When incessant barking, aggression and other canine misbehavior have families, friends, neighbors and co-workers at their wit’s end, relief is a phone call away in “Cesar 911,” the latest Nat Geo Wild series from dog behaviorist and rehabilitator Cesar Millan. He works with havoc-wreaking hounds and their often equally undisciplined owners to turn hellhounds into paragons of domesticity in the series, which premieres on March 7. Millan told MNN all about it, and shared a few of his best tips.
MNN: Compare “Cesar 911” to your other shows: how is it different?
Cesar Millan: The difference between my previous shows and the new show, “Cesar 911,” is that it’s not the owner calling me; it’s the neighbor, friends, family members, or even concerned citizens, who can’t take it anymore. It’s a state of emergency. The new show allows viewers to see me focus more on rehabilitating the humans. The show is all about helping entire groups of people — families, extended families, workplaces, and communities — instead of focusing on one person or family with misbehavior problems. It shows how misbehaving dogs can affect relationships between people. The show has humor, drama, and suspense, as well as some very heartwarming moments of success. And, as always, the viewers will learn a lot about how to bring balance and happiness to their relationships with their dogs.
How many episodes are there for the season?
We’ve shot six episodes so far, and I hope that we shoot many more.
How did you find the whistleblowers? What were the participant pets and owners selected?
We advertised, and then the whistleblowers came to us. Our biggest criteria were that the people were desperately in need of help and there was an interesting story.
How many people applied? Were they from all over or just California?
I’m actually not sure, but it was probably a lot. I can’t do everything on the show, right? I know we did have applicants not only from all over the U.S., but from other countries, but for the initial show, we were only able to pick people from the greater Los Angeles area.
Is there such a thing as hopeless, un-trainable dog? Have you ever encountered one? What did you do in that case?
I train people, as opposed to dogs. I see uneducated people who are in denial about the problem. Most people work against a dog’s nature, and I am working to rehabilitate dogs by teaching humans to understand the behavior of dogs and help them approach the problem in the proper way.
Watch a scene of Millan evaluating a dog named Missy with the help if his dog, Junior:
What were your most difficult cases?
On “Cesar 911,” it is difficult when the victims call me to help and the owner will blame the victim, which happened in the sixth episode. In general, my most difficult cases are always the ones where the people involved don’t understand what I’m teaching them, or don’t follow through with it afterwards. Remember, I rehabilitate dogs and I train people. But if the people aren’t trainable, then nothing I do to rehabilitate the dog is going to stick once I’ve gone away.
What’s the biggest mistake that dog owners make?
The biggest mistake I see is humans being insensitive. They see the symptoms and not the underlying causes and are insensitive to the animal. I also see family members who are not in agreement to owning the dog in the first place or who are unable to commit or don’t know the needs of the dog, to properly care for it. When the pack is weak or in disagreement with itself, the dog picks right up on this and becomes anxious or fearful. This is because dogs are naturally sensitive to energy. Humans are not.
What is the best advice you can give owners with misbehaving dogs?
If your dog is misbehaving, check your own energy and actions first, then remember the following:
Owners need more consistency in what is best for the dog.
Owners must learn and understand the difference between punishment and discipline.
Life is simple. We make it complicated.
Ideally, for anyone, but everything I write is for people who don’t own dogs. The smartest thing is for people to learn about dogs and how to be around them in their everyday life before they take on the challenge themselves.
The most important basics to yield a happy dog are exercise, discipline, and then affection. Exercise creates calmness by draining excess energy. Discipline creates an understanding of expectations — a sense of direction. Affection is the energy you give when the dog’s body is calm and the mind is open, which is why exercise and discipline always come first.
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