I recently caught up on my Tivo recordings and watched a special episode of 'The Dog Whisperer' called 'Most Aggressive Breeds'. Over 10,000 people were interviewed on what they thought was the most aggressive dog breed and a—not very surprising—ranking was produced.
- 3rd Place: Rottweilers
- 2nd Place: German Shepherds
- 1st Place: Pitbulls
Cesar Millan presented the results together with the rehabilitation of some of the worst aggression cases we have seen on The Dog Whisperer over the years. It was topped off with probably the bloodiest episode of all—the Pitbull Emilie. She bit several dogs and even attacked Daddy.
I had seen all these cases before and as Cesar went through them one by one with a brief history of the breed and then the respective cases for these breeds, I remembered them and all the criticism I have read and heard since, often time pointing to one of these cases as examples.
Very much to his critics' dismay—I assume—every single case ended up being a success story because of Cesar Millan's incredible skill. Every single one of these dogs was recommended to be euthanized by someone before Cesar showed up and would most likely have died if it wasn’t for him.
I would be nice if Cesar's critics could simply be happy for the dogs he was able to safe after many other trainers just threw in the towel and advocated execution. Aren't we as dog trainers supposed to help people and not tell them to kill their companions? This always troubles me. If I were to encounter a case I couldn't handle—I am sure, it'll come some day—I wouldn't tell the owner to kill his dog because I can't do it. I would find someone who can.
At the end of this special Cesar gathered all owners he helped with their dogs and they did an incredible pack walk in the new Dog Psychology Center with all these previously very aggressive animals. They were all fine with each another. No aggression at all. Who else but Cesar Millan could really have achieved this? One thing is for sure it wouldn’t be possible for Victoria Stillwell.
I then recalled several episodes and a 'tough cases special' of Victoria Stillwell's 'It’s Me, Or The Dog' and the things she tells people, like 'theses dogs will never be able to be together' or 'he would benefit from anti-anxiety medication.'
The Cesar Millan special once again reminded me why I truly believe he is the best dog behaviorist around today. He understands dogs, doesn't care for one paradigm over another, is nice to the owners of problem dogs and really helps them understand and change their animal's behavior. He cares more about dogs than what his critics think, while his critics care more about criticizing him and advocating their own ways, without any regards for how many dogs have to die so they can be right.
The special concluded with a reminder of what we all should hope for more and more people understand going forward. There is no such thing as an aggressive breed. If a dog is misbehaved, it is never the dog's fault. It is always the owner—or possibly the previous owner if the dog is a rescue—who created the problem.
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Ralf Weber is a certified dog trainer (IACP CDT) and behaviorist. A professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and an AKC evaluator for Puppy S.T.A.R., Canine Good Citizen, and Community Canine certifications.