Monday evening, September 9, 2013. Pictures of a woman jerking, kicking and dragging three dogs behind her made the round on Facebook. Not much was known. KTVU report Amber Lee posted a picture on Twitter. Shortly after KTVU showed the whole footage: http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/crime-law/sj-dog-abuse/nZrd6/.
My first response was “boil in oil”! How can someone treat their dogs like that? The body language these three dogs provide to us is clear. Their bodies are crouched, their tails are all down, their ears back and they go into a dead stop every few steps. They are moving slowly and at a great distance behind her. This is not behavior that happy dogs provide us when enjoying a walk with their handler. These are dogs that appear afraid.
I watch the woman continuously correct the dogs. Jerking the leash and kicking the dogs. Methods promoted on National Geographic through the infamous Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan. Mr. Millan doesn’t use the words jerking and kicking. His style is definitely more fine tuned and gracious. A kick is a “tap” and lifting a dog in the air with the feet of the ground is called “helicoptering”. Words that sound much friendlier then the actions really are. They are cruel and disturbing. What would you do if you saw this woman treat three kids this way? Dragging the kids by the hair, kicking them when they refuse to continue and choking them for just a second to put them back into their spot so they get the message? What would you do?
Lisa Mullinax, professional dog trainer in Sacremento of 4 Paws University, had a very good point after she saw the footage. “These methods aren’t methods that are invented by her. This may be the only thing she knows to do.” Indeed. How can we blame someone using methods like these when they are widely promoted? What is on tv must be good. Right?
The video was difficult to watch for me. I agree with Lisa Mullinax that the use of punishment often comes out of frustration. You want the dog to do one thing but it does something else. It appears that the woman is knowledgeable in the same methods Cesar Millan uses.
Hanging/Jerking/Helicoptering by Cesar Millan (left) and the woman (right)
Kicking or tapping Cesar Millan (left) and the woman (right)
I don’t want to excuse her behavior because I know that a lot of people simply don’t know and understand that these methods are outdated and cruel. If she is identified she may face animal cruelty charges but what about Cesar Millan? Will he face charges since he promotes those methods out there? Doesn’t he set an example?
As a professional dog walker and trainer my methods include a $10 treat bag, high value treats and a big dose of positive reinforcement. Yes, I reward good behavior and I can move up to 8 dogs on-leash happily forward. Treats are not there to bribe the dogs but to motivate the dogs to show good behavior. Education on science based modern training techniques could have prevented this situation. If identified the burden she will carry will be heavy. If she is a professional dog walker she may lose her business. If she is the owner of the dogs she will live in shame.
I hope the dogs are okay. These methods cause damage. As Kathy Sdao once said: “Using these methods means you are buying yourself a project down the road.” To hire a professional that uses force free methods please visit:
Hiring a dog professional:
Understanding Cesar Millan:
Nathalie Mosbach is the owner of Beyond Companions LLC. K9Consultant, The Dog Hikers and pawDOGraphy are a few of her successful businesses.
KTVU.com for news story
Thank Dog! Bootcamp for Cesar Millan images
Lisa Mullinax: Owner of Sacramento Dog Behavior: sacramentodogbehavior.com