We met “The Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan when he was on Long Island at Book Revue in Huntington recently. His latest book is “How to Raise the Perfect Dog.”
What would you say to dog owners who are having trouble training their dogs?
We shouldn’t focus on training the dog, we should focus on training ourselves. So we learn what our dog needs from us. Most of the people focus on what do I need from the dog. So a relationship and partnership -- what can you do for somebody else. Then you trigger a beautiful ripple effect of giving, giving. Otherwise, it’s all about you taking. That would be the best advice I can give to anybody who wants to transform their relationship with their dog.
What is the most common thing people do with their dogs?
I would say humanizing the dog. They focus first on giving the dog a name, creating a personality. One of the things that’s very, very important is to acknowledge the energy of the dog, acknowledge your energy and making sure that you honor animal, dog, breed and then name. Name is created by human. So to give you an example, a cat meets a dog, the cat never asks, "What is your name? What is your breed?"
Are some breeds harder to train than others?
No. What we have to find is what motivates them. Every dog has motivation and not every dog gets motivated by food or gets motivated by toys. But if we start early what motivates a puppy is food, and what motivates a puppy is play. You follow what I mean? So that would be the two motivations in a puppy. If we don’t nurture that stage and a dog becomes adolescent or adult and sometimes it says I don’t want food, I don’t want toys, I just want to go after that dog. Then we have to find something that motivates the dog.
When you first meet a dog is it hard for you to train?
My goal is not to train the dog. My goal is to fulfill the dog. So it’s a hard -- no. Because if you follow, nose, eyes, ears concept they want to relate with you. A dog, 60 percent of the brain is controlled by the nose, 15 percent is by the eyes, and 25 percent is by the ear. So I never talk with eye-to-eye contact. I always allow my scent and energy to speak for me. That’s my name. He doesn’t know my name, he doesn’t know my race and he doesn’t know I’m the Dog Whisperer. What he knows is I respect his nature.
Do you live with any other animals besides dogs?
Rabbits. I have four female rabbits right now. I’m working with a dog that has killed squirrels. So nobody has squirrels that I can adopt, so I adopted four rabbits. And those rabbits are going to help me to make him social with little animals. We just have 43 acres and my goals is to have all kinds of species. To me the more a dog relates with different species, the more social he becomes. For that, of course, I need a big, big space.
How should you approach a dog?
It's best not to approach the dog. It’s best for the dog come to you and smell you. That’s why I always say, no touch, no talk, no eye contact. Let the mind come to you. And not because the dog came to you, that means you can touch him. He’s still analyzing you, evaluating you. He’s going to tell you, OK it’s time for you or I trust you, OK now you can touch me.
Was it hard writing your new book?
No, since every book that I write of course, I have to make time. I’m very excited about this book because this book is all about prevention. Most of the problems people bring me is aggression. This is what I teach my kids. Aggression is not the problem. It’s the outcome of the problem. You follow? So I’m very excited to share with people in the world that we can prevent anxiety, fear, insecurity and of course, the one people fear the most is aggression. They’re not born aggressive, they're not born anxious, they're not born fearful. We make them that way unconsciously. So every time I'm writing about something I get very passionate. So I don't think about time. I don't think how hard it is. I just think how much people are going to get from something my grandfather had shared with me.
In your book “How to Raise the Perfect Dog,” what is your favorite tip?
Prevention. How to take a dog from their parents. You take a dog most of the time, you can take a dog once they’re 2 months of age. Then after 2 months of age your job is to be his parent. And so from 2 months to 4 months it’s a certain thing you have to do. Then from 4 months to 6 months it's a certain thing you have to do. From 6 months to 8 months that's pretty much the end of puppyhood. So if you become aware, it's only 60 days. Two months sounds like a long time, but if you count 60 days it's like that. Understanding the stages that they go through and the shorter stage and sort of face of a dog life, which is puppyhood it helps people prevent sadness, discomfort, dogs chasing kids, kids being afraid of dogs, or kids, they have dogs but their friends can't come in because their dog jumps all over the kids. So that's what I enjoy the most. Even though what I do for a living is rehabilitating dogs and this is going to help put me out of business. I'm very hopeful and as a father I want my kids to live in a world where they don't have to deal with rehabilitation and intervention and negativity. So that's my contribution to me as a father and me as a human being.