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Cesar Milan Is Wrong: How To Stop Dog Biting The Right Way

By Dr. Andrew Jones

Cesar Milan Is Wrong: How To Stop Dog Biting The Right Way

If you have a dog that bites, it is probably fear based; you are likely wondering exactly what you can do to stop it. This unwanted dog behavior is often confused with dominance aggression, when it is really far from it. This article will give a thorough explanation of what fear biting is, including the subtle signs and common causes. Your dog is reacting based on the ‘fight or flight’ response, and the result can be biting. I’ll go over the precise training steps you can be taking, along with the natural remedies that can help for dog aggression.

When your dog bites out of fear or anxiety, he is reacting due to panic with a rush of adrenalin in his body. Fear-biting is the end result of your dog not being able to think in a very stressful situation, and responding inappropriately. Think about the last time you were in a very stressful situation, such as someone cutting you off while driving. Your mature response would be to ‘let it go’, while your immature ‘fear’ response is to fight and drive more aggressively. Your fear biting dog is reacting with much the same emotions.

A common misconception is that fear biters have come from some abusive situation; this can be the case, but most of the time it is not. There are normally shy, and nervous dogs ( as with people), and these dogs can develop fear aggression if not properly socialized. In some cases even proper socialization still produces a fear biter. In my experience, the biggest trigger is these dogs never learning to trust; they never developed a strong bond with a patient owner.

Often when a dog bites out of fear, he is doing so response to people who do not understand what the fearful dog is trying to communicate. Your dog may have his ears back, his head down, be growling, backing away, and the less informed person decides to ‘comfort’ the scared dog. When a person gets too close to a fearful, anxious dog, he causes him to be even more nervous; the result can then end in a bite.

The basis for dealing with a fear biting dog comes with behavioral training, and doing things much different than many ‘old school’ conventional trainers would suggest. You need to build trust and confidence, doing this slowly and positively. Start with just small steps, and low expectations.

Establish consistent eye contact in response to saying your dog’s name. Start with a desirable treat ( such as dried liver) using it as a positive reward. Say your Dog’s Name, then quickly move away from him. You want your dog to LEARN to look at YOU when you say their name, then you move. When he moves with you, QUICKLY give him verbal praise, and reward him with a treat. A key is to not show the treats until you are ready to feed it; the goal here is to get eye contact from your dog when you say his name. As he gives more eye contact, give treats and praise. Practice this basic training sequence everywhere: Say Pet’s Name, Move, Establish Eye Contact, Praise, Give a Treat.

Counter conditioning is the basis for resolving many behavioral problems. The next time that your pet begins to act nervous, distract her with a favorite squeaky toy or tasty treat. You are teaching your pet to associate noise with a positive experience. When your pet acts less nervous, then give her lots of praise, and a treat.

Exercise is increasingly seen as a way to help many of our dog’s behavioral issues, and fear biting is one of them. Exercise is wonderful in decreasing anxiety, and promoting the positive ‘brain relaxing’ chemicals, endorphins. At least give your dog 30 minutes of exercise twice daily; consider balls to throw at a playing field or use a popular dog toy called a ‘Chuck It’.

A type of therapeutic touch, called Tellington Touch has helped many pets with noise anxiety. The most effective area is the ear. Gently hold the ear flap between your thumb and forefinger. Gently stroke from the base of the ear to the ear tip; repeat the motion several times covering different sections of the ear. Use the same fingers to draw tiny circles at the base of the ear. Try both of the techniques on your dog when he is calm. If he reacts well, then try it the next time he appears anxious and fearful.

There are 2 homeopathic remedies that have helped some fear biting dogs, and they could help your dog. Aconite is used in very fearful, restless animals. The dose is 1 30C tab per 20lbs twice dail. Calcarea Carbonica may be more beneficial for those dogs that have fear aggression. A regular dose of 30C every 3-4 days.

