Cesar Millan’s secret training technique: Kicking dogs in the stomach


In his National Geographic show The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan talks about controlling dogs using “energy.” But his real tool for controlling animals? Kicking them in the guts.

To any dog trainer rooted in the world of the science of behavior, the notion of “calm submissive” energy (or whatever he calls it) is fishy. Energy isn’t observable; it’s about as scientific as wishing on a star. More observable than energy is fear; often, Cesar Millan terrorizes dogs until they’ve been given emotional lobotomies and, zombielike, will do whatever he wants. The result is compliance (some of the time), and also the kind of fear and confusion that will send a dog looking to find a People Whisperer show. But dogs don’t have cable.

However, sometimes, Cesar Millan does make use of behavioral science by implementing what is called, in behavioral terms, Positive Punishment. The “Positive” doesn’t mean good — it just means that something is added to the situation in order to discourage a behavior from happening again. Like adding a foot into a dog’s abdomen.

The so-called “Dog Whisperer” makes training look like magic. But it’s not. It is science: The science of punishment.

My biggest gripe with Cesar Millan is the fact that he is so often telling people to change everything about themselves and their own demeanor in order to bring about change in their dog. He suggests a person change everything about themselves in order to get the dog to stop lunging at the garden hose. He says things such as “Be assertive” or “Do not bring the past into the future.” It’s like commanding someone, “Stop being depressed!”

I’m a Positive Reinforcement dog trainer. Positive Reinforcement practitioners are good at encouraging the behaviors we want and ignoring behaviors we don’t. This is a simpler approach that is more direct than getting someone to rearrange their psyche so that their dog will stop peeing on their pillow.

I think that most scientists would argue that, to date, we understand a lot more about manipulating animal behavior than we do about the workings of the human brain. What we do understand about training ourselves involves a lot of time and effort: therapy, self-help books, yoga, medication. By the time you figure those things out, you’ll have 50 busted garden hoses and your dog is dead anyway. It takes far less time to wisely use good timing and proper reinforcement to train a dog.

But at any gathering of like-minded professionals, I don’t hear these kinds of conversations. Whenever he is mentioned, Positive Reinforcement trainers — a group that’s good at not giving time and attention to things we don’t like — will usually try to “reinforce” something good.

I’ve heard my friends say, “I compliment him on wanting to help owners see that dogs do pick up on human emotions” or “He advocates the need for exercise, which is indeed good for most dogs.”  In an excellent Dogster post on Cesar Millan, one of my training mentors, Casey Lomanaco, writes: “Cesar and I both train dogs and their people. We both care deeply about helping dogs and people co-exist more peacefully.” In an open letter to him regarding the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior stance against dominance-based training methods, my training partner Kate Senisi gives him kudos for making her want to learn more about training to begin with: “I was a fan — he played a large part in inspiring me to change my professional career path,” she writes.

Well, after digging deep into my soul, I have finally found a positive thing I have to say about Cesar Millan: He has good timing.

Dog trainers are all about affecting change in behavior in an animal, and everything is behavior, be it barking at another dog, sitting at a curb, playing dead or tracking a scent. All actions in our lives are either reinforced or punished. Positive Reinforcement animal trainers work to figure out how to bring about desired behavioral changes by pinpointing the things we want to happen again, and then rewarding them. We go this route long before ever resorting to any kind of negative reinforcement or punishment. But this does not mean throwing bacon in the air all the time or doing the horah the whole time Rufus is going potty: It means knowing exactly when to deliver a reinforcement — be it food or something else rewarding to the animal — and when to withhold it. Dog owners are constantly punishing and reinforcing things, whether or not they mean to. Dog trainers just do it with better timing.

In Cesar Millan’s case, he uses good timing when he punishes. At least, that’s what I’m assuming is going on off-camera. Much of the time, it actually seems like his kicks and hissing noises and the like are delivered rather willy-nilly, not with great precision. But I imagine that, in the moments we don’t see what’s going on, he is doing a swell job of timing his punishers. Otherwise he wouldn’t get results.

Then again, maybe he doesn’t get results. The show isn’t very long, and a lot is cut. Maybe the show’s editor is the one with the great timing.


130 Responses

  1. Mindful Behaviors

    April 5, 2012 11:45 pm

    Hi Anna,

    Such a good blog, yes as he says it himself his timing of applying the punishment is very good. Another thing where his timing is extremely good: dodging dog bites!

    By the way while playing this movie clip my dog Forbes is looking very concerned hearing all these stressed dogs.

        • Doofus

          March 11, 2013 1:04 pm

          Do you really have a dog in this fight? Those dogs are stressed(to begin with, /before/ Cesar touches them), and were (a lot of the time) on the way to the pound(or euthansia). I think a few taps to redirect them is worth their life, no? I love when people comment on subjects they know nothing about, because they read one blog on the Internet.

    • Doug

      January 8, 2014 1:33 am

      Ur dumb
      Is this writer a moron or just a dumbass? He barely taps the dog with his foot. I shake the piss of my weiner harder then that. Get a life

  2. Sean Lewis

    May 25, 2012 10:07 am

    To quote one of the fathers of modern behaviorism (BF SKinner) ‘A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.’ Its the same for animals. You aren’t teaching the behavior you want, you’re teaching someone how to avoid getting kicked, etc.

  3. Sean Lewis

    May 25, 2012 10:12 am

    Forgot to add that a side effect of punishment is often aggression. And just like with humans, animals can ‘displace’ this aggression on to another object (another dog, cat, squirrel, your favorite pair of shoes, etc). They might stop lunging at your neighbor’s dog, but now they’re busy chomping away at your prized Jimmy Choos.

  4. One annoyed person!!!!

    May 26, 2012 4:45 pm

    Ceaza millan needs to be shot, or seriously injured!!!!!! he should not be allowed to touch a dog let alone try to “TRAIN” one. I have a german shepherd seeing this beast of a man kick a german shepherd i would get my dog to tear him to bits!! In simple terms get this idoit of tv before more idoit copy cats try to copy him!

    • Hannah

      November 21, 2012 11:28 am

      That’s an idiotic comment coming from an idiot. If u haven’t ever met the guy and seen for yourself u can’t comment on what he does for a living.

