When Alan Titchmarsh invited “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan to appear as a guest in his show it was never going to please everyone.
Cesar Millan’s unconventional training methods to “rehabilitate” ill-disciplined dogs, including physically attacking them, using electric shocks and spikes on collars, have split public opinion worldwide and led many to brand him “barbaric”.
A wave of protests was unleashed even before The Alan Titchmarsh Show went out on ITV yesterday afternoon.
More than 1,000 people joined a Twitter campaign demanding Cesar Millan’s appearance be cancelled. Production staff was inundated with calls and Alan Titchmarsh was bombarded with hundreds of emails, while a Facebook page set up by protesters attracted 1,600 followers.
And when animal welfare campaigners threatened to disrupt the live show, extra security staff were drafted in.
Although Alan Titchmarsh, 63, refused to cancel the interview, he took on his guest in an uncharacteristically confrontational style.
Alan Titchmarsh told Cesar Millan: “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.”
An unsettled Cesar Millan replied: “Well obviously I would respectfully disagree with that. It’s not a punch, it’s a touch.”
Alan Titchmarsh countered: “I watched the video of it and if somebody touched me like that I would be hurt. You went for the throat and you punched the dog back and the dog bit you and held on to your hand.
“Having watched a lot of boxing matches it looked like something Henry Cooper would deliver.”
Cesar Millan again insisted that it was nothing more than a touch.
“But you also work with electric shocks and collars and spikes on collars that really hurt them,” continued Alan Titchmarsh.
“You know, this is pretty barbaric treatment. What’s your reasoning for treating dogs like this?”
Cesara Millan insisted that his methods were simply used to “snap the [dog’s] brain out of it”.
After the interview opinion on Twitter and other social media was divided, with some backing Alan Titchmarsh, while others rounded on him for being “abusive”.
In a statement read out on air, the RSPCA said: “Adverse training techniques which have been seen to be used by Cesar Millan can cause pain and fear for dogs and may worsen their behavioral problems.
“The RSPCA believes that using such techniques is unacceptable, nor are they necessary to change dog behavior for the better when other dog trainers use reward-based methods to train dogs very effectively.”