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Dog trainers: Victoria vs. Cesar : what do you think?
Victoria vs. Cesar

Victoria vs. Cesar

Victoria Stillwell is all about positive training. It’s kind of funny as she really looks the part of a dominatrix. You may have seen her in her super high leather boots in the series ‘It’s Me or the Dog’. She’s all for positive reinforcement but she’s definitely no nonsense. Compare this to small and smiley Cesar Milan. He’s downright cute… but sometimes his methods boil down to a wrestling match between him and the dog.

I’m totally with Victoria on the positive training. Think about it. If you train your children not to hit by hitting them, that method may stop them in their tracks in the moment but it will probably convince them that hitting is a normal way to be in control. Being aggressive toward your dog seems like it would give your dog the same message. I think we want our dogs to be making positive choices rather than behaving based on fear of consequences.

Victoria’s training methods are meant to be tried by viewers, whereas if you watch the Dog Whisperer messages pop up that say ‘Don’t try these techniques at home’. Cesar is definitely getting results with the dogs on his show. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I question the idea of domination as a training method. Sure packs have an Alpha. Groups of individuals -be they canine or human- are unlikely to all reach consensus on things. Someone has to have the final word. But I think leadership based on positive reward rather than force is going to be more effective in the long run… especially for the psyche of those who are following.

Read more: Victoria Stillwell rejects intimidation in the LA Times

8 Responses to Dog trainers: Victoria vs. Cesar : what do you think?

  1. Jackie says:

    I don’t agree that Cesar uses intimidation and punishment in his methods. It’s about leadership and having ‘calm, assertive energy.’ I think there is a place for both schools of thought, and I apply each method according to the particular dog I am training.
    By the way – Great Blog! Am enjoying reading all the articles!

  2. zoe says:

    Hi Jackie. Thanks for your input! This one is a controversial topic as there are a lot of positive reinforcement trainers who pour out a lot of criticism for Cesar. I do think he accomplishes many great things. I’m not always in favour of his methods but I do think his heart is in the right place and he achieves some impressive results. And yes, I totally agree that different methods suit different dogs. Like people, each dog is an individual and has unique ways of relating to the world. A cookie cutter approach is not the go.

    Glad you are enjoying the blog. Would love to hear from you again Jackie!

  3. Susanne Edwards says:

    I think they are both brilliant. Most of the time it’s us humans who have created a problem within our dogs. Both these trainers educate the human to be better handlers and that has got to be good.

    I am a big fan of Cesar, his “pack leader” approach makes sense. And, whilst I am against hurting animals, I do believe you have to be firm with them. I don’t like to see dogs humanized or treated like human children, that is more cruel than a firm hand!

    Our Brittany has been, and still is to a lesser extent, hard work. But when we follow Cesar’s “Exercise, Discipline, Affection (in that order) routine, he is at his best and happiest.

    I guess when it comes to this subject it’s very much a case of “Horses for courses”.

  4. zoe says:

    Thanks for your input Susanne. It’s so true. Different dogs will require different techniques. Makes sense.

    While definitely not human, Pluto is still my baby. : )

  5. Mary Amateur says:

    Our patience will achieve more than our force.

  6. zoe says:

    Absolutely Mary!

  7. Krystyna says:

    I have had many dogs in my life and I know that they all have different personalities. And just like children, some are easy to manage with a positive reinforcement and others are will grow up to be real pain if brought up without a “strong hand”. Mother-dog does not use a positive reinforcement – she is guided by her instinct. At the moment I have two large mixed breed dogs and just like rottweilers, they look intimidating. Therefore I have to be in a TOTAL control. While one of them learned obedience really quickly, the other one needs quite a bit of discipline and training to do the same.
    I think either type of training can be applied, after a thorough assessment of the dog.

    • zoe says:

      Thanks for your comment Krystyna. All dogs certainly respond in their unique ways to things. It is very important to be in safe control of your dogs. My feeling is that positive training should always be the first recourse as I feel it brings about results in a way that will be most satisfying to all parties involved. : )

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