Dog Whisperer to Critics: My Techniques Are "Instinctual"

Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
July 31, 2006

Cesar Millan, star of the Emmy-nominated TV series Dog Whisperer, has amassed legions of fans with his boyish grin and his stern but effective techniques for rehabilitating dogs with extreme behavioral problems.

On the show, which airs on the National Geographic Channel, Millan helps troubled canines get back on track through his formula of exercise, discipline, and affection—in that order (see a Dog Whisperer video clip).

(National Geographic News is a division of the National Geographic Society, which is part owner of the National Geographic Channel.)

Many of his clients have sought professional help before contacting him but were unsuccessful in solving their pooches' problems.

"I am the last resort for a lot of people," Millan said.

But the canine expert also has critics who call his methods old-fashioned, cruel, and ignorant.

What's more, two lawsuits were filed against Millan earlier this year, one of which charged workers at his Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, California, with injuring a Labrador retriever.

Millan says the handler responsible was a friend—not an employee—and says he no longer allows outsiders to use the center for rehabilitations.

In an interview with National Geographic News, Millan takes on his detractors, talks about dog training, and discusses how he felt after learning that an animal had been hurt at his facility.

On the show it seems that results happen quickly. In real life what is the expected time for consistent changes in behavior to occur?

It varies from seconds to minutes to hours to weeks. Super, super extreme cases, where I tell people their dogs have to come to the center, require two weeks.

Others are incredibly quick, but that's because they were not too bad, even though they seemed really bad.

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