Fear biting is a serious dog behavioral problem, but if you implement some of my suggestions, you can really go a long way to stopping it. Start with understanding that you must be patient, and only use positive rewards. Use my 5 step training plan: Say Pet’s Name, Move, Establish Eye Contact, Praise, Give a Treat. Consider adding in effective natural remedies, such as Tellington T Touch and homeopathic Aconite.

Heal Your Pet At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

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Topics: Dog Care, Dog Health, Pet Care, Pet health | 36 Comments »

36 Responses to “Cesar Milan Is Wrong: How To Stop Dog Biting The Right Way”


  1. Linda Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Great article… Positive Punishment used by Ceasar Milan is stressful. I know dog trainers that despise his approach and helped me to reinforce what is the correct form in making a dog do through behavior science. Unfortumately many people buy through Milan’s propoganda.

  2. Gale Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Cesar Milan is a know it all with no knowledge. All his products and everything else should be boycotted, and I tell Canadian Tire, who carries his stuff, that there are Canadian products that are much better and safer. I also told them that if they continue carrying his stuff, I will boycot them.

    Dog trainers around the world call him an effing idiot or worse. Oprah made him famous, and we all wonder why.

  3. Eva Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    How interesting your article may be, I think you’ve put the wrong title.
    As it is wrong to condemn another without telling your readers why.
    I may not be a Cesar’follower, still I would not make these accusations in a title as every dogbehaviouralist does something right.
    And in my 30 years as an behaviourobserver I know there are more different cases of aggression than what you commented on here.
    I also do use alternative ways to help these dogs.

    K.R.

    Eva

  4. Lynette D Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Isn’t direct eye contact a challenge? That’s what we learn from articles about predator species like bears, cats and humans. And if you’re dealing with an animal you don’t know, then what?

  5. Karen D Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Hi! I don’t agree with all Caesar’s methods, I do agree with many. I think each dog is different, each situation is different, and there is no “Right” or “Wrong” way as long as it is not abusive, neglectful, or endangering. I was a bit saddened when I read the title saying he is wrong. Maybe change it to “An Alternative to Caesar..” or something like that.

  6. Nancy Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I dislike Caesar Milan’s way also! I have had many dogs, some rescued some born here. I have had aggressive dogs and fear biters. Milan’s way is just wrong. I use homeopathic methods more than Western medicines. I use the tapping method and it works as long as I did it twice a day. I have 2 fear biters here, I got them when they were puppies and one is 9 and the other is 7. They turned into fear biters in 2006 when I became sick and was very close to death, I lost control of the pack. I work from my home and am with them constantly. When I was gone for a while, they became “lost”. I will definitely try your ways. I thank you so much for sharing this information. I think Milan likes the notoriety and the money above all else. Just my opinion.

  7. Heidi S. Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    In defense of Cesar as I’ve watched the majority of his shows….. He very definitely approached what he recognized as fear biting in a very different fashion. He even went to great lengths to try to desensitize such dogs based upon their individual fears.
    Because many disliked his corrective approach – he clearly toned down his methods over a period of time and sometimes deferred to other trainers to help him in certain types of cases.
    There are dogs that do become just plain mean and aggressive (almost always at the hands of humans), and thank goodness someone like Cesar is willing to do the work he does on these dogs to keep them out of a gas chamber. Many of these dogs were already seen by other trainers and their assessments were to give up the dogs or put them down as they were not able to be trusted.
    I love the info from Dr. Jones, and I think his method of working with fearful dogs could be effective, but there are too many dogs out there that need someone like Cesar to step in to keep these dogs alive. When the owners are not able to sustain the good results – many times Cesar takes the dogs to his “Center” and trades off a more suitable dog for the people.

  8. pat Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I am a Cesar follower. I’ve used alot of his methods before I knew of him. I do believe in some of your advice but not all as well as with Cesar.
    No one trainer or vet or behaviorist has it all together either. Sorry that you feel that way but I do diagree. Karen D. said it better than I can. I do not like having to stuff food in dogs for all methods. I like dogs to get to know and not think of me as a place to eat only.