  5. Cwilliams

    July 14, 2012 5:06 pm

    I watched the video. That’s the worst you can come up with? Snide comments entered in to the video are real classy. I’ve had a positive reinforcement trainer In my home at $150 per session. My 15 lb yorkie attacks small and large dogs. No help there at all although I do know he will do anything for chicken including attacking any dog within a very small vicinity who may get some of his chicken. I simply do not have time to feed him chicken every time another dog is around so he associates good things with the dog. Guess I’m just supposed to ignore it? Or re-home him as will the next person or he will get killed attacking a bigger dog that will defend itself? You people are ridiculous. Cesar is very humane. He’s not hurting those dogs. if you’re just teaching to sit, stay, use the doggie door then positive reinforcement is great but when there is a serious situation someone besides the dog has to take control. A nudge from me is much better to a yorkie than a bite from an 80 lb dog.

  6. Tabatha

    August 19, 2012 11:42 pm

    He is doing nothing wrong .How do you think the alpha male and female keep control of the pack. Not by praising and giving treats . It doesnt take a rocket scientist people.

    • Annette

      December 31, 2013 2:22 am

      1) dogs don’t have alpha pack structure and you’ve been misinformed and 2) dogs aren’t stupid. They don’t think you’re a dog in their “pack” and they don’t think you’re their “mom”.

      A dog can smell one drop of scent in an Olympic sized swimming pool. You really think he believes you’re a dog?

  7. Maya

    September 1, 2012 8:46 pm

    OBVIOUSLY you don’t have A CLUE about what A KICK really is… I am animal and dog lover, and i will took a bullet for mines. With that been said, i believe that you are crazy. This is not kicking, and trust me I’ve seen violence.
    This is typical double standard so common in the USA, Canada, and other countries… god forbid parents to put some discipline on their kids because they may be “hurt”, in the mean time, is ok when they tantrum and call mommy stupid. I see both Cesar Milan and the supper nanny show, and for me they are the same… both products of people afraid to establish limits… this is ridiculous….

    • Mike

      January 19, 2013 10:22 pm

      Thank you for pointing out the obvious! That who ever wrote this blog totally missed, somehow. the above comment of him being an idiot should be self explanatory.. And if you can’t see that they I’m sorry; your an idiot as well.

  8. Jim

    September 1, 2012 9:29 pm

    “It means knowing exactly when to deliver a reinforcement — be it food or something else rewarding to the animal – and when to withhold it. Dog owners are constantly punishing and reinforcing things, whether or not they mean to. Dog trainers just do it with better timing.”

    And more specifically “and when to withhold it” , Isn’t that a punishment? Hypocrites!

    • Annette

      December 31, 2013 2:18 am

      Withholding a reward certainly is a negative reinforcer. That is a “punisher”. Yes. It is a punishment. That isn’t bad and no one is claiming it is. Punishments and rewards are an inherent part of the existence of every living being on our planet.
      So-called “positive” trainers do not advocate against all negative reinforcement. Using operant conditioning (effectively) to shape behavior relies on both negative and positive reinforcement. But positive trainers also understand that operant conditioning (and in particular the use of “positive punishment”) isn’t the only way to teach an animal. There are several other tools in the ole tool chest and operant conditioning is only one, and negative reinforcement only one part of that. Why rely so heavily on that one tiny portion of one tool when science has helped us recognize and use the whole tool chest for results that yield greater success and retention?

      I train using non-force methods. It is “positive” training. It doesn’t mean the dog never knows negative reinforcement. It is called “positive” because it doesn’t involve using force methods, which can have a bad (or negative) impact on an animal’s relationship with people. No fear, intimidation or forceful coercion needed and no use of pain.
      It doesn’t mean we don’t use “punishers” like withholding food or interrupting play briefly. Withholding a reward doesn’t carry the high risk of causing aggression and other unwanted side effects the same way as using physical coercion.

      I don’t think that everyone that uses old “break the animal” force training methods is abusive or inhumane. Some are. Some aren’t. I used to train animals via traditional methods myself. I prefer positive methods (non force methods) because, quite simply, they work better, faster and have a more lasting effect on the animals I work with.
      I’m a busy lady. I don’t have time to mess around with stuff that doesn’t work. If Cesar wants to keep trying to rub two twigs together to get fire he can have at it. He sometimes gets fire and sometimes just gets blisters (and a lot of time wasted). His heart is in the right place, of that I’m sure.

      Me? I’m going to start my fire with something a little more modern so that I can spend the rest of my evening enjoying the warmth of the glow with my furry pals.

  9. Andrew

    September 6, 2012 5:40 pm

    “Kicking” the hindquarters of a dog is not the same as kicking them in the gut (tapping with the foot and kicking are as different as tapping someone on the shoulder and punching them in the shoulder). There are more than one way to get someone/something to do what you want. You can 1-bribe them (spoiled but loving), you can 2-command respect (respectful, and loving), or you can 3-abuse them (abused and scared, these people should be dealt with accordingly); Cesar uses the 2nd technique. Have you ever watched a documentary (ignore most of voice over) on wolves or wild dogs and seen how their social structure works? There is a Hierarchy just like any other group/pack animal (elephants, whales, monkeys, etc.), all he does is replicate what the dogs already understand. Dog’s aren’t humans, they don’t learn, comprehend, or react the same way we do. I’m curious as to what happens when someone runs out of treats.

