The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Cesar Millan's dog training philosophy and methods.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/11/2015 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,226 times Debate No: 71548
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)




Cesar Millan uses a highly outdated and disproved method of training and has a complete misunderstanding of canine behavior. The dominance theory of wolves and domestic dogs is widely disproved and yet he still claims you must be the "alpha"
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.


I accept.

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 The way you phrased round one seems invested, as in; you dislike Cesar and believe he is outdated, disaproved, etc...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'.[1] 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1) Outdated - Meaning less credible and or relevant than newer techniques and research.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 -
Debate Round No. 1


Ah I see. Yes I am against Cesar Millan's training techniques and philosophy, and yes all the points you lined up, are the exact points I want to debate. I'll go ahead and address them now under the pretense you're familiar with Millan's methodology and take on canine behavior.

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 Why it's outdated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,

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.,_2004).pdf

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.

Rebuttal 1: Outdated Research and Cesar Millan

My opponent is attacking scientists previously held notion that wolves engaged in "harsh fighting" with the "alpha pair using force and aggressive dominance to keep incessant control on lower members of the pack". My opponent needs to establish that Cesar Millan holds this belief, not conductors of a past study.

Consider this excerpt from Cesar's book "Cesar's Way" we see that his view is quite different from what my opponent is suggesting:

"Anger, aggression, or abuse toward a dog will not establish you as pack leader; an angry, aggressive leader is not in control. Calm-assertive energy and daily, consistent leadership behavior will make enforcing the rules easier." [1]
Which so happens to be oddly familiar to my opponent's sources' recommendation "The APDT advocates training dogs with an emphasis on rewarding desired behaviors and discouraging undesirable behaviors using clear and consistent instructions and avoiding psychological and physical intimidation"

Intimidate: to make timid or fearful: frighten [4]

As we see in the latter part of Rebuttal 2, Cesar indicates that when properly disciplined a dog should be calm and attentive, not fearful and whimpering. [1]

Rebuttal 2: Defining Dominance, Pack Leader and Pack Member

A key term needing thorough evaluation is dominance, what does it mean to my opponent and more importantly, what does it mean to Cesar Millan?

First, I'll establish what dominance means to my opponent using her own sources:

I should mention that even my opponent's own source concedes that "dominance is a valid scientific concept" The question is what is dominance to Cesar and is that concept hurtful? [2]

One source offers a direct definition of what dominance means to the source author and I'm assuming (since my opponent cited this source) to my opponent as well:

"Dominance is defined as a relationship between individual animals that is established by force/aggression and submission, to determine who has priority access to multiple resources such as food, preferred resting spots, and mates" [3]

Now, lets review Cesar's philosophy, does he use force and aggression to establish submission (or as I suspect Cesar means; reverence, shown through a calm and obedient state) as my opponent claims he does:

Note Cesar's input in Rebuttal 1 and continue with me to consider these additional quotes where
Cesar establishes his view on the position of the 'pack leaders' or as my opponent would have us put it 'breeding pair'.

For the 'pack leader' we should see: "Calm-assertive energy – This is the energy you project to show your dog you are the calm and assertive pack leader. Note: assertive does not mean angry or aggressive. Calm-assertive means always compassionate, but quietly in control."[1]

For the subordinate pack member we should see: "Calm-submissive energy – In nature, this is the appropriate energy for a "follower" in a dog pack, and thus the ideal energy for a dog to project when living in a household with humans. Signs of calm-submissive energy include a relaxed posture, ears held back, and a nearly instinctual response to the "pack leader's" commands"[1]

So in the leader we see compassion, assertion and calm energy, we also see similar things in the pack member or dog - certainly not the idea of Cesar's methods portrayed by my opponent.

Rebuttal 3: Semantics & Error 404

Your first link includes commentary from a Dr. Andrew Luescher who claims that "Millan’s techniques are almost exclusively based on two techniques: flooding and positive punishment. In flooding, an animal is exposed to a fear evoking stimulus (which sometimes results in aggression) and prevented from leaving the situation until the animal stops reacting." I would refute his concern over 'flooding' as he calls it (known in psychology as desensitization) by revealing that it is a commonly practiced psychotherapy on both animals and human beings.[9, 10]

As for the other two allegations made in your third argument, your links displayed a 404 error, therefore I cannot take them under consideration.

