Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

Marley & Me vs The Dog Whisperer

marley_snow_kahua6nc_300I haven’t seen Marley & Me yet but I hear that it’s the #1 movie in America — and critics are teeing off on it.  Well, you can’t please everybody.  But I found an interesting review about the movie today in the L.A. Times:  “Bad dogs: Why ‘Marley & Me’ needs Cesar Millan.”   It’s actually pretty good.  The writer discusses not just why Marley could have benefitted from the dog trainer’s approach but why many Americans are to blame for their own badly-behaved dogs.



The L.A. Times blogger writes:


As anyone who watches dog behavior expert Cesar Millan on National Geographic’s “Dog Whisperer” knows, this passive attitude to dog ownership is widespread. And it’s a chief reason why the world is full of dogs who bark all night, attack small children and mail carriers, and hump house guests’ legs (and also, yes, spawn litigation that helps drive up insurance costs for the rest of us). Sorry, “Marley & Me,” but there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. (Interestingly, Grogan himself sought Millan’s help last year with his new dog, Gracie.)


Blunt, but true.  I have to agree with the blogger.  Very few dogs start out “bad.”  They become that way according to what their owners let them get away with or how they’re treated.  Dogs are hardwired to be man’s best friend after at least 15,000 years of living with us.  Any other kind of behavior is mostly bad training, or no training.  So, it should make you feel a lot better to know that when your dog does something bad it’s your fault.  At least it means that you can do something about it.  Your dog doesn’t have to go on acting that way.


retrain_balanceI have to admit that I have some issues with Cesar Millan, but this is just my personal take on things.  On the positive side he does train the owner to handle their dog; and he helps them establish themselves as the person in charge.  You’d be amazed at how often people let their dogs run their lives and homes.  When I have watched his show, however, it often looks like he’s manhandling dogs and that they are fearful.  Granted, he works with some dogs that have behavior problems, but that’s not how I’ve been taught to deal with dogs.  I have some problems with the whole theory about a human being “alpha” and part of the dog pack, too.  I basically think it’s kind of silly.  No dog in his right mind is going to mistake you for another dog.  You’re not the alpha in his dog pack.  You’re like a god to your dog unless he’s being a real brat.


Really, it’s very funny how different dogs can be.  What works with one kind of dog would be a disaster with another.  My dogs, for instance, English Setters, are very “soft.”  If I get mad and yell at one of them it hurts their feelings and they will hang their head and sometimes hide.  I can’t do that.  I have to use much more positive methods with them.  That’s just an example.  Actually, it doesn’t do much good to ever lose your temper with a dog.  It’s counterproductive.  But my dogs can tell a lot just by the tone of my voice.  I used to have a friend who bred Afghan Hounds.  They were funny.  She could yell at them until she was blue in the face and they just ran off and ignored her, with a devilish twinkle in their eyes.


There are a lot of people who have dogs with strong wills and strong personalities.  The dog is seemingly more determined to get what he wants than the owner is.  If you have a dog like that you have to learn how to handle the situation because your dog will keep pushing you.  You have to learn to set boundaries for your dog that he will obey.  The best thing you can do is to start teaching your dog from the time he’s a puppy that he has to do what you tell him to do.  You don’t have to be mean about it.  Just praise and reward him for doing what you want.  Ignore him when he doesn’t do what you want; or let bad consequences follow (he misses out on play time when he doesn’t come to you; he misses treats that you give the other dog, etc).


With nearly 80 million pet dogs in the U.S. there are more first-time dog owners today than at any other time.  That means there are a lot of people who don’t know how to keep and teach their dogs how to behave.  It shows in some of the badly-behaved dogs we see now.  Teach your dog to behave well.  If you have a dog it’s your responsibility to train him and teach him good manners.  Otherwise, don’t be surprised when your cute puppy grows up to be a menace.


January 6, 2009 - Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , ,

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