  9. Melissa Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Holy click farming, Batman! The information you’ve put here is okay, and may be helpful. Most animals respond to kind, consistent treatment and patience. However, the article has nothing to do with Milan or his methods. It’s easy enough to take pot shots at somebody who puts himself out there in a very public forum. I appreciate your products and your passion for helping animals, Andrew Jones. It’s a shame you chose to take this sensationalized approach. It only makes you look cheap.

  10. danielle Says:
    October 20th, 2012 at 2:05 am

    all dogs are deffrent and you can not do the same thing for all dogs i try to do what cesar says and what you say so everyone need to quit bashing cesar

  11. Coralie Says:
    October 20th, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I believe that it is never the dog´s fault. Something went wrong and the dog tries to repair this fear with aggression. All my 10 rescue dogs came with aggression in some form. I am talking about 30+ years of taking rescue dogs into my home.

    Way back I did a lot wrong, food, training and most of all my own stress.

    I wanted to do it right,learning about rigid training methods, vaccination plans and “obedience training”

    These things never worked and it didn’t feel right but that was what dog trainers used and told dog owners to do.

    Thank goodness we no longer have to learn about these methods and can treat our dogs with the love and respect they deserve in every situation.

    If you are really bonded with your dog it will listen to you in any situation, if not, it needs more time and patience.
    There are many wonderful homeopathic treatments and massage oils you can use to help your dog relax, but in the end it all boils down to 100% trust and bonding between you.

    Cesar sometimes reminds his audience that he “trains dog owners and reboots their dogs”.

    One thing is certain, he has helped many extremely disturbed dogs that would have been euthanized without his help. He has also helped many upset and stressed out dog owners who had no idea how to care for a dog.

    No one is perfect and Cesar is a “showman” but he,just like Dr Jones helps lots of people become better dog owners, even if the methods differ.

    Personally I am for gentle methods in every aspect of dog care and once I get it right these work perfectly for me and my dogs. It is often trial and error because dogs are individuals, just like humans.

    However, I understand that there are people who prefer other methods, but if you and your dog are happy together that is what matters.

  12. Kathi Says:
    October 20th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I’m an animal intuitive/bodytalk facilitator and have had great success using “BodyTalk” on fearful, abused and neglected animals. Often an animal’s body is reacting to negative emotional issues that take root in the cellular memories in the body’s tissues. The animal is not consciously aware that a trauma, injury or unhappy event years ago is causing them to act out years later. BodyTalk is an alternative healing method that allows the body to “speak for itself” so negative cellular memories can be released. It doesn’t matter what the person or animal thinks the problem is – the body knows! Works great for people too and I don’t have to touch or see an animal to do a BodyTalk session. Regardless, thank you for the training suggestions.

  13. Ros Walters Says:
    October 21st, 2012 at 3:17 am

    Thank you for all your newsletters. I am a canine nutritionist have a small pracitice – reduced through age -and still do work for a holistic vet. I agree with you over dogs that bite. I wiew Milan and do not care generally for his methods. Dogs fed completely RAW FOOD do not BITE. Once manufactured food is out of their system all different complaints usually disappear. No more room to write. Ros Waltrs.

  14. Mike Says:
    October 21st, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve used several methods from several different behaviorists and one thing I can say is that none are always 100% right. In my humble opinion, I don’t think that it is right to directly object to another professionals methods directly without substantiating why you are disagreeing with them specifically. There are many high profile dog trainers that may use similar methods, so you might as well name them all or just generalize the trainer types and specify your issue. No need to throw dirt on others.

  15. Gail Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 1:50 am

    I am a Cesar Milan fan and have watched endless hours of him dealing with dogs and perhaps you are misinterpreting him. He can tell the difference between fear aggression and other aggression and he never hurts dogs but helps them to become more balanced. I have never hit my dogs but I have used many of Cesar’s techniques because dogs seem to understand them. I use your methods as well and my dogs seem happy to let me think I am the teacher but I think I have learned more from them than they have from me. Everyone who loves dogs and helps others to get the most from their furry friends is all good in my book. Keep up the good work but don’t discourage people from listening to the Dog Whisperer.

