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Life Arts    H2'ed 7/28/08

Power, Peace, and Puppies: Common Sense and Nonviolence

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The application of the word “whisperer” to these inhumane training methods is just one more example of the nomenclature spin that has been so popular lately, such as in the labeling of the Patriot Act and the No Child Left Behind Act.  From my perspective, these names are carefully crafted to convince Americans that up is really down, and wrong is really right.


As E.B. White’s title character in “Charlotte’s Web” pointed out, "People believe almost anything they see in print." Today, Charlotte would surely add, “… or anything they see on television.”


The Seduction of Violence and Abuse


In dog training, jerk is a noun, not a verb. ~Dr. Dennis Fetko

What “traditional” trainers call “discipline,” many behavioral scientists call “force” or “physical punishment,” and if applied to humans, some of these techniques could be labeled “torture.” Aversive training methods shut down a dog’s responses, rather than repattern unwanted behaviors.


Dr. Nicholas Dodman, the director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine of Tufts University, says "Cesar Millan's methods are based on flooding and punishment. The results, though immediate, will be only transitory. His methods are misguided, outmoded, in some cases dangerous, and often inhumane." In a New York Times article,[18] Dr. Dodman says of Millan's show, "My college thinks it is a travesty. We've written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog training back 20 years."


Jean Donaldson, author of a half dozen books on dog behavior and Director of the Academy for Dog Trainers at the San Francisco SPCA, calls Millan’s TV show, “pretty ferocious stuff.” She notes that it might be prudent to question the need to run a disclaimer that admonishes viewers to “not try this at home.”[19]


If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.  ~St. Francis of Assisi

The result of his methods is what Millan refers to as a “calm and submissive” dog. Well, that’s exactly the point of torture and fear, isn’t it? Many who lived through the Holocaust appeared “calm and submissive” as a result of their mistreatment. Even the American people, after the terror of 9-11 and the fear tactics perpetrated afterwards, were stunned enough into submission to follow Executive instructions, and “just go shopping.”


This “calm and submissive” appearance is not indicative of a healthy state.  It implies a traumatized, “shut down” condition of exhaustion and/or learned helplessness, according to many top animal behavorists.

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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