Yes, I punch dogs and give them electric shocks… but I’m NOT cruel, says …

  • Charges £60,000 for controversial methods, including electric shocks
  • Hollywood fans of Millan include Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron

Richard Barber

20:15 EST, 27 October 2012


06:00 EST, 28 October 2012

A week ago, Hollywood ‘dog whisperer’ Cesar Millan scarcely registered in the national consciousness. But now, after a single appearance on ITV’s normally sedate Alan Titchmarsh Show, he has become one of Britain’s most controversial characters.

The normally genial host turned on him, saying: ‘You punish dogs. You hit them. I’ve seen you punch a dog in the throat to get it to behave, and to most people, like myself, this is totally unacceptable as a way of training an animal. You also work with electric shocks and spikes on collars – and that’s pretty barbaric treatment.’

Unsurprisingly, the spat triggered an internet frenzy. Many critics were vituperative about Cesar’s controversial methods. Others say the Mexican-born dog trainer – who is rumoured to charge £60,000 to tame Hollywood pets – uses tried-and-tested methods.

Animal friend: Dog whisperer Cesar Millan insists his methods are not cruel and that his mission is to help and save dogs

Animal friend: Dog whisperer Cesar Millan insists his methods are not cruel and that his mission is to help dogs

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Cesar robustly defends his methods.  ‘I am not brutal or cruel to animals,’ he insists. ‘My mission has always been to save dogs – especially troubled and abandoned dogs. I’ve dedicated my life to this. My new TV series is all about saving shelter dogs and rehabilitating them so they can be adopted by good families.’

Cesar insists he uses the more controversial techniques only on what he calls ‘red-zone’ animals: aggressive and abandoned dogs who could never be re-homed without proper training.

He says he never hurts the animals, only touches them lightly. But he also says that spike chokers and electrical devices ‘may be helpful’.

On his website, Cesar says that an electronic dog collar ‘is the most successful’ at stopping unwanted barking, but says owners should seek expert advice before using them.

He says: ‘I use many techniques to
rehabilitate dogs. In extreme cases – by which I mean cases where I’m
the last resort before a dog is put down – these tools may be helpful.
But they are just one of many techniques.

Training techniques: Cesar Millan defending his methods on The Alan Titchmarsh Show earlier this week

Training techniques: Cesar Millan defending his methods on The Alan Titchmarsh Show this week

‘The processes I prefer are exercise, discipline and affection. I realise there is debate about what techniques are “best” or right, but I focus on the fundamentals of the problem – the question of why the dog is behaving like he is. Then I know what technique from a wide range of options is the best to solve the problem.’

A-list celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Oprah Winfrey, Charlize Theron and Yasmin Le Bon are all fans.

Le Bon’s husband, Duran Duran star Simon Le Bon, last week tweeted:

‘What did Alan Titchmarsh say about Cesar Millan that’s seriously put my wife on the warpath? He should be afraid, very afraid! Cesar Millan is pretty close to holy in this house.’

While animal rights groups voice disquiet about some of his methods, many on the internet seemed to side with Cesar. Jessie from Stoke-on-Trent spoke for many when she posted:

‘There is no point asking a red-zone dog, as they’re called, to sit and offer him a treat.

‘His behaviour demands immediate action to dominate the dog and that is what Cesar does.

‘If people took the trouble to actually watch him at work on his TV show, they might realise that dogs are not children and should never be treated as such.’

Cesar himself insists that calmness is the key to canine obedience. ‘When I approach an animal, I want to demonstrate that I’m calm,’ he says. ‘Then I ask myself what he needs. Both those considerations must come before any needs of the human. If you’re calm, the animal will pick up on that.  I believe a calm dog is a happy, obedient dog that won’t get into trouble.

‘There’s a time for excitement but it isn’t first thing in the morning. Don’t start your dog’s day with excitement.

‘We’ve got to become better at listening to what a dog is trying to tell us.  I always start off by teaching the owner to relax before I start working with their dog. Otherwise, they’re influencing their dogs negatively.’

