Photo: Cesar Millan in Latin America
When he was little, Cesar Millan dreamed of being the “best dog trainer in the world” and says his mother told him he could achieve whatever he wanted - and that, plus his method of dog psychology, won him the worldwide fame he enjoys today as the “Dog Whisperer.”
The 42-year-old Millan, who was in Costa Rica over the weekend to put on his first show in Latin America, said in an interview with Efe that more than being a dog whisperer, he is the one who has always been whispered to by them.
Despite the fame he has won with his television series, his books and the fame of his clients, many of them Hollywood stars, Millan never forgets his humble beginnings in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, and says he still dreams the same way he did 21 years ago when he crossed the border illegally into the United States.
“When you’re poor you have nothing to lose and dreaming is all you can do, so you dream and you dream and when you have a mom like mine that keeps pushing you ahead, there’s no limit to what you can do,” Millan said.
“I learned all I know from my father, but the inspiration came from my mother. When I was 13 I asked her, ‘Do you think I can be the best dog trainer in the world?’ and she very proudly told me, ‘You can be whatever you want,’ though she really had no idea what being a dog trainer was all about,” Millan said.
Forever accompanied by his pitbull Junior, Millan defends the role of the family in training people and their dogs.
Dogs are pack animals, he says, so to rehabiliate wayward pets, the owner must be trained to be the leader of the pack.
He says that 90 percent of owners have problems with their dogs because they don’t know how they think and, above all, don’t know how to organize their priorities.
“The priorities of humans are to study, earn money and buy a home, and to do that they leave the family behind, and a dog is part of the family,” Millan said.
“Humans have to prioritize a dog’s needs; the dog doesn’t know that you have to go to work every day to make money so you can put food on his plate,” the dog trainer said.
Millan said that every day before going to work, he gets up at 5:00 a.m. to take his pack for a walk and in that way “I lower their energy so they can stay calm the rest of the day.”
“You have to challenge dogs phyically and psychologically, and afterwards show them affection. But people often give them affection, affection, nothing but affection, which is energy they’re giving them that must be absorbed with mental and physical exercise,” Millan said, referring to his method of “calm-assertive leadership.”
Owners’ mistakes are the same everywhere and have the same effects - anxious, aggressive, hyperactive or frightened animals, the dog trainer said.
“A dog simply has it limits. It gets food, water and a lot of loving, then people come and pile on more and more affection and excite it so much it’s beside itself. That’s the truth,” Millan said.
Which is why Millan says he has a lot more work ahead of him.
“I feel like I’m just beginning. (Mark) Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and I think the same way, I don’t feel I’ve yet landed where I want to be, I feel I’m still on my way up, still on the road to where I’m going. I haven’t done all I have to do and I have the same energy and will power, the same way of dreaming as when I crossed the border. I’ve been in the United States 21 years and I haven’t changed,” Millan said.
Among his goals is to present shows throughout Latin America, as well as producing and hosting a new program called “Leader of the Pack” in Holland, Italy and Britain, though he also has plans for Japan.
Millan also plans to open centers for dog psychology around the world and to continue working with a program led by his foundation together with Yale University to teach kids “what I learned while very young.”
Millan describes himself as a calm-assertive person who knows how to keep quiet and doesn’t place too much importance on money. He loves what he does and for that reason plans to continue rehabilitating dogs and training their masters for a long time.