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20 August 2008


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While I agree with Christie's well written article and interviews, I'd like to point one more finger elsewhere. Who came up with the word "angry" and thought that was a good idea? My reaction when I heard that word during the show was, "They must be kidding! How awful!" In a world where certain breeds are unfairly demonized and the actions of dogs owned by violent and irresponsible people make the news somewhere daily, is "angry" something we want to depict as part of this contest which celebrates dogs? I've had professional portraits taken of all my dogs and not once did I ever want a picture of "angry."

Gina Spadafori

Mine usually look "guilty":




I haven't seen the show but based on what I've read here, it sounds as if the owner tormented the dog until the dog couldn't take anymore. Don't know what state this occured in but I wonder if this is a prosecutable offense under that state's animal cruelty laws.


I doubt it, considering what's permissible and legal under the guise of "training" in general.


The judges are harassing Teresa because her border collie.......wait for it......... BARKS.



The woman is a twit and is willing to hang her dog out to dry in order to win money.

She doesn't deserve a dog at all until she learns more.

I honestly haven't watched the show, did catch a couple of minutes early on featuring a Bulldog and decided it looked like pointless fluff. I hope the viewers aren't learning training tricks from people like Theresa. My other concern is that the breeds and mutts featured may lead to popularity - the death knell for dogs these days.

Why don't the judges watch the clips? That's bizarre.

PS It's easy to get a dog to curl a lip or even grin on command, and he doesn't have to be particularly intelligent. I've done it lots of times.

Christie Keith

Of course, one of the contestants got the word "lazy."

He had a bulldog.

He still lost. Ack.

Star did a great job of "Stubborn," lemme tell ya.


I've seen "angry" with dogs, and it works well. It's a game. There is no need to torture a dog to create a reaction. Heck, one of my dogs curls his lip when you scratch his ear. I could easily turn that to a snarl command if I wanted to.

Janice in GA

Unlike some of the other commenters, I've watched every episode of this show. (And I ADORE Bill and Star.)

You can see that some of these folks don't have the training chops to get some of this stuff done very well. I think Teresa was just trying anything she could to get a mean look from Leroy, and I don't think she was abusing him. I mean, people suggest lemon juice and water sprays to distract dogs and keep them from doing things. And those citronella stop-barking collars do essentially the same thing. Are those considered cruel?

To get the "angry" look on Leroy, she used something another competitor suggested -- snarl bands, basically a rubber band over the dog's snout. She was roundly condemned by the judges for doing that. I was honestly afraid they would send her home for it. And I didn't want that, because I like that pair.

It's reality tv. It's all edited footage and compressed time and not much real content. But I think that the people are, in general, really TRYING to work with their dogs.

And I loved Tillman the bulldog. I really hated to see him go. He could ride a skateboard like nobody's business.


Comment by Janice in GA — August 20, 2008 @ 8:24 am

"I think Teresa was just trying anything she could to get a mean look from Leroy, and I don’t think she was abusing him."

In one of the images linked to in Christie's article, Leroy had crept into Teresa's lap - every inch the submissive dog saying "I don't know what I did, but I promise I won't do it any more!"

Reportedly her response was something along the lines of "Cut it out. I'm not you're mother right now!".

That is someone who has let the need to win at all costs cause her to cross a line. And poor Leroy - who doesn't know anything other than that he's being put into all sorts of unfamiliar and stressful situations - comes out the loser.

This woman needs to be taken out of this competition and given a TRUE "reality check".

Gina Spadafori

>citronella stop-barking collars do essentially the same thing.

Um, no, they don't. The collars spray a MIST in FRONT OF the dog, not liquid in his face. Very big difference.

(Haven't watched the show, don't plan to. I've never "gotten" the whole reality TV thing.)


I started watching this show because I heard Victoria Stilwell was going to be on it and I really liked her methods in "It's Me or the Dog." I'm glad to hear she didn't know about Teresa's "training" methods.

I was a bit surprised when she said there was a vet on set 24 hrs because when my favorite (Star) had to get her ear stitched they appeared to have a get in a car and drive somewhere. (It looked like just a bitty cut and Bill was sooo upset, it was so cute and melted my heart.) Ah "reality" TV.