  16. steff Says:
    October 26th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    @Gail …that´s it!<3

  17. pinata Says:
    October 29th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I am also a fan of Cesar and have watched almost every show. I read the article also looking for the statement ‘Cesar Milan is wrong’ to be substantiated but found nothing.

  18. Pearson Says:
    November 8th, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I have never seen the Cesar Milan shows where he allegedly kicks, punches, hangs or shocks animals.

    Each show that I have seen was simple, logical, and inspiring.

    Each show that I have seen involved humans (mostly female) projecting their neuroses into their dogs with undesirable consequences.
    Each show that I have seen involved changing the human’s behaviour and the dog responding positively to the new human behaviour pattern.

    I am a non dog owner and have tried some of his (logical) on friends dogs and they work. Amazing stuff Cesar!

  19. Eileen Young Says:
    December 10th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I believe in Cesar Milan, and I am sick of all the negative comments made about him. Ignorant people with their own agenda post lies on the internet about him. Seen him in action! If you really watch his shows, you will know that he is a true animal lover and helps dogs all over the world. Stop with the ignorant negative comments and do something with your life instead of spreading poison!

  20. josefo Says:
    December 15th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    this guy ovbiouslly has to use millan;s name to get more attention to his article. most trainers have problems with millan’s methods because they are more succes full than any other triners it goes to prove how jealousy can make a good guy seem like the devil

  21. Jason Says:
    December 29th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    way to go Doc but you are obviously a crack pot…wh y is this title Cesar Milan is wrong? ive used his methods without any problem at all ever…but here is exactly what i think your problem is. you have found what works for you and your probably very angry that a border jumper (no offence intended) came over and now makes more money, and is way more respected then you are in this field. the facts remain and lets ignore all the touch this,positive that…what cesar teaches basically boils down too treat a dog like a dog would be treated by his pack leader, and give the dog what he needs and would do in the wild…it works, just maybe not for the good Dr. here

  22. Violeta Says:
    January 5th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Your article is interesting, but it is only a point of view! Each situation is different, each dog is different and we are all free to analyze, observe, understand or have opinions.
    Do not decide for others – the fact that you have a different opinion from Cesar Milan does not make you right!
    You should express your opinion without using the popularity of others.

  23. A Financial Perspective Says:
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:08 am

    So you have a dog that bites. Let your untrained dog loose and it bites me I will sue you for every dime you have and have your dog put down. Own a dangerous breed that attacks I will own you and send you to prison.

    Oh you own a pit bull or other dangerous breeds. Guess what your liability insurance does not cover you in case your dog attacks. Dangerous breeds are excluded from coverage.

    Got a 2 million dollar house and 100 million in investments and a 10 million dollar umbrella policy, I own it when your pit bull attacks. Oh and I will own everything you ever earn afterwards as well.

    FYI about $100K in liabiltity insurance for a pit bull will cost you $600 annually. You will need a minimum of 10 million in insurance so that will run you about $60K a year. Enjoy your dangerous breed. Also if your dog has already bitten someone, no matter what breed, no insurance company in the country will insure you.

  24. A Financial Perspective Says:
    January 15th, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    PS to all you Vets out there, if you have ever treat a dangerous dog and it bites me I am going to include you in a massive lawsuit.

  25. Jane Says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Why is Cesar’s name on the title? Cause it attracts attention! For someone who disagrees with him, you give him more popularity. People are sensible enough to choose a method or methods which they feel comfortable with. That you don’t agree doesn’t make the other method wrong!

  26. CHRISTIANA Says:
    February 2nd, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    i don’t know why the Cesar Millan fierceness he never beat the dog and he to be very sad when him Daddy pittbull dog die he make a deprissive state he love dog and never make bad thing of there i don’t understant that title maybe your jealous? the dog need a leader for ther balance of mind like a leader of pack Cesar understand that if you don’t trust him perhaps you don’t love enough your dogs for them balance until they bit one person and you have no chose to euthanasia on the name of law…i said i’m leader of the pack…

  27. Marcy Says:
    February 4th, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Cesar Millan is an excellent dog behaviorist–I don’t believe that anyone in this world knows dogs as well as he does. Dogs in a pack, when disciplining each other, do not use “positive” methods. Millan refuses to “humanize” dogs and he eliminates bad behavior in the same way the pack leader would do it. I think he’s wonderful. I think dog trainers who put him down are just plain jealous.

