Even dogs need a therapist | August 25, 2006 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - August 25, 2006

Even dogs need a therapist

World-famous 'Dog Whisperer' comes to Pleasanton

by Cybele Ryan

Barking, biting, aggression and chewing are only a few of the negative behaviors that can be connected to "man's best friend." And while your every day pet owner may be frustrated by these challenges, inspirational canine psychologist Cesar Millan takes them head on, and regularly conquers them, on his National Geographic Channel television series "The Dog Whisperer."

In addition to the TV show, Millan also tours around the country conducting dog behavior seminars, and Pleasanton is one of his stops. Sponsored by Standard Schnauzer Club of Northern California, Millan will speak about a variety of issues pet-owners face during his sold-out seminar at the Amador Theater next Saturday. Tickets for the 600-seat theater sold out in 10 days.

"I attended his seminar last year," said Schnauzer Club member Nancy Menise. "I was so inspired and intrigued by Cesar's philosophies surrounding dog behavior and rehabilitation that I wanted to help bring his message to Tri-Valley dog lovers."

Millan is a world renowned dog behavior expert. His extraordinary gift became evident at an early age when groups of dogs regularly followed him throughout his childhood village, earning him the nickname, "El Perrero," Spanish for "Dogman." Millan seemed to possess an uncanny ability to understand the primal nature of dogs.

Immigrating to America, Millan set out to become a dog trainer while spending his days working as a dog groomer in Los Angeles. As a dog groomer, his clients began to recognize his unique, calming effect on their canine friends. Millan then began helping dogs and their owners. Troubled pooches came to his family home for rehabilitation work and eventually the Dog Psychology Center was created.

At the Dog Psychology Center, Millan helped many dogs and their owners, and from there developed the theories he now uses on his TV show. Through helping others and hours of observation with his own pack of rescue dogs ranging from poodles to pit bulls, Millan learned that there is much more to the human-canine relationship than teaching generic commands.

"Owners need to understand the basic psychological needs of their dog: exercise, discipline and affection, in that order," said Menise. "When folks treat their dogs like human members of the family, problems arise. We have to see our dogs as animals first."

Millan works from the perspective that dogs have a pack mentality and unless the humans in their lives assume the roll of "pack leader," the dog will, resulting in some extreme, negative behavior. Many times it is the quirky habits of the human owners that Millan has to change to restore balance and harmony.

As for the Pleasanton seminar, members of the Schnauzer Club are running the event.

"We arrange everything, from the venue, to the selling of the tickets," said Rhonda Davis, president of the Schnauzer Club. "This will be a huge fundraiser for our rescue operation."

One reason the Schnauzer Club was able to book Millan is because of the club's work doing schnauzer rescue. In addition to promoting information about schnauzers, the club acts as a clearing house for schnauzer rescue efforts by finding homes and providing care for abandoned and mistreated schnauzers. Millan only conducts seminars that are affiliated with dog rescue organizations. He pays for all of his own expenses and donates half of the CD and book proceeds, sold at the seminars, to the sponsoring group. Dog rescues exist for all types of breeds.

"We understand that for a lot of people, Cesar's training will be a last ditch effort to save their beloved pet," Davis said. "This seminar will inspire owners to take a hold of the problem and fix it. Through positive inspiration Millan teaches dog owners to be the pack leader and rehabilitate their dogs."

Catch the Dog Whisperer

Even though the seminar is sold out, you can still watch the Dog Whisperer on The National Geographic Channel Mondays at 9 p.m. For more information on the Standard Schnauzer Club of Northern California, visit www.stdschnauzer.com.