Mar 28, 2009

Veterinarians concerned about Cesar Milan advice

My mentor Pat Miller sent this. THANKYOU!!! Please take a minute to read this; I think I"m going to print it out and hand it to all my clients who have watched Cesar MIlan........on top of blocking it out with the Parental Control option on their TV!!

Veterinarians Concerned About Outdated and Confrontational Advice Given by
Cesar Millan The Dog Whisperer

In an article written by Timothy Kim for the VIN News Services (5FEB09), an
on-line resource for veterinarians, representatives of the American
Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) have expressed concern about
dog training advice given by Cesar Millan, on his reality TV show, The Dog
Whisperer. The AVSAB is so concerned that they have issued an official
statement (Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior
Modification of Animals - _ ( ) to
counter the unfortunate
pervasive influence of Millan's show.

In their position statement the AVSAB demonstrates that the dominance theory
which is the core of Millan's approach, has been rejected by animal behavior
experts and can actually cause serious fear aggression in dogs. In the
article, Dr. Laurie Bergman, of Norristown, Pa., a member of AVSAB's
executive board was quoted as saying "We had been moving away from dominance
theory and punitive training techniques for a while, but, unfortunately,
Cesar Millan has brought it back."

Dominance theory has typically been presented as the reason for a dog's
misbehavior. Its basic premise is that the dog is a pack animal like a wolf
and all packs are ruled by the dominant alpha male. Millan essentially
believes that in order to counter a dog's misbehavior, or as he sees it a
"grab for power," a person must be the dominant alpha male and must use
force and coercion to get the dog to behave and submit.

The article describes Millan as using a number of assertive techniques
".negative-reinforcement, or correction. alpha rolls (the dog is rolled onto
its back, a submissive position) and flooding (the dog is exposed to
something that causes it anxiety and is not allowed to escape, to
desensitize it). He also has been shown choking a dog on the end of a leash
until it fell onto its side, gasping for air." These techniques are of great
concern to the AVSAB which has also adopted a position statement on the use
of punishment for training animals (_
( ).

The theory of dominance hierarchy was set into motion in 1922 by Thorleif
Schjelderup-Ebbe and his research on chickens. It was popularized by the
Monks of New Skete with their publication of How to Be Your Dog's Best
Friend. This now very dated book, takes the premise that if we want the best
relationship with our dog then we should treat them like an adult wolf would
treat a wolf puppy, at least according to the Monk's understanding of that
scenario. Many of their key recommendations focus on fear and physical

Thanks to the work of Dr. L. David Mech, a senior scientist with the U.S.
Geological Survey, we now know that dominance theory does not apply to
wolves in a natural, wild (non-captive) environment (Alpha Status,
Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs) (_
( ).
Research by Dr. Ray and Lorna Coppinger (DOGS: A New Understanding of Canine
Origin, Behavior, and Evolution (Scribner, NY, 2001; Univ. Chicago Press,
2002) has helped us understand that while closely related to the wolf a dog
is not a hunter or a pack animal. Dogs are primarily scavengers and when
living feral often live alone or in very loose groups.

So what does all of this mean? It means that the dominance theory spouted
for years by many in the dog community is a poor model for describing wolf
behavior and is an even worse model for training your dog. Unfortunately,
just like there is still a Flat Earth Society there are still those like
Cesar Millan, who hang on to a dog training model that is erroneous and
based on creating confrontation and fear.

The AVSAB is not the first to question Millan's techniques. On February 23,
2006 the New York Times quoted Dr. Nicholas Dodman [veterinary behaviorist
and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University] as saying
''My college thinks it [The Dog Whisperer - Cesar Millan] is a travesty.
We've written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog
training back 20 years.'' Later that same year the American Humane
Association stated "The training tactics featured on Cesar Millan's "The Dog
Whisperer" program are inhumane, outdated and improper"

Kim's article concludes with a statement by Dr. Sophia Yin, a member of the
AVSAB executive board, warning dog guardians to avoid dog trainers and
others who: continually tell owners that they have to be the "alpha," warn
owners not to use rewards too much, and uses pinch collars or shock collars
on dogs in a training class. "The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians not
refer clients to trainers or behavior consultants who coach and advocate
dominance hierarchy theory and the subsequent confrontational training that
follows from it."

Pat Miller, BS, CPDT, CDBC
Peaceable Paws, LLC
PO Box 3146
Hagerstown, Maryland 21741

Mar 24, 2009

So happy to be more available.....

I'm really excited to be working more in Brooklyn and in my own community, although I'm still taking appointments in Manhattan as well. I'm so Mom-and-Pop oriented and I really enjoy having a little more time to work with each client and to connect with both people and dogs as opposed to be on the clock the way I was when I worked in a more corporate environment.

So a few days ago I did a Meet and Greet in a local pet store an it was great that so many people came down with their dogs and asked great questions. My favorite might have been a guy who asked me to recommend a dog toy that most resembled a pair of eye glasses!! Huh?? He figured that since his dog had eaten two pairs of his glasses that were left out on a table, he should just get dog toys that looked like glasses. No no no, the point of dog toys is to avoid having your beloved possessions eaten by your dog. You don't nee to wait to see what kind of furnishings or objects your dog seems to destroy the most and then buy items that look like the forbidden objects! The idea is to provide your dog enough stimulations and interactive toys that are much more interesting to your dog than a pair of old glasses.......or your couch so it doesn't happen in the first place! I suggested a few appropriate toys and gave the poor guy some ideas and I hope he doesn't have to have any other prized possessions eaten.
That was a good one..........

Mar 17, 2009

Basing dog training on wolf pack behavior is like basing child rearing and education on chimp behavior!!

I'm serious, People. The whole dominance theory is a myth!! I'm going to write a long post on this subject really soon but in the meantime, please stop alpha rolling your dogs, please stop listening to trainers who claim that your dog is trying to establish dominance when he licks your face and PLEASE stop believing humping is either about dominance. It doesn't even make scientific sense!
Anyway, I'm really excited about this new blog that will give me the forum and the chance to rant and rave, give you tips and advice, hopefully educate you, and let you follow some of the cases I'm working on.
All the very best, see you on the blog!

Mar 13, 2009

Welcome to Rikke's Dog Blog!

Rikke's Dog Blog is Live!

If you are looking for someone in the New York area who can help you train your dog using positive methods, help you establish a great relationship with your dog, and have fun doing it, you have come to the right place.

Dog training is about forming a solid, positive relationship with your dog. The goal is to be clear so your dog understands what you're asking for and for your dog to trust and respect you enough to willingly comply.

Just posted are two clips from my reel, which give a bit more background on myself, and some helpful tips with my dogs Olive and Mingus.

Part One

Part Two:

In The News: 08/12/07

Hamptons Magazine, Issue #14

click photo to see detail

In The News: 10/03/05

The Underdog, by Julia Szabo

Read a chapter on raising kids and dogs together written by Rikke in Julia Szabo's new book. Buy it online at

In The News: 04/10/05

The New York Post, April 10, 2005