    I love my dog with all my heart (Shepard Mix), I adopted him from the humane society when he was 6 months old and he is a loving, playful companion. At the shelter, they let him out for me to “play” with and get to know him. He would yank and pull while on the leash and wouldn’t pay attention (he’s a puppy ^_^). It took him a while to learn that this is his new home and that he’s never going to spend another night at a shelter. After he healed from being neutered I took him for a walk and he’d continue to pull, it took 10min for me to get him to stop pulling and I didn’t give him a treat, nor did I “kick” him. I gave a very slight, but quick pull on the leash (equivalent to 3x times the force you might tap someone on the shoulder (he’s already a big dog, smaller dog’s would require less) and he stopped pulling because he knew that’s what I commanded of him. When we got back home I walked him around the yard in the same manner, then started to teach him to play fetch (he has TONS of energy, you’d think he was a husky with his amount of stamina) It’s been 3 months in his training, the only thing I haven’t been able to teach him yet, is to stop barking at 3am when the other dogs bark… that’s going to be a bit more fun 😀

    I understand your passion for animals, I endear them myself, but he is not abusing them. He has a more “dog oriented” way of training rather than a “human” way. If the dogs he has helped weren’t better off, I’d imagine that the owners themselves would be posting videos and reporting of maltreatment and ill-effect, and since they aren’t, I think its safe to assume that the owners are happy with the way their dogs were treated and how the animals behavior is. It seems to me that the owners got too offended when he told them how it’s their fault for their dogs behavior, because it is. Just like Pit-Bulls aren’t inherently dangerous, it’s the owners who are incompetent or raise them to be violent.

    In the end, both methods of training that You and Cesar do are effective, but they do have different results. If done properly, positive reinforcement will train your dog to do things you like him to do (by him being rewarded) and he will still love his owner, but there won’t be a certain level of respect (needed when you want your dog to behave a certain way in a situation in which he has never encountered before). At the same time, if done properly, commanding respect will train your dog to do what you like him to do (be being the authority figure, as a parent is to their child, or a leader is to their group) and he will still love his owner. Both methods work great, and neither one should be demonized just because it isn’t understood or because of bias.

    I’m not saying one method is specifically better then the other, while I do think that positive reinforcement is better if the owner has to have their dog trained by someone else, because it is easily replicated; and commanding respect is better if the owner is training him/herself as long as they are competent. I’m glad that you are against animal abuse, it needs to be severely punished rather than a slap on the wrist. That being said, I assure you that he is not abusing the dogs in his show, he’s merely taking the role and training the dog the way it expects and comprehends without any other input.

    PS: Please excuse any typos, I’m very tired and have a massive headache. Have a wonderful day, you and your companions ^_^

  10. Ryan

    September 7, 2012 8:58 pm

    There’s a widely held misconception that because dogs are pack animals and descendants of wolves and so on, that they necessarily interact with humans in a similar way. This is not necessarily true. Dogs have EVOLVED naturally WITH humans – for well over 10,000 years. Humans as there social order is the natural thing. Dogs have evolved to comprehend human directions and even read facial expressions. This is how they have become such a thriving and populous species, found wherever people are, all of the world. Dogs can interact with humans in a variety of ways. They are dynamic, social and perceptive animals.

    So I’ll get to the point. There is no science to back up the shit Caesar is spewing on national television. The “energy” he talks about, and the fact that dogs are anxious because they are taking on the alpha roll – it’s a load of B.S. Maybe it’s intuitive to believe that dogs won’t respect you if you don’t dominate them, but it’s just simply not the case. In fact, my opinion is that you can form an even stronger bond and understanding and level of trust, if you don’t dominate your dog.

    Now, here’s the key. This doesn’t mean I’m a hippie and I beat on a drum circle and treat my dog like and infant, spoil them, baby them etc. You find a balance. You command respect by being consistent. I promise you, if you have effective timing and a clear understanding of Positive/Negative reinforcement and Positive/Negative punishment, your dog will be as obedient as you have time to train him/her.

    Last thing. What does punishment consist of? I believe that to have a reliable dog, punishment is necessary. BUT punishment does not need to be mean, nasty, scary or violent in the slightest. In fact, I can effectively punish my dog without touching her or even raising my voice. Sometimes stopping a favorite game is punishment. Taking a toy. Withholding a treat. Or simply just waiting. Teach your dog that if she just obeys your command she can go back to living her doggy life, wait her out until then. Maybe placing a dog in a timeout area or another room if your dog is clingy. Whatever it is, you don’t have to hit them, yell at them or whatever other bullshit Caesar tells you. His methods to work to an extent. They may extinct a behavior, but they do it by fear, and learned helplessness. Those are not happy or calm dogs, or submissive as he calls them. Those are learned helpless dogs. Stop being lazy and educate yourselves – be responsible and humane dog owners.

    • Tina

      April 4, 2013 10:28 pm

      The one where the dog was attacking him…just saying…I’d pwn that dogs face. Attacking a human is NEVER ok for a dog…js

    • Mike

      July 23, 2013 12:31 pm

      “Whatever it is, you don’t have to hit them, yell at them or whatever other bullshit Caesar tells you. His methods to work to an extent. They may extinct a behavior, but they do it by fear, and learned helplessness.”
      If you’ve watched any of his episodes beyond just 4 minute clips on youtube, you would know that his biggest rule is to never yell at the dog or let your anger show. He doesn’t hit them, he taps them. It is akin to someone tapping you on the shoulder to ask for directions: they are getting your attention simply. I don’t think I need to explain to you the difference between tapping someone and punching someone.
      This is how it works:
      1) get the dog’s attention through touch(let me reiterate, he is not “punching” he is tapping) or sound, sometimes sound is not enough so he combines these together
      2) disagree with whatever behavior he is exhibiting that you do not like- barking incessantly for example, by a firm consistent tone “shhh” Note: he strongly discourages raising your voice, yelling, showing anger is not going to help but make things worse. It isn’t really mimicking wolves at all, (he had a episode with a wolf hybrid and he made it very clear that he does not know enough about wolves to handle this case and brought in a wolf expert, you see he never says he is basing his techniques off of wolves!) what cesar is mimicking is their mothers. When puppies are little, their mothers don’t reward them all the time, they correct with their mouths when the puppies are getting out of hand and no one would say they are abusing them.

      I use a mix of both approaches, positive reinforcement to reinforce behavior i want, but mainly I use cesars techniques to make it clear what behaviors are not wanted. Its interesting that alot of people against his techniques say it is abuse and instills fear, but if what I am doing is causing so much fear and intimidation why does my dog follow me around everywhere? It doesn’t matter if I am going to the bathroom or watching tv, my dog literally follows me everywhere i go, mind you she follows me very happily but understands that she can’t be overly excited and acting all crazy hyper. She follows me around very calmly and just lays down in whatever room am in.
      If my dog was so scared of me would she really want to be by my side all the time? I’m pretty sure she would try to avoid me wouldn’t she…?

      btw my family doesn’t use cesar’s technique, they just give her lots of love and attention yet she doesn’t follow them around. She is extremely well behaved, but it wasn’t like this when I got her. So please, can you tell me HOW i am abusing my dog? because I don’t really see.

