REVIEW: Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan Family Edition

Not at all an interesting show and no real substance to it.

Attribution: Author is Raven Underwood.  Originally posted to, uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 21:26, 20 May 2007 (UTC) by  Pharaoh Hound (talk).

Attribution: Author is Raven Underwood. Originally posted to, uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 21:26, 20 May 2007 (UTC) by Pharaoh Hound (talk).


In this episode, actor Kelsey Grammer and his wife have two miniature dachshunds, George and Elvis, who have no manners and call all the shots in the home.  They have no real structure and no consistency in training or stopping bad behaviors.  The dogs bark, get on the table, pull when walking and won’t give way when the door is being answered.



If he is still using those scientifically dis-proven outdated techniques – his dominance theory techniques of hitting, kicking, hanging and other abusive methods to train dogs – it appears they editing it out before broadcast.

I did hear Cesar’s ignorant bull over-generalizing modern dogs and children:  “Modern dogs don’t know how to wait, Modern children and dogs don’t know how to wait.”  He’s playing off something that the older generation believes, despite the fact that, yes, some modern dogs and children do know how to wait, but the trainers/parents must be consistent in remind them that waiting is expected.


He is totally correct about there being no structure and consistency in the house when it comes to training the dogs.  I did notice that they did have pinch collars on the dogs before replacing them with a slip leash prior to  taking the dogs for a walk.  I also notice that he is still using that worthless and annoying “shh” noise.  He used it at the door once or twice and then again when they approach the geese instead of providing a better distraction that interested dog over the geese.

When you stay calm and assertive (not dominant) everyone does benefit.  I mentioned above that the dominance theory is outdated and scientifically proven to be a dangerous training technique.  Positive techniques have been proven to be more successful and increases the bond between the pet parent and animal.  I use to use the dominance theory when I first started training dog’s in the middle 80’s but switched to the positive reinforcement in the early 90’s and found that the positive training was more effective.

Is Your Dog A Wolf

Trojan and Gitli near the fireplaceVictoria Stilwell recent article is Dogs vs. Wolves  and discusses the importance of getting away from comparing dogs to wolves.  Victoria Stilwell  “Many people assume that since dogs evolved from their wolf-like ancestors, we can and should easily draw parallels between the two species and use what we see in wolf behavior to help explain how to understand our domesticated dogs. Bad idea.”

Her article was timed well with another article Dog Behavior and Training – Dominance, Alpha, and Pack Leadership – What Does It Really Mean?

I have had experiences working with wolves and dogs.  I do see a lot of similar behavior between the two.  I have even gotten away from comparing dogs and wolves.  I don’t like the dominance theory training where animals are hit, kicked, hanged, etc just to break their spirit and force them into submission.  First off anyone knows that wolves don’t do this.  As well anyone who is trained well knows that a wolf pack is a family containing a father, a mother, and their siblings.  The Alpha and the Beta theory are long gone and is commonly used in the dominance theory on training dogs.

There is a lot of scientific proof that this type of training does more harm then good.  The other reason why I have gotten away from this theory is because some raw feeders try to justify given only raw meat to their dogs by comparing them to wolves by claiming wolves only eat meat.  YEA RIGHT! I have seen wolves eat vegetables, roots, and fruit.

There is a good article on Science Daily called Genomes of modern dogs and wolves provide new insights on domestication, which does mention that dogs and wolves did evolve from a common ancestor between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago.  According to this article the genetic overlap with wolves and dogs is because of the interbreeding after the dog domestication not because of a direct line of descent from a one group of wolves.

It’s time to learn more about canine behavior especially within a family grouping and stop focusing on outdated information and theories.

Ask Permission Before Approaching A Dog Unknown To You!

The reason why I related this story is because when someone asks you not to approach their dog, there is a reason that you are not aware of.  So when asked please don’t approach, better yet ask for permission first.

Dutch had already touched me a couple of times so I extended my hand as he was raising his paw.  Notice at this time he still wasn't completely looking at me.  Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

Dutch had already touched me a couple of times so I extended my hand as he was raising his paw. Notice at this time he still wasn’t completely looking at me. Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

June 8, 2013 at the Union County Animal Control Fund Raiser “Raise the Woof” in the afternoon, I kept watching two women working with a frightened dog.  After watching a while I went out to talk with the ladies.  They had recently adopted Dutch and as I slowly approached they said the dog was afraid of everyone and pretty much everything.  He had been abused with fishing poles and a broom by a man.



So Dutch was even more afraid of men and even more so when they had a hat on.  It also appeared to me he was of afraid of young boys as well.  I asked for permission to approach the dog and I told the ladies what I was going to do at each step.  First I said I am not going to look the dog in the eyes, I don’t want Dutch to feel threatened.  So I gazed at the ground talking to Dutch all happy and knelt down in front of him, after a few moments of talking all happy he reached out for my hand to touch me.

