Saturday, November 15, 2008


Most people are familiar with Cesar Millan and his show, “The Dog Whisperer” that airs on the National Geographic channel. Cesar is a basic miracle worker when it comes to the canines. In a typical scenario, a dog owner has a dog that is out of control. It bites, barks, displays neurosis, attacks, chews, runs away or has a host of other problems from depression to over exuberance. At their wits end, the dog owner calls in Cesar to work his magic and that is exactly what he does. At the end of each show, pet and owner find peace and harmony.

There is a persistent theme at the heart of Cesar’s miracles. What is almost always revealed is that the root of the problem is not the dog, but the dog owner. Owners are found to lack authority, i.e. not the pack leader; over indulge or smother the animal in too much affection; give in to the pet’s demands; act in fear when confronted with other dogs or negative situations, and they generally have no control over the dog. All of these failings lead to the host of issues that make both dog and owner miserable.

So what the heck does this have to do with the economy? The most important bit of wisdom that Cesar imparts to his clients is that it is the pet owners “perception’ or mindset that creates the problem. The solution always rests upon the thoughts of the owner and not the acts of the dog. It is obvious to all that the U.S. and world economies are in a mess. Official recession was announced for E.U. nations, job losses are escalating, consumer spending is at all time lows, retailers are in a panic, mortgages are still collapsing, the auto industry is on the verge of bankruptcy, credit is stalled, and governments simply do not know what to do. The G8 has become the G20 and will probably become the G120 if things continue on their downward spiral.

The economy, represented by the corporate giants, has become the mad dog in need of taming. But what are governments doing? Just like Cesar’s clients, government is not the pack leader, over indulges, spoils and is fearful of the economy and those who have wielded economic power since the Industrial Revolution. Just as with the dogs, all that does is create more neurotic, selfish and out-of-control behavior. They are pouring billions of bones, i.e. dollars, into kennel of insatiable beasts and the negative behavior goes unchecked and exacerbated.
So what might Cesar suggest? The first thing would be that governments, but really the people, must become the pack leaders and assume authority and dominance over the beast. The people must change their mindset of fear and act with confidence. They must understand that the pet (economy) is not in control, they are. If we have seen nothing else from the economic debacle it should be that the state of the economy is ‘totally’ one of perception. People perceive the problem and according to the Law of Attraction, the problem grows because that is where the mental energy flows. In the book, “Polarizing Your Life Toward Perfection,” once the weeds are eliminated from your mental garden, you make room for new positive thoughts and realities to grow and flourish. With all of the news hype about consumer and investor confidence heading for the bargain basement, there is little wonder that things are getting worse.

If we follow the advice of Cesar Milan, we should see that consumers are now in a position to greatly alter economic, social, political and environmental policy. In the past, consumers have allowed economic forces, the dog, control our lives. The economy demanded and like “good’ pet owners, we gave. The result has been usurious interest rates, poor lending practices, mindless spending, over flowing landfills, environmental degradation and a life at the mercy of the economic elite. President-elect Obama knows the power of a people who take control of their lives. We have seen that if an enlightened public will asserts itself, change follows. The current pause in the economy is a wonderful thing. We are now given a chance to reassess our priorities and our lives. With what dollars we have, we can demand quality, eco-friendly, and green products and services. If we do not buy cars that are gas guzzlers, Detroit will have to produce better cars if they want our money. If we do not accept loans and credit cards at 19.9% interest, they will have to offer lower rates. If we demand an end to poisoning our children with plastic food containers, they will have to produce something better. If we do not indulge fast food chains that are ruining the health of our children, they will have to come up with something better. If we do not produce lasting products, we do not buy them. If they insist on using child labor to produce their products, we do not buy them.

The consumer can now become the economic “pack leader” and forever alter the course of the world. Consumers can demand that no money be given ‘unless’ economic change is part of the package. It is our money, our taxes that now controls the pack. Use this resource wisely and a new reality will be created in which the dog and its owner live in peace and harmony. I hope Cesar Milan is offered a post in the Obama administration!


CJ Anderson said...

bravo! Applause Ovation!

I am the list owner of both the largest yahoo dog whisperer fan email list as well as having another one called dog whisperer relationships!

I am going to utilize your excellant article as this weeks discussion topic for the relationship list which talks about how we can apply Cesar's solutions to our human/human relationships and lifestyles!

I also am going to invite others from our main list to come over here and read your great comments to consider during this very scary times.

Thank you for some serious food for thought (and I echo your wish!)

Anonymous said...

Excellent analogy and a good idea for a solution, Phil!

P-D said...

Thank you CJ-if you need more info or comment, let me know.
Thanks Marv.

Philip Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip Harris said...