Nor should you judge a dog by its breed, he says. ‘Don’t suspect a rottweiler or a pit bull before you’ve met it. And look at the owner. That will tell you all you need to know about the dog. Dogs don’t see themselves as breeds. When a beagle meets a pit bull, he’s not thinking: “Are you the one everyone talks about?” They see themselves as individual dogs.’

Wherever your sympathies lie, 
43-year-old Cesar’s personal story is extraordinary, even by Hollywood
standards. He was born into abject poverty in Culiacan, Mexico, where
three generations of his family lived in a one-room shack. His spare
time was spent on the farm where his grandfather worked, which is where
the young Cesar learnt about dogs.

December 1990, he left home to seek a new life in America, crossing the
border illegally. ‘I wanted to be the best dog trainer in the world. It
felt like a calling I couldn’t ignore,’ he says. A decade later he has a
43-acre ranch in Santa Clarita, California, a new house in the affluent
Studio City area of LA,  a TV series syndicated to 110 countries, and a
string of celebrity clients.

'Red-zone dogs': Mr Millan insists he only uses controversial techniques such as spike chokers and electrical devices on aggressive and abandoned dogs who could never be re-homed without proper training

‘Red-zone dogs’: Mr Millan insists he only uses controversial techniques such as spike chokers and electrical devices on aggressive and abandoned dogs who could never be re-homed without proper training

It was a transformation that nearly stalled at the very start. Cesar tried for two weeks to cross the border. ‘Luckily, I was always stopped by the US guards. They’d give you a sandwich and a can of cola and send you back,’ he says. ‘They didn’t abuse you like the Mexican guards. You didn’t want to get caught by them.’

CESAR had only $100 to his name – exactly the sum demanded by a man who told him that he could get him over the border into America. ‘He was a dirty, skinny guy,’ he says. ‘But for some reason, my gut told me that I could trust him.’

That night, they stood up to their chests in water in a hole while they watched until the border guards changed shift. ‘That’s when we ran for it across the border and into a sewage tunnel, where I was told to wait.’

The man eventually returned in a taxi
that took Cesar to the American town of Chula Vista. For weeks, he slept
rough, sweeping floors and washing cars to get enough money to eat.
Then he got a job in a dog-grooming parlour – despite not speaking a
word of English – after demonstrating that he could calm a snarling
spaniel. The parlour’s owners even allowed him to sleep there.

taught himself English by listening to the radio. Two months later, he
moved to downtown LA. ‘My goal was Disneyland or Hollywood, the home of
Lassie and Rin Tin Tin – the dogs that inspired me to come to America,’
he says. ‘Our dogs on the ranch back home didn’t do tricks like them. I
found out later, of course, that there were lots of Lassies, lots of Rin
Tin Tins so the whole thing was fake.’

Actress Charlize Theron enjoying a walk on Malibu beach with her dog

Scarlett Johansson, an American actress with dog

Famous fans:  Charlize Theron and Scarlett Johansson have both paid Cesar Millan to help them with their pets

It was in LA that his reputation as a dog whisperer began to grow. ‘The LA Lakers played basketball nearby.  A lot of them had rottweilers and pit bulls that were causing problems, and  I started dealing with them,’ he says.

Music producer Tony Spoon heard about Cesar and asked him to train his rottweiler, Kanji. Spoon’s friend Jada Pinkett – Hollywood actress and  Mrs Will Smith – was so impressed she asked if he would train a dog for her.

‘She wanted me to see her two rottweilers who were pretty much out of control. She introduced me to Will, but I didn’t know who he was, either. It was only when the movie Independence Day came out [in 1996] that I realised who  I was dealing with.

‘Will’s animals had received plenty of affection but no direction. They lived in a fabulous house but they were frustrated. They needed good, long walks. I also taught them discipline when it came to eating. A dog’s natural tendency when there’s food around is to keep checking that another dog isn’t about to take it from him. They’re very competitive. So I clicked my fingers and made them concentrate on the dog bowl in front of them.’

Cesar’s fame was spreading. Nicolas Cage asked for help with his dogs. Scarlett Johansson asked him to help her mother’s wayward bulldog,  then her own timid chihuahua. Charlize Theron needed to train a rescue pit bull. Then Oprah Winfrey mentioned on her show that her dog, Sophie, had started biting other dogs. ‘We made contact with her office and it all went from there,’ he says. ‘In the human world, Oprah is a leader. But in the animal world, she isn’t.’

And that is a position Cesar seems very keen to hold for himself – however controversially.

Cesar Millan will be touring the UK with his seminar from April. Details are at

Aggressive techniques are exciting for TV – but terrible for the animals

By Beverly Cuddy, Editor of Dogs Today

When the American Navy wanted to train
dolphins  for military purposes, they quickly picked up on the  fact
that rewards work a lot better than punishment. It’s all there in the
history books of animal training, but it doesn’t make for good TV.

Cesar Millan is a showman. He presents
himself as a modern-day gladiator wrestling with snarling animals he
calls his ‘red-zone cases’ – and he usually ends up getting the upper
hand by punching and kicking the dogs to prove who’s boss.

Cesar claims he’s merely ‘touching’
the animals, but most informed dog lovers wouldn’t see it that way –
certainly Alan Titchmarsh didn’t let him get away with that excuse on
his ITV chat show last week.

Apart from the tweed skirt, there’s
really not much difference between Cesar and Britain’s own Barbara
Woodhouse. But Barbara  was training dogs 35 years ago, when none of us
knew any better.

The science of dog training has moved
on a lot since then, but Cesar hasn’t. Who needs proper scientific
techniques when you can make a fortune on the back of celebrity
endorsements, his Hollywood smile and wrestling with powerful dogs that
sometimes bite him?

Proper, positive, qualified dog
trainers would never do that for the cameras. But it’s much better
television to see Cesar zapping a dog with electric shocks or tightening
a prong collar so the spikes go into a naughty dog’s neck.

Cesar said last week that shock
collars were an ideal training tool for people with disabilities to use
on their dogs. But use a shock collar in Wales and you could get six
months in prison or a £20,000 fine. Hopefully, England’s animal welfare
laws will catch up soon, too.

Cesar’s loyal fans claim his
detractors are jealous of  his fame and fortune, but  it’s much more
complicated than that. Even if you accept his claim that he’s merely
‘touching’ the animals, it’s a real problem that Cesar’s techniques are
already being aped by scores of copycats whose only qualification is
usually watching his show.

And just as his imitators probably
won’t have his gorgeous Hollywood smile, they might also not have the
benefit of his ‘calm assertiveness’ or, crucially, the TV editing skills
that ensure the required happy ending. The result could be serious
cruelty to dogs –  and a trip to AE for the unsuspecting owner.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Human don’t lead dog, then dog will lead dog itself that not a good idea right? Human lead Dog = STABLE Dog lead dog = Wild. So?? what wrong with Cesar?


Sarawak, Vietnam,
29/10/2012 01:33

Sadly CM s methods dont save dogs. I know of several dogs who have had to BE put to sleep, because their owners copied his methods of pinning, etc and scared their dogs enough to bite. Dogs in what he has termed the “red zone” are often helped out by professional trainers or behaviourists, it is not necessary to use harsh methods though.

The worst thing for me is that CM sets up dogs to fight with him – he does not even allow them to appease. He wants the physical confrontation because it works for Tv and looks dramatic.

There is video footage from Youtube showing him winding up dogs, using people or dogs, sothey will look very aggressive on television. Very unethical, very sad.


Bournemouth, United Kingdom,
29/10/2012 01:12

Some great points from Beverley Cuddy.
Owners can’t replicate what CM does, even it it wasn’ t cruel, in his extreme methods. if they do try, the run the likelihood of getting seriously bitten, or having their dog permanantely scared of them. Who wants that? And as for the rest of what he says, it’s no different from what all good dog trainers and behaviourists will tell you – exercise your dog, train your dog, give your dog things to satisfy what it was bred for, feed it a good quality diet, etc.


