There is already a fantastic review by trainer Nicole Wilde about the season finale episode of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan. She is a professional and an expert with many years of experience, and she does a great job discussing the clip below.
In short, a dog who has displayed food-guarding behaviors repeatedly gives Cesar non-verbal signals that she is afraid by his intimidating, crowding, violent approach. When she snaps at his invasion of her bowl, Milan punches her in the neck. He continues invading her space (away from her food bowl) even as she backs away and displays several appeasement signals. Finally, he reaches around and touches the top of her muzzle. Milan crossed her the dog's line, and she bites his hand. After the bite, he corners the dog and continues intimidating her as she displays even more appeasement signals.
Milan claims that the bite came "out of nowhere", but even a total neophyte like myself could easily identify many places in the video where the dog quite politely asked Milan to please back off.
Given the great resources about appeasement signals in dogs (Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas and Canine Body Language by Brenda Aloff plus even our old friend Charles Darwin in his 1872 book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals), why is Cesar Milan SO BAD at reading the body language of dogs?
There has already been so much written on how terrible Cesear Milan and his "methods" are for dogs by people who are far more qualified to write on the subject than I am. But I will add my voice to the chorus. The thing that really gets me after watching the clip of last night's episode and the entirety of last week's episode on Hulu is how little Milan really knows about dogs. It's pretty astounding.
Last week's episode was called "Anger Management". In this episode, Milan misreads just about everything that the dogs (a recent Pit Bull rescue and two older Boston Terrier rescues) are trying to tell him. He punches a flooded and extremely frightened Boston Terrier in the throat. He tells the camera that the Pit Bull is being "dominant" and "wants to kill" when it is giving extremely clear appeasement signals, including doing an exaggerated "puppy wiggle". These dogs were afraid. To be sure, they needed major behavioral interventions for their issues, but those interventions did not need to be violent and intimidating, or based on bogus diagnoses of "aggression."
In last week's episode, Milan states that no person will ever get bitten by a dog if the person is putting out the correct "energy." In this week's episode, he was seriously mauled.
I can not believe that National Geographic is continuing to put profit over animal welfare. They were asked before the show began airing in 2004 to please not air the show by a top veterinarian and certified applied animal behaviorist, Andrew Luescher, DVM, Ph.D, DACVB.
The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan is so disgusting and so extreme and contains so much flagrant animal cruelty. It really makes me sick to think about how many dogs will ultimately be abandoned or euthanized (or forced to live out the rest of their lives in fear) after being exposed to this bunk philosophy of "dominance" and these horrifying "methods."