06 September 2006

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Mark Derr’s criticism of Cesar Millan misses an essential point: Most dog owners and, unfortunately, most so-called dog trainers, are not behaviorists or animal ethologists. And most dog owners cannot afford to hire someone who will take weeks or months to train an unruly pet.

Mr. Millan’s formula of exercise, discipline and affection works on all but the most extreme cases because the dog is, first and foremost, an animal with needs that cannot be ignored.

Chief among these is the need for exercise, which in most families is also a need of the human members that goes unmet.

Exercise works wonders because it satisfies much of the natural need for play that can quickly turn to aggression if not fulfilled.

Many dog owners believe that they can love their dogs into good, companionable behavior, and become frustrated or frightened when that love proves inadequate to the task.

Mr. Derr’s point, that dominance is not the answer, simply ignores the more salient and central message of Cesar Millan’s method: that dogs, and people, need structure to feel secure.

Julie Shemitz
Sherman Oaks, Calif., Sept. 1, 2006

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