I watched these Tivo'd so I'm not caught up, but I hope that Brandi gets kicked out!


This show scares me. They need to have some sort of resource where contestants could go for help with training. (I know they sort of had that as a bonus last time, but still.)

For one thing, on the first episode the bull dog quit jumping up on to the table because he was over heating. There should have been an intervention.

On last weeks show, the teams were judged and eliminated based on the HUMAN contestant's artistic ability. (The photo shoot had some of the same criteria.) I fail to see how artistic ability has anything to do with being necessary for a good pet/owner pair.

For "angry" she didn't even need a snarl. (After all, jumping for joy was way to boring for the judges.) She could have used his mouthing skills and had him tear up paper that said "eviction notice" or a really big cell phone bill. Or a protest sign. I would have had him hold a sign that read "This photo contest is stupid, and I am angry". (And gotten kicked off, but it would have been worth it.)

I watch this show for Bill and Star. I loved it when Star zoomed the judges.

Christie Keith

I watch this show for Bill and Star. I loved it when Star zoomed the judges.

Best. TV. Moment. Ever.


I have been watching this show. (I don't watch much TV, but I do get into "reality" shows.)

I will admit, overall, I have enjoyed it. There have been quite a few moments that seemed not quite right... but I don't have a dog, nor have I ever trained a dog. Certainly some of the things I have seen done, I would not do if I did have a dog!

Some of the humans need a reality check for sure. Some of the human-animal relationships are truly amazing. I pegged Bill and Star as my favorites from the beginning and that is still true. He loves his girl, and she obviously loves him just as much. To me, he is what this show should be about! The human-animal bond they share makes it so fun to watch them.


I'd like to think that it was just an unfortunate judgement on Teresa's part. She and Leroy seem to have an excellent relationship from what we have seen besides that. It was baffling that she resorted to being so mean to poor Leroy.

I do love that Victoria Stillwell comments on non-positive methods but I do wish that it affected their standing in the contest. Considering that Ceasar Milan is the king of TV trainers, I just think its great to have positive methods highlighted in prime time…

If they have another season CBS should get rid of stupid challenges like that one and make the consequences for using harsh methods more severe for contestants. Squirt them in the eyes with grapefruit juice? Or since everyone learns better from positive reinforcement, reward those who have the best relationships, which is kind of happening now anyway on the show.


I'll admit - I have watched every single episode of this show since it started.

I was upset about Teresa's treatment of Leroy for that shoot, too, but I have to echo another commenter and say that I think the word "angry" was a poor choice. Teresa does seem to really care about Leroy, but that could have been handled a lot better. I think she let the pressure of the competition get to her. Other than this incident, she seems to really care about her dog.

Personally, I really disliked the type of training Elan used for Kenji. She corrected Kenji excessively sometimes, and Kenji seemed to be tuning it out completely. Could have been creative editing, though. This is reality TV, after all.

My favorite picture was of Andrew. Anyone who hasn't seen it should check it out. So cute!

Christie Keith

I agree about Elan and Kenji, but the judges, including Victoria, pointed that out.. and as Victoria said in my interview with her, she even warned Elan more strongly off camera, that her handling methods were making Kenji more aggressive.

It was the fact that no one said anything about what happened with Teresa and Leroy that freaked me out.


Dutch said:

"Who came up with the word 'angry' and thought that was a good idea?"

I agree completely.


Christie, I hadn't read the full interview yet when I commented before. Looks like you guys already covered Kenji and Elan. Great interview!


I missed the episode where Leroy bit Theresa, and would have been upset if I'd seen it. I don't have a problem with wanting to picture the word "angry" - it's just another training exercise. Peanut butter is what I would have tried too. Or, take a photo of the dog while he's barking. It wouldn't be that difficult IMO.

But I REALLY hope Bill and Star win!! We run our dogs in agility here in North Texas and we know Bill from agility trials - and he's just as nice, and just as down-home genuine in person as he is portrayed on the show. And he's just as devoted to his dogs as it appears on the show. Crossing my fingers! If anyone deserves to win, it's BILL!! And Star, of course!! :-)


Just saw tonight's episode. After one of the challenges Wendy Diamond commented/commended the performance by JD with Galaxy by saying lightheartedly that he could be the next Cesar Milan, and then Victoria Stilwell lost it!!

