I've watched Cesar's show on NGC for years. While I don't subscribe to most of his techniques, I'll admit, they make for good television. After his most recent, hour-long episode involving pit bulls, Trinity and Sandi, and owners, Monica and Justin, I wanted to comment.
For those who missed the episode, I'll summarize it...
Monica and Justin have two female pit bulls, Trinity and Sandi, both 2-2.5 yrs of age. The girls used to get along, until one day, they did not. After a number of blood-drawing fights, the owners separate the dogs full-time. They buy a new home that enables them to separate the dogs more easily. The dogs sleep in separate crates and have separate yards. The routine they establish is working and there isn't a fight for months.
They contact Cesar because they want the dogs to get along and play together like they used to. Cesar meets the dogs and determines Trinity is the one in need of reform which can only be accomplished at the center. After 2 months at the compound, Cesar is ready to reintroduce Monica and Justin to a reformed Trinity. They meet in the hills at the site of Cesar's future dog psychology center. Cesar has a pack of his dogs running loose along with Trinity when Monica and Justin arrive. As soon as they exit their car and Trinity realizes her people are there, she grabs onto another pit bull. This starts a chain reaction among the other pit bulls in the pack and several other fights ensue. Cesar and crew manage to get everyone separated.
The incident prompts Cesar to offer Monica and Justin a trade -- he suggests they leave Trinity with him for life and take one of the other dogs in his pack. While Cesar, Monica and Justin are discussing the offer in a cramped trailer, Trinity latches onto Daddy. Cesar manages to separate the dogs and expresses his concern about Monica and Justin's ability to own a dog like her. Monica and Justin decide to think about Cesar's offer. They do some fitness and stop smoking in an effort to be stronger pack leaders. Final footage shows Trinity and Sandi hiking off-leash and drinking out of the same hose together.
There are several scenes of dogs fighting in this episode that are replayed, ad nauseum, with warnings attached. Do we need this visual repeated over and over to know how awful it is? And, where were the breaksticks? The quickest way to end a pit bull fight with the least amount of damage to the dogs is to use breaksticks.
Cesar attributes the fights to Monica and Justin's 'energy.' Then he suggests they aren't fit to own such a powerful dog and, with no apparent concern for their feelings or attachment to their pet, offers to trade them one of his for one of theirs. People appeal to him for help in the first place because they want to keep their pets, not trade them in.
Cesar infers that all dogs can live peacefully in packs with a human pack leader in charge. He suggests that dogs will follow their natural canine instincts to be part of a pack over their breed hard-wiring. This may work at the dog-psychology center when Cesar's there to administer corrections with military precision, but what about when he's out of the office?
Suggesting that two dogs who've previously fought can snuggle and play together is not possible without constant, expert supervision and, even then, it may not be possible. And, to think Trinity's dog-aggression was 'erased' by hanging out in Cesar's garage with a non-threatening puppy and several tiny, terrified dogs is ludicrous. Hard-wiring can not be loved, trained or socialized out of a dog. Just as the instinct to herd is strong in Collies and the drive to fetch is high in Retrievers, the instinct to scrap with other dogs is ever-present in terriers. To ignore or downplay this fact does a disservice to the dogs and sets them up to fail.
Cesar does promote daily exercise as well as setting rules, boundaries and limitations. And, while Cesar doesn't claim to be a dog-trainer, much of what he does relies on the dogs' responding to basic obedience commands, so he is indirectly promoting good obedience. And, he's begun promoting spay/neuter! These practices are truly the core of developing a healthy bond between dog and owner.
In the end, Justin and Monica remain committed to their dog and refuse Cesar's offer to trade in Trinity for a less-powerful model. This couple is a great example of what responsible dog-ownership is all about. I hope they realize they were fine before they met Cesar and will continue to be capable owners and leaders for Trinity and Sandi.