Cesar Millan was 21 when he left Mexico to seek a better life in the United States. He began walking and grooming dogs, and his uncanny talent of walking up to 40 unleashed dogs earned him the nickname “The Dog Whisperer.” In 1999, Millan founded his first Dog Psychology Center, which has expanded to a 45-acre facility in Santa Clarita, California, and a smaller location in Fort Lauderdale. While his first TV show, National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer, propelled Millan into international fame, his consistent successes with even the most challenging dogs keep him in the spotlight. Currently, Millan appears on Nat Geo WILD Channel’s Cesar 911.
- Catch Millan in his element as he shares training techniques, complete with demonstrations, at Artis—Naples on March 30. Tickets cost $49-$79.
NI: What inspired your work in dog rehab?
Millan: The necessity. I’m an immigrant, and when I came [to the United States], I noticed that the country had dog training, but it didn’t have rehabilitation or training for humans. I thought I could provide a service that Americans needed. They were really good at training dogs, but they were not really good at fulfilling dogs. When a dog is not fulfilled, he develops issues.
What was missing?
They were skipping the basics of what makes a dog behave normally. They don’t have the most important piece of the puzzle, which is how to make the dog happy. They think, “I want my dog to listen to me.” But the dog is thinking, “I want my human to listen to me.” So, [the ability to listen to your dog] is the part that’s always missing. Also, a person’s energy is important. For example, when a dog is aggressive with its owner, and then I grab the leash and the dog is no longer aggressive, they can see that it’s not the dog. Most people are afraid, anxious, excited, tense or insecure. If nobody makes you aware that this is what you are projecting, you will never know to change it.
Any advice for an aspiring dog rehabilitator?
Dogs are not students, they’re teachers. You can learn from every single dog. And what makes you a really good rehabilitator is being able to know what he’s saying. You have to know how to make a dog stable in any situation.
What dog do you dream of working with, and why?
Well, I always look forward to make sure the presidents of the United States understand very well how to walk a dog properly, because like it or not, they influence America. The only politicians in the world that actually walk with a dog are the American presidents. So, when a dog comes out of Air Force One in front of the president, people believe that that’s okay. When the president walks a dog and is following the dog, people will believe that is the way to walk a dog. What that says is the president of the United States is following the dog. Leadership is really important. It would be nice if one day the president walked a pack of dogs. That shows a lot of power. If he had a bulldog, German shepherd, Chihuahua all getting along, that would show that he has the energy for us to all get along.
What’s a secret talent you have you are willing to reveal to our readers?
I love planting. One of the things I fell in love with when I moved to America was how pretty the freeways were because they have plants. If you go anywhere in Mexico, besides in Cabos, that doesn’t exist. In America, everywhere is well taken care of. I love plants. I really want to have an area where I can plant trees and sell them one day. I love to learn about how people that live in the sand can actually have plants. How to people in Israel do it? How do people in Saudi Arabia do it? That to me is amazing.
Do you have a favorite type of plant or flower?
I love bougainvilleas. They remind me of Mexico a lot. They’re always colorful and they grow everywhere, even in extreme weather. That’s one of my favorite plants.