Cesar Millan on Traveling with Dogs

The sixth season of Cesar Millan‘s Emmy-nominated show Dog Whisperer premieres this Friday, October 9th, at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel. To mark the premiere and launch his latest book, How to Raise the Perfect Dog– Through Puppyhood and Beyond, Cesar stopped by Nat Geo headquarters Monday (accompanied by miniature schnauzer Angel) for an advance screening of the first episode and to take questions from the audience. Traveler Senior Researcher Meg Weaver sat down with Cesar while he was here to find out how he got started in his career. And click through for a preview of the premiere episode in the season.

CesarMillan_01_CoreImages.jpgKnown as El Perrero (The Dogman) when he was a teen in Mexico because of the packs of dogs that always seemed to follow him around, Cesar Millan aspired to be the best dog trainer in the world. But when he arrived in the U.S. and started working at a kennel in California, he realized American dogs didn’t need training, their owners did. Dogs do best when they’re balanced, Cesar says, and training doesn’t necessarily equal balance. He espouses the training philosophy, well known to Dog Whisperer fans, of “exercise, discipline, and then affection.” As we spoke, an adorable  schnauzer, Angel, sat snuggled at our feet. Cesar gestured to him and told me that Angel hadn’t been trained to sit, fetch, or roll over. He’d been trained to be balanced and, sure enough, he was very well behaved for an adolescent dog.

Since Cesar himself is often on the move, I asked what suggestions he’d give travelers hoping to bring Fido on the road. He explained that we need to consider the travel experience from a dog’s perspective: If the change of setting and scent (and altitude, if flying) are disorienting for us, imagine their effects on a dog. Dogs are used to traveling on four feet, experiencing every step of the way with their nose, ears, eyes, and body, so traveling in cars or planes can cause confusion and anxiety. Before heading off on a trip, Cesar recommends being sure your dog isn’t full of physical energy. If you normally walk him a half-hour in the morning, extend the walk to an hour and a half so that his body tells his mind to relax. Bring things familiar to him: his bed, bone, Kong, etc. And, just as we benefit from being shown around a new place by someone familiar with it, try to hook your pup up with a local of the canine kind. 

Later, I told Cesar about Traveler and Intelligent Travel and

the type of travel–cultural, authentic, and sustainable–that we champion.

I asked him which places he’s been to that fit these criteria. In the

U.S., he praised Monterey and Carmel, California. Monterey’s proximity to the beach makes it dog-friendly, he noted, and many of the town’s boutiques

and cafes are open to dogs. Overseas, he raved about Australia, where

he just returned from filming some of the 30 episodes of Dog Whisperer‘s new season

(and where he apparently was able to Rollerblade with a dingo). Australians, he opined, are nature

lovers and very into conservation, and the country’s wildness impressed

him, too. So were there any differences he found “rehabilitating” dogs Down

Under? “Same problems, different accent,” he said with a laugh.

Given the

fact that Cesar has rehabilitated dogs over six seasons, launched a

magazine, and published a handful of books on the topic, I asked him if

we, as over-indulgent dog owners, will ever learn to treat our dogs as he espouses: as animals first, dogs second, the breed third and, fourth, and finally,

as individuals. Bemused, Cesar told me that people watch his show but

they don’t listen. And if people don’t listen to him, how can they expect

to communicate with their dogs? He loves the challenge, he says, and

hopes to help dog owners the world over build the loyalty and trust

that make for a balanced dog and happy owner.

To this end, he

was proud to tell me that his Dog Psychology Center has expanded from

two to 43 acres and been moved out of its former South L.A. location. He

explained that people are invited visit the center for three to four

days with their dogs to learn and practice his techniques.

To

conclude our interview (Angel was getting antsy), I asked if his being

from a different country, an outsider looking at the U.S., has informed

his principles. He agreed heartily and says that while Americans love

dogs, America is not designed for dogs. He hopes to teach dog owners

how to accept and understand dogs’ instincts and make that essential

connection to their best friend.

As we said goodbye and I headed toward the elevator, I sensed something behind me, close to my left

foot. I glanced down and there was Angel, trying to make a

run for the door (Cesar told me office life bores him). Cesar made

his signature whistle/chirp command and Angel froze in his tracks, made

an about-face, and trotted back to the Dog Whisperer.

Photo and video courtesy of the National Geographic Channel

UPDATE: Back in June, Intelligent Travel revealed Cesar’s favorite place on Earth

Comments

  1. Frequent Travel Guy
    October 6, 2009, 5:00 pm

    Next thing we will see is Frequent Flyer accounts for our pups :-)

  2. animated banner maker
    October 14, 2009, 8:46 am

    To conclude our interview (Angel was getting antsy), I asked if his being from a different country, an outsider looking at the U.S., has informed his principles. He agreed heartily and says that while Americans love dogs, America is not designed for dogs. He hopes to teach dog owners how to accept and understand dogs’ instincts and make that essential connection to their best friend.

  3. Silverjo
    October 21, 2009, 10:07 am

    Our pet dog has become an accepted member of our travels within our own family and friends circle. We respect their boundaries and in turn our pet received much adoration.

  4. Courtney
    August 16, 2010, 7:24 pm

    I can’t imagine what it must be like for a dog when they fly. The heightened senses alone must make it horrible. I know when I fly I always feel so out of sorts from the moment I step on the plane until we land at the destination. I try not to fly with my dog if I can drive someplace just as easily, but that’s not always the case. I’m glad there are so many travel options available now.

  5. The Kennel Master
    March 11, 2011, 11:35 am

    I can’t help but agree that flying is something that dogs should only be made to do when it is absoluetly necessary. I moved from NZ to the UK and brought my dog with me. I won;t be doing it again in a hurry!

  6. Dog lover
    Florida
    January 31, 2013, 4:11 pm

    If your going to travel with your dog in a car then you want them away from the air bags in case of an accident. I use a product called PetDek to safely and comfortable travel with my dog.