      • kalai

        November 19, 2013 2:35 pm

        Well the new dog whisperer is here…now go around helping other families with dog problems… or stop your barking…

      • Deja Fitzpatrick

        June 14, 2014 6:41 pm

        I completely agree. Ive raised my dog the same way- I tap him, I “shh” him, or just a simple -pucker-n-suck grabs his attention from other dogs (which, most dogs he approaches are friendly. The dogs he doesnt approach-I see why), rabbits, or whatever I disagree with. I often associate the pucker and tap. After that we’re back to playing, relaxing, cuddling, or he follows me everywhere.

        Lets keep in mind that when Ceasar is connecting with his dogs, he’s learning how they learn individually and as a whole. Each case is different, but you’ve got to be on a heightened level of ignorance if you really believe Cesars animals are abused.

  11. Tina

    October 12, 2012 12:11 pm

    I’d love to see the “all-positive, all-the-time” trainers try to “wait out” or “just ignore” a dog fight… Some behaviors NEED a negative consequence on par with the behavior.

    If your dog (maybe a shelter rescue, not properly training as a puppy), is jumping on your toddler, biting, nipping, stealing your kids toys and then being aggressive when you try to retrieve items from him… can you “just ignore” that? Do you think a “time-out” will stop this behavior? Or do you just return the dog to the shelter as a ‘bad dog’?

    I’ve watched “it’s me or the dog” with Victoria Stillwell, and it seems to me she screens her cases to those she can handle with all-positive methods. The one time I saw her try to work with aggression issues… it didn’t turn out well for the owners. She basically left them with a broken home – “keep them apart” or rehome some of the dogs was the solution. Cesar would have had those dogs turned around and enjoying life together as a pack – with a human leader.

    Cesar does have great timing – both for positive and negative reinforcements. You get more of those behaviors you Reward – so know what it is you’re reinforcing!

    I’m training an english mastiff puppy now – and all-positive methods are working marvelously well. She’s a smart puppy, and loves all humans. When starting from “scratch” positive methods are definitely best. When trying to get a dog to “un-learn” a bad behavior, sometimes you have to take ‘drastic’ measures (i.e. Cesar’s methods).

  12. terry

    October 13, 2012 10:01 pm

    You are being a little ridiculous dont you think? He is taping the dog with his foot! He is getting the dogs attention with it nothing more. Dogs yelp when they get hurt especially if they are surprised with pain. The dogs would yelp if they were “kicked” in the gut hard enough to hurt suddenly. You step on a dogs foot unexpectedly even if its not that hard they yelp. I have yet to hear this while watching the dog whisperer. I spank my kids when they are bad? You better call the cops on me.

  13. dog lover

    November 27, 2012 7:19 pm

    have you ever seen anyone kick a ball? thats kicking. you, my friend, are an idiot. He’s a fantastic trainer and I could only wish that he could help me with my dog’s aggression issues. Having Ceasar integrate her into his pack would be a dream come true, so whoever you are, Grossman…shut the hell up

  14. Jeff

    December 22, 2012 8:06 pm

    What you don’t understand is that Ceasar is using this technique to break the focus of aggression. It is like a pinch or a slap. It is not harming the dog as you are making it seem. Remember that these owners are at their wits end and for many the last resort. The fact that Ceasar steps in and gets instant results where most trainers fail is proof that he truly knows what he is doing. Milan is a devout animal lover and just because you do not agree with his proven style doesn’t mean it’s wrong. He has won many accolades from thousands of people. So much so that he has become a brand name in the industry. It’s obvious you have a different style of training. I can guess you are no where near as successful in canine training as Mr. Milan. There is a word for people like you……………………… Hater.

  15. Amy

    January 13, 2013 12:45 am

    That’s what you call “ruthlessly kicking dogs in the abdomen”? Haha I can’t believe what jealous haters will distort things into to just to cause a fuss.. Cesar barely NUDGED those dogs hard enough to even cause it any discomfort whatsoever.. I love my dogs to bits and I would never cause them any harm god forbid someone else harming my dog, but they are animals after all ( and so are we, for that matter).
    I own a pack of dogs, the dogs know that I am the pack leader, but when the dogs think they are on their own in the yard and I’m observing them all through the window, I see the “alpha dog” give the younger dogs a nip at the heels or muzzle when they are barking at the neighbors or play fighting to rough, wouldnt you give your children a little smack on the bottom if they were really misbehaving? I know I got smacked as a child if I did the wrong thing and I don’t have any “displaced anger” or “aggression”. And that’s all Cesar does, nothing but a little corrective nudge or love tap, he’s not even applying any force!

    You guys really are a bunch of crazies, but your obviously set in what you think, and for whatever you “think” is happening, you couldn’t change it even if it was, so why don’t you stop worrying about what cesars doing and go clicker train your dog or something!

    Bloody over the top people. I cannot stand them!

  16. Lena Mira Streitberger

    January 23, 2013 12:34 am

    Many things cannot be trained by igoring them. if a dog is agressive he wont stop just because you ignore him. many things we have to deal with are sadly the owners fault yes but if its not going to e chanced in the dogs behavior its the dog who will be removed or put down not the owner. you cannot treat every dog the same and cannot help every dog with beeing very very nice to them or ignore their bad behavior. a dog is naturally an induvidual tyat either follows or leads ut most dogs are not made to lead so they have stess their hole live. the kicking in the guts is not a kick that hurts. its a tap -will stop the dog from cosentrating on something we don't want him to and gives us his attetion back. if he gives us attention again his brain is with us and we can reward him for it.

