Plenty of people don’t agree with the methods of the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. Daytime chat-show host Alan Titchmarsh is one of them, in a very big way. Last Thursday on London’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show, he let Millan have it — and have it, and have it — peppering the dog trainer with accusations that he punches dogs and calling his methods “barbaric.”
Millan surely knew what was coming. His appearance on the show was hotly contested beforehand, with Twitter campaigns against his appearance and protests on Facebook. The production staff was inundated with hundreds of e-mails and calls, according to the Daily Mail. Still, he gamely showed up, though he seemed a bit thrown by the questioning.
Here’s some of the more heated moments of the exchange:
Titchmarsh: “You punish dogs, you hit them. I’ve seen you punch a dog in the throat to get it to behave, and to most people, like myself, I would say that is totally unacceptable as a way of training a dog.”
Millan: “Well, obviously I would respectfully disagree with that. It’s not a punch, it’s a touch.”
Titchmarsh: “I watched the video of it and if somebody touched me like that I would be hurt. You went for the throat [Titchmarsh mimics big walloping punches] and you punched the dog back and the dog bit you and held on to your hand.”
Millan: “It’s a touch … It’s a touch …”
Titchmarsh: “Having watched a lot of boxing matches it looked like something Henry Cooper would deliver.”
Pause for mostly uncomfortable laughter all around. Millan explains his methods a bit before the host again goes on the offensive.
Titchmarsh: “But you also work with electric shocks and collars and spikes on collars that really hurt them. You know, this is pretty barbaric treatment. Now, we wouldn’t treat children like this. We’d be locked up if we did. Now, what’s your reasoning behind treating dogs like this?”
Millan: “Well, there is a certain situation for that purpose, you know.”
Millan goes on to explain how he is simply teaching people how to properly use the controversial tools they’re already using. He says he recommends that people see a professional when training a dog using these methods, but he acknowledges, when pressed by the host, that people end up trying them on their own at home, because they see it on TV.
Titchmarsh never lets up, asking if Millan would ever give up his methods, asking him if he gets pleasure out of hurting dogs, countering Millan’s assertion that dogs are pack animals striving for dominance in the household, and so on.
“We don’t beat our children,” Titchmarsh says at one point, “and we’re a pack.”
Internet reaction was swift, but divided. Many backed the host, but some Twitter users, like these two, thought Titchmarsh went over the top:
@floatygoat: Alan Titchmarsh interviewing Cesar Millan was so frustrating. Less of an interview, more of a series of stupid accusations.
@bigGstacey: very frustrating, the guys has clearly never watched dog whisperer…. I wana punch titchmarsh now. #mynanwillhateme
What’s your take, Dogster readers? Is Titchmarsh on track? Did Millan get a raw deal? Before you answer, you might want to check out an edited video of the exchange for some ammunition: