Home   Uncategorized   Comments on the Dog Whisperer from Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, DACVB

Comments on the Dog Whisperer from Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, DACVB

Here is a disturbing link featuring a clip from a Cesar Millan show where he semi-hangs/chokes a dog. Here is the link:


dog training gone bad


Many of you may be aware of a National Geographic television show featuring a charismatic individual who helps dog owners. I recently came across this video on the website and I urge you to watch it (preferably without the sound so as not to be distracted by his talking) and keep your eye on the dog. Here is what you will see:

Within the first 5 seconds, the handler kicks the dog in the abdomen. When the dog turns toward him he is jerked off his feet. A struggle ensues where the handler gets bitten several times and the dog is seen to be struggling for air. Finally he gets the dog onto the ground and the dogs tongue is blue and the dog is gasping for breath. When he finally gets the dog up it appears that there might be urine on the ground and that the dog voided his bladder in distress.

What you have witnessed is not dog training but abuse. Not only does the dog suffer, but clients are at risk if they attempt these interventions themselves. These are not appropriate measures and compromise the welfare of the dog and the safety of people. His explanations are false and not based on science as we know it. We as veterinarians must make our voices heard and let National Geographic and most importantly our clients know that these types of interventions are wrong and not in the best interest of dogs or people.

As a veterinary behaviorist I have dealt with behavior problems in companion animals for over 25 years and would never confront a dog this way. Not only would it be dangerous for me and the family, it would be harmful for the dog. My goal is diagnose the problem, and design humane treatment plans that help the family change the behavior of their dog so that they can safely live together. I hope all veterinarians can agree that this is the best approach.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Most importantly, go to the link and scroll down the page to “contact us” and click on that. Let National Geographic know what you think.

Thank you for your time

Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, DACVB

One comment

  1. I, too, agree with Boxhead who wrote on DVM360. This is not abuse. Yes, it looks awful and yes it’s hard to see and not think bad things. BUT, the dog lunged at Cesar, bit him, and jumped up at his face repeatedly. Cesar did not once kick the dog. He tapped his side with his foot. There’s a difference. The dog did all the pulling, twisting and struggling. Cesar tried to keep his body out of the way while throwing the dog off balance so that he would slow down some.

    The show clearly says don’t try this at home, etc. I would never do this myself and I’ve watched practically every episode and used many of the philosophies and techniques myself to train my own dog. My dog is a happy healthy well-adjusted mutt. I did not flood him with terrifying things. I did not choke him, drag him, kick him, or hit him. I used the leash and collar as they were intended-as a way to control the dog. Snap & release works just fine. I learned not to yell at my dog all the time and not to get frustrated or angry at him. I learned that it’s my fault when he doesn’t do as I’ve asked-I didn’t ask properly or sometimes even the right thing. I learned that if I am confident, my dog will be too. I learned to praise and reward calm, ignore crazy, and wait for the stillness before you provide the reward.

    I believe that a combination of Cesar’s philosophy, clicker training, and plenty of love are what you need to teach a dog. Please visit my blog @ http://rileysdogblog.blogspot.com.