Dog Behaviorist César Millán Explains Why Our Communities Have Great Pet Owners

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 30: Cesar Millan attends the UltiMutt Los Angeles Premiere Pawty for New National Geographic Series, "Cesar Millan: Better Human Better Dog" held at the Westfield Century City Mall on July 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/Getty Images)

For dog behaviorist César Millán, it’s easier to fix a dog’s behavior than it is a dog owner’s behavior. That’s because not all dog owners want to detoxify themselves, including doing exercise, practicing mental stimulation, and giving affection.

“I’ve rehabilitated dogs my whole life,” Millán told Remezcla during a recent interview. “The dog never wants to have toxic energy and always wants to exercise. My goal is to help humans become better.”

That’s what Millán is doing on his new National Geographic TV series, César Millán: Better Human Better Dog. Instead of working exclusively on a dog’s behavioral problems, Millán, who was best known on TV as “The Dog Whisperer” during the 2000s, now focuses not only on rehabilitating a man’s best friend but also their owners. Many of these owners adopt dogs on impulse without realizing how much of a responsibility pets are.

“Having an emotional reaction is a common way that people get dogs,” he said. “If you don’t take the time to do it from a logical point of view, it’s like starting a business that you don’t understand.”

On the new show, Millán shares his expertise with a military veteran with PTSD, whose German shepherd mix has developed an unhealthy bond with him. He also helps a big family learn different techniques to exert leadership when their Rottweiler becomes aggressive after a burglary at the family’s home.

Unfortunately, many dogs, Millán said, are adopted by people without the knowledge they need to raise them. It’s a situation he has seen much more of since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“It’s when humans need help that they go and rescue dogs,” he says. “Sometimes, it’s done in a way where they didn’t know what they were getting into. That’s why you’re going to see people now returning the dogs back to the shelters.”

Millán said when dog owners begin bringing their dogs back, they will also start making excuses about why they can no longer keep the dog. In most cases, the owner was not committed to keeping the dog long term even before they stepped into a shelter.

“Because it was an emotional reaction, now [dog owners] are going to give themselves the permission to give a reason for returning [the dogs],” Millán tells us. “They’ll say, ‘The dog is sad’ or ‘I don’t have time,’ but if they’re not committed from the very beginning, they’re not going to be creative about how to keep the dog.”

A well-behaved dog starts with a dog owner who exudes positive energy. “People might be dog lovers, but that doesn’t mean they’re knowledgeable dog lovers,” Millán explained. “[The new series] focuses more on how human energy and human activity make the biggest difference. If parents don’t change the energy in the house, it’s going to affect the dog.”

Living in a toxic environment will never allow humans or dogs to be truly happy, Millán shares. He adds: “[Humans] are the only species that follow unstable leaders. They are the only species that watch novelas and love chisme.”

Our communities might account for a lot of that novela-watching and chisme-spreading, but they also get credit for their love for family, which accounts for the number of Latine pet owners in the U.S. According to a report called the “Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S,” Latine pet owners grew by 44% over the last decade.

“Once [Latinos] know that a dog is family, we bring them in,” Millán says. “What Latinos are really good at is growing a family. But Latino families have rules, boundaries, and limitations, too. They’re not going to allow too many dogs because it would smell. Fabuloso doesn’t always work.”

New episodes of César Millán: Better Human Better Dog air on National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD every Friday at 9 p.m. EST. Episodes are also available on Disney+ every Wednesday.