I must admit, when I first heard that Cesar was going to be on The Alan Titchmarsh Show, I was quite worried. The show is aired from 3pm, a time when many people are at work, so the shows’ main audience is likely to be people who are retired and parents who work part-time – two groups of people that really shouldn’t be using the techniques Cesar advocates with their dogs.
I caught the show on ITV+1, and must say I was pleasantly surprised. Alan and his team had clearly listened to those of us who had contacted him with our concerns, watched some of the videos that were posted on the shows’ Facebook page and emailed to them, and rightly questioned Cesar on his dubious methods.
After the interview, the number of “likes” on the Facebok page doubled, and the wall was flooded by people thanking Alan for such a wonderful interview – three days later this is still going strong, and a page has been set up calling Alan a “legend“.
Finally, the UK public have had some exposure, no matter how small, to the fact that Cesar may not be all he makes out to be. Not only that, stories have been run not only by the UK media, but also in South Africa, Canada, the Netherlands, and America to name but a few.
Of course, alongside all the praise, thanks, and positive feelings, there are those who claim Alan jumped on Cesar unnecessarily, that he listened to the lies told to him by the “minority”, that Cesar doesn’t harm dogs, and that he saves the dogs positive trainers refuse to work with, among others.
Sadly, it seems a minority of people have been taken in – often very deeply – by Cesar’s celebrity, his PR machine, his lies, and by his (and often their own) lack of knowledge, not to mention the “glamour” of the thought they practically have a wild animal in their home who they must constantly physically outwit, lest the animal take over. What his fans and followers have shown both to myself and others, is their lack of regard for other sentient beings.
It’s so sad to see the number of people saying that it’s acceptable to beat, kick, pinch, poke, choke, prod, punch and shock dogs in the name of “training”. In the UK, we’re supposed to be an enlightened nation of animal lovers, and yet in the past few days I’ve seen people admitting to beating their dogs; saying that they’d use an electric shock to contain their dog (when a leash or a fence not only *would* do a much better job, but is also *proven* to do a much better job than an electric fence); and worse.
It is not, and should not, be a dogs’ fault that his or her family cannot or do not know how to correctly use and apply the methods behind positive reinforcement training – and just like fixing a car or a combi boiler, those people who are unable to do it should seek help from a qualified professional. Sadly, people like Cesar Milan make it seem like anyone can “fix” dogs, and there are no qualifications (or even real knowledge!) needed.
People watch this man’s entertainment programme, and think that doing so qualifies them to charge other people for their services of “dog psychology”. These people also lie, and say there are no qualifications to be gained – or worse, gain qualifications based on rescinded science claiming they are “the best” or “only” qualifications, and others are worth nothing.
I for one am sure that a number of universities and colleges who offer qualifications based on current science with regards to behaviour would disagree, as would the many qualified dog trainers and dog behaviourists (which, by the way is the real term, not “dog psychologist”) that we have not only in the UK but the world over.
It also worries me that many of Cesars followers also have children, and that these children are being raised in environments where violence against others seem to be the norm. After all, whether it’s a dog or a human you’re hurting – it’s still another being, one who’s feelings, thoughts, and emotions you’re affecting.
Additionally, as I’m sure you’re aware, studies have shown that violence to animals often leads to violence against people; and where violence is, seemingly at least, normal in some households with dogs and children I can’t help but wonder if we are inadvertently raising a culture of children who will grow up and go on to abuse or otherwise harm their spouses, friends, and/or children and think nothing of it, let alone the acts that could be committed against total strangers.
Cesar has had his time in the spotlight, and I believe it is high time he is outed for what he really is – an unqualified charlatan practising outdated and dangerous methods.
I understand that many will find this difficult, cognitive dissonance is not be a nice feeling; and sadly I’m quite sure there would be people clamouring to take his place in the spotlight (not to mention the money!), but this time we need someone with some real and relevant qualifications, who understands the science behind what they’re doing, and can make training and interacting with dogs safe for everyone.
It may not be as “flashy”, or as “macho” as a tanned foreigner with an intriguing history, taming “unruly” dogs with physical force – but none of that is important. The well-being of dogs the world over, on the other hand, that is immensely important.
Did you watch Alans’ show (or the clip on YouTube)? What do you think, is it right that Cesar was called out and his methods publicly questioned, or should Alan have “played nice” and gone along a less direct path when interviewing Cesar?