    • Stacey Grieve

      January 27, 2013 9:21 pm

      dog aggression is almost always fear-based, and adding more fear (for example fear of getting kicked) is not the way to go. A positive-based trainer would work on changing the dog's mindset from fear-based to happy-based (best case scenario) or to a neutral state, because that would change the actions. The aggressive actions are happening because of the mindset…change the mindset and the actions take care of themselves. I have a "leash aggressive" dog, and I tried everything Cesar recommended and the problem got worse. I hired a trainer and did everything she said, and the problem got worse. It wasn't until I found a positive-based trainer and used her methods that I FINALLY got the results I was looking for. The dog is much less aggressive (meaning much less fearful) and I don't have to yell at, kick (even lightly), yank her neck, etc etc, and I DO get to give her treats and affection, all of which leaves both the dog and I feeling better about our relationship.
      And positive based training isn't really so much about just ignoring bad behaviour, but replacing it with behaviour you do want. Your dog jumps on you when you come in the door? Well instead of giving it a knee to the chest or forcefully rolling the dog, what about training it to sit nicely and get a treat when you come in the door?
      If you are still convinced that corrections, dominance, etc are neccessary to train (even an aggressive) dog, you haven't seen positive-based training at work. Find a positive-based trainer near you and go an audit a class or session…..I'll bet you walk out a convert.

      • Mike

        July 23, 2013 1:24 pm

        I dont think you were doing the corrections right. “change the mindset and the actions take care of themselves.”
        thats exactly what Cesar’s method does. he calms the dog down into a neutral or happy state as well. BTW you said “dog aggression is almost always fear-based, and adding more fear (for example fear of getting kicked) is not the way to go.”

        First off the “kick” you’re referring to is akin to a tap on the shoulder. Would you say you feel fearful when someone taps you on the shoulder to ask for directions?
        There is no “adding fear” here, it is a way of getting the attention of the dog and once you have its attention you disagree with what he is doing. of course if positive reinforcement works for you, go for it by all means! Neither way is “better” than the other, whatever you are the most comfortable with!

      • Deja Fitzpatrick

        June 14, 2014 6:55 pm

        Its not always fear-based. It could be excitement, too. Also, you said less aggressive. Cesar makes sure there is NO aggression. I grew up watching Cesar and my family got a dog after a few years when we could afford one.. people are absolutely thrilled when I turn their once leash-aggressive dogs into playmates for my dog within a few minutes.. while my dog is near. You dont want the dog to redirect his attention so much that other dogs become somewhat abnormal- it just gives you and your dog excuses to misbehave. Make him submit and watch calmly when other dogs, even excited ones, are passing by..

  17. Gen

    January 24, 2013 5:10 am

    WOW, you call this abuse?? I agree with the other commenters: the author of this blog is crazy AND jealous.

    Do you not notice almost no one is agreeing with you? Your ego might tell you it’s because everyone is some “Cesar Follower” (bet you didn’t envision this when you decided to use his name to generate traffic, huh?) but it’s actually because what you are putting out there as “abuse” is laughable. “Ruthlessly kicking them in the gut” are you serious?? This is a joke.

  18. Chantal van Dijk

    January 24, 2013 5:08 pm

    Stupit blog! Many dogs are still alive couse cesar helpt them. Some were so agressive they almost got to be put down.Most dogs have better lives since he helped them.
    There home situations got improved. So shut your stupit mouth. Dogs can be verry dominant if you are not consequent…seen it whit my own eyes. Stupit blog

    • Antoon Cusell

      January 24, 2013 7:39 pm

      Yes exactly, it's more like slapping softly with a cushion than actually kicking them >.< clearly the one who came up with this ate too much acid which strongly intensified his way of experiencing this 😛

    • Meriam Grob

      January 24, 2013 10:18 pm

      Agreed. He doesn't kick them, he touches them to get them out of a certain type of behaviour they're stuck in or something.

    • Laura Dubois

      January 25, 2013 6:29 am

      I agree. Always good to start off ignoring things you don't want to happen again. But if that doesn't work, you do have to punish. Some dogs -and children- just need that. Even parenting dogs (and other animale) 'bite' their young sometimes. And I don't mean playfully.

  19. Annelise Connell

    January 30, 2013 10:41 am

    Thanks for this. I am training a dog that has been chained. He is sweet, but strong. Since it is impossible to kick hard behind one leg, this "touch with your foot" is great! I'm watching this over and over to get the technique down. Thanks.

  20. Sandra

    February 13, 2013 3:19 am

    His tap with the foot is comparible to what the doctor did to me when as a child i resisted getting childhood vaccines.It took one person at each arm and leg to hold me down.The Dr popped me on the leg and id snap right out of my pitching a temper tramtrum.He had my full attention and it didnt hurt me one bit.

  21. Sam

    March 7, 2013 3:21 am

    You know, if you think you can do better, you should put a tutorial video on how to train a dog, how you would do things differently and get the results you want. Talk is cheap. In this case, I’ll go with street smart (Cesar Millan) vs. book smart (you), applied (Cesar Millan) vs. theoretical (you). Your problem is, you assume too much.

  22. William Brian McCanless

    March 8, 2013 2:24 am

    He's not kicking the dog, what the hell are you talking about? If your mother batted your wrist away from the cookie jar do you consider it a punch in the face? Idiot.

  23. Pammy Haigh

    March 19, 2013 8:38 am

    all I know is when you see ceasar approaching his own dogs in his compound they are all pleased to see him, dogs don't lie, they would run or cower if they were abused.

    • David Ni

      April 29, 2013 10:34 pm

      its because he does not do that to his own dogs… he does that to others… at least the state I live in will take the dog away if you did that to your dog

    • The Pet Nanny

      May 9, 2013 8:35 pm

      Most of the dogs in Cesar's pack were rehabilitated by Cesar himself, so, yes, he does use this attention-getting technique on his own dogs. Yes, there are other ways to get a dog's attention, but Cesar chooses "positive punishment" as his behavioral method of choice. You have to admit, it does work, it's just not the "positive reinforcement" choice that is extremely popular today.

  24. Crystal Sandry

    March 26, 2013 12:00 am

    I watched this entire video and regularly watch the Dog Whisperer and your interpretation of this as "kicking" in a abusive manner is a joke. Attention getting, yes… even the angle at which he moves his foot and how it pulls short shows how controlled and deliberate he is being in these actions. These methods are mainly used on dogs that have moved into aggressive behavior that most "positive reinforcement" trainers won't touch.

