One thing that's bugged me ever since I started writing about dogs and other companion animals is that some trainers insist on calling themselves behaviorists, even though they have no certification from organizations such as the Animal Behavior Society or American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. And as for one Cesar Millan, who has the audacity to call himself a dog psychologist and whose training facility is called the Dog Psychology Center -- well, anyone who asks knows how I feel about him.
But now a group of real experts, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, has released a position paper that takes direct issue with the outdated dominance-based training theories that guide Millan and, way back in the 1970's, the Monks of New Skete. As Timothy Kirn of VIN News Services points out, "the dominance theory spoutedfor years by many in the dog community is a poor model for describing wolfbehavior and is an even worse model for training your dog. Unfortunately, just like there is still a Flat Earth Society there are still those likeCesar Millan, who hang on to a dog training model that is erroneous and based on creating confrontation and fear."
The AVSAB recommends that its members make a point of not referring clients to trainers who espouse dominance-based training. The group's anti-dominance position paper is here.
Many thanks to Pat Miller for her heads-up on both the VIN article and AVSAB position paper.