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Be the pack leader
'Dog Whisperer' offers canine tips to Gallo audienceBY VIRGINIA STILL

The star of NatGeo WILD’s brand new series called “Cesar 911” and the original host of National Geographic’s “Dog Whisperer” series, Cesar Millan, performed dog training techniques and shared the fundamentals of how to have happier, healthier relationships between humans and their four-legged family members to a sold-out crowd at the Gallo Center for the Arts in March.

Some of the topics he discussed were behaviors like separation anxiety and aggression, which Millan explains is often 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,” said Millan. “It is a lot of fun, and people tell me I’m very funny onstage.”

The idea of performing live began in 2006, when Millan shot his first Mastering Leadership DVD, “People Training for Dogs,” which was shot with an audience.

“We got a good response and, for me, it was very energizing, so I actually started touring later that year,” added Millan. “The show has evolved and grown over time, until it became ‘Cesar Millan Live.’ ”

Two rescue groups, Pupz N Palz and Wags and Whiskers, were on hand at the Gallo Center with a few different canines so that Millan could demonstrate his methods and give guests live examples with multiple dogs that have different issues.

A pitbull named Nevie was brought out on stage by a representative from Wags and Whiskers Rescue. The group rescued the dog after she had been shot and was going to be euthanized. Nevie was a bit obsessive over toys so Millan showed the crowd how to deal with this type of situation.

Millan stated several times throughout the performance that as humans we have to be calm and assertive with our dogs along with being the ‘pack leader.’ According to Millan, the dogs see people as energy and they will feed off that energy. In the demonstration with Nevie, he took the toy and placed it on the ground and would not let her take it. After a few minutes Nevie was just sitting there and was patiently waiting.

“I am self-taught,” stated Millan. “Much of what I do I learned instinctually and from the experience of working with thousands of dogs over the past 25 years.

“The vocation came from being around dogs and other animals from a very early age, so in one sense I’ve been working with dogs all my life, although I decided it was something I wanted to do for a living as a teenager.”

Millan talked about growing up in Culiacan, Mexico, and the differences between American and Mexican pet dogs.

“I work with a lot of other animals as a way to work with dogs. I have a horse, a llama, chickens, goats, two turtles, and a macaw, among others,” said Millan. “The great thing about animals is that they communicate with energy so, unlike humans who speak different languages, a dog and a horse know how to 'talk' to each other immediately.

“In my personal pack, I currently have six dogs: Junior, my pitbull; two Chihuahuas, Taco and Coco; one Pomeranian, Benson; a Yorkie, Alfie; and the latest addition, a yellow Lab named Bentley.”

Millan has a Dog Psychology Center in Santa Clarita Valley that stretches over 43 acres and includes a sheepherding area, a swimming pool, agility course and hiking trails. At this facility Millan rehabilitates dogs, conducts training courses and clinics.

“At any one time up at the Dog Psychology Center, I probably have about 30 or 40 dogs,” added Millan. “Some of them are permanent residents and others are just there to be rehabilitated.”
One of his most interesting clients was Jada Pinkett Smith, who was also one of his earliest clients. She had a pack of four gigantic Rottweilers that were a bit too much for her to handle.
“What was most interesting about Jada is that she just got it when I showed her how to work with the dogs and be their pack leader,” added Millan. “We’re still good friends and she’s also the one who paid for an English tutor for me for a year so that I would be ready to go onto American television.”

This led Millan to other celebrity cases including Howie Mandel, Patti LaBelle, Vin Diesel, Nicolas Cage, Scarlett Johannson, Hilary Duff, Daisy Fuentes, Annie Potts, “Downtown” Julie Brown, and movie directors Ridley Scott and Michael Bay.

Here is some advice that Millan would like every dog owner to know: “Life is simple. We make it complicated. Dogs are in touch with that simplicity because they live in the moment. Humans are not, because we either dwell in the past, which causes regret, or worry about the future, which causes anxiety. These emotions in turn affect our energy, which our dog reflects. If your dog is misbehaving, look at your own feelings and behaviors first. She’s trying to tell you something.”

For more information on Cesar Millan, visit