  25. Rox

    March 27, 2013 5:34 pm

    I wonder what sort of qualifications the people who are hating on Cesar have? Yea sure you can own dogs your whole life but how much do they really know about their behaviour? Yes dogs have evolved with humans but their inherent and instinctual behaviour from wild dogs is still very much apart of a lot of breeds. Granted that maybe not all dogs will respond to Cesars techniques but not all dogs are wired the same. At the end of the day Cesars methods work for a large percentage. Likewise, purely positive reinforcement techqnique work for a lot of dogs too. Each to their own, what ever works for you. Like someone mentioned in a previous comment; if people were worried about Cesars techniques and if they were worried about abuse then it would be all over the internet etc and he wouldn’t be as successful as he is.

  26. lol@u

    April 1, 2013 10:33 pm

    this blog is pathetic, is obvious you see dogs equal to humans, and they are not, Cesar uses techniques like it will happen in the animal world, and he is right about using them because and animal is an animal, they are beneath us humans, go ahead play dress the doll with your dog, dont humanize the animal if you are doing which I bet you are, you are hurting it more than a kick.

  27. Anna

    April 18, 2013 10:39 am

    This is very eye opening. We have a Golden (3 years old) who we trained with positive reinforcement. He is very sweet and docile but he needs some work on 1. Pulling when on lead. 2. Waiting his turn at the door. I didn’t notice his behavior as bothersome extremely until I began reading CM books. We now have an 11 week old GSD, which is why I got the CM books. I thought the GSD may require more of me for training. Now that I have seen this video and read your article. I’m going to carefully evaluate CM advice and use what I can along with continuing the positive reinforcement approach. I do appreciate how CM has drilled into my head the necessity for a daily walk not just playing ball in the yard. Our Golden has been improving with some CM methods – glad I saw this video before I get to any parts that talk about “firm touches” in the books! I was instinctively down hearted that CM seems to put the kabosh on being your dogs friend.

    • Katrina

      April 28, 2013 9:45 pm

      A dog doesn’t understand “friend,” a dog understands pack.

      Play is much different than exercise. Think of a wolf pack that walks for days in search for food. That’s exercise .. And that is what your golden retriever descended from.

      Caesar doesn’t say play is bad, it just comes after ecxercise and discipline — just like in a dog pack. Affection is extremely important and Caesar makes that point too.

      He also does not advocate physical correction until it is necessary. A golden is a people pleaser an if you never have to punish him — great! But I would reread Caesars book for the shepherd.

      If you’re still doubtful, try to get a chance to watch a mother dog with her pups. Did you know she will punish her pups for urinating in the bed? That’s how dogs usually have a natural sense of potty training.

  28. Heather

    April 20, 2013 1:30 pm

    Your Videos and Blog are completely off base and misleading. It’s actually VERY IRRESPONSIBLE and damaging to the dog world. Energy is Energy and just because YOUR human brain doesn’t have the capacity to understand it doesn’t mean dogs and nature and other energy conscious humans do and use it very positively.

  29. Katrina

    April 28, 2013 9:29 pm

    You can’t compare dogs to humans in regards to physical discipline. We have a very important advancement – spoken language. Imagine our ancestors before language was created — I am sure there were plenty of kicks in the stomach.

    Caesar does not use physical force to hurt, he doesn’t use it excessively. It’s to make a point and let the dog know he is serious.

    The belief of solely using positive reinforcement is mostly bogus. It works for golden retrievers and the other less headstrong breeds that live to please. I would love to see the positive reinforcement trainers try to deal with the types of dogs Caesar deals with.

    And think of a dog pack. Dogs growl and nip and snap. If punishment exists in their pack language, well then it’s what they understand. The dog that doesn’t punish is at the bottom of the pack — and he gets punished by the other dogs even simply to assert their role in the pack hierarchy.

    Anyone who thinks Caesar is rough obviously knows NOTHING about dog pack behavior. Dogs let each other know when another dog is out of line. If a human were to receive a nip from a dog correcting him for unwanted behavior, it would break the skin. And if an alpha dog felt someone in his pack is invading his leadership, he will probably bite hard enough to give a human stitches. In fact, this happens in reality and then the dog gets put down.

    I don’t think Caesar has ever sent any dog to the animal hospital. If this is the worst clip you can find of Caesars so called abuse, this is pathetic.

    Caesar is talking to dogs in the language they understand and is trying to teach people to do the same. If dog owners made sure to be the pack leaders, perhaps there would be less biting dogs euthanized.

  30. Ronnie Bice

    April 30, 2013 3:22 pm

    Total bullshit… His dogs don't cower around him or act abused.. Abused dogs act abused… Just another person jealous of someone elses fame.

    • Ashley Peraldo

      April 30, 2013 4:46 pm

      He isn't kicking them. Bumping with his heel to gain attention sure but out right kicking.. No. I had a pit that when he was a puppy I used the scruff and muffle technique to correct bad behavior like a momma dog would do. If that's abuse then I guess I was wrong. Best dog we ever had so you tell me?

  31. Ronnie Bice

    April 30, 2013 4:15 pm

    I've seen the video… It got the dogs attention.. It didn't hurt him.. Like a light smack on a kids back to say "hey, pay attention".. Thats it

  32. Lora Blondo

    May 2, 2013 7:23 pm

    It is RIDICULOUS to say he's 'kicking the dog in the stomach' and inducing 'fear and cowering' in the way your stating it. He is simply getting the dogs attention and there is nothing abusive about it. Have you EVER seen a mother animal correct it's young? Believe me, they don't sit and use psycho babble until their young decide to see it their way. Mother animals will hold their young down, growl and/or intimidate if need be, it can look rough, but it teaches them, it does NOT HURT THEM. Your post is silly and looks more like jealousy than a real educated opinion.

  33. Lora Blondo

    May 2, 2013 7:23 pm

    It is RIDICULOUS to say he's 'kicking the dog in the stomach' and inducing 'fear and cowering' in the way your stating it. He is simply getting the dogs attention and there is nothing abusive about it. Have you EVER seen a mother animal correct it's young? Believe me, they don't sit and use psycho babble until their young decide to see it their way. Mother animals will hold their young down, growl and/or intimidate if need be, it can look rough, but it teaches them, it does NOT HURT THEM. Your post is silly and looks more like jealousy than a real educated opinion.

