Dog Whisperer has a way with humans too

Eager fans waited at the venue two hours before the event began. They weren't even deterred by a sudden downpour this morning.

But it wasn't a famous singer or actor they were looking out for.

The celebrity they wanted to catch sight of was Cesar Millan, the star of National Geographic Channel's popular "Dog Whisperer" TV show.

The charismatic Mexico-born dog trainer is in town for a live tour that includes two shows at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theater from June 2 to 3.

On Saturday morning, he made a stop at the amphitheatre at VivoCity to give a talk about pet behaviour and owner-pet relationship dynamics.

The event, organised by Pet Lovers Centre, also gave five dog owners and their pets the opportunity to interact with Millan.

Despite the fact that Millan didn't show any training techniques, or use his trademark "Shh! Shh!" hiss to discipline the dogs, the crowd listened intently to his many anecdotes and didn't seem to mind the lack of canine participation.

Millan continually emphasises that dogs need exercise and discipline before affection.

The process of correcting a dog's difficult behaviour often begins with the owner - a lesson that dog owner Ms Vivien Cheng learned over one and a half years with her bull terrier Tyson.

Ms Cheng, a copywriter, told AsiaOne that her dog often became aggressive around food, and would try to bite her if she tried to take his food away. A friend gave her a book written by Millan after she was bitten by Tyson on a few occasions.

Inspired by the book, she put some of the techniques to practice. She said: "I tried to change myself and enforce some rules. As I changed my behaviour, my dog started to respect me."

Ms Cheng added that adhering to the "discipline before affection" model is challenging, and needs to be practiced daily.

During the meet-and-greet-session, Millan also showed dog owners how to minimise creating negative scenarios with their dogs, and hinted that he will be involved in a new show that focuses on rehabilitating dogs and matching them with compatible owners.

hteoh@sph.com.sg

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