it to return to a calm state of mind would have been a better option for the dog. Unfortunately, that's boring to the TV viewer. If the dog was in such an agitated state of mind, touching the dog, regardless of speed or pressure of the touch, is only going to increase that agitation until she bites. Which she did.
You then link a dog that has less of a resource guarding issue, and then go onto say "this dog isn't fearful or anxious"
That dog is clearly a different dog with different issues. That's kind of comparing apples to oranges. Its easy to teach a dog that's not crazy about food to leave the food alone.
This is what Millan defines as dominant behaviors and submissive behaviors.
This explains why those behaviors are in no way linked to "dominance"
If he doesn't recommend it, it's a moot point.
"the behavior was changed immediately"
again, this is a cut and edited video clip. We have no actual evidence to prove the results happened immediately or over a longer period of time.
DDO and Error
That should take care of any link issues.
It's a link that contains links to multiple studies done on positive reinforcement vs negative.
Rebuttal 1: They Didn't Keep Holly & "No Improvement"
Con suggests that because Cesar advised not to keep Holly progress wasn't made. I submit evidence showing Holly did improve quite profoundly, as you can see in the citation below , even Cesar notes how impressive it was. Remember that Holly's reward for aggression was being fortified over serveral years. For any progress let alone such profound progress to be made is very impressive, also note that three other trainers attempted to rehabilitate this severe case. 
Rebuttal 2: Resource Guarding - Fear or Aggression
Con contends that Holly's resource guarding was fear, I submit it is aggression based on the intense aggression she displayed to her owner (since she was a puppy) while he was both far away and not showing aggressive body language. [3, 4]
Rebuttal 3: Desensitization Vs Flooding
Con submits that flooding and desensitization are different things, upon following her citation I noticed several things:
1) Foremost, this citation is a forum post with no citations to back up its conclusions.
2) Additionally, this citation even if true does not indicate flooding is a ineffective training method. As we see in Con's own citation, this therapy is suprisingly effective. 
Rebuttal 4: Cesar Promoted Fear in Holly
Again, I submit evidence indicating that Holly's behavior was not fear but aggression  and as the evidence shows, backing away in these scenario only fortifies the validity of behaving aggressive to Holly. [6, 7, 8]
Rebuttal 5: Video Tampering
Con now contends the validity of the citation she presented for review. Unless Con can provide enough evidence from either former or current crew members, friends, past clients, producers, bystanders than we've no reason to believe Nat Geo's claim of this being a reality program was subverted.
Rebuttal 6:Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement certainly has it's place, I submit however that in overboard aggressive cases, positive reinforcement has lost most if not all of its usefullness. Consider why, if a dog is not willing to produce behavior that can even be positively reinforced then positive reinforcement is not a possibility.
Cesar's techniques produce positive change in the behavior and lives of dogs and their families, Con's arguments to show otherwise have been rebutted. Vote Pro!!!! - Please look at the top of Round 3, thanks again to the readers and my opponent for their patience with me.
It was fun Con!
2. Resource guarding aggression stems from fear or insecurity the food item will be taken away by someone. Aggression is often a symptom of fear.
"All behavior is the result of a combination
of genetics and environment.
If coupled with insecurity related to resources, the tendency
could blossom into resource guarding."
Desensitization vs flooding
" It works by exposing the patient to their painful memories, with the goal of reintegrating their repressed emotions with their current awareness."
"This is a faster (yet less efficient and more traumatic) method of ridding fears when compared with systematic desensitization."
" is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it."
"This procedure is seldom effective and has welfare implications in dogs"
4. See first link
5. Video Tampering
I did indeed present the citation for review. Under the context we were looking at Millan's behavio which conflicted with what he wrote in his book. Not under the context we were looking at the results and attributing them to the time in which they were displayed on the show.
"They heavily edit the footage to make long processes and mistakes look instant and to cover up some of the even harsher techniques he uses."
I tried to find more evidence, honestly, there's just not that much. Other than this interview
The producer claims they film for hours a day, with little time for breaks. He does then go on to say that the show is mostly unedited, but where do the rest of those hours go? An episode is only 30-60 minutes long.
Anyone who assumes that because a TV network says it's real, it must be, is naive. Every reality tv show says it's real, uncut footage.
I also found a lack of evidence that Millan's training has a lasting affect on dogs. There are very few follow ups outside of what's shown at the end of the episodes.
There is very little mention of these dogs outside of Millans episodes except for a few notations here and there about dogs who were still given up or euthanized after being on the show
6. Positive reinforcement.
Your suggestion is due to what i assume is a lack of understanding and experience with positive reinforcement, not an actual flaw with the method.
Positive reinforcement is not used in the same manner Millan's training is used. If a dog is "overboard aggressive" a positive reinforcement trainer would observe the dog to find what stimuli is triggering an aggressive response, and would not expose the dog to the stimuli at such a close proximity or in such an intense environment, so the stimuli would never elicit such a response. That of course is not as much fun to watch on tv.
Rebuttal 1: Other Trainers
Not knowing the credentials of the other trainers does not indicated that the trainers are good or bad, we safely assume that considering what was at stake (possibly their son's life), and considering the couple had to keep finding new (as well as better) trainers, it's very likely the couple was particularly interested in their trainer's reputation and credentials.
Rebuttal 2: Resource Guarding, Only Fear?
In the first paragraph of ASPCA's Resource Guarding article, they distinguish between fearful and aggressive resource guarding. Upon reflecting my citations in previous rounds noting dog body language, it becomes clear that Holly is severely aggressive not fearful. 
Rebuttal 3: Flooding Again
Pro's own source goes on to concede that flooding "is quick and usually effective." When the variables are taken into account; a childs life and Cesars limited time, flooding is indeed the most suitable option. More importantly, Con would need to well establish the likeness of Cesar's techniques and flooding. It seems to me what he has been doing is desensitization, flooding would more present itself as several people and dogs rushing upon Holly's food bowl. 
Rebuttal 4: Tampering with Results
First off I would submit that fabricating the profound level of progeress Holly made is hardly fabricatable. 
The Crossover Trainer
The author of this article alleges to have "came across an article that had been written by someone who had their personal dog go to the Dog Psychology Center”. The author however does not reveal any details or citations to accredit this 'article'. Even if the article was verifiable, the claims are not. For example, the author states "Cesar Milan has a television show. I am a professional that is involved in the entertainment Industry – The show’s producers have a script to follow, and they must keep those sponsors. They heavily edit the footage to make long processes and mistakes look instant and to cover up some of the even harsher techniques he uses." Note the author does not indicate they are involved in Cesar's show nor even Nat Geo as a network...
Con notes that "anyone who assumes that because a TV network says it's real, it must be, is naive." I agree completely with Con, however I would submit that anyone who believes the contrary without supporting evidence is also naive. A network does have a reputation to uphold, if it made false claims as you claim, it risks defamation and damage to it's reputations. Considering your link to the interview with the producer, it seems quite unscripted:
"First, our crew would arrive and interview the owner(s) as well as film the dog's bad behavior. Next, we filmed Cesar interviewing the owners, something we came to call "the consultation". After that, we filmed Cesar working with the dog and owners until the problem was solved. Finally, we filmed follow-up interviews with Cesar and the owners. We would gobble down food during a half hour lunch break, then we would travel to the next owner's house and repeat the same process all over again.
Since the second season, we now only shoot one story per day, but they often take ten to twelve hours because many of the stories are more complicated or require more complex solutions." 
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