She went off on Wendy about how terrible his way of training is and Wendy fought back that her way is not the only way to train dogs!! Ms. Stilwell went on and insisted that her way was the only right way and it has been proven scientifically!!

I've watched Its Me or the Dog and Dog Whisperer and Cesar is far better at what he does than Victoria is at what she does.

She must really hate Cesar Milan. She, is probably jealous of all of his success!! Alot of so-called professional dog trainers seem to despise Cesar Milan. I can't figure it out because no dog on any of the shows I've seen looks abused or scared of Cesar after he has worked with them.


Progressive dog trainers all over the country were sent demo tapes of "Dog Whisperer" before it went on the air. Progressive dog trainers all over the country begged National Geographic NOT to proceed with their plans to air this program highlighting outmoded training philosophies, but to instead put together a program with someone using currently-accepted training methods such as Patricia McConnell or Ian Dunbar or someone of that ilk. National Geographic blew off the collective experience and wisdom of all these trainers whose input had been solicited and proceeded to put their program on the air anyway (although they at least agreed to add warnings to each episode against inexperienced people trying any of these procedures at home).

So yes - progressive dog trainers all over this country - and other countries as well, it appears - are more than a little put out that once again the old-fashioned dominance model of dog training has captured the (unknowledgeable) public's imagination.

It's "Uncle Maddy" all over again . . . . . . . . . .

Anne T


Do you mean *gasp* Matthew Margolis? What a "site" to behold that is! Uncle Matty, not Maddy though.

Wednesday nights 2 of my dogs and I attend Rally Obedience classes, clicker and bait bag armed and at the ready.. Therefore, I haven't watched any of the CBS show since they shifted the airing from Thursdays.

I was unfamiliar with Victoria Stillwell until the show, and not sure I would list her in ahem quite the same category as Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell or Pat Miller, but if she came unspun on National TV about Cesar Milan, she earns a really awesome treat or 2 in my book!

H. Houlahan

Guess I'm not a "progressive" trainer. I'm also not consumed with envy.

I got demo tapes of Cesar Millan and told National Geographic that it was the best thing television could bring to dog owners, and to roll with it.

And it still is.

Susan Fox

H. Houlahan, I'm with you. I sometimes wonder if the trainers who are so unhappy have ever actually listened to what he says, which is that he is not, and has never been, a trainer. He has flatly stated on his show more than once that he believes all but the smallest percentage of the most dangerously aggressive dogs can and should be saved and rehabilitated. He advocates adopting shelter dogs and supports a rescue that pulls dogs from the "shelter" in Tijuana. He's used the term "No Kill" on his show at least once that I've heard and with the correct meaning.

He would have been shoulder to shoulder with Stillwell on Theresa's unacceptable and cruel treatment of her dog.


Cesar's really, really polarizing, and I think both extremes, in this case, are wrong.

On the one hand, a lot of his advice is in fact very much what the progressive trainers teach: exercise, consistent rules your dog can understand, affection. He doesn't just advocate, he actively supports adopting shelter pets. He supports No Kill. And that "calm-assertive energy" that he talks about it is Hollywood-speak for the same the progressive trainers say about your attitude/emotional state affecting your dog.

Most people would be better off if they followed this advice with their dogs.

OTOH, he uses and demonstrates some old-fashioned techniques that are not just out-moded, but seriously dangerous for the average pet owner to attempt with their dogs. He talks about dominance, and sometimes (not always, but too often) ascribes to dominance things that appear to have another cause, like fear or simple confusion. The case of Kane the Great Dane was really distressing to watch.

And people watch his show, and absorb things selectively based on where they're coming from. Cesar genuinely loves dogs; too many people think they're "using the same techniques the Dog Whisperer does" when they choke, hang, or alpha roll dogs who are just trying to figure out what this crazy human wants! I've had to explain to a couple of distressed and confused people that no, they don't have to alpha roll their three--month-old puppies! And tried with some frustration to explain to some others that no, "dominance" issues have nothing to do with why their puppy is chewing stuff up, or "biting" them during play...

An awful lot of people, influenced by what they think they're seeing on The Dog Whisperer, are doing really, really dumb, harmful things with their dogs.


