06 юли 2011

Letter about The Dog Whisperer program

Letter from the IAABC to National Geographic about

The Dog Whisperer program


We, members of the Human-Animal Mutualism Division of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), are writing to express our concerns regarding the television show, The Dog Whisperer. We feel that the program may lead children to engage in unsafe behaviors.

The episodes that we have reviewed carry a rating of TV-G, General Audience. According to TV Parental Guidelines published on www.tvguidelines.org, this rating indicates that: “Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended.” The show also carries a disclaimer indicating that the viewer should not attempt to replicate Mr. Millan's techniques. Young children will not understand the disclaimer. If the rating indicates that children do not need to be supervised while watching the show, there is no reason for parents to believe there is a need to do so.

Research demonstrates that children’s behavior is impacted by what they see on television.1 The techniques depicted on the show can lead to injuries. In fact, Mr. Millan himself was bitten on several episodes.

Furthermore, many episodes depict children engaged in activities that could lead to injuries. For example:
    * A 10 year old child is taught to walk a 150 lb Rottweiler
    * A child is asked to ride skateboards near a bulldog with a history of attacking skateboards
    * A child is asked to lie down under an agility obstacle while an Australian shepherd with a history of fearful behavior towards children jumps over the child

Children who view the program may try to attempt the same techniques with their own pets and could be injured.

The public’s perception is that National Geographic is a “family channel.” This fact makes it even more likely that parents will allow their young children to watch this program unsupervised. For children’s safety, we encourage National Geographic to change the rating given to all The Dog Whisperer episodes. Additionally, we encourage National Geographic to stop depicting children engaged in unsafe behavior.

Behavior modification and training techniques that minimize the use of aversives and emphasize the use of reinforcement are less likely to trigger aggressive/fearful behavior in dogs. These methods are effective, efficient and are safer ways for both adults and children to modify animal behavior. Additionally, in cases where animals have aggressive behavior histories, safety precautions need to be taken, such as the use of a basket muzzle, if children are to be permitted near the animal. Children are often bitten on the neck, face and head, so the consequences of a bite to a child can be serious.2

If you would like additional information on methods that would be safer for both adults and children to implement, please contact us at iaabc@comcast.net. We look forward to hearing from you in this regard.


Veronica Sanchez, M.Ed. Early Childhood Education, CABC
Chair, Human-Animal Mutualism Division, IAABC

Jane Miller, MSSA, LISW, CDBC – Service and Therapy Animals
Member, Human-Animal Mutualism Division, IAABC

Darlene Arden, CABC Specialist in behavioral issues of small dogs Member, Human-Animal Mutualism Division, IAABC

Robin Pool BS, CABC – Service and Therapy Animals Executive Director, Paws-Up, Inc. Member, Human-Animal Mutualism Division, IAABC

Tara McLaughlin, CDBC, CPDT Member, Human-Animal Mutualism Division, IAABC

Susan Bulanda, MA, CABC Member Human-Animal Mutualism Division, IAABC

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