Pet Cube Partners with Cesar Millan: What Message Are They Sending Now?
The Petcube is a wi-fi camera and treat dispenser that allows family members to keep an eye on their dog using a phone app when not home, and even offer treats remotely as well as to talk to your best friend from far away.
This product supports the human-animal bond, and better understanding our dogs and can even be used as one tool to support dogs with separation distress. Note Petcube is not a one of a kind product; there are others like it. But they are the only pet camera and remote treat dispenser now working with the “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan.
The problem is Mr. Millan’s techniques have always been about intimidating dogs, which only supports to derail the human-animal bond, and is often downright inhumane.
The Petcube press release begins:
“Best-selling pet camera maker collaborates with Internationally Renowned Dog Behaviorist Cesar Millan”
Internationally renowned, yes – but Millan is decidedly not a behaviorist, which is a title earned only by veterinarians who have a specialty in animal behavior. I edited a book, authored by members of the American College Veterinary Behaviorists, called “Decoding Your Dog,” in part because I wanted the public to hear from the real animal behaviorists. I am a certified animal behavior consultant, and there are PhD animal behaviorists. Mr. Millan is none of these – and in reality he is a behaviorist only in his own mind or because his PR team says so.
FAR more important than semantics is the example he has repeatedly set on his TV programs, and when speaking about dog training in interviews, even recent interviews. You can see over and over and over again, his antagonistic techniques are about intimidation rather than positive reinforcement.
I concede there are often apparent immediate results (of course, digital editing helped too). Just as a person can intimidate another person to affect change when threatened. Millan is the threat, and dogs are no different than people in this regard. Hold a gun to my head; I will do what you like. Use a shock collar and/or physically force a dog and the dog may comply. What has that dog really learned? How effective are these methods long-term? And most important, is this the right thing to do?
If you have any doubts about what I am talking about, consider what the American Humane Association (AHA) did when Millan’s “Dog Whisperer” show was in its prime, circa 2006. At the time, I was on the AHA Board, and we shared grave concerns about the example Mr. Millan was setting. We first asked that National Geographic Explorer take the show off the air, but the program was simply making far too much money for that possibility to be seriously considered. The compromise we agreed to was to create warnings which periodically pop up on the screen, such “Insure children don’t try these training techniques without adult supervision.” That specific warning is based on allegations that children were bitten attempting to replicate Millan’s methods.
Millan’s methods only wavered some over the years.
I was personally going to consider buying a Pet Cube. One of our dogs, Hazel, has been experiencing gradually increasing separation distress, and we want to get a product which we can use to keep an eye on her when we’re not there. We recently purchased another wi-fi camera for dogs, but that one simply didn’t work. On the same day I went to check out Petcube, to consider a personal purchase, I learned about their newly celebrated association with Mr. Millan.
Didn’t Petcube read what others, individuals and organizations, have said about Mr. Millan?
From Petcube’s own website, “Petcube is driving innovation and leadership in the connected pet space, reimagining what it means to keep your pets safe and happy.”
I’m unsure how going back in time to dog training methods considered archaic and exceedingly outdated support innovation. This new association seems inconsistent with this company which many of us admired.
I’m unsure if Petcube is ignorant, or they don’t care – either way, the messaging about the human-animal bond is not one I am likely to do business with anytime soon. I hope I am not alone, and that professionals and dog owners spread the word.
Still another confirmation is this video, which makes me in some ways feel empathetic about Millan and his roller coaster life, check it out.