'Dog Whisperer' Implores Owners To Reclaim Pack On his popular program on the National Geographic Channel, Cesar Millan, known to frustrated pet owners as "The Dog Whisperer," encourages people to stop treating their dogs like babies and to reclaim their position as the pack leader in the house. Not surprisingly, he titled his new book Be the Pack Leader.
NPR logo

'Dog Whisperer' Implores Owners To Reclaim Pack

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15695617/15695587" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Dog Whisperer' Implores Owners To Reclaim Pack

'Dog Whisperer' Implores Owners To Reclaim Pack

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15695617/15695587" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Your story is surely one that the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, would appreciate. This master of dog communication is our next guest, in fact.

(Soundbite of show, �Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan�)

Mr. CESAR MILLAN (Host, �Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan�; Author, �Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life�): (As Himself) No dog is too much for me to handle. I rehabilitate dogs; I train people. I am the dog whisperer.

SEABROOK: Did you hear what he said? He said he rehabilitates dogs, he trains people.

Cesar Millan's show is a hit on the National Geographic Channel. Millan grew up in Mexico, and he says people in Third World countries have a more natural relationship with dogs. That's why, he says, their dogs behave.

When he first came to the U.S., Millan says he was amazed to find that many Americans treat their dogs more like children than animals. He was equally amazed at what that does to their dogs' behavior.

With this in mind, Cesar Millan has written a new guide to help dog owners reclaim their proper position in the household and in their lives. It's called �Be the Pack Leader.�

On a sunny morning last week, I met up with the dog whisperer in a place Millan says he feels most at home - outside, standing in the grass, a couple of dogs running around.

When you first drove up, you got out of the car, and there was this - you have your dog with you, who's circling around to your Daddy.

Mr. MILLAN: Yeah. Yeah.

SEABROOK: And there was this other dog, a black Lab�

Mr. MILLAN: Yes, named Summer(ph).

SEABROOK: Named Summer.

Mr. MILLAN: Yeah.

SEABROOK: That kind of jumped at Daddy.

Mr. MILLAN: Yes.

SEABROOK: What happened there?

Mr. MILLAN: Well, that was a territorial behavior, and, obviously, this is her territory. And so it's normal for a dog to let the other dog know this is my place, but when a dog uses that type of language, it can escalate into a fight, you know.

SEABROOK: Well, you know, Cesar Millan, I - one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you, you have this new book out called �Be the Pack Leader.�

Mr. MILLAN: Yes. Yeah.

SEABROOK: But I want to talk to you, not about dogs�

Mr. MILLAN: Mm-hmm.

SEABROOK: �but about people.

Mr. MILLAN: Let's talk about it. I've learned so much in the past few years.

SEABROOK: Yeah. It seems like from your book, from your show�

Mr. MILLAN: Mm-hmm.

SEABROOK: You're more in-tuned actually�

Mr. MILLAN: Would you?


Mr. MILLAN: Let me bring her back.

Hey. So this is the street, by the way. What I just did is just brought Daddy back into a safe zone. He doesn't know this is a street. He's still, you know, exploring the environment. So you have to right away tell him, okay, this is a new environment, and this is as far as you can smell.


Mr. MILLAN: So when I address myself right now to Daddy, I went, hey, just to let him know that that what he was doing or where he was is unwanted. And then with body language, I signal where do I want him to go. That's the communication. A lot of people - Daddy, no, get (unintelligible), come here.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLAN: So what the dog gets is a cocktail of excitement.

SEABROOK: You - right now, you're sort of�

Mr. MILLAN: Yeah. I'm thinking about�

SEABROOK: Squaring your shoulders and moving your�

Mr. MILLAN: �head up using eye contact to communicate.

SEABROOK: So the form of human rehabilitation or dog training is - what do you call it - that you employ�

Mr. MILLAN: Yeah.

SEABROOK: �seems to be being the pack leader. That's what - your book is called, �Be the Pack Leader.�

Mr. MILLAN: �Be the Pack Leader.� Yes.

SEABROOK: So you're saying humans need to act more like dogs?