Bournemouth, United Kingdom,
29/10/2012 01:05

” dogs in the house do have a pecking order (pack order). In the wild, dogs frequently run in packs, what planet are you on. Look around any of the housing estates in Chelmsford, Melbourne for instance, and you will see packs of dogs roaming about. I think you should realise that dogs are not humans, so start treating them as dogs.
- Maggie, UK, 28/10/2012 20:45″=====================================================
Dr David Coppinger from Massachusetts, USA or Maggie from the UK? Ummmm?! I think I’ll listen to a man that has devoted his life to studying stray dogs. Also look up Dr David Mech or Dr Ian Dunbar regarding pack order.
And Maggie, you only see what you want to see!

Tony Cruse

Chelmsford, United Kingdom,
28/10/2012 23:33

Maybe his wife should have put a shock collar on him to stop him straying.


kent, United Kingdom,
28/10/2012 22:52

Millan is a dog abuser.


Ottawa, Canada,
28/10/2012 22:52

I have rescued what CM would call a ‘red zone’ dog, with positive training, she became the best dog ever. Positive training works. The reason she became that way was because her basic needs were not attended too, e.g., no walks, no socializing with people or other dogs and a poor diet. Yes it took time, I gave up my spare time to take her to training classes, go for long walks, sorted out a healthy diet all things dog’s need and yes I never gave up. I even got a second dog (rescued puppy) who was a german shepherd, doberman, wolfhound mix to complete our doggie family. When our daughters were born, our dogs were there for them, they were happy to play ball, curl up next to them when we had story time, be cuddled when a child felt sad, yes, they were the perfect companions who both died of old age. Love, Respect and take time to use positive training and you can turn a dog around.


Luton, United Kingdom,
28/10/2012 22:51

It’s silly to debate the techniques used by Mr. Millan if you haven’t watched him apply them and collected the data on his results. That being said, any expert in applied behavior analysis will tell you there is a place for positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative punishment in behavior modification.

Reg Adkins

SEMINOLE, United States,
28/10/2012 22:43

There’s only one way to settle this: give me two reactive dogs (to either other dogs or people), high energy, no discipline, 70 lbs/ Let’s put Cesar with his tools in one facility and Victoria in another. Then after 1 week or 30 days, whichever you prefer, let’s put both of these dogs (in the company of their trainers) to the test. Who will end up with lawsuits and a dead dog – you be the judge.

Lisa R

28/10/2012 22:31

Does nobody recognize that Cesar’s methods SAVE animals from the vacuum chamber or lethal injection? Animals that are way, way beyond “civilized” training. Does nobody recognize the parallels with the failure of “modern” prison “rehabilitation” programs?


28/10/2012 22:29

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Pit bull owners speak up for the breed in Monterey

Click photo to enlarge

In his own furry head, Jack fancies himself a lapdog. The 6-month-old pit bull already weighs 60 pounds, and every ounce is affection, said his owner, Tiffany Canchola of Soledad.

“If I’m sitting on the sofa, watching TV, he’ll jump right into my lap, like a Chihuahua,” she said. “He seems to think he’s really tiny, but he’s a big baby. He’s like one of my kids.

“People have a misperception about pit bulls. They think they’re big and scary, and they’ve heard stories that they’re vicious, but I don’t think that’s true at all,” Canchola said. “When Jack sees me, all he wants to do is give me a big hug and kiss. He wants you to notice him: ‘Hey, I’m here … time to pet me!’ I think it’s all about how a dog is brought up.”

Related: View a slideshow

The reputation of pit bulls as a dangerously aggressive breed was the notion dozens of locals tried to dispel Saturday at Window on the Bay Park in Monterey, where they convened with their pets to celebrate National Pit Bull Awareness Day.

The four-hour festival included a two-mile, all-breed dog walk along the Recreation Trail, a canine costume contest, a dog-agility course and informative displays from supporters and sponsors.

