The Dog Whisperer had 11 million American weekly viewers.
But that didn’t save it from getting canceled after its 9th season.
And up to this day, the reason for it still intrigues people.
So let me tell you all about it.
Keep reading to discover:
- 7 real reasons why the Dog Whisperer was canceled.
- 3 instances where the Dog Whisperer gets called out by animal groups and experts.
- 1 of the many lawsuits Cesar Millan faced that contributed to his show’s cancellation.
- And many more…
Why was the dog whisperer canceled? Top 7 reasons
#1: The show’s flawed training philosophy
The program starred animal behaviorist Cesar Millan.
He helped out worried dog parents with a problematic canine. And Millan did it by applying his techniques and philosophy based on:
The dominance theory
VCA Hospitals defines this as:
A training approach that assumes the dog and parent is fighting to be the alpha.
And according to Millan, most dogs are born submissive.
But the pup will attempt to take the superior role because their human lacks leadership.
Then, the pupper’s problematic behavior begins.
That’s when Millan comes in…
He teaches dog parents to use hierarchy-based methods. Which is supposed to help them take back the alpha status.
How the Dog Whisperer applies their philosophy
Watch this video of Millan with Holly. She’s a Labrador Retriever with food aggression issues:
In that clip, Millan attempted to assert his dominance by intimidating Holly.
He stared down at her and maintained eye contact.
Unfortunately, that’s extremely uncomfortable for a canine.
Then, he approached Holly, which provoked her.
But Millan was quick to punch her in the neck.
So less than 2 seconds after that…
He got his worst dog bite, as viewers call it.
The problem with dominance theory and Millan’s application
Dominating Holly didn’t address the roots of her attitude.
That said, Millan never corrected her problematic behavior.
All he did was scare the dog to do what he wanted.
And this case is backed up by this 2009 journal:
According to it, dominance issues never cause aggression in dogs.
Instead, the latter is because of an underlying anxiety.
Since the pooch is already under a lot of stress…
They’ll just blindly follow the command.
They’re afraid to make any more mistakes and get hurt.
So, the results only look good on the outside.
But deep down, the pooch is scared and anxious. Which endangers their welfare.
That’s how flawed the Dog Whisperer’s philosophy is.
#2: The show promoted aversive training methods
In the video earlier, Millan hit and kicked Holly when she bit him.
Many would say it was a reflexive response of a human when hurt.
But that doesn’t convince others…
That’s because Millan is no stranger to using aversive training methods in dogs.
What are aversive techniques?
According to vets, those methods use unpleasant sounds or physical correction.
And the Dog Whisperer proudly practiced the latter…
Millan would kick a dog to make them heel.
Sometimes, he even pins canines to the ground.
And he has a name for it…
He calls it alpha rolls, which are meant to show the canine who’s the boss.
What’s more, Millan supports the use of shock collars.
That’s something vets and trainers are against.
Take it from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). They say:
Shock collars aren’t necessary for dog behavior modification.
Among many issues, shock collars can ruin canines mentally.
Still, Millan is shown putting them on the pups.
And sometimes, he’d do it too tightly on the dog’s neck, which could cause wounds.
Now, here’s why methods like that are unnecessary:
Aversive techniques only suppress unwanted behavior. Rather than properly finding out its cause and removing it.
Plus, these methods are considered punishment. Which can only make a pooch insecure.
With that, they’ll lose confidence in themself and their parents.
So, it leads to a ruined bond between the human and the dog.
Despite those issues with aversive methods…
Some still said the training approaches are life-changing.
On the other hand…
Others were worried about the message this show spread about dog behavior modification.
#3: The methods used in the program are outdated
Not only are the dominance theory and aversive approach problematic…
They’re also outdated.
And people said, for a show that’s supposed to be run by experts…
It must know better not to practice or promote old-fashioned techniques mentioned above.
Because of that, there are lots of discussions about the Dog Whisperer.
And most of them debunked its ancient methods using recent findings. Here’s an example:
20th-century study about dog dominance proven wrong
This paper from the 1980s revisits the 25-year study of wolf behavior.
In that study, wild canines were gathered and forced to live together.
The researcher observed the wolves competing for alpha status.
And for a long time, that experiment’s results were the basis for dog training.
Fast forward to 2010, animal behaviorist Rudolph Schenkel disproves the study.
According to him, there’s no reason to relate that wolf behavior to domestic dogs.
First of all, the wolves only fought because of unfamiliarity.
As I mentioned, they came from different places…
So, they clashed once they were forced to gather in 1 group.
Second, wild wolves have nuclear families…
That’s a group involving parents and their children.
Now, the hierarchy that wolves follow is similar to the royal family’s.
The king is the father wolf, while the queen is the mother.
As for their pups, they’re the princes and princesses.
Then, their birth order defines their status and line to the throne or alpha status.
But for domestic dogs…
Their packs involve humans and other animals…
So, they don’t bother with the status since their group is randomly assembled.
