Got a fat dog? You must be showing it too much affection. Your dog jumps on strangers? Tell them to ignore him. Such is the wisdom of Cesar Millan, a.k.a the Dog Whisperer. Millan, former star of The Dog Whisperer has a new series, Cesar 9-1-1, and is currently on tour for live demonstrations of his miracle work with dogs.
A natural in the spotlight, Millan could easily have been a comedian if he hadn’t made a career of training our four-legged companions. On stage he is part motivational speaker and part funny man—and always engaging. “Are you with me?” he asked the audience, to which the enthusiastic crowd responded “Yes!” or even “Amen!”.
Millan showed how to raise a healthy and loving dog in a helpful pie chart: half exercise, a quarter discipline, and a quarter affection. Americans tend to lean toward excessive affection and not enough exercise, as overweight and overfed dogs are becoming increasingly common problems. He explained examples of inappropriate affection include accidentally promoting bad behavior, like patting a dog that jumps up in greeting. An eager pitbull from Halfway Hounds, a New Jersey-and Pennsylvania-based volunteer rescue organization that brought three dogs to Mayo PAC, jumped on Millan onstage, and he ignored the dog until he went back to four legs.
In one of the more enlightening portions of the program, Millan pointed out how homeless peoples’ dogs are some of the most obedient, following their owners without any leash and listening to every command. This is because homeless people give their dogs jobs, like retrieving important items from the sidewalk. Almost all dogs, says Millan, would behave perfectly if they were able to direct their energy and intelligence toward a task. Dogs understand that backpacks and harnesses mean “work,” like how a Seeing Eye dog knows he or she is on duty once the harness is on. (Millan sells dog backpacks on his helpful website cesarsway.com.)
Instead of playing fetch with your dog, Millan recommends letting him or her smell the object and then hiding it for a better mental exercise. Millan explained the ego of a canine with convincing logic, and demonstrated this on stage with his blue-nosed pitbull named Junior, who sat patiently while Millan hid a ball behind a curtain. Retrieving a hidden ball is similar to the thought process behind a search-and-rescue.
Millan played a clip from an episode of Comedy Central’s South Park, which showed a cartoon version of Millan training the overweight and foul-mouthed fourth-grader Eric Cartman how not to beg for KFC. “It’s not a big deal when you have your own show,” Millan joked. “But I was the coolest dad in town when I was on South Park!”