Kimberly Gauthier Photography – Rodrigo when we were teaching him fetch.
His past week someone shared a link to an article from the site of celebrity dog trainer Cesar Milan. The article was about walking several dogs and now that we have three, I excitedly clicked over to read the tips. Others commented on the link, sharing their dislike of Cesar and once again I heard about the video of him kicking the dog. The person who originally posted the article shared that she regretted posting the link, because she knows that people have a negative reaction to Cesar Milan.
My experience with Dog Trainer Cesar Milan
Do I know him? Nope. Have I met him? Nope. My experience is based on a book that someone recommended and a few episodes of his television show that I’ve seen. I haven’t seen anything that shocks me. I took from his book what I felt comfortable applying to the training of our dogs. I haven’t put much energy beyond this into Cesar Milan.
The drama surrounding Cesar Milan is fascinating. I’ve heard of the video of him kicking a dog, but I haven’t seen it. I’ve heard that people on his show have to relinquish rights to seek damages should any harm come to their dog, but I haven’t seen a contract. I spent an hour searching online about Cesar Milan and found people who love his work and his methods and people who do not.
What I learned from Dog Trainer Cesar Milan
Given the fact that I haven’t put that much time into learning about Cesar Milan, you won’t be surprised that the only things that I’ve learned from Cesar Milan is that I need to be confident around my dogs and work to be the leader of the pack.
I’m not going to get into the debate of whether dogs act like packs in our family except to say that we do have a pecking order in our home. My boyfriend – Me – Rodrigo – Sydney – Blue. It’s been interesting watching Blue learn his place as the dogs gently train him on what’s appropriate and what isn’t appropriate.
Our dogs look to us for leadership and care and when I’ve been unsure and insecure, Rodrigo stepped up and it was awful; requiring a dog trainer to get us back on track, which we did inside of days. Confidence is what keeps our house of 3 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 humans running smoothly.
Positive / Rewards Based Training
When we were researching adopting a dog, we read about several different schools of thought on dog training and settled on positive rewards based training. We wanted our dogs to love us, to respect us, and not to fear us. We thought this path was the best way for us to reach this goal. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I envisioned handing out treats every time they did something. Learning to use the clicker at the optimal time, always making sure to have treats on hand, and treating every experience as a training experience is both draining for the dogs and the humans, but it was worth every moment.
A woman recommended that we roll our dogs and stare at them in the eyes while we gripped their neck to gain control. She did this with her dog, who always ran away from her. Her ex-husband never rolled the dog (same dog), he was just confident, and the dog could walk with him off leash and he’d never leave his side. This was interesting and showed me that we made the right choice with our training.
Cesar Milan or Victoria Stilwell
I’ve stopped watching the dog training shows, but I’m still curious to learn which camp people fall into. Although there are many dog trainers out there, I use Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwell, because they have television shows. At first I was a fan of Cesar Milan until I started listening to the critics. Then I was a fan of Victoria Stilwell until many of her methods didn’t work with our dogs.
Today, I’m a fan of a couple of dog trainers who I know. I’ve learned that being a dog trainer is more than just knowing how to get dogs to behave. Our trainers took the time to get to know us, to get to know the dogs, and to ask questions about our life. They then tailored a training regime that worked for us.
Choosing a Dog Trainer
If you’re looking for a dog trainer, I would recommend that you talk to your veterinarian and friends to find out who they used. We met Sydney and Rodrigo’s trainer based on many recommendations. Blue gets to attend puppy school and we met his trainer when we adopted Sydney and Rodrigo.
Our requirements for a trainer were that they utilized a positive based system. Sydney and Rodrigo required a private trainer, because puppy class was too distracting for litter mates who just wanted to play all the time. Shannon Finch had them (and us) trained on many things in under 2 hours. She’s amazing.
Blue gets the special treat of being socialized in puppy class. The trainer we’ll be working with is a Petco employee who loves dogs. If we didn’t know her outside of Petco, we probably wouldn’t consider going their for puppy class, but she’s an amazing individual and we can’t wait to work with her.
Decide what training method works for you (ask questions / do some research)
Ask for recommendations from your veterinarian and your friends
Be prepared to work, because you will have homework assignments and just because the class ends, doesn’t mean dog training ends
Do you know a great dog trainer who deserves a shout out? Share their name and website in the comments below!
Kimberly Gauthier, a perpetually happy person, lives with her amazing guy, their spoiled dogs and cats, and loves dog rescue, photography, reading, and laughing. She’s the author of Keep the Tail Wagging, where she shares tips on raising happy, healthy dogs and promotes dog rescue and reputable breeding. You can also find her at Girl Power Hour as The Fur Mom.