Thursday, June 18, 2009

Things that make me wonder

So for some reason Merial has gotten in bed with Cesar Millan. (think Frontline and Heartguard products) They are offering pin cards to clients at veterinary hospitals to go to a website and sign up to get sent a free DVD by him. Our clinic rep told me that it was just basic info like teaching sit and stuff like that. Nothing controversial. Well ..... call me crazy but I thought he wasn't a dog trainer? That's what he is always saying when people talk about his methods as part of his defense. I thought he was supposed to be a dog psychologist? So if he isn't a trainer, how is it that he has this (alleged) training video out? She also said we can NOT get a copy to preview and see what is on it before offering it to our clients so our clinic took a pass. No freebies if we can't see what we are promoting. I am going to speak with the other rep tomorrow to see what is up. Perhaps we will have more luck with him or get more info.
What I wanna know is what is Merial is getting out of it? I know what CM is getting, publicity. For the record I don't disagree with everything he says, I only disagree with some of his methods. Dogs DO need exercise, rules and love. They aren't people in fur coats. I just disagree with how he gets from point A to point B in accomplishing that end. I suppose I should look at it as a potential boost in my own business. I see plenty of people already that try his methods and then need help because they pushed their dog to far and it pushed back. I am really curious to see what is on that DVD. Hopefully I can borrow it from someone at some point if I can't get a copy though a rep.

I also heard that a local shelter in my area is working with a trainer that is slapping prong collars on every dog that is going through there. I REALLY hope that is an exaggeration. While I am not against prong collars on the right dog and used properly, I do not think they are a good "use it on every dog" kind of tool. It surprises me alot that this particular shelter would entertain that option. But I do not have confirmation of all the info I am hearing. When I heard about the Merial/CM link I hoped it was a rumor. I hope this is a rumor as well.
So my sister is on a trip which means I have Minos here for the week. He is doing pretty good so far. Thankfully she is a student of my mine when it comes to dogs so he is already crate trained. This helps immensely when it comes to bedtime and mealtimes. He is currently enjoying my dogs toybox and all the "new to him" choices available.

Having 4 dogs underfoot is always interesting. And as you can see he is quite entertaining. I anticipate much photo taking this week.


Lauren said...

Ugh- those prong collars they sell at the major pet stores! I help teach a class where I'm not the lead teacher and people waltz up with prong collars hanging off, on puppies, and over other collars. I don't feel like it's my place to say anything since it's not technically my class, but I don't understand why those things don't come with some instructions. I appreciate your thoughts because I too know that sometimes prong collars are the only option for people, but there is a way to use them correctly. It's so frustrating!

Marie said...

I agree. I hate that they are sold with NO directions at all. Years ago when I still did group classes I had someone show up with their dog in one that was twisted. They had no idea it was on wrong. And I don't know why any puppy would be in a prong collar. Ugh.

Katie said...

I cringe at prong collars hanging off dogs. I've adjusted so many of them. People put them on by sliding them over the dogs' heads. I can just see somebody losing an eyeball.

Our Merial rep will be in on Tuesday. I'm curious what he'll have to say....

And I admit I snorted when I read your comment about CM not being a dog trainer. That's what he says over and over! But now he's got a training video. Huh. Go figure.

Joanna said...

Well, I DO put a prong collar on every dog, but that's because a prong is the most foolproof of the collars, the one that is the hardest to screw up. And it does the least physical damage to the dog of ANY of them, including a flat buckle. I don't train other people's dogs, but I do a ton of rescue, and I won't have a dog hit the end of the lead on any collar but a prong. If they have ANY kind of pulling issues, they go right onto a prong, and then we work on training.

I go from the prong to basically no collar at all - a flat martingale or limited-slip for safe walking, but the dog never feels any signals via that collar beyond a very light "hello!" from me if she starts to forget where I am.

And of course in the show ring they're on a thin chain, which is the very best collar of all in terms of communication (and I really do mean "communication"; by moving my pinkie finger half an inch I can tell the dog to shift her weight from one foot to the other, to move out from me or closer to me, etc.; there's no hint of "correction") but narrow chokes are the very hardest to use properly. Prongs are the best we have when it comes to balancing communicating with and protecting the dog.

Prongs also prevent that horrible "dead neck" syndrome where the dog thinks that having its trachea pushed into its spine is the normal way to walk; it teaches the dog to listen to its neck again, not through pain but because the dog can feel the prongs where it cannot feel the broad pressure of a different collar.

Rewarding sustained attention is beyond any doubt the way to go. But saying that and having the average owner be able to consistently implement it? I think you know where that usually ends up. It's all great until the dog turns away or heads toward another dog, and then what does the owner do? Haul him back by the leash. Most owners have a dog who hits the end of the lead at least occasionally. And if that's going to happen I want it to be on a prong so the dog won't get hurt. It MUST be properly fitted, but even improperly fitted it's going to be safer than screwing up with another collar.

To defend my buddy Cesar, he or his team is doing a really good job of partnering with the right companies. Merial, with Recombitek, is by far the best vaccine company right now. His dog food is by Castor and Pollux and is actually a high-quality kibble (as opposed to the other new celeb kibble, Noutrish, which is horrible). And if the DVDs are his "Sit and Stay the Cesar Way," he doesn't train; he observes while training is done. The trainers in the videos are experienced and seem pretty decent. At least the clips I've seen are all completely positive, happy, gentle training. If people are going to buy on the basis of name recognition, by buying his products they're getting stuff that's good for their dogs. I'm fine with that.

So there you go, your dissenting opinion of the day ;).

I actually don't disagree with any of your points - I just think that the truth is rarely as simple as the blanket statements.

Marie said...

You are correct about blanket statements never being that simple. However I still go with that NO tool is the correct tool for EVERY dog.

The prong isn't my favorite because they do work by making the dog uncomfortable. On a dog with fear issues, or true dominance aggression they shouldn't be used. Period. I think they can work great in some instances but there are also other tools I would prefer to use first.

And that put a choke collar on your arm then put a pinch collar on your arm test is laughable. Try putting either around you neck and then see how you feel. (Yes I know what you are going to say, but we aren't dogs! VBG)

But of course remember that I am a positive reinforcement trainer so this view of prong collars shouldn't be a surprise on this particular blog. I am also what some would call a cross over trainer because I started in the older methods and chose positive methods once I learned how to use them. (after an apprenticeship that taught BOTH methods interestingly enough) I know positive trainers are laughed off at being used by "soft" people which makes me laugh. I am a former Marine and have done rescue work for years. Anyone that really knows me whould not describe me as "soft".

Want a real eye opener in training? Check out Leerburgs video "The power of training with markers". Even HE admits he used to laugh at positive training. Now he regrets that he didn't find it sooner. Even though I still don't agree with everything he says about dogs I love him for that admission. (

Everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding Cesar. I actually agree with much of what he says. I just disagree with his methodology. (everytime I type that I wonder if it is really a word) And I am tired of having clients that tried his stuff and freaked their dog out. I don't care what company he gets linked to. It doesn't mean they knew what they were doing with the partnership. I bet we'll see some backpeddling on their part before it is done. ( has some good info about the pairing)

Thanks for your comment! I don't mind posting desenting comments at all if they are done like yours, respectfully. Thank you!!