A Whole Different View

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A video of Cesar Millan is going around the internet right now of him training a dog. Thought I’d give it a look and sure enough it was an episode I had previously watched back before I had crossed over. I was surprised at my reaction. With all the new knowledge on dog behavior and emotions, I was rather appalled while I watched him hold the dog up at the end of a slip lead – “hanging” the dog. Before, when I was a fan, I would have understood and agreed with his methods. I would have seen this as the dog was being dominant and needed to submit to the exercise, that the dog needed to become calm submissive in this situation – around other dogs. I was well versed in his descriptive dog behavior language. However, my reaction today was completely the opposite! I wanted to yell though the computer at him to tell him to stop choking the dog! This reaction actually surprised me, this was the first time I had really watched one of his episodes since my crossing over. It truly pained me to watch this poor husky be strangled and tortured – the dog showed so much discomfort and panic as he chewed at the leash to try to set himself free. He jumped up not to be “dominant to Cesar, but to try to alleviate the pressure around his neck – as any normal living-being would! It hit me hard because I saw my own dog in that position. Loker, who is a husky mix, would have most likely done the same thing. I probably had done this to him myself at some point (although not to this intensity). I am so glad I am through with that kind of “training.” In fact, it really isn’t even training. You aren’t teaching the dog to do ANYTHING, you are choking it out so that it gives up and becomes a zombie… The dog in this video, Shadow, did not want to be near the other dog. He wanted to get away and was already in “fight or flight” mode, but since he could not get away, he was forced to fight. When a dog is in that mode, or anyone for that matter, they know their safety is in danger and you cannot expect ANYONE (dog or human) to learn anything while in this state of mind.
But how do I know he wants to get away? Well, there is a series of body language signals I saw. If you watch at 0:34, Shadow actually backs up and tries to get behind Cesar, he is trying to avoid confrontation with the other dog. If you watch at minute 2:50, he is avoiding eye contact despite being super close to the other dog. In general, Shadow never really ever charges at the other dog, Cesar never lets him get to that point because as soon as Shadow shows interest or alertness, he is “corrected” or choked. Shadow’s face expresses concern – in my eyes. Every time Cesar chokes him out, he tries to chew the leash to escape. When Cesar puts him on the ground, Shadow is still tense – licking his lips (calming signal) as well as a bent front leg which shows tension at about 4:15 of the video. His eyes are squinting at this time which is not a sign of relaxation – in this case it is stiffness and tension.
Cesar approaches dogs as if they are still highly primal animals, but really they are incredibly intelligent and are capable of creating new emotional reactions to stimuli with our (humans) help and proper training – through building new associations in their mind of the stimuli. I wish people would realize this – I am sure glad I did!