Press Tour: Cesar Millan goes to the dogs for NatGeo, helps canine soldiers

Unfortunately, “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan” star Cesar Millan didn’t bring any canine companions to his NatGeo panel during press tour, but the trainer did repeatedly pop to his feet to imitate his four-legged friends. When asked why so many people misjudge dogs, Millan demonstrated canine posture and explained how humans tend to ignore what dogs are trying to say. “The dog is always speaking to the human, but the human is always trying to impose a different identity on the dog, so they don’t understand the language… they disregard the conversation with the dog. That’s why I train people and rehabilitate the dog.”

Asked to address why dogs misbehave, Millan said, “Who you are in the animal world is energy… We know who my client Miss Oprah is, but… the dogs don’t know that’s Miss Oprah. They don’t see her as we see her. Growing up in Mexico on a farm, my father always said never work against Mother Nature… Give [animals] love and respect, and they’ll give you loyalty. It’s understanding what allows them to trust you… Only humans follow unstable pack leaders.”

As to how he became a dog trainer, Millan joked, “I jumped the border. I came to America to learn from Americans how to train dogs… I wanted to do that, I wanted to make the relationship Lassie and Timmy had.”

Of course, he soon discovered that, though Americans love their pets, they don’t necessarily understand them. “In America, [dogs] have birthday parties, they go see Santa Claus. But that doesn’t mean the dogs obey humans… Dogs in third world countries are skinny but have no psychological problems. Here, dogs are chunky but have psychological problems. It has to do from the human prioritizing the needs of the dog the wrong way. My clients do affection, affection, affection, and once a week they do exercise.”

So what do dogs really need? “Exercise, discipline, affection,” Millan said, adding that people should be focused on honesty, integrity and loyalty as well. He also mentioned that too often, people adopt rescue dogs from an emotional perspective instead of a logical one. “Most people can’t deal with a high energy dog. Low and medium energy, those are pet quality. But people focus on the past of the dog.” 

One twist on “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan” this season is that Millan will be visiting military bases to help soldiers with both pets and working dogs that assisted troops overseas. Often, these dogs are euthanized after serving, a fact Millan said was little known by the American public. “They don’t get to be dogs, just soldiers. They become robotic… they weren’t able to retire in America until we provided the rehabilitation so they don’t come back with post traumatic stress. Dogs become heroes to America, but we don’t treat them like it.”