He had turned to look at me.  Shaking hands with a new friend. He also gave me a few kisses.  Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

He had turned to look at me. Shaking hands with a new friend. He also gave me a few kisses. Photo Attribution: Lisa Merneigh Thompson

After a few touches from Dutch, I proceeded to reach my hand out open palm and he placed is paw in my hand.  His people then gave me some treats to work with him for a few minutes.  The ladies were surprised as to Dutch’s positive behavior with me and we continued to talk and they asked if I would be willing to come to their home to work with Dutch and I said yes and gave them my rates.



While I was working with Dutch a large man approached with his dog and I clearly asked him not to approach us.  He totally ignored me and I watched Dutch’s body language and facial attributes change to fear.  So I kept engaging Dutch so that he would ignore the ignorant man.  This particular man made it clear that no one could touch is service dog in training because it was in training especially when folks asked to pet his dog.  He didn’t feel he had to ask to approach another person’s dog and even when told not to  he would totally ignore the requests of stay back.

I later found him and politely told him when someone tells you to stay back you stay back from their dog.  That particular dog I was working with that you felt was OK to approach and do your own things was AFRAID of you and actually afraid of men.  Just like you don’t want someone touching your service dog when it’s in training and you made that clear.  You have to honor the requests of others about not approaching their dog.  I walked away at that moment to let him think about it.

The ladies and Dutch visited several times so they he could have good interactions with a stranger.  I know that I got caught in the act of dog whispering and a picture had been taken when I was talking and working with the Dutch.  Fear base dogs can be worked with and trained though it’s at a slower pace and when they are opened to it.

Were these women doing the right thing for the dog, yes they were.  They were trying to desensitize  their dog to help it overcome its fears in a positive manner.  They were not there long and knew when it was time to take their dog back to the safety of its home.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters” and “Disaster Plan: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.”

Steps to Reducing Dog Aggression

Trojan and Gitli with toysDog aggression is a common and serious behavioral problem in domestic dogs.  The trauma to the human victim is both mental and physical.  When big dogs bite it can result in serious injuries to the victim.  When little dogs show aggression or bite my experience is that folks laugh and think the little dog’s aggression is humorous. But it isn’t humorous to be bitten by any dog regardless of their size.

The human victim isn’t the only one who suffers when a dog bites.  Big dogs that bite can be euthanized.  The news broadcast are usually very negative holding the dog responsible for the bite.  Community government also bans or regulates certain breeds of dogs even though specific dogs have never bitten.

Dog bites can be easily prevented by understanding dog behavior and through dog training.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  All dogs can potentially bite.  Dog parents needs to make every effort they can to prevent their dog from developing an aggressive behavior and from biting.

Dogs will bite for any number of reasons and it only takes one bite that can label a dog aggressive.  Chicago Dog Coach Ami Moore suggests Three Easy Steps to Reducing Dog Aggression.

Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.

Ending Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

German Shepherd

Megabyte is one of the breeds that insurance companies won’t insure

It’s past time to end Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which are laws and ordinances to control specific breeds of domesticated animals, usually certain breeds of dogs. These legislations are in response to a number of well-publicized events that involves bully and wolf-hybrid breeds.There’s population of dog owners who loves these specific breeds, but a few bad owners have ruined it for these breeds because of the lack of proper supervision, socialization, bad training, training to fight, or even mistreatment.




These laws range from outright banning the possession of these dogs, resulting in euthanizing the dogs unless a grandfather clause is included, to various forms of restrictions and conditions for ownership, and establish the dogs as legally “dangerous” or “vicious” even if the dogs have no record of attacking. As a response, some state governments in theUnited States prohibit or restrict municipal governments from enacting breed-specific legislation.

It appears Belfast, Northern Ireland has a BSL that they have no clue how to properly implement. There BSL is “The Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 place controls on 10 breeds of dogs, namely the American Pit Bull Terrier; English Bull Terrier; Staffordshire Bull Terrier; Bull Mastiff; Doberman Pinscher; German Shepherd (Alsatian); Rhodesian Ridgeback; Rottweiler; Japanese Akita; Japanese Tosa and to every dog of the type commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog). The controls, which must be observed when the dog is in a public place, require that these dogs, or strains and crosses thereof, must be securely muzzled and kept on a strong short lead [only up to 2 metres long] by a person over 16 years of age who is capable of controlling them. Dogs that are not kept under control will be euthanized.”

After following the case of Lennox in Belfast Ireland I looked more closely at BSL. A brief history of Lennox, who was supposedly killed July 11, 2012 by the Belfast City Council on the false allegations of Lennox being a pit bull type: from my understanding Lennox was forcibly removed from his home May of 2010 in Belfast, Northern Ireland under the assumption he was a pit bull. The Barnes family did everything they were instructed to do and even had an approved license from the city for Lennox.