  28. Nancy Says:
    February 17th, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Every dog and situation is different. I had a chow/german shephard mix bought as a young puppy in Hong Kong to help guard our house in the Phillipines. He didn’t have to have any training to be threatening to people…he was naturally agrrssive and “in his genes” to bite. No amount of punishment/reward/training could “exorcise” this trait in him. He was big enough to do some damage and could not bring him to the US when we left. Another pointer I owned developed an abdominal tumor and no one knew it until it was too late and had to be put down. He would snap when someone touched him on his side and we thought it was due to being “high strung”. No use bashing a trainer over techniques they propose. Some work, some don’t, some never will for all kinds of reasons. Getting combined options from different experts and applying them with common sense is best.

  29. Daniela Says:
    February 19th, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Well, you lost me in homeopathic remedies. Please grab a chemistry book and read dilutions, you are giving some poor dog very expensive distilled water and god knows what else…
    And you are a vet??

  30. Wilf Says:
    March 26th, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Many years before I ever heard of Cesar Milan I was told to ‘think like a dog’ to ‘remember that a dog belongs in a pack’ and many of the other tips he uses, including the ‘bite’ – a swift pinch. I have never been able to fault his methods. If you can’t sell your product without deigrating the opposition, get out of the business.

  31. Mark Glasgow Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 4:07 am

    This is an example of a veterinarian with no training in animal behaviour, animal psychology or ethology trying to leverage his status as a veterinarian to tap into the lucrative animal behaviour market. Much of what he says is total rubbish and the cheap shot taken at Cesar Milan, while advocating some of the same methods used by Cesar, demonstrates his poor character mixed with a healthy dose of envy. Shame on Dr. Jones, who it seems felt forced to resign from the College of Veterinarians (British Columbia) after a lengthy battle with his College over his Alternative Pet Health Internet newsletter and business. Dr Jones was fined $30,000, plus a minimum $10,000 in Inquiry Fees, by the College of Veterinarians of B.C. Ironically, one of the charges levelled against him was his “disparaging attitude towards his colleagues and profession.” In defense of Cesar Milan, I can only say I’ve never heard him speak disparagingly of another dog trainer, much less a veterinarian. It seems at least in the matter of professional conduct and ethics, Cesar does indeed have much to offer Dr. Jones.

  32. bigdog Says:
    May 5th, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Cesar Milan has forgotten more about dog behavior than most vets will ever know…if you can’t beat ‘em, tear them down…

  33. Tony Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 1:43 am

    After reading the comments on this thread I have reached one undeniable conclusion:

    It is the PEOPLE that need behavioral therapy..not the dogs.

    What a bunch of wackos. Get a life people.

  34. Olivia Says:
    June 13th, 2013 at 7:40 am

    First of all, is César Millán, not Milan.

    Why trying to be known by criticizing someone?

    I guess there are different ways to teach or train dogs. Anyone has said César is the only one who can help a dog.

  35. JS Says:
    June 23rd, 2013 at 8:38 am

    I don’t agree with Mr Millan all the time however if you are going to mention him, specifically identify what you are talking about as far as his error. Also, advocating the use of sugar pills (homeopathic) as an effective treatment destroys the credibility of your article for me. What your perceiving with the dogs is your desire, hence interpretation on their behavior as improving. Double blind studies consistently have shown homeopathy does not work. You are in fact giving a sugar pill and expecting results from that…you might just have well have given a dog bone

  36. Jean Says:
    November 12th, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Along with others here I find your heading to this article tacky and disingenuous.
    Like “hey, read this article because I bash Cesar Milan in it!” Then you make
    no mention whatsoever about what the method is that he uses, that you disagree with. You have not done yourself any favors here.

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