  34. Leila Moss

    May 13, 2013 4:16 am

    It's amazing that people spend their time accusing a dog trainer of "kicking" dogs when so many agree with hitting children or "spanking". I personally do not agree with either. But when a wild animal (dog) has gone aggressive by nature and these "bumping" techniques work, then I think that they are great tools to be utilized. Many of these dogs look aggressive by nature and probably need a little force. It is not actually hurting the dog and his results are seen. These dogs are not being hurt or abused, but trained. Animals cannot reason or understand humans, but only be conditioned. Treats and positive reinforcement work great, but sometimes dogs need discipline as well. Negative associations with bad behavior is necessary for many animals. The aggression these dogs show him is ridiculous, a dog should NEVER under any circumstance attack a person. That is how I feel about it. If they think it is okay to attack when being bumped on the side, imagine how they would react to a child playing and pulling his hair. These dogs need to be trained and I see results here, not abuse.

  35. Pan

    May 22, 2013 2:51 pm

    I can’t believe the myths and skewed facts of the article and some of the comments.. Positive training in dogs is as to Time Outs in human children.. It doesn’t always work or appropriate for every situation.. There is a time and place for both and a time and place for punishment for bad behavior.. And for anyone to be deluded so much to imagine that dogs have evolved out of thier ancestorial instincts is very out of touch with canine behavior.. One only has to observe dogs to know this.. Dogs still turn in circles most of the time before laying down on a floor or carpet out of ingrained behavior.. They still interact among themselves with the same methods to correct unwanted behavior that CM uses.People tend to humanize dogs..sure they are great imitators of people..but they don’t think or understand in human terms or concepts.. they are much smarter and more tolerant than humans in some aspects..and much more adaptable to humans than humans are to them.. they have understanding of some human words in a limited sense..but upon seeing that, many people see that as understanding human concepts as well.. they don’t..dogs understand humans thru a dog’s perception and try to adapt accordingly.. Positive training isn’t a bad thing until its taken to the extreme, as in the article.. CM methods of punishment are not bad unless it too is taken to extremes.. CM has a thoughtful and even handed approach and it all works because he deals with situations in ways dogs can understand and use among themselves..I don’t know if the blogger is jealous or not.. but i do see they are misguided by assuming what goes one off camera or in bits on the cutting room floor.. and thats always bad.. there is no worse brainwashing than when one does it to themselves..if the author looked at the dogs and how they respond to him, thier body language, they would see happy well adjusted
    dogs that feel secure because of his presence..dogs are not good actors and have no reason to act..

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  37. sarah

    June 8, 2013 4:24 pm

    ive worked in 2 kennels one where we got on with job n left the dogs to whatever and another kennels where they used the exact same methods as ceser millan and yes when i first started the dogs where all sitting in their beds and behaving, but after a couple of weeks of me working their and because i didnt do anything to the dogs just fed, walked. played fetch with the dogs as i didnt feel it was neccessary to use that mehtod in a kennel environment and after a week or 2 the dogs were’nt ‘behaving’ and at the ‘bottom of the pack’ because they had been forced into submisiion they are simply suppressing what they really want to do in order to survive. because i guess the dogs trusted that nothing would happen to them in the form of dominance they started doing what they wanted to do, unfortunatley alot of behaviours had been suppressed even whining! the dogs where actually terrified in the kennels. particularly smaller dogs where shaking, dogs wouldnt eat the biscuits in their food because it would take too long for them to chew. dogs werent goin to the toilet because they where so stressed because there NATURAL behaviours of a dog are being suppresed. dogs where growling at eachother incase the other barked or did something wrong. The dogs where in a constant state of fear and anxiety, paw lifting, rolling on side, lip licking, turning head, avoiding eye contact. dogs would even barracade themselves into their kennels with the beds when the kenel owners arrived. hiding under blankets when the kenel owners where there. one dog wouldnt get out of its bed to eat a treat i put down on the floor for him to eat as when dogs bark we had to go into kennels and be authorative and force dog in the bed if they didnt go there themselves, he started shaking when i put that treat there he eventually plucked up the courage . when i put towels down on the hard tiled floor dogs would rather sleep on that towel than a bed with nice thick vet bedding. Yes dogs at the kennels i worked prior to these kennels the dogs barked, chewed bedding, howled but they were happy doing that as thats what theyve chosen to do to cope in that environment. dogs arent wanting to dominate the world! your the one keeping your dog alive by buying the food and feeding it! so there we have it your the leader of that dog, dogs aren’t born into this world with the skills to live with us in modern society, so you guide your dog to the correct behaviour, not punish when the dog doesnt do as ecpected

  38. Geoff Sharman

    June 11, 2013 12:41 am

    This is nothing more than an attempt to self gratify yourself. There is a real issue of animal violence and cruelty out there, of which this is very minimal. Showcase the real perpetrators and raise awareness, don't vindicate against someone because you harbor different approaches.

    • Stacey Whitelaw

      June 11, 2013 3:29 am

      Agreed. I watch Milan's show occasionally, and I (try to) use his techniques when walking my extremely strong and anxious dog. I guarantee that using his methods cause better behaviors and LESS PAIN to her than allowing her to pull strongly on the lead when she is frightened. By all means persecute actual abusers of animals, but I believe Cesar Milan is an effective dog trainer and the makers of this video show none of his other techniques such as food rewards and affection.

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  44. Arianna Morales

    August 5, 2013 5:53 am

    people do not know the reality of having a dog. Its precious but the humnan is the boss, just like he says. Do not abuse your dog, i never abused mine but dont be to ad missive, be the boss but be loving in your own way.

