Like many of you I watched Alan Titchmarch’s recent interview of Cesar Milan and was bowled over by the results, so much so that it made me question why. Was I just indulging in schadenfreude as I observed the obvious discomfort of Mr. Milan or was there something more to my feelings?
One of the most infuriating retorts against those opposed to Mr. Milan is that we are jealous of his fame and fortune. Now I am more than willing to calmly discuss my objections with others not of the same faith in training— but how am I supposed to respond to that barb? I know you are but what am I?
So with this retort bashing about in my head I watched the interview again and found the answers to silence the din.
In one exchange between Alan and Cesar, Cesar was asked about his use of spike and shock collars. Cesar explained that in those situations, the owner was already using those tools and he was just showing them how to use the tools properly. In another exchange where Cesar was trying to point out that he uses food as a tool as well, Cesar related a story about a woman who wanted to kiss her dog and how he and a Parrott helped her achieve that.
Even if I believed in Milan’s training methods and views on dog behavior, which I don’t, I have a major problem illustrated beautifully by those two exchanges. His focus was on giving the owners what they wanted as quickly as possible and the welfare of the dogs was of secondary concern.
Shouldn’t a thorough trainer question and possibly dissuade the use of tools like shock and prong collars in the first place? And as for kissing a dog, many dogs have problems with the kissy nature of humans. I admit that the dog’s biting needed to be addressed, but why make the dog kiss in the first place?
And with those thoughts settling in for a good soak, my guilt over schadenfreude was assuaged. It was not the humbling of Mr. Milan that I was celebrating, it was the hope that many people watching the show would see the same things I did. And just perhaps, they would come to believe that training methods considering the welfare of the dog as a primary concern may be better for humans as well.