Love Cesar Milan - nobody's perfect and not all methods work for all dogs, but I think that's pretty clearly emphasized in the TV show.

I only hope no one has been influenced by watching the "Greatest Amercian Dog" to torment their dog until he bites in the name of "training".

Cathy Z.

For good negative expressions try a cat. My cat Nemerah does angry better than anyone, and she bites me without ever having been trained to do so.


Ms. Stillwell sort of leaves herself wide open for criticism/ridicule when she says - albeit in the heat of a hissy fit - that she is the god of dog training and that her way is the only way. And just an observation, the dogs trained with more "traditional" methods are doing far better in the "competition" than the all positive trained dogs.

I have trained all my dogs using more traditional methods, they have impecable manners yet have not lost their doggyness. I don't choke them, or hang them, or alpha roll them and would not recommend that to anyone. I do not use a "choke" chain. I have also seen dogs harrassed with clickers by inexperienced trainers to the point of snapping. And dogs who will only behave as long as the treats keep coming. There is good and bad at both ends of the spectrum.


Comment by Lis — August 21, 2008 @ 3:45 am

"he uses and demonstrates some old-fashioned techniques that are not just out-moded, but seriously dangerous for the average pet owner to attempt with their dogs."


"too many people think they’re 'using the same techniques the Dog Whisperer does' when they choke, hang, or alpha roll dogs who are just trying to figure out what this crazy human wants!"


"people watch his show, and absorb things selectively"

Those are reason enough to keep this kind of programming and "dog training advice" off of the general airwaves. The poor dogs shouldn't have to pay the price for clueless pet owners who think it's okay to choke or hang their dogs or that an "alpha roll" will solve all their problems because "that's what Cesar does".


Dogs are individuals. If I ever got a second dog, I'd be willing to train him completely differently if it seemed he wasn't responding to the way I trained the first. Although the physical and forceful methods are completely out.



The Alpha roll thing is only used in Extreme Circumstances on dogs that are next to be put to sleep because they bite other people or animals.

His "bite" on the neck of the dog works extremely well and causes absolutely no harm to the dog. It simply refocuses the dogs attention on whatever it is he is focused on.

Cesar uses many different methods depending on the problem of the dog and the owners. He even uses treats sometimes!!

Lis, you'll be happy to know that Kane the Great Dane now is living a good life thanks to Cesar and has no fear of walking on any kind of surface.

Cesar is one of the most successful at what he does, never advocates putting a dog down and is super friendly if you have ever had the opportunity to meet him in person. I think you Cesar Haters are just racist and jealous of this Mexican Immigrants success.

Gina Spadafori

rb ... chill out. This sort of thing:

"I think you Cesar Haters are just racist and jealous of this Mexican Immigrants success."

is total BS. Believe me, the trainers and behaviorist who have a problem with Cesar Millan would still have a problem if he were a blond, blue-eyed descendant of an old-money family whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower.

Calling people who disagree with your starry-eyed worship of the man "racists" doesn't add a damn thing to the discussion.

Consider this a warning. Keep it up and you'll be moderated.


While I don't agree with everything Mr. Millan does, the benefit of his show is that it has exposed people to the idea that it is possible to train just about any dog. If that gets more people to teach their dog some manners, or join a local obedience class, then he's doing a good thing.

Gina Spadafori

Dutch, I agree.

I think it's easy to focus on the techniques that make other trainers apoplectic, and easy to miss that Millan has many good things to offer, such his emphasis on EXERCISE.

All trainers agree that dogs need more exercise, but I like seeing Millan stress the need for it.

Diana L Guerrero

Television media has sunk to a new level with reality television. I seldom turn it on any more and when I do there is rarely anything interesting to watch.

The problem is not just the media--it is that people will take actions that harm their animal thinking it is okay.

Poor judgment on the show for sure but this also highlights the problem in society at large--what about those people who still "hang" their dogs?

Locally a "trainer" got herself bit by a very friendly and congenial dog when she pushed her in training to get a response when it was clear the dog was uncomfortable.

To those in the class--it was okay because she is a "professional."

When I was a wrangler (trainer) for the studios it was common to have the AHA representative absent from the set--in fact some trainers developed strategies for avoiding close scrutinizing...SOSDD (Same old shit different day).