Argument 1: Cesar's Feedback from the Professional and General Community:

The "Cesar Millan Foundation" (a non-profit rescue, rehabilitation and educational program) alone has earned a generous degree of recognition from the academic community totalling at over 10 accredited awards for philanthropy and animal rights. [5] It has also brought together the efforts of over 25 corporations, leading animal rights groups and television networks toward the end of putting a stop to animal abuse, rescuing and educating dog lovers everywhere. Some of these endorsements are from the ASPCA, Bergin University of Canine Studies and North Shore Animal League America. [6]

Argument 2: Cesar's Success In Spite of Odds
While success and popularity don't guarantee soundness of argument, it does establish the contrary as unlikely especially when placed against Cesar's odds. Successful rehabilitation or at least the appearance of it must exist prior to success for success to come

Cesar Millan was born into Poverty in Mexico, at 21 he came to the US without a visa or even any currency in 1990. His talents of dealing with dogs first landed him a bed to sleep (the floor of his first job - a dog groomer shop), then the creation of his first Pacific Point Canine Academy all the way up to his career at Nat Geo as the Dog Whisperer, it's possible, but highly unlikely that these were achieved with absolutely no efficiency or effectiveness of technique. I would submit that when discussing the nature of animal psychology or even human psychology, these things aren't so quantifiable as mathematics or chemistry. [7, 8]


Cesar's techniques are effective, efficient and have saved many, many dogs from being denied families due to behavioral issues or in some tragic cases, euthanasia.

I apologize for the oddly placed small font, I'm not sure why it is doing that


1) Cesar's official site:
2) Dominance is valid in Paragraph 3 -
7) "Cesar Millan". Modern Dog Magazine, Mary-Jo Dionne,.
8) Patterson, John (May 16, 2009). "All heel for Cesar". The Age (Australia).
9) Chamove, A.S. (2005). Spider Phobic Therapy Toy. The Behavior Analyst Today, 6(2), 109–25 BAO
10) 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
Debate Round No. 2


Response to rebuttal 1
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.

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 [5] 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. [1] The owner moves a broom handle around three feet from her and she lashes out viciously.

Backing Off:
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". [2] 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.[5] 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.

Confrontation 12:20-15:25

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. [6]

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. [7] Most importantly, we've seen in the evidence linked by Con that it actually works. [6]

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 [8] It is critical that we pause and observe the dog's body language, the dog did not respond with any fearful or anxious language. [9]

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. [10]

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[13] 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

Debate Round No. 3


1. Holly
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.

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.

The touch:
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"

The collar:
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 [1], 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. [2]

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. [1]

Rebuttal 4: Cesar Promoted Fear in Holly

Again, I submit evidence indicating that Holly's behavior was not fear but aggression [5] 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!



Debate Round No. 4


1. Could Cesar show her her place in the pack efficiently enough? Also, no where are the credentials of the other trainers mentioned, or the method they attempted to train her with.

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. [1]

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. [2]

Rebuttal 4: Tampering with Results

First off I would submit that fabricating the profound level of progeress Holly made is hardly fabricatable. [3]

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." [4]

From this quote from your source we can tell that their intention was to in fact help these dog owners as they note that some issues were "more complicated and required more complex solutions".

Rebuttal 5: Positive Reinforcement

According to the humane society, positive reinforcement "positive reinforcement training uses praise and/or treats to reward your dog for doing something you want him to do." As we can see a dog must first do 'something you want him to do' before positive reinforcement to follow. My rebuttal still stands, Holly's violent resource guarding had been nurtured for years prior to Cesars therefore you cannot expect positive reinforcement to be usefull within the first 10 minutes of their meeting, as Cesar said he needed to snap her mind out of that intense state - this must first happen before positive reinforcement can be utilized.

Thanks a bunch to Con for a fun debate and for her patience regarding my confusion (see round 3). I maintain that 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!



Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Interloped 3 years ago
And thanks a ton for taking the time to read through all of this, I know I could have certainly done a better job in presenting clear and on point arguments. Sorry for the mess, I was pretty exhausted by the 3rd round : /
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
More than just the number of rounds, I think this debate could have been much better if you had stuck to the three points and explained why your arguments there mattered. And switching the headings around and relabeling the topics actually made it more difficult to judge the debate.
Posted by Interloped 3 years ago
I agree very much, five rounds was way too many :(
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
Part of the reason I thought this debate was such a mess is the lack of tying things back to the resolution. First off, 5 rounds is unnecessarily long and tedious but even more so because neither debater actually gave me much reason to vote their side. I'd strongly recommend sticking to the resolution. You both agreed on three points that you wanted to contest: outdated, disapproved of, ineffective. By round 5, both of you forgot about the "disapproved of" point completely. I'm seeing headings and rebuttals titled "other trainers" and "video tampering." Those are not topics in themselves. You *have* to tie them back to the resolution. I also strongly recommend reading debates by top members to learn how to impact points better. In this debate, I as a judge had to weigh the impacts for you but in a well argued debate, this is usually the job of the debater.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
RFD (Part 2):

c) Ineffective: This seems to be a core point. Pro's main arguments fall in line with what Millan claims his methods are, often drawing straight from the source while Pro relies on her own interpretation arguing that Millan is forcibly submitting the dogs and that positive re-inforcement is better. Overall, Con just barely edges out Pro arguing that positive re-inforcement doesn't work because of the resource guarding mentality built into dogs.