Evidence that Jack is, in fact, child-friendly came when Canchola’s 4-year-old son, Anthony, noticed his shoelace was hanging loose and literally used the dog as a footstool while his mother retied his


“He loves the kids,” Canchola said. “When they come home from school, Jack can’t wait to greet them, play with them, give them kisses. If he could talk, he’d probably be saying, ‘Hey, I missed you! Where have you been?’”

Pit bulls regularly make news for violent attacks on people and animals. But owners Saturday defended the breed, saying aggression only emerges if a dog has been deprived of attention or affection, or if they are specifically trained to be guard dogs or fighters — the fate of many pit bulls.

“We had a German shepherd/pit bull mix, and we got him as a puppy, before he could even open his eyes,” said Kathrine Gebhart, a Cleveland native stationed at the Presidio of Monterey with the Air Force. “He really thought he was one of the kids and was just the sweetest dog ever. He never showed any aggression, even toward our other animals: cats, bunnies, chickens … he was great with all of them.”

Those opinions were backed by a pair of Salinas animal groomers who specialize in so-called “difficult breeds” and “problem dogs.”

“We groom a lot of dogs that have been rejected by places like Petco, PetSmart, because they regarded them as too crazy, including a lot of pit bulls,” said Heather Hughes of Jurassic Pets, who lives with a 6-month-old pit bull/mastiff mix. “We do training and obedience, and the vast majority of dogs that come to our grooming salon are just fine.”

The key, Hughes said, lies in treating the animals well from the outset, connecting with them, calming them while dealing with them in a firm but non-threatening manner.

“We try to make sure they’re happy and feel love, and can leave wagging their tails,” she said. “We always have a little get-together before we start grooming the dog. We talk to the dog. We like to sing and dance with the dog. We give them treats. We want them to understand that the salon is a friendly place, not a place where they need to feel scared.”

Hughes said that while pit bulls might look more intimidating than other breeds, they actually aren’t.

“If any dog grows up mean, it’s the fault of the owner. They didn’t train the dog properly,” she said. “I’ve never met a dog that I thought was born aggressive.”

Fellow groomer Tami Kaiser, who said she was raised with pit bulls on a 5-acre farm in Indiana, agreed that the upbringing of the dog determines the animal’s nature.

“It’s not the dog, it’s the way they’re socialized, and it all starts as a puppy,” Kaiser said. “People aren’t socializing their puppies correctly, raising them the way they need to be. A lot of people just aren’t responsible pet owners. Dogs have feelings, just like we do.”

Dennis Taylor can be reached at 646-4344 or

See our website for a video and a slide sow of Saturday’s National Pit Bull Awareness Day event in Monterey.

Lansing Developing Vicious Dog Ordinance – WILX

Sometimes man’s best friend can be dangerous.

Sheryl Steiner witnessed her neighbor’s pit bull break through a fence and kill her family’s cat in their own front yard.

“I screamed, just screamed at the top of my lungs to get the dog to drop the cat,” Steiner said. “At that point, I’m pretty sure it was too late. It’s like he had bit the cat in half.”

The same thing happened to her neighbor on W. Berry Street, and Steiner’s own dog was injured in another incident. Now concrete blocks line their fence, and she doesn’t go outside without a shovel.

“We live in fear now,” Steiner said. “We have good fences to protect ourselves, yet we have shovels around the yard to protect ourselves when we come out, because we don’t know.”

Part of the answer might be Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s proposed vicious dog ordinance. It’s in its preliminary stages, but so far, a survey of Lansing residents has come back positive.

“We’ve had plenty of injuries, we’ve had plenty of attacks. I don’t want to wait until there’s a death,” Mayor Bernero said. “People shouldn’t have to live that way.”

Lansing Police said they’re on board. Officers had to shoot and kill a dog in July after it charged them.

“The officer had to make a decision, a split second decision and terminated the dog, and actually the dog wasn’t terminated,” Public Information Officer Robert Merritt said. “It got back up, and went after another officer.”

The ordinance could address fencing and insurance requirements, as well as a dog’s history or propensity for viciousness. It hasn’t been decided whether it will be breed specific.

“It’s not the animal’s fault, it’s the way it was trained,” Mayor Bernero said.