  45. Ask Dr. Caryn

    November 8, 2013 1:52 pm

    We have a long way to go as positive trainers. I'm afraid we are making little headway by focusing on TDW and his training methods based correction, punishment and misunderstood and out-dated dominance theory that has been dis-proven over the years. I just watched the linked video on YouTube.com and found 129,451 views. Only 200 viewers liked the video; 835 viewers disliked the video and many posted comments like the ones below…praising TDW and calling positive dog trainers all sorts of names – a good example of using punishment to try and keep us from arguing for a better way to train! For example, "Dr. Milllan is the best trainner! Period! Who are you to judge?" Well, I'm not here to "judge" TDW, but I do have credentials to back up my comments. I have a PhD in Animal Behavior and have done extended studies in animal training. As a trainer, I base my advise to owners in the science of how animals learn. My primary niche is working with people with dogs that have problems, many serious problems… both rescue dogs and dogs who were just not socialized properly as puppies. I work with big dogs and little dogs, old dogs and juveniles, and with clients who want to "get it right from the start" when they bring their new 8 week old puppy home!

    Many of my clients come to me because they have tried TDW techniques and found that they only made matters worse. I have made the decision to only work with clients who want to build life-long positive relationships with their dogs based on good communication skills and TRUST. Again, I am not here to judge Mr. Millan (I don't think he is a doctor, but if I'm wrong I apologize…there are no educational or training credentials available on his website). He is a 'good' trainer because his timing is perfect. You can train dogs and other animals using perfectly timed punishment. But is that the relationship you want with your dog? Do you want your dog to perform on "command" because it fears punishment? Or do you want your dog to perform on cue because she trusts you and knows that if she does a good job, she will get rewarded?

    My primary concern is this: if your timing is as perfect as Mr. Millan's, then you can train your dog to perform the way you want… around you…when you are paying attention to the dog. However, the dog's behavior will always be unpredictable. In fact, even with the best positive reinforcement training, dogs that demonstrate this type of aggressive behavior may always be unpredictable. There are no guarantees with any training. However, there are scientific studies that demonstrate better results with positive reinforcement training than with positive punishment training. I have found no scientific studies to the contrary.

  46. Sunnie Raye Cherry

    November 28, 2013 10:26 am

    I'm positive, his idea is to change our behavior as a whole —- and if you love animals as much as we, you would agree that most humans are awful… he's showing a ground level understanding of communication and nature. In essence, to the uneducated he may look like a "whisperer" — that's the Hollywood dramatic marketing for the television show… but he's teaching humans more about themselves than the beast at times, and I see that as valuable. Don't hate.

  47. Sunnie Raye Cherry

    November 28, 2013 10:35 am

    and what a cute way to blend in with the clutch of a catchy headline. 'kicking dogs in the stomach' ~~ ?? It may be a good plan for you to look into being less dramatic to gain media attention like the rest of the sensationalists, and just be yourself. I am sure a quick heel strike in the muscular gluteal region of an ill-mannered canine is a fair way of letting them know that you are the master. I'm almost positive you agree.

  48. Amber Napoleon

    December 4, 2013 7:59 am

    David Ni 1. The dogs that he raised from puppies probably never became dangerous. 2. The dangerous dogs that Cesar deals with don't have months to learn positive reinforcement training. They're often close to being put down. 3. Abusive people are worse behind closed doors, with those who are closest to them, than out in public or on camera. If Cesar were an abusive person, his dogs would be getting it worse than the dogs on the show, and they would not be as happy to be around him as they clearly are. Children know how to cover up for abusive parents. They do it to survive. Dogs don't have that capability.

  49. Rusty Coal

    January 3, 2014 10:02 pm

    There are people have a God-given talent; I think Cesar is one of those people. And please don't warble on about the educated/non-educated – I'm related to some GPs, specialists; i know them personally, know their mantras. And, I've been to too many docs who have the ED but act and work like idiots to put too much faith in that. Some people just don't use their ED! Considering just how hard it is to train a dog for some people, I like what Cesar does. Just too bad about all those dogs he sent flying across the room with those horrible kicks – HA – If you're concerned about dogs' pain, why don't you speak up on the fact that most shelters DON'T give the sleep injection before the kill injection, thereby causing a long drawn-out painful death for the unwanted animal? I'd back that totally.

  50. RYe RaDe SLaga

    January 15, 2014 2:58 am

    I think this method is mildly abusive. Whether you KICK your dog in an appropriate time, it is always better when you train a dog with NO FORCE USED EVER.

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  51. Steve Crocker

    January 21, 2014 1:37 am

    I have never posted this type of comment, but it is ridiculous how you are trying to promote yourself by slandering someone else's name. This is the true definition of a troll.

    Please let your talents speak for yourself and stop trying to leach off of other people's talents.

  52. Bea Tirnovan Weir

    February 18, 2014 7:31 pm

    Had seen Cesar Millan on a live show in my small town in BC Canada. He brought on the stage three people and their dogs with different behavioural issues and the dogs changed before our eyes within 3-5 minutes of applying his techniques (he never used the "kicking in the stomach" technique though). It just happens that living in a small town, as I already mentioned, I know all three people and their dogs and I could do a follow-up ,if you want. Since November 2012 when they were shown by Cesar how to change THEIR behaviours if they wanted their dogs to change, there has been no fall back to the old behaviour, therefore Cesar's methods are VERY EFFECTIVE in my opinion based on what I have seen.

  53. Julie Turek

    March 28, 2014 10:40 am

    I do not understand any of these supportive comments. It is more than obvious he is using his foot to kick the dogs. He kicks them just where the image has an arrow. Real simple shit: he is an abuser.

  54. Carrie McLean Hinckley

    April 2, 2014 10:43 pm

    Where is the video of you handling a dog in the identical situation? Seeing is believing. I would like to see how someone else would handle the situation.

  55. blackie

    April 3, 2014 5:58 am

    daft video. I agree with many here Milan’s methods are perfectly reasonable. If more people would discipline their children the same way, we might have a more cordial society.

  56. Jake Howard

    May 28, 2014 8:29 pm

    You are the dumbest person alive. Ignoring undesirable behavior is telling the dog that there is no structure in the pack. There is no leadership. Dogs need structure and leadership. It would be like raising your children and "ignoring" bad behavior and showing them with gifts 1/10 times they actually behave.

    Your techniques and psychology are irresponsible and offensive. You should not be training dogs and certainly should not spew your crap online.

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    July 18, 2014 12:20 pm

    The Pet Nanny haha I see that you are a Pet Nanny. I would bet none of your customer would like it if you use "positive punishment"


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