I'm voting Con primarily for better sticking to the resolution and showing that Millan's techniques aren't necessarily outdated or ineffective.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
RFD (Part 1):

This debate was quite a mess to read through. Both debaters got very carried away arguing specific points, nothing was impacted, the points were ridiculously difficult to flow because of how disorganized it was.

So, what am I evaluating really? According to the agreement at the start of the debate, it seems I should be looking for whether Milan's techniques were a) Disapproved of, b) Outdated and c) Ineffective. So, let's go through them one by one.

a) Disapproved of - This one is a wash. Pro cites a whole load of sources that disagree with Millan while Con cites his various awards. Pro goes on about how he can't teach in Germany while Con contends that it is obscure. By round 5, both debaters seem to have dropped this argument entirely in favor of going on tangents. So, it is a wash and I'm not impacting this point at all. Word of advice: don't get carried away off-topic if your opponents arguments don't actually damage your position. So, are Millan's techniques disapproved of? It seems he got a fair few awards but quite a few organizations also have conflicting views.

b) Outdated - Con argued that Millan's methods were outdated because it was based on wolves from 1947 with recent studies showing that fighting for dominance is rare. Pro simply asserts that Millan doesn't hold those beliefs which Con counters with the Holly video. She later asserts that the show is taped which undermines the value of this evidence not to mention that it is a solitary example. Con's argument here is really tangential and she never ties it back to how she feels Millan's methods are outdated. Pro just scrapes by undermining the evidence and asserting that the old studies don't reflect Millan's beliefs so I'll hand this point slightly to Pro.
Posted by Interloped 3 years ago
My apologies for my confusion, I read round one as a title statement, I feel silly. Thanks for the patience.
Posted by meaganlouise 3 years ago

I don't doubt there's a lot Millan's fans don't know about canine behavior. And the fact that known cat websites are spreading false information doesn't surprise me. Considering Millan has a TV SHOW that actively perpetuates something harmful and COMPLETELY INCORRECT.

I do, however, have a very good grasp on canine behavior and training and while you can't use a catch all approach to all dogs, you can almost never fix an aggressive dog with "alpha rolls" and "tsts" while you poke his neck.

Dogs don't understand the theory of dominance, so literally NOTHING they do is to dominate their owners. Dogs have been bred using a thing called "neotony" so basically they act like wolf pups forever.
Second, aggression usually stems from fear, and causing an aggressive dog to be more fearful (by rolling it onto its back, which again, remember, the dog doesn't understand why you're doing this) will not fix the behavior issue. At best it might teach the dog to stop growling or snarling (which you don't actually want because that will only mean the dog will bite without warning) at worst, it can make the dog more fearful and reactive. Cesar is awful.
Posted by meaganlouise 3 years ago
@The_Necromancer please don't tell me to look something up when you clearly don't know what you're talking about. He has a TERRIBLE way of correcting canine behavior. He uses punishments and aversion to correct things like aggression and resource guarding which either causes the dog to lash out (good for tv) or go into learned helplessness (usually called "submission" by Millan, and is actually a sign of the dog shutting down which is never something you want to do in a training setting. Second of all, the "alpha" theory has been dead in canine science for over 10 years now. We know understand that wolf packs don't even operate in the way Cesar claims they do. Furthermore, Cesar has no degree, no actual education on the matter (obviously or he wouldn't be saying half the stuff he says) and his training is harmful to dogs and people.
this is an actual with an actual Phd explaining why the dominance theory is wrong.
this explains why you cant actually be an "alpha" in your dogs eyes.
Posted by The_Necromancer 3 years ago
He is not terrible: look him up and see. He has shown many great ways of correcting canine behavior and reassuring the dog's owner(s). My family uses his strategies, and our miniature dachshund puppy is now very well behaved. It is important to be, "Alpha", and show who is in charge. what Cesar does is not abusive. I do not even know why or how you got this opinion of this. He cares for dogs, and mourns for their loss if one dies, like his oldest friend, Daddy the Pit-Bull.

Coming back later
The Necromancer
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.