So, the ordinance is for owners to own up.

“All dogs, I believe, can be vicious, and it’s up to the dog owner to be responsible and not allow that situation,” Steiner said.

Bernero hopes city council and the city attorney can move quickly to have an ordinance in place by next summer. There will be public hearings, and the mayor wants to consult with veterinarians, Ingham County Animal Control, and other communities that already have ordinances in place.

Jackson passed a dangerous dog ordinance a little more than year ago. Jackson County Animal Control said they’ve seen a slight decrease in attacks, but they still happen from time to time.

Pencil This In: Final Outdoor Logan Square Farmers Market Of The Season …

Photo credit: Tarakay827

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets across Chicago are either shuttering for the winter or making their moves indoors. October 28 will mark the final Logan Square Farmers Market of the season before they head to the Congress Theater until next spring. Take advantage of the chilly temperatures and load up: we’ve been seeing a lot of peppers, onions, garlic and gourds at farmers markets these days.

Animal Advocacy

We have a soft spot for pitbulls and pitbull mixes. October 27 is National Pitbull Awareness Day, dedicated to appreciation and education on the much-maligned breed and to change the perceptions and stereotypes of pitbulls and their responsible owners. In conjunction with National Pitbull Awareness Day the no-kill dog rescue organization One Tail at a Time is hosting a Community Pitbull Day at Mozart Park (2049 N. Avers Ave.) from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Pitbull and pitbull mix owners who bring their dogs will receive (while supplies last): microchips with registration; spay/neuter vouchers; vet check vouchers; Martingale collars or humane training harnesses; four-foot leashes; stainless steel water bowls; humane care information; goodie bags with U.S. made treats and toys for happy dogs; and positive reinforcement demos with licensed dog trainers. The event ends with a doggies on parade procession from 3-4 p.m.

If you have an event for inclusion in “Pencil This In,” please contact Tankboy (for AE-related listings), Anthony (for tastings, dinners and food and drink-related events) or tips[at]chicagoist[dot]com.

Charges filed against Flint man for alleged role in dog fighting operation – The Flint Journal

Gary Ridley |


Gary Ridley |

The Flint Journal

on October 25, 2012 at 6:00 PM, updated October 25, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Brought to you by

Officials seize twenty-nine pitbulls from two houses suspected of dog fighting in Flint
Ryan Garza |

A tranquilized pitbull is taken to an Genesee County Animal Control van while being seized from a house on Seneca Street in Flint on Tuesday. The Sheriff’s Department and Genesee County Animal Control officers took 29 pitbulls from two houses suspected of dog fighting. 

FLINT, MI — Charges have been filed against a Flint man who authorities say was involved with training fighting dogs. Law enforcement officials  seized nearly 30 dogs, drugs and training equipment from his northside home earlier this year.

Marvin Allen Moore Sr., 47, is facing three felonies after the Genesee County Sheriff and county animal control raided two homes Seneca Street in May.

Moore’s son, Marvin Moore Jr., 27, pleaded guilty Oct. 12 in Genesee Circuit Court to failing to provide adequate care to 2-3 animals.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said one of the homes on the 3000 block of Seneca was used to breed the dogs while a vacant second house was used to train the animals.

Moore, Marvin.jpg
Marvin Allen Moore Sr.

“These animals were living in deplorable conditions,” said Pickell. “This is just despicable behavior.”

In the house where breeding was allegedly taking place, authorities discovered steroids used for soft-tissue wounds. In the training house, authorities found a number of syringes and training equipment, including a treadmill that authorities say the dogs were put on to be trained.

Authorities suspected that exposed wiring that was attached to the treadmill could be hooked up to live electrical wiring to shock the dogs while they were being trained.

The treadmill was covered with animal bite marks.

Pickell said blood and animal feces were strewn throughout both residences.

All of the animals seized were euthanized.

The elder Moore was arraigned by Flint District Judge Nathaniel C. Perry III Oct. 25 on charges of abandoning/cruelty to more than 10 animals, dog fighting and breeding/sale of fighting dogs.

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