We first met Cesar Millan when he was the Dog Whisperer, working out of his garage/kennel in South Central Los Angeles.
All these years later, Millan is back with a new series – Better Human Better Dog – which films at his Dog Psychology Center (DPC) in Santa Clarita, where he treats dogs – but more importantly their humans — in a farm setting, where there are llamas, ponies, parrots, and a variety of species.
“In the dog’s world, what makes him social is that he interacts with different species, and he’s calm with them,” Millan tells Monsters & Critics in this exclusive interview. “He’s respectful with them. He’s loving with them. He’s joyful with them. He knows how to care for them. That’s what makes him social. Most city dogs, they only see squirrels, other dogs, and cats at a distance, so they develop this anti-social behavior because they’re not exposed to nature.”
At the DPC, Millan has dog owners bring their pooches with problems and he says that working in such an environment also helps speed up retraining.
“I thought, ‘America needs a place where their dogs can actually practice just being a dog around other species, so people can see it’s like a city,’” Millan explains. “So, I treat it like a city, so people can see how to experience life with a dog in a natural way.”
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, people rushed to get a pet. Dog adoptions hit record highs — up to 90 percent in some major cities, so now Millan is back to teach the owners how to deal with canine behavioral problems at a time when we need our dogs the most.
Monsters& Critics: What makes this show different than your previous ones?
Cesar Millan: Well, everything is different except me, right? The land is different. The land is 43 acres. Now people are going to be able to come to a place where they’re going to feel safe. The land needs to feed you; your home needs to feed that energy to you. I say peace and love.
But then the second is the philosophy. Obviously, now that I’m 50 and I have gone through so many things in life, it is much more natural, simple, profound. It is more refined, more simple. I’m a better coach. I’m a better teacher. Everything about me is way better just by my having gone through life, the way I do it.
And then I have created a beautiful community. One of my kids is 25. The other one is 21. Then all these people that I’ve been training over the years. So, now I have a community, not only of a pack of dogs and farm animals but now I have it packed with humans.
So, my family helping your family, my land giving you that energy, and then the philosophy is much easier to understand because when I started Dog Whisperer, I used to say: exercise, discipline, affection. And people would say, “What?” It took a long time to help those lovers to see a dog like a dog. Because when I came to America, everybody had a dog, but nobody was walking them. Then everybody had a dog and people were blaming the dog. It’s like, “Wait a minute. That’s not the dog’s fault. You guys have to do very simple activities that you’re not doing, and we’re going to rehabilitate the dog.”
So, before it was just one guy going to people’s home. Now families are coming to my land. With all these people and all these animals, we work together. Now you can see it. That’s why you see the healing really fast. That’s why you’re seeing the rehabilitation really fast. And then people start becoming a believer and then people understand to live in the moment.
Walt Disney created Disneyland, it’s a magical place. Cesar Milan created the DPC, it is a magical place.
M&C: How long have you had the DPC? And do you live there too? Is it also your home?
Cesar Millan: No. I don’t live there. I’ve been working on that land for the past 12 years. When I bought it, nothing was there.
M&C: You talked about how at your age you’ve refined things, but do you still have things to learn about how to train a dog? Are there new things to learn?
Cesar Millan: No, not when it comes to training a dog. It’s more like my relationship with my significant other. That’s what I’m definitely learning as a Mexican man, you know? They don’t tell us about female psychology. My parents never talked about it.
I have always had great relationships and connection and communication and understanding, and I was always very clear with animals, but I grew up in Mexico and sometimes you don’t even think about things, but that’s what I’m doing right now with my life, having a profound relationship with my significant other.
M&C: So, you would say it’s humans that you need to learn to work with because you’ve already got the dog stuff down? So, there are no bad dogs; there are only bad owners.
Cesar Millan: Well, the human is the one who is responsible. You will never blame a toddler or a child, and a dog, no matter how old they are, they have the mind of a toddler. There is no knowledge. It is instinct and reaction. You can never blame a bear or a shark. You can never blame a dog either.
The way you can help a dog become happy with you is exercise, discipline, affection — body, mind, heart. Discipline is not punishment. Discipline is what the Olympic athletes have to do to get there. My favorite part of the Olympics is synchronized swimming. That’s a pack. They have to be and think right. They become one. That’s exactly how ants do it. That’s how bees do it. They synchronize. A pack member, everybody has the same energy, everybody understands their position in the pack.
M&C: A lot of people say they don’t want to rescue because they don’t want someone else’s problem. What do you say to those people?
Cesar Millan: Listen, by the time a human is 16, he has so many problems. Humans by the time they’re 23, 24, 25, they’re a mess. And so, they’re not taking that into consideration. They think it’s the dog, but the dog will move on really fast. You can detoxify the dog energy really, really fast. It’s just a matter of giving it exercise, mental stimulation, and affection at the right time. Let him work for food and water, and you’ve got a brand-new dog.
You can ask any person that rehabilitates humans, just say, “How long would a human take?” Sometimes you can’t even do it. So, a dog that has developed issues, it’s not because he wanted to, it’s because the environment that he lived in didn’t make him feel safe. He didn’t feel peace. He didn’t feel the love. The humans who he lived with, he didn’t get the calm, the confidence, the love, and the joy at the right time. If he lives with a family and the family is dysfunctional, that’s what he gets. So, the dog is just a reflection of where he lives, who he lives with, and the activities he does.
So, once you change all of that, the dog changes. They don’t want to live with toxic energy. They don’t want to live an unhappy life. They don’t want to live with a family that is dysfunctional. Humans don’t understand how everything matters. Your home matters. How you live life matters. The activities you do matters. It has nothing to do with money, fame and power. It has to do with, did you live a natural, simple, profound life?
The people in the Amazon have dogs. Homeless people have dogs. Do they have problems? No. So, people with no money, fame and power have way better behaved dogs than people with money, fame, and power.
When you get a dog that has issues, that’s not what they want. So, as soon as you show them the way to get rid of it … they don’t hold on to the past and they don’t anticipate the future – they’re in the now, so they’re very easy to rehabilitate because the only thing you have to change is the now. Listen, even if you give a puppy to those people, they can still mess it up, right?
The final two episodes of Cesar Millan: Better Human Better Dog will begin streaming on Disney+ today, at which point the entire season will be available.