Pet Life

Cesar Millan whispers: ‘It is easier to train dogs than people’

Kathy Moran - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - I rehabilitate dogs. I train people,” says Cesar Millan. “What I love about a dog is his honesty, his integrity and his loyalty.”

I have to admit that I was not immediately in awe of Cesar Millan. I read one of his first books, which he had written sometime in 2007, Cesar’s Way, and although I found it interesting, I did not think he introduced anything new at the time.

My next encounter with Millan was here in Manila on April 28. This time, I got to see why he has touched so many dog owners’ lives. He is truly one very charming and charismatic dog whisperer.

Born in Sinaloa, Mexico, Millan had a childhood that was different from most. He grew up among the farm animals in his grandfather’s ranch, and dogs were his companions from his formative years.

He immigrated to the US at 21 but, not having mastered the foreign tongue, found himself alienated in a land known for its opportunities. He finally found his dream job, to become “a dog groomer and dog walker.”

In the US Milan was well liked for his easygoing attitude when he was faced with aggressive dogs, and became recognized as a pack leader.  It was Jada Pinkett who discovered Millan and helped him in his rise to fame as a celebrity, and also offered to pay for Cesar’s English lessons.

Millan’s dream of finally working with dogs became a reality when an article of his was published in the Los Angeles Times, and this paved the way for offers from a number of television production houses.

Today, Millan is known for his hit television series Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan and Cesar to the Rescue, which started airing recently on NatGeo Wild.

“My many years of experience in the rehabilitation of dogs of every breed and background have taught me that most animals can make excellent companions, and that all that many of them need is the proper care and a second chance,” he says.

When I met with Millan at Eastwood Richmonde Hotel recently, I became a fan. It is his easygoing attitude and his very simple approach to dealing with dogs that endeared him to me.

“The walk is the foundation of your relationship,” he said.

The owner should always consider himself to be the pack leader, in a calm and assertive manner. Millan advises owners to use shorter leashes to better guide their dogs, as well as walking as long as possible to ensure that the dogs are physically fit. It is important to reward dogs after they have obeyed or listened to you, so that a healthy and friendly relationship is maintained.

“When people tell me that they don’t have time to walk their dogs, I always tell them that they are just making excuses,” said Millan. “If we want to have a healthy relationship with our dogs, there are three elements that we must include: exercise, discipline and affection, in that order.”

Millan shares that in recent years the challenge of his life has not been dogs; rather, it is stubborn humans.  After all, he believes that the only goal of the dog in life is balance. Unlike humans, a dog doesn’t want fame, money or power; he just wants harmony and balance, which is what life is really all about.

At the speaking event in Eastwood Plaza on April 29, Millan cited the world economic crises of 2008, jokingly telling us that there were no dogs that tried to commit suicide … because money is a human need.  But, he added on a serious note, when the tsunami hit Thailand, three days before it hit land, all the animals had already left the island.

If there was one main thing that I learned that night, it was that in order to deal with dogs we have to reconnect with Mother Nature. As humans we have gotten so tied up with the development of technology that in a sense we often forget just how important it is to stay in touch with and care about nature.

“How do we reconnect to Mother Nature?” asks Millan. “ How do I do it? I walk dogs.  When I walk the dogs I am not thinking about anything, I’m just being calm.”

Millan shared many examples and funny anecdotes during the almost two-hour talk he gave on April 29.  And there were a few dogs that were allowed onstage so that Millan could show us how “easy” it is to help correct the bad behavior of a good dog. The bad behavior, of course, started because the human did not treat the dog right from the start.

The audience that night was truly entertained. It was as if we were part of his reality TV show.  I guess that is really what entertainment is all about.

But Millan made sure that we did not go away without real lessons in life and in our dealings with our dogs.

“A dog’s world is one of instinct, perceived through nose, eyes, and ears, in that order. The human world is one of intellect, emotion, and spirit. It can be difficult for these two worlds to communicate with each other,” said Millan.  “When we humanize dogs we create an imbalance in their natural state. This imbalance leads to behavioral issues. I hope that through understanding the world that dogs live in, people will transform their dogs — and maybe a bit of themselves at the same time.”











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