During a hearing the council even refused DNA tests showing that Lennox was not a pit bull. They ignored two qualified dog behaviorists including Victoria Stilwell who said nothing was wrong with Lennox, and went with an unqualified opinion by Peter Tallack who is not a trained and certified behaviorist. Since then a really good article came out by Jim Crosby a trained and certified canine behaviorist and he has a video link showing that Lennox did pass the aggression test with David Ryans.  In the video the warden who claimed she was afraid of Lennox was actually interacting and petting him, which is evidence enough to show she lied under oath. This article also indicate Lennox have a swollen leg as a result of some injuries. Interesting he’s got a leg injury and he’s in confinement and there are a few more pictures of Lennox in horrible condition while under the care of the council. Lennox drew world wide attention and the First Minister Peter Robinson got involved and yet nothing could save him. The council was standing by the unqualified opinion that Lennox was dangerous and unpredictable. Although I cannot prove it, I suspect Lennox was already dead before the deadline. The council also refused to allow Lennox to be placed in a sanctuary. Belfast City Council backed out of allowing the family one last good-bye before his scheduled execution and they even refused to return Lennox’s body saying they would only send the ashes. The council will not even return Lennox’s collar. This last minute change by the council leaves me doubting the actual condition ofLennox. It also appears that these people did not tell the Barnes family directly that Lennox was dead, they found out through another source. I know there is more to the story and this really isn’t the place, I am not the spokes person for Lennox and this article is more about BSL then it is about Lennox.  Lennox is not the first (victome) incident dog who has suffered and was murdered under the BSL laws.

When I lived in Colorado Springs between 2000 – 2004, the state started to implement the BSL and we were notified that our German Shepherd was to be muzzled when she was out on walks. She never bit anyone.  After some heated mail exchange, leaving the state of Colorado was more then acceptable. Even Denver, Colorado at that time had a reputation for taking bully dogs away from even those visiting Denver and euthanizing the dogs because of their BSL. I don’t know if Denver is still currently practicing this or not but they do still have the BSL.

As part of the BLS, these are the top eleven breeds for which insurance companies will either charge a higher rate or refuse to insure if residing on the property:

  1. Pit Bulls & Staffordshire Terriers
  2. Doberman Pinschers
  3. Rottweilers
  4. German Shepherds
  5. Chows
  6. Great Danes
  7. Presa Canarios
  8. Akitas
  9. Alaskan Malamutes
  10. Siberian Huskies
  11. Wolf-hybrids

It’s past time to end BSL. There is no scientific proof that these laws are effective in preventing dog bite fatalities and injuries. It is not the breed of the dog that determines if they are aggressive or not. A few bad people have ruined it for the whole population of dog owners who loves these specific breeds. So instead of punishing those who are actually responsible, the breed of the dog gets the blame. Any dog can bite, especially little dogs, and yet some folks laugh when little dogs bite. Little dogs biting isn’t funny, and if they bite in the right place the bite can still cause significant damage.

I don’t have a problem with banning or restricting certain breeds from certain people, especially if the people have a record already, but I totally disagree with BSL. In fact my own mother was almost killed by a pit bull attack, we later found out that dog was TRAINED to do this. I completely disagree that certain dog breeds are a public safety issue meriting banning ownership or euthanasia, especially for dogs that do not have a history of biting.

If someone is looking into owning a specific breed of dog it is best check to see if the resident state or municipality has a BSL otherwise heartbreak is sure to come around.

The following have BSL and I know this list is not inclusive: The United Kingdom and specifically Northern Ireland (Belfast), Republic of Ireland, Venezuela, Ukraine, Turkey, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Romania, Portugal, Poland, Norway, New Zealand, Malta, Germany, France, Ecuador, Denmark, Bermuda, Brazil, Australia: (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia); Canada (Ontario, Manitoba, Winnipeg); The United States (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) along with the All four major branches in the military ban the following from living on base: pit bulls, bull terriers, rottweilers, dobermans, chows, wolf hybrids, akitas, American bulldog.

I honestly believe that Lennox was long dead before the deadline. To the Barnes family, I can only imagine what you have and continue to go through. I love my dogs as much and would fight up to the end for them as well. My heart goes out to you and I hope the fight for Lennox will save the lives of dogs who are improperly breed labeled and/or labeled as dangerous and vicious. I pray Lennox’s plight will bring awareness to those legislative bodies to understand BSL are not effective and the breed of the dog cannot be blamed. A few bad people have ruined it for the whole population and this is the result. Any dog will bite giving the right circumstance and even little dogs can inflict serious damage when they bite in the right spots.

It is not the breed of the dog that is the problem and BSL’s do nothing to address the root of the problem.

Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.