This Sounds Like It Bites…But Cesar Should Be Used To That

Steve sent me this article about Audible launching a service for dogs, and then sat back and waited for the response. It didn’t take long.

My first response was fascination. Could there actually be kinds of books a dog would like? We already had music, so could there be books? My hopes began to dwindle quickly when I realized a partnership with Cesar Millan was involved. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who aren’t Cesar Millan fans, and because of that, and watching his show, I don’t think too much of him.

Here’s another article on the same subject, which includes a description of what is going on in the video.

The dog in this video clip, named Holly, is a 2-year-old female Labrador Retriever. Holly appears to have moderate to severe food aggression or food resource guarding issues. This is a common behavioral problem with dogs (yes, even Labrador Retrievers) and there are standard behavioral training protocols used for treating it.
Please note, what you observe in this video are things that are not endorsed by dog behavior professionals (e.g., ACVB, IAABC, APDT and CCPDT). I do not recommend that you try the things that are found in this video as they are both dangerous and can exacerbate behavioral problems.
Let’s examine this video more critically.
The implied premise of most dog training television is that the dog’s issues will be remedied in one visit. Holly didn’t learn this behavior quickly nor is there a quick cure for most behavioral issues. Real and lasting animal behavior modification takes time and patience.
Note how Holly is eating her food with no issues at the beginning of the video. However, the cast and crew continue to move closer to her until she is forced to respond. It’s very important to note that this all occurs in a fairly small backyard with limited escape routes for the dog. Forcing oneself into a dog’s space like this is a recipe for aggression.
In my opinion, the dog appears to be deliberately taunted for the cameras. Continually confronting Holly, who is obviously stressed, is going to dramatically increase the probability of aggression. Shortly into the video we find that it’s no longer about food aggression any longer. Holly is obviously feeling threatened and is sending out multiple signals that she wants this to stop (e.g., she lies down). But they persist.
Remember that there are cameras and crew standing behind and to the side of Holly as this unfolds. This adds an additional level of stress to the dog.
I have no idea what Cesar Millan’s intentions are as he starts posturing as if he is going to attack Holly with Kung Fu. I sadly believe this is another attempt by the show to add some mystery and drama for the cameras.
I object to the silly pseudo-science used in this episode. What does “brain got stuck” mean?
And when Holly can’t deal with things any longer, she bites. It’s really hard to believe that anyone would put his or her hand on Holly’s muzzle after everything she has just been through. She is then kicked which may have actually extended the length of the bite (in the full length version of this episode you see the dog hit in the neck prior to the bite). After the bite, you hear Cesar Millan say, “I didn’t see that coming.” Would you have put your hand in Holly’s face? I wouldn’t have either.
Near the end of the video note how Holly’s jaw appears to chatter. This is an extreme indicator of anxiety for dogs – one that you rarely see. This dog is very afraid. I’m surprised she hasn’t aggressed more than what we see on the video considering all that she has just been through.
In the full episode, the off-camera commentary talks about Holly’s aggression getting worse after the episode was shot. I am not the least bit surprised by this information.

I am so glad he said the whole pseudoscience bit because whenever I watch the show, I can’t figure out what the hell he’s on about, but I always assumed I was missing some major visual piece of information. But what I can’t stand is the way the clients act as if he makes perfect sense and they worship him. This guy makes me squirm.

Anyway, back to Audible for Dogs because that’s what started this whole thing. There is nothing special about this service, which you would have to pay for.

Dog owners can play Cesar Millan’s new Guide to Audiobooks for Dogs—which is both written and narrated by Millan—for initiation purposes, along with a curated rotating selection of dog-focused audiobook titles including Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, performed by Trevor Noah; Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, performed by Rosamund Pike; and W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose, performed by William Dufris. Each title features a special video introduction by Millan, in which he explains why the book is suited for doggy ears. (Pro tip: According to Audible’s research, dogs prefer narrators of the same gender as their primary owners, and books played at normal volume on an in-home listening device.)

So, there is nothing special about these books that is actually suited for dogs. They have stories about dogs in them, I read the Trevor Noah one and it only had one dog story I can think of, and if you’re smart, you’ll pick narrators that sound like you, and that’s about as far as it goes.

At that point, why not save yourself the money, record yourself reading a story, put it on a loop and be done with it?

People really are dumb.

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1 Comment

  1. I was curious to see if you thought it was as useless and money grabby looking as I did, plus I knew you’d have opinions with Cesar’s name involved.

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