Exhaustion and Emily the Pitbull

Alt text is for this

Flight or Fight chart

Understanding animal behavior often requires knowledge of physiology. Without an adequate knowledge of involved processes, less informed dog trainers resort to story-telling involving “energies”, “magnetism” and “submissiveness”.

Case in point, Emily the pitbull; here Cesar Millan mistakes physical exhaustion – and probably hypoxia from the leash on the trachea – with submissiveness and relief.

For 8 more seasons Millan would continue to induce a state of hyperarousal, fight the dogs into exhaustion and then declare he had achieved “calm submission.” The trend has continued into his new show, Leader of the Pack.

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22 thoughts on “Exhaustion and Emily the Pitbull

      • Has no one ever reported Milan for animal abuse? The judges wouldn’t have to look far for evidence… there are tons of YouTube videoes plus a TV show proving it. Strangling a dog like that, so it seems to almost pass out is clearly abusive.

  1. I can barely address my feelings about what Caesar Milan is showing as correct dog training. Suffice it to say I find it terrifying that people watch him and believe that what he’s showing is the way they ought to work with their dogs.
    That said, the chart is fascinating. It illustrates why my dog can’t hear me call his name when he’s alerting and about to be aggressive to another dog, and why we worked so hard to ingrain his response to his emergency recall word deep, deep in his nervous system.
    Thanks for keeping your eye on dog-science and for sharing it in such easy to understand language.

    • Yes, there are probably many Milan followers who are much worse than Milan (and maybe attracted to the macho aspect of his style) because after all he does have an intuitive “grip” on dogs. More inexperienced people who do what they see him do may really stuff up their dogs…

    • I also really like the Fight & Flight chart, and it also explains why my otherwise obedient dogs suddenly ignore me when they get agitated by an approaching dog or cat.

      I’m also thinking to make a modified version to use in another context (humans, not dogs – the way it works is generally applicable. I have had it explained to me re. humans previously but this is a fine visual model). I will of course link back to this one for the inspiration. @ Mus Musculus, Ph.D, did you make the Fight & Flight chart yourself?

      • Thanks. The first iteration was an incomprehensible chart showing molecular cascades – something I naturally gravitate to. Luckily I realized it wouldn’t be very helpful or interesting. Like you I have read up on the topic and I vaguely recall a similar chart. Being familiar with the subject I made a pictograph with the bare-bones information I wanted to convey. Your comment tells me I got it right.

  2. Reblogged this on canibringthedog and commented:
    Caesar Milan practices the opposite of positive dog training. The video turns my stomach, but the chart explains why Chico can’t hear me call his name when he’s all riled up by an approaching dog.

  3. I just don’t know what to say. It’s just so wrong. Add to it the additional hysteria surrounding “Pit Bulls.” It sickens me that dog training seems to have an exemption or blind spot in the eyes of the law.
    Exhaustion. Good word. Good chart. Nice and easy to understand.

    • Yes, he really does have a breed bias and whenever he dealt pitbulls, bulldogs, etc., Millan never failed to mention how they are “bred to fight”, “gladiators”, “dangerous”, “won’t give up”, “one mistake can kill you”, “a love that can kill”, “never give up”

      • He knows they are a strong breed. All I have seen are complaints and haven’t seen anyone offer an alternate solution to training a dog who becomes hyperactive when placed in a certain situation. What some might call cruel and and harsh is what is actually necessary to control this breed of dog. When a sizeable man acts out in public and multiple police officers wrestle him to the ground instead of just being calm and polite and talking it out with him occurs, nobody runs to his defense saying that it was unnecessary and rough. The animal kingdom isn’t made out of unicorns and rainbow like most of you think. In regards to the comment about mentioning that “one mistake can kill you” or “a love that can kill”. I guess you could preach this same message to any human raising a child. Because the innumerable amount of parents that have been murdered in cold blood could apply. Just because you are offended does not mean that you are right. I wonder if any of the people appalled by this video are even owners of a bully breed? I see dogs all the time choking themselves at the end of a leash during a walk because they are so hell-bent on exhausting all of their pent-up energy. Please think before you speak and don’t criticize others unless it is warranted. What you apparently fail to see is that by the end of the show Ceasar has been able to save a dog by teaching its owners how to handle it. If it wasn’t for him, the dogs would be going to the pound and most likely euthanized due to there breed. So I ask you, are these techniques worth saving the life of the dog? Obviously they had no where else to turn. Perhaps all of you should start your own dog training show with an emphasis on bully breeds so that we can all drink form your vast well of knowledge.

        • There are many effective, if boring, ways to help a dog with reactivity and impulsivity. None of them include shoving a dog’s head to the floor. Nothing Millan did was necessary; it was the result of his stupid decision to put the dog in a bad situation and then respond to that with force. He is choking the dog for his own stupid decision to put the dog in a situation it wan’t ready for.

          Please learn about dog behavior before posting again. Millan has been criticized by expert trainers, veterinary organizations, PhD researchers and many more. Millan’s methods are not only dangerous to the dog, himself but also to owners and anyone foolish enough to copy him.

          Finally, I tire of the same bullshit argument you guys continually haul out. There are a lot of options between killing a dog and choking it but people like you seem unable or unwilling to consider them.

          • So, what are your “boring” solutions to a dog that is approaching or is in threat of approaching a “red zone?” You seem hell bent on discrediting Milan with your credentials, as well as others who question you on here. So, once again, what’s your solution? Better yet, where is the movement you helped create, you know, pit bull awareness and all that? Please stop trying to trump psychology with physiology…it only shows how shallow your education must have been. Everyone knows we know far less about the way we/animals think than we do about what we are made of…come on. He’s venturing out, getting results, and, lest I say, profiting from it. All I see you doing is throwing up a haphazard graph and a YouTube video.
            Finally, the bulshit arguments you are tired of are in contrast to what exactly? I’m considerate of many ideas and techniques, as well as ones I don’t really think hold much water…but you see, they are there. You offer nothing. You chastise, critique, and discredit till your heart’s content, and give nothing. To me, that is the biggest disservice you can do for those silly letters after your name. Good day.

            • Luckily, I wouldn’t have to do anything with a ‘red zone’ dog because they don’t exist.
              As to the “boring” solutions I’m talking about, that is easy to find if you weren’t so enamoured by a showman doling out easy answers based on his cheaply won wisdom. The work of Dr. Karen Overall, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Dr. Sophia Yin, Jean Donaldson, Grisha Steward and many others is easily found with your friendly neighborhood search engine.
              Millan has been discredited. No that’s wrong. Millan never had any credit and knowledgeable people warned NG about his practices long before the first episode of DG ever aired. [Here and here for example] Like so many celebrities Millan has his share of ardent defenders and loyal supplicants; I do not confuse popularity with correctness.
              Millan’s work with pit bulls is commendable but he also contributes to the negative stereotype by saying stupid things like, pit bulls are “gladiators” and “they have no limit” and “it’s a love that kills”, “bred to fight”, “dangerous”, “won’t give up”, “one mistake can kill you”, “never give up.”
              It’s important to note his advocacy work does not excuse or validate his training practices. And frankly, pit bulls have had their lobby groups long before Johnny-come-lately Millan got involved in this issue. And I can’t think of a single advancement that can be attributed to him.
              Please learn about biology. Physiology and psychology are intimately connected. And whatever we know or don’t know about animals, we know Millan’s explanations are pure crap.
              And the bullshit argument is the false dichotomy arguing it’s either Muerte or Millan.

  4. If he is working with the dog how come he is more interested in speaking to the camera than the dog?

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