I received the following comment on this post:

Dear Philip F. Harris
Your analogy just doesn't work here unless you want another Hitler to do the finances.
Cesar Millan uses dominance and a technique called flooding to train dogs. Both techniques have been discarded by mainstream dog trainers as being counterproductive.
Cesar Millan is not a dogwhisperer the terminology he uses does not match the training techniques. His disclaimer says it all and no competent dog trainer would use his techniques. If it hasn't happened already some child will be attacked by a dog trained using Cesar Millan's methods.
You need to take a course in Baloney Finding (See Skeptic Society) then you will see all he says is smoke and mirrors like a southern revival preacher. He has good PR but bad advice for dog owners. I have stopped watching NGC because of the Dogwhisperer show.
If you want to know about a real dogwhisperer look up C.W. Meisterfeld.

Philip Harris said...


I beg to differ-which is great about a free society. It seems to me that we already have a multi-headed corporate Hitler already running the economy. You don't think that our economy is dominated by a select few? The tools they use include: we will reposses your house, raise your interest rates, withhold credit, lay you off, raise prices and mass brainwashing via dominance over the air waves-buy, buy, buy!

Having had 13 dogs your assertion that his techniques do not work falls in deaf ears-it does-I know from direct personal experience. It also, btw, works with horses only there it is called join up where the person becomes herd leader. I think you mistake leadership and dominance. Pack leader does not at all imply any use of force or threat or mistreatment. It is an attitude that puts the person in charge that does not include any threat of severe punishment.

I am actually a very Skeptical person but when the proof is on the pudding, I tend to eat it. My guess is you also do not believe in creating your own reality.

jimm said...

I am one of the executive producers of the "Dog Whisperer" series. Your comments are intriguing as we have seen that many of Cesar's principles about dog rehabilitation can apply to other aspects of life.
The person who goes after Cesar and his methods is a likley believer in the "positive only" approach to dealing with dog issues. That is, you never say "no" to a dog and never make a dog do something it doesn't want to do.
In the human world, this kind of parenting leads to kids who run around screaming on airplanes and in restaurants. In the dog world, the result is the kind of people you see on the "Dog Whipserer" series.
As you state, Cesar's methods do work -- the success rate of the cases on the show is more than 80%-- and in those instances where the dog is not fully rehabilitated, it is almost always becasue the owners were not able to follow though with Cesar's recommendations, or couldn't do it on a consistent basis.
Cesar beleives that any method that is humane and gets results is okay by him.
Finally, there are no generally accepted rules of dog training. There are different schools of thought, and some factions just don't agree with, or like, other factions....kind of like liberals and conservatives.
There's a joke that goes like this....the only thing two dog trainers can agree upon is that they don't like the methods of another trainer.

Jim Milio

Philip Harris said...

Thanks for the comment, Jim. I received another comment from the individual I quoted and asked him to post it here. We'll see.

You are absolutely right about saying 'no.' I am an educator and know from experience that the failure of parents AND the schools to say NO has led to basic mayhem. The kids are in control and there is little sense of responsibility for actions or consequences for actions.

If you do not say NO to a dog, you get bit. if you do not say NO to a horse, you get trampled. Both Millan and others have come to recognize that ruling from a place of punishment may get the desired behavior at the moment, but it does not last and the animal will strike back if it ever senses weakness. A leader leads from a place of respect and trust and even love. If not, you merely have a dictatorship who only survives until the next strong man comes along.

With respect to the economy and social issues in general, governments have distanced themselves from their people and govern from a place of fear and strength. The dog is in control and the people suffer. Mush of this is due to a mindset on the part of the people that they are ineffectual and cannot make a difference. If people really want to have a greater say over their lives, they can follow the lead of Cesar and reassert their position as pack leader-OF, BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE.

Jamesw2 said...

OOOHHHH! OUTCH! YO, Life is not for the faint of heart. If you understood behavior you would know it's all about resource guarding, in humans it's also greed, ego and the belief that man is a step above the animal world. Nature doesn’t work by Millan rules. To be fair you should report on alternative training methods ones that use positive reinforcement and humane training methods. That is your responsibility as a writer if not you are nothing more than a PR writer for Millan.

It’s not if Millan’s training works or not, it’s is their a more humane way to train and yes there is. Millan doesn’t know that better dog training methods are available. Does he even know about C.W. Meisterfeld, Deborah Wood, or Patricia McConnell? Is Millan so wrapped up in his own promotion that he can’t see that what he is doing is outdated?

Everyone knows the best NUT’s come from California. We can now include Mexico on that list.

To get you into the 21 century read E. O Wilson. Here is an article to get you started

Also I don't believe in positive only reinforcement. In ases of sefety for the dog or people you need to proactive.

