Cesar Millan may have been teased and called the Dog Boy in Mexico when he was growing up, but he turned that negative nickname on its floppy ear with a successful television show and dozens of high-profile clients.
After nearly 170 “Dog Whisperer” episodes, Millan’s new live show comes to Miami’s Fillmore Jackie Gleason Theatre on Friday. He’ll demonstrate his skills as a dog behaviorist to the audience using shelter dogs.
“I’m on a quest to make sure that people know I follow (a) certain philosophy,” Millan said by phone from Houston before a show. “When people watch the show, they think it’s magic or it’s editing, so they have a lot of different ideas of what they think I do.”
Fans know it does look like magic. How can a dog be highly aggressive or fearful one moment, and a perfect pet the next?
“The speaking engagement allows me to show people how I do it: how I train, what I do, how I follow. We put that into practice. You get to see transformation.”
The live show’s primary purpose is education, as is Millan’s new show on Nat Geo Wild. “Leader of the Pack” rehabilitates shelter dogs and finds them compatible homes. Filmed in Europe, three families perform a series of challenges with the dog to see who is the best match.
Millan wants people to adopt a shelter dog, but it has to be the right dog. A lot of dog problems come from choosing the wrong dog. Millan wants to change that, and he wants to change the way people feel about shelter dogs in general.
“A lot of people think dogs in a shelter are broken, that there’s something wrong with them. There’s a lot of misconceptions.”
Millan says Americans and Europeans see the dog as a family member, “which I love. But they humanize the dog. Their priorities are more human-related. Like the walk is not the priority, food is the priority. The dog has to eat, but if you ever study animals, the dog walks before he eats. If you follow the nature, you allow him to maintain harmony and understanding and he’s grateful. But when you break that, you see the dog becomes, in a way, spoiled, and he appears ungrateful, because he feels he’s entitled.”
Millan’s three-pronged approach is “exercise, discipline, affection.” People are often disciplined in one part of their life, he says, but it doesn’t carry over into other areas.
“Even if you only have 10 percent of your life that’s good habits, you still have a good habit. People never focus on the good side of things, they always focus on the bad side of things,” he says. “That’s why I like to say I train people and I rehabilitate dogs.
“What I train is to see what they’re doing that is not helping them to live a successful life. But then I also show them the areas where they’re doing awesome. And so we focus on the good part of it. You have to train the people to manage their habits. Just like anger management, people have to learn to manage the good habits.”
IF YOU GO:
CESAR MILLAN LIVE!
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Info: 305-673-7300; fillmoremb.com
Millan published his sixth book, “Cesar Millan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog, 98 Essential Tips and Techniques,” in January. In it, he describes his philosophy and gives clear guidelines and activities for improving your dog’s behavior and attaining ‘balance.’
1. Be aware of your energy.
2. Live in the moment
3. Dogs don’t lie
4. Work with Mother Nature, not against her
5. Honor your dog’s instincts
6. Nose, eyes, ears, in that order
7. Accept your dog’s natural pack position
8. You create the calm, submissive state
9. You need to be the pack leader