Ask the Trainer: Cesar Millan: Up Close and Personal with the Dog Whisperer

Cesar Millan plays with a pair of dogs undergoing rehabilitation at the Dog Psychology Center
Cesar Millan plays with a pair of dogs undergoing rehabilitation at the Dog Psychology Center


AF: What an amazing center you have here!

CM: The Dog Psychology Center is for the purpose of rehabilitating dogs that have developed psychological problems, such as nervousness, fear, tension, frustration or aggression. That is my expertise. Aggression is the big one ~ a dog who has killed another dog or a human.  That is how people learned about me. I was the one willing to take the dog in that state of mind.

AF: How does the rehabilitation process work?

CM: This is a place where a dog can get his energy redirected. It’s a way of relaxing them. It becomes therapy for the mind. Most of the dogs that come to me are because of aggression. The reason dogs develop aggression is of lack of exercise and lack of leadership. It’s not that they don’t get affection. They don’t get exercise and discipline. Animals are supposed to walk every day, migrate every day. It doesn’t matter if you live in a huge mansion in Hollywood. The dog doesn’t see it that way. They just know they are behind gates. Powerful breeds such as Rottwheilers, Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, if you don’t give them anything to do, they are going to get tense and they are going to release this frustration. When pet owners come to me, 90% of the time, I put my rollerblades on and I let them run. An hour later, you can notice the difference. The dog finally feels good. Then I can work on the mind. You can’t influence a mind if it’s filled with physical energy. Once the dog is relaxed, I bring the dog around the pack. The dog is more mellow, but he is still going to try to attack the other dogs, because that is his cycle. I correct them immediately and redirect that energy.

AF: When we arrived today, I greeted the dogs, which you stopped right away. Why?

CM: It’s important that we connect with dogs the way they connect with each other. People connect with each other ears, eyes, nose. Dogs connect with the nose, eyes, ears.  Scent, sight, sound. So when you connect with them ears, eyes… they know you don’t know anything about dogs. What you create is excitement, not relaxation. The pack leader does not create excitement. He creates calm submission. You are a source of excitement and emotion, which means you are a follower. If you are not considered a leader, you can’t tell the dog what to do. The proper way, when you walk into a room, is no touch, no talk, no eye connect. It feels like you are ignoring the dog, but you are not. You are communicating the way they communicate. They pick up on this in ten seconds. They know who you are and can read your energy.

AF: How did you become involved as a dog behavior expert?

CM: There is no school in the world that teaches you how to control a pack of dogs or rehabilitate dogs by using each other. I became an expert through trial and error. I was blessed to grow up on a farm. My grandfather taught me never to work against Mother Nature. I have always loved animals. There is a connection there. I have twenty-eight dogs at this center and seven dogs at home. I need to be around them.

Cesar guides a group of dogs at the DSC
Cesar guides a group of dogs at the DSC


AF: Doesn’t it scare you, working with unstable animals?

CM: It doesn’t scare me at all. I feel at home when I am dealing with the animals. That is my rush. Some people throw themselves from an airplane. Some people like to ride bulls. I don’t. My rush is to be in front of an unstable animal and create a stability for them.

AF: Tell us about your hit TV show.

CM: I’m the Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel. I train people and rehabilitate their dogs. I create an awareness that it is not the dog’s fault. It’s not good to shoot a dog, to put a dog down, to get rid of the dog. That is what we try to avoid. In the U.S., people blame the breed. Society is becoming much more fearful and much more ignorant.

AF: Any upcoming projects you are working on?

CM: I have a DVD coming out, People Training For Dogs. It’s great for anyone who loves dogs and wants to learn how my methods have been successful. It is a common sense guide to understanding the basics of dog behavior. My book, “Cesar’s Way” will be out soon as well. I am also a husband and a full time father.

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