Links that bring down the leader of the pack theory

The Social Organization of the Domestic Dog;
A Longitudinal Study of Domestic Canine Behavior and the Ontogeny of Canine Social Systems
The theory that a hierarchy based on dominance relationships is the organizing principle in social groups of the sort canis lupus is a human projection that needs replacing. Furthermore, the model has unjustifiably been transferred from its original place in the discussion of the behavior of wolves to the discussion of the behavior of domestic dogs (canis familiaris). This paper presents a new, more adequate model of how familiaris organizes itself when in groups. This paper is based on a longitudinal study of a permanent group of five randomly acquired dogs living in their natural habitat, as they interact with each other within the group, with newcomers of various species who joined the group, and with fleetingly met individuals of various species in their outside environment. This study shows that the existence of the phenomenon "dominance" is questionable, but that in any case "dominance" does not operate as a principle in the social organization of domestic dogs. Dominance hierarchies do not exist and are in fact impossible to construct without entering the realm of human projection and fantasy. The hypotheses were tested by repeatedly starting systems at chaos and observing whether the model predicted the evolution of each new system. The study shows that domestic canine social groups must be viewed as complex autopoietic systems, whose primary systemic behavior is to gravitate as quickly as possible to a stable division of the fitness landscape so that each animal present is sitting on a fitness hill unchallenged by other group members. Aggression is not used in the division of the fitness landscape. It is not possible for an observer to measure the height of respective hills. There is no hierarchy between or among the animals. The organization of the system is based on binary relationships, which are converted by the agents as quickly as possible from competitive to complementary or cooperative binaries, through the creation of domains of consensus. The production processes by which this is done are twofold. The first is an elegant and clear, but learned, system of communicative gestures which enables the animals to orient themselves adequately to each other and emit appropriate responses in order to maintain or restore the stability of their fitness hills and the larger social landscape. The second is learning. It is the learning history of each animal, which determines how adequately the animal can operate within the system and what the components of its individual fitness hill will be, and which, in the end, is more crucial to the animal’s survival than even presumed genetic factors or some human-constructed “dominance” position.
This resource was first published as:
Semyonova, A., 2003, The social organization of the domestic dog; blowing up the dominance myth, The Carriage House Foundation, The Hague.
This resource should be cited as:
Semyonova, A. 2003, The social organization of the domestic dog; a longitudinal study of domestic canine behavior and the ontogeny of domestic canine social systems, The Carriage House Foundation, The Hague, , version 2006.
The theory of a linear hierarchy based on dominance relations, originally developed from observations of ants, was one of the first models used in ethology to describe or account for the behavior and the social structure of wolves and the groups they live in (Mech 1995, 2000; Sax 1997). The dominance hierarchy model was adopted by others to explain the behavior of canis familiaris, and is still broadly in use today among both scientists and laymen who deal with domestic canine behavior.
This model as applied to wolves was from the beginning, based on dubious evidence (Mech 2000). Furthermore,

Mech 2000

Look at Millan training area behind closed doors. This is how his methods work. You put the dog into a stressful situation(all the other dog around him) you put the dog on a treadmill until he is exausted (breaking the will lowering his immune system) I worked for a trainer that used the same idea. His dogs were in a room 9'x 12' feet 15 dogs in crates stacked 3 high urin and fecies ran down from the top cage to the bottom. I also had to pet sit some of those dogs and they were a wreck.
I know the drill

Jamesw2 said...

Below is the link to the story.

Here is the story.

Cesar Millan has an opportunity enjoyed by no other dog trainer in
history. Here's the only problem: The messages he delivers are sometimes
debatable, some even say dangerous, leaving many animal behavior experts
cringing about the outcomes.

Dog training books by H.R. East and William Koehler were trendy back in
the day, but they greatly pre-dated TV. Captain Haggerty delivered dog
training to TV audiences early on. He was followed by a wildly popular,
stern British lady who repeated the command "Walkies." However, Haggerty
and Barbara Woodhouse peaked before the explosion of cable TV and the

Millan is everywhere and his reach is unmatched. He continues to host
"The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan" on the National Geographic Channel,
and is a frequent guest on other TV shows, even appearing on "The Tonight
Show with Jay Leno." There's his personal Web site,,
and now a new interactive site,, where followers
can pay for lessons and network with likeminded fans. He recently released
his fourth book, "A Member of the Family: Cesar Millan's Guide to a
Lifetime of Fulfillment with Your Dog" (Harmony Books, New York, NY, 2008;

Unfortunately, his impact isn't all good. Veterinary behaviorist Dr.
Lore Haug, of Houston, is among dozens of dog trainers, behavior
consultants and veterinary behaviorists who've told me that they see a lot
of clients because of Millan's advice. "My colleagues frequently have dogs
come to us after owners unsuccessfully used his methods, often making a
problem worse and damaging the relationships between dogs and their
owners," says Haug.

In fact, there are pop-up bubbles on Millan's TV show warning viewers
against attempting his techniques at home.

In a recent appearance on "Pet Central," my Chicago-based WGN Radio
show, Millan said, " 'The Dog Whisperer' is not a 'how-to' show; the book
is for that. I don't want people to try it at home because every episode is
tailored to a specific family and specific dog."

Still, many viewers ignore the warnings.

"I realize many viewers say we know we're not supposed to try this at
home, but it works, of course," Millan said. "God bless their hearts. But
we still say you're not supposed to try it."

What about concerns that children, some barely able to read those
warnings, may still follow Millan's instructions, or that people have been
hurt attempting replicate his often intimidating methods of dog training?
Credible organizations that have expressed concerns about the "Cesar Way"
include the American Humane Association and International Association of
Animal Behavior Consultants.

"Everyone has their own way of doing things," Millan said. "I'm not
saying every dog trainer should be me. My way is not the only way. I'm
always learning from whatever I see."

So who is Cesar's teacher? He mentions Leon S. Whitney, who authored dog
books in the 1950s and '60s, including "Dog Psychology: The Basics of Dog

"I read every single (dog training) book; it's always good to be in a
surrender state and stay open to everything," Millan says. Yet, he fails to
come up with the name of even a single contemporary dog trainer whose work
has influenced him, or the name of a recent book he's read.

One criticism is that Millan's methods and philosophy were contemporary
back when Whitney was writing, taking dog training back decades toward
intimidation over contemporary learning theory. One example is how Millan
compares dogs to wolves and how owners must assert themselves as the
dominant pack leaders in their homes.

Appearing later the same night on my radio show, Dr. John Ciribassi, a
veterinary behaviorist based in the Chicago area and immediate past
president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, said, "The
reality is that the pack explanation, the need to fight for dominance (in a
home) is an arcane theory. The idea of dominance and need for it implies
the need to, in fact, dominate our dogs. There is a need to communicate and
to motivate but not to dominate. (Millan) uses the word 'leader' (for the
owner); perhaps the word 'teacher' is better."

"My emphasis is on getting the behaviors you do want," added Dr. Barbara
Sherman, president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
(veterinarians board certified in animal behavior) and professor in the
Department of Clinical Sciences, at North Carolina State University's
College of Veterinary Medicine. "It's the over-riding rule of animal
behavior: Encourage the behaviors you want; ignore the behaviors you don't.
Also, punishment doesn't make clear what you want the dogs to do. And
punishment, like rollovers (rolling a dog over and/or pinning a dog) can be
very frightening. You may get a backlash of aggression because the dog is
scared and doesn't know what is going on. This can worsen behavior."

Interestingly, Millan admitted he has softened his views somewhat.

"Listen, dominance is a mental act," he said. "Just like a cat controls
a dog just with a state of mind, we can do the same; control (a dog's
behavior) using our minds. And I'm certainly not against using food, or
whatever it takes to motivate a dog."

Viewers who closely follow Millan may note that his views have moderated
to accept more conventional and contemporary approaches. "Of course," he
says. "It's all about moving forward. Most of the time, I come to cases
when other professionals have tried, and it's up to me to save that dog. I
have a certain knowledge and common sense. I hope to share that knowledge
through my video game, or, or the TV show. My job
is to help dogs."

(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't
answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in
his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave.,
Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV.
Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is; he can be heard Sundays on WGN Radio, 8 to 10
p.m. CST ( to listen live), and hosts the nationally
syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a
contributing editor to USA Weekend.

Philip Harris said...

Well, for a blog about the economy, creating your own reality, taking charge of one's life and becoming "pack leader" of our lives, this has taken quite the twist. Dog training techniques was not the thrust of my post. I am sure that Cesar's methods are humane from all that I have seen and read and I would guess that the other chaps mentioned are also good at what they do.

The bottom, being on topic is that people would be the wiser to to become the 'leader' of their lives and not be controlled by the out-of-control jackals who dictate the economic do's and dont's. Cesar puts forward that it is all a mindset and I agree; intention and predominant thought guide our lives.

So become pack leader of your thoughts and your lives and your world will be a better place. You are not controlled by genetics; you are not controlled by your environment and you certainly do not have to be controlled by others who have only their interest in mind.

Divinity Rose said...

Right on! What a great way to share the concept with others!

:) Not only do we need to take responsibility for ourselves, but start asking others to as well :)

Anonymous said...

Good lord - did THIS post incite a bevy of strong opinions and interaction! Sheesh - think ya touched on a nerve or two there Phil, old buddy ol pal (smile)

At least a half dozen of these comments could be blog posts in themselves. Not gonna add more fuel to the inferno, but enjoyed the ah - hmmm ... discussion?