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Charlene Chua
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Singapore

Bad dog? Your fault: Celebrity dog trainer

The New Paper | Charlene Chua | Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dog trainer Cesar Millan at his live show last Friday, where he said anxiety can rub off on pooches, making them aggressive.

Humans are the ones who need to be trained, not dogs, because pooches react to the energy from humans.

If you are fearful, anxious and insecure, your dog will sense it and overcompensate by being overly protective or aggressive.

So if your dog bites someone else, it is likely that it is your fault, not theirs, says celebrity dog trainer Cesar Millan.

He is the star of his own popular reality TV series, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan and his interesting take on man's best friend captivated the 3,500-strong audience at The Star Performing Arts Centre last Friday night.

The live show was part of his Asian tour, which includes stops in Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Conducted like a seminar, this was different from when Millan was last here in 2012, when he interacted more with his canine subjects on stage, demonstrating different techniques to owners.

Loud, gregarious and witty, Millan explained why humans are the ones who should modify their behaviour in order to rehabilitate their relationships with their dogs.

The 44-year-old trainer, who grew up in Mexico, showed pictures of US president Barack Obama, talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Hollywood actor Will Smith with their dogs.

PRESIDENTIAL DOG

Mr Obama's drew the loudest laughter from the crowd.

In the picture, he was being dragged forward as he tried to hold on to his Portuguese water dog Bo's leash.

Later, Millan showed a picture of a mountain climber.

He said: "When you see people climbing a mountain and something goes wrong, they don't blame the mountain. It's the same with dogs. People have to learn to be with their dogs."

Millan also spoke about the first time he met Winfrey, many years ago.

Known for her love of dogs, Winfrey at that time had seven golden retrievers and one cocker spaniel that she called "her daughter".

She told Millan that she had to separate the two breeds of dogs because the cocker spaniel, despite being the smaller dog, had bitten the retrievers.

Said Millan: "The cocker spaniel was actually reacting to Oprah as she could sense that Oprah was fearful for her."

He added that he often explains to his celebrity clients that they first have to be steady and secure before their canine would follow their lead.

To illustrate his point, he invited a local dog owner on stage with her medium-sized dog to demonstrate.

The woman said that her biggest concern is that her pet is too excitable and is hard to take out on walks.

Millan took over the leash from her and taught her to only hold the leash with one hand, and to pull the leash upward, not backwards.

With the Dog Whisperer in control of the leash, it was evident that the pooch was more obedient and was walking more calmly.

DOG SENSED ANXIETY

But the dog growled and tried to attack Millan when he returned the leash to the dog's owner.

He said: "See how that happened when I passed back the leash?

"He could sense his owner's energy which was that she was nervous. Her anxiety caused (her dog) to (want to) protect her."

Audience member Darien Tan yesterday told The New Paper that he had put the Millan's tips into practice after he got home on Friday.

The 42-year-old telephone operator owns a pomeranian, a shih tzu and a maltese.

"Usually, when the three of them are together, it's very hard to control them as they try to run and pounce in different directions," he said.

But this has changed since Mr Tan "forced myself to be confident".

"Believe it or not, it's now a breeze," he said.

This article was published on May 5 in The New Paper.

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