But at least people have the sense to complain and hopefully use pressure to change and maybe your column will spark an "aha" somewhere.

Bernard J. (Bernie) Starzewski

I think CBS should have stopped her cold.

Spraying lemon juice in the dog's face? How would you like it?

I didnt see it but it sounds like the dog displayed another emotion, confusion at the betrayal of trust.

I would never do to Scout or Trigger what was done to that dog.

What ever happened to "No animals have been harmed during the making of this feature..." ?

A long time ago my daughters taught my old pal Brandy to snarl when she put her hand on some favorite food. Yes, they actually taught her food agression. But just to show that it was in fact a show and nothing more Brandy would only do it when that same daughter put her hand on it. She would hold her head erect and show her teeth.

If I did it Brandy would just look at me sadly, as if to say... "You wouldnt really take that away, would you?" And of course, I wouldnt, and she knew it.


I have fingers crossed for Bill and Star.

I have watched a few episodes. I'm really disappointed in the show and CBS. They should have taken the opportunity to educate the American public. Also, why not give 5 min each week educating the public about performance events they can do with their dog. Canine Freestyle, Agility, Obedience,Tracking, etc.

My biggest gripe with the show. First week: the terrier bit the bulldog. Than Star was "attacked" while running free outside and rushed to ER (snake,rabid animal..), Second week: the Giant Schnauzer growled at the waiter bringing food. Third week: the "snarl bands" for angry. All opportunities to educate the public on how a canine should behave, how to train and what to do in a medical emergency. Instead it's laughed off. And, the snarl bands...not good for kids to see and really made me feel sad for the poor dog that someone would do that just to stay on the show.

Didn't watch last week, and not sure I'll watch tonight.



The previews for next week show a live elephant. Can you say - jumping the shark.


Step 1 - Stomp the living crap out of Teresa for trying to make her dog mad and then getting upset when he bites her.

Step 2 - Stomp the rest of the crap out of her for messing with his mind by not accepting his apology when he was obviously not understanding what was going on.

Step 3 - NEVER, EVER leave her alone with a dog again... and she's a PROFESSIONAL DOG SITTER for %@&# sakes!!

Step 4 - Stomp her again just for good measure.


Victoria's the pot calling the kettle black when she jumped on the chance to criticize Cesar. SHE TRAINS DOGS THE SAME WAY! I've seen several episodes of both shows--please tell me what she does differently?? I don't see any difference other than Cesar is better at it, probably makes WAY more money and doesn't dress up in stupid leather dominatrix suit and boots. Please! Me-ow...she's just jealous.

I'll further bet that the cat fight was set up just to give her the chance to vent (remember how the two contestants just *happened* to disagree on training methods earlier in the show?) Basically it came down to whether you give a dog treats or just reward with *good dog* and petting. It was really weird because the woman arguing is the one that turns her nose up at the people treating their dogs like chidren, dressing them up, etc.

Anyway I really hope Bill and Star win--they're the most IMO deserving of all the contestants. And Star is just good!

stephanie perkins

I was upset when Tillman left the show. I missed the episode last week, so I don't know who was kicked off. Like all reality shows, all they do is backstab each other! Tillman made the show funny!


This is the most racial-preference oriented show I've ever seen. After ditching one of the two white guys 'cause he didn't bathe his pup enough, we're down to two, a black woman with a small dog, and a white guy with a miedium-sized dog. The three a-hole juges predictably acted in their results-oriented mindset in respect of a "test" that ultimately "tested" whether a dog was willing to retrieve a toy from under the foot of a giant elephan. It doesn't take rocket science to grasp that "small" dogs have become (see Darwin) less intimidated by lareg animals than medium- or large-sized dogs (after all, that's how mammals evolved). This whole same was results-oriented bullshit. Congratulations, "person of color", whoever you are. And your little dog too. (And I write this before the end of the 250,00 award; gee what a surprise.)


Oh boy, am I eatins crow... My bad...

Gina Spadafori

Wow, Dan, interesting. You are truly the first person I've heard suggest the show was rigged so an African American would win.

So tell me ... do you apply the "'person of color,' whoever you are" lens to everything you look at?

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