The Problem with Cesar Millan, Dog Training and Dog Behavior

The problem with Cesar Millan’s methods are two fold, he ignores what dog’s are communicating (body language) and uses flooding as a preferred choice for behavior modification as opposed to “overcoming fears gradually…ensuring that the dog (or person) is comfortable at each level of the fear hierarchy before proceeding to the next” according to Burch and Bailey (1999). If anyone doesn’t understand the term flooding, used in respondent conditioning, I will explain using Burch and Bailey’s book How Dogs Learn. Flooding is a “sink or swim” method as opposed to what is commonly used systematic desensitization. When using flooding procedures, one (trainer or handler) presents the animal or human with the scary stimuli all at once. The theory behind the method holds that “high levels of anxiety and fear will be elicited quickly, and respondent extinction of fear will also occur quickly (Burch & Bailey, 1999).

Is the study of animal behavior being marginalized when used as a marketing tool?

I found a website yesterday, specializing in dog boarding. What alarmed me was they stated, "our camp counselors” are, “certified in dog behavior.” When I inquired, which I did, I was told they go through an in-house training program lasting a couple of weeks or less! The problem I see with using the designation “certified in dog behavior” is, it makes the study of animal behavior, appear to be no more than friendly dog advice obtained from anyone, while marginalizing the very individuals who can and are educated to help the most. This is a disservice to the dog owner and the industry.