Mr. MILLAN: Well, we are pack-oriented. We can't live without a pack. So humans who choose not to be with humans, they go get a hundred cats or 20 dogs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLAN: Somehow they're going to create a pack.


Mr. MILLAN: Dogs - in a pack of dogs is the pack leader and the follower. This is how it's going to function. You can use a dog to train you how to really project leadership. You know, the pack leader doesn't feel he's better than the pack, and the followers doesn't feel less than the pack leader, everybody becomes one. But it is very important that the pack leader projects and practice calm-assertive energy.

SEABROOK: It seems to me that you're saying not only do we have to act like dogs to lead our own dogs�

Mr. MILLAN: Mm-hmm.

SEABROOK: �but if we act more like the pack leader, it will have effects on our own lives.

Mr. MILLAN: Absolutely. I have clients who make minimum, and I have clients who are billionaires. My clients can be Harvard graduates, but they can't walk a Chihuahua.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: What's going on there?

Mr. MILLAN: Instincts. They're using a dog for emotional fulfillment. They're using the political world and the Hollywood world for physical-psychological activities. They don't want to practice that anymore. They already gave body, mind in that area. They still need one part that is not fulfilled, and that's the emotions. And that's when they go out there - now, I have to fulfill my emotions but disregard exercising discipline to my dog.

SEABROOK: What do you do with the billionaire who can't walk his Chihuahua?

Mr. MILLAN: They just have to become self-aware of what is their priority. A lot of people don't see that they're being selfish about the way they're relating, you know. So they just want to practice whatever that they want to practice. They don't want to practice whatever the other needs. Dogs fulfill our lives, but do we fulfill their life? You know, why homeless people get a dog that walks better with them than a billionaire?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLAN: How do you like that, you know? Why a blind person can walk a dog better than a person who's not blind? Because they're fulfilling the need of a dog, that's why. They're leading the dog.

SEABROOK: Let's talk a little bit about the Third World.

Mr. MILLAN: Yeah.

SEABROOK: And you are from�

Mr. MILLAN: Third world.

SEABROOK: �Mexico. I'm fascinated to hear that you think Americans�

Mr. MILLAN: Mm-hmm.

SEABROOK: �treat their dogs so differently than people in the Third World.

Mr. MILLAN: There is no rule where you have to keep a dog behind gates, and I understand the reason.


Mr. MILLAN: Me coming to America and learning why. But at the same time you have to also hear that you have to walk a dog every day before you leave him behind walls. In a Third World country, people will say, well, that dog is frustrated. Let him do something.


Mr. MILLAN: Take him for a walk, you know. That was my - my dad was fascinated when I told him, dad, I have a TV show. What do you mean? They're paying you for walking dogs?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLAN: You know, because that's really where it boils down to. Walking to a dog is like flying to a bird. Birds have to fly, fish have to swim, dogs have to walk. It's just that simple, you know. So the more you walk, the more you connect. And the more you walk off leash, the more trust and respect you create. You know what I mean?

SEABROOK: Why do you think we turn to dogs to fulfill ourselves?

Mr. MILLAN: In America, dog is a symbol of human. It's the goodness. It's the pureness. It's the unconditional. It's what a human will like to be.


Mr. MILLAN: Not a dog. It's just love this side of them. Dogs are unconditional. They don't care how you look like, what your make-up look like, you know, what your dress, you know. That's a beautiful thing to appreciate, you know, but you can't disregard his needs.

SEABROOK: Cesar Millan, for the sake of bipartisanship, I want to ask you one question about cats.

Mr. MILLAN: Yeah.

SEABROOK: Do you know anything about them?

Mr. MILLAN: Nothing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLAN: I just know that they come whenever they want to.

SEABROOK: Can you tell anything about people from the fact that they like cats?

Mr. MILLAN: You know, the reality is I don't have a lot of friends who have cats. All my friends have dogs. We're very social people.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLAN: I love you, cattie(ph), but don't get me wrong. I love cats. I love cats.

SEABROOK: Cesar Millan is the host of the TV program �The Dog Whisperer� on the National Geographic Channel. His new book is called �Be the Pack Leader.�

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.