Whether you’re having a few minor problems with your new puppy or serious situations with your Doberman, help is on the way. Professional dog trainer and bestselling author Cesar Millan, star of the National Geographic TV series The Dog Whisperer, appears Friday at the Fillmore Miami Beach. He’ll give advice on how to improve your relationship with your canine companion.
Millan discussed the show with Miami.com.
What can we expect from your show?
I cover my techniques, especially the fundamentals, in a lot more detail than in the TV shows, and deal with behaviors like separation anxiety and aggression (which is very misunderstood). I teach people how to respect species and let a dog be a dog, and I help people understand how their energy affects the human/dog dynamic. We’ll be collecting written questions before the show and at intermission, and I’ll answer the most popular ones.
When did you realize you had this way with animals?
I started learning to work with dogs as a child, visiting my grandfather’s farm, and it was always just a natural thing. I’m a very instinctual person, and so are dogs, so it was a good fit. . . . I am learning to work with other animals, such as horses. All animals communicate with energy and body language, just in slightly different ways.
Your work sounds like there’s a lot of psychology involved. Do you have formal training?
My training came from my grandfather and from what I learned in nature though observation. While there is certainly a lot of dog psychology involved in my work, I also use methods that are instinctual and based on understanding the energy of the dog and human.
What’s the main thing most people do wrong in training their dogs?
Treating them like little humans. When I hear someone refer to their dogs as their “furry babies,” I know I’m going to have a harder time rehabilitating the dog and training the human. This doesn’t mean that we can’t love our dogs, of course. We just have to show that love in a dog way, not a human way. Dogs need to work for their food and affection, and they need to know what’s expected of them and their place in the pack. Trouble can happen when people do nothing but give their dogs affection, affection, affection. This is why my fulfillment formula for dogs is, “Exercise, Discipline and then Affection, in that order.”
Is your work with aggressive dogs ever really dangerous?
It can be if you miscalculate the state of mind of the dog. I’ve been bitten a few times, most recently by an aggressive yellow Lab named Holly, but that actually worked out in rehabilitating her. Once she did bite me and realized that it did not make me go away, her confusion turned pretty quickly into submission. Of course, there are some dogs that cannot be rehabilitated — surprisingly few, but they are out there. I’ve only ever met one dog that I knew I could not work with.