Regardless, the Dog Whisperer still uses the outdated theory in domestic dogs.
#4: Most dog parents are against the Dog Whisperer’s techniques
Like many movies and shows in Hollywood…
The Dog Whisperer didn’t impress everyone.
Now, a viewer’s disapproval of a show can usually be swept under the rug…
But the comments against the Dog Whisperer are intense.
Some called Millan a dog torturer rather than a whisperer.
Others slammed him for teaching short-lived methods…
That means the quick results from Millan’s involvement don’t last long.
So, many dog parents dislike the Dog Whisperer.
And they didn’t fail to show that…
Because 6 years after the program’s first episode…
Concerned dog parents created and joined an “Anti Cesar Millan” Facebook group.
There, viewers discussed how Millan had set back dog training by decades. And for them, such practices shouldn’t be televised.
#5: Constant criticism from animal groups and experts
Since the Dog Whisperer promotes outdated and aversive practices…
It’s also constantly attacked by some publications and animal rights groups.
The former include statements from vets and animal behaviorists. As well as studies that back their stance.
Here are a few that I dug up:
The New York Times
In 2006, NY Times called the program’s methods laughable.
That was under an article entitled “Pack of Lies.”
It says Millan’s quick fixes fly in the face of what professionals believe.
It also mentions how relating wolf behavior to a dog is a far cry.
Because while the former lives in the wild…
The latter has been bred to exist in human society for thousands of years.
Moreover, the article exposed how the Dog Whisperer’s mantra is convenient.
Again, Millan believes that the human’s lack of leadership causes the issues.
With that logic, once he intervenes and gets quick results…
But then, the dog returns to their problematic behaviors…
The clients can’t blame Millan, as a consequence.
Instead, it’s the parent’s fault for still not assuming the alpha role.
The American Humane Society
AHS stated in 2006 that they were disturbed by the show.
They claimed that Millan’s techniques were inhumane…
Plus, it sends the wrong message about effective dog training.
Moreover, given that AHS cares deeply about the well-being of all creatures…
They say that the show opposes what they believe is the appropriate treatment of animals.
While AHS promotes reward-based training…
The Dog Whisperer doesn’t award any dog.
That’s because Millan believes it’ll disrupt the calm he tries to get from the pooch.
And all of that led to AHS demanding the show be canceled.
Alan Titchmarsh using an RSPCA statement
In 2012, Millan was a guest on the Alan Titchmarsh Show.
And in that episode, Titchmarsh grilled him. Especially about the clip I showed you earlier. The one with Holly.
Titchmarsh told Millan that punching Holly was unacceptable.
They went back and forth with it…
That’s because Millan kept insisting he only touched the dog.
After a while, Titchmarsh read a statement from the RSPCA to the trainer.
It mentions Cesar Millan’s name very openly.
And it tells readers not to follow his aversive techniques.
So with all that criticism from his fellow experts throughout the years…
The show’s cancellation was long overdue.
#6: Millan faced lawsuits due to his methods
The Dog Whisperer wasn’t just constantly criticized…
The show also faced numerous complaints and lawsuits.
And here’s one of the biggest scandals the show faced:
Flody Suarez, a TV producer, sued Millan and his facility
It started when Suarez dropped off Gator, his pooch, at the Dog Psychology Center. Which is a facility owned by Millan.
A few hours later, he received an emergency call from a vet.
They told him that his canine was rushed to the hospital.
Poor Gator was bleeding from his mouth and nose.
Then he also has severe bruises.
Moreover, he was gasping for breath.
And the claim was:
Millan’s workers put a choke collar on Gator.
After that, they pulled him to the treadmill where they overworked him.
With Gator’s injuries, Suarez had to pay $25,000 worth of vet bills.
However, he sought more than that amount for the damages.
Plus, he sued Millan’s facilities for the following:
- Animal cruelty.
- Breach of contract.
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress.
That happened in 2006 when the Dog Whisperer was at its prime.
And since it took a year to settle the lawsuit…
It hurt the program’s overall image while it was ongoing.
#7: There are protests against the show
The Dog Whisperer received the most criticism online.
But some critics of the show didn’t stop there…
Others stepped up by initiating and joining protests against the program and Millan.
And one that caused the tipping point of the show is:
The 2012 Rochester protest
Millan was on a US tour to give talks to troubled dog parents and fellow behaviorists.
And while he was inside a Rochester theater doing just that…
An anti-Dog Whisperer group handed out fliers outside…
Which is part of the protest organized by Ada Simms.
She’s a retired police officer turned dog trainer in New York.
According to her, their group of positive dog trainers organized more protests. And they’ll happen in every city where Millan performs.
What’s more, their cause extends beyond the United States.
Simms also revealed that European dog trainers inquired about protesting. Especially since Millan also had a Europe tour after.
And in the same year the Rochester protest happened…
The Dog Whisperer got canceled by the National Geographic Network.