A great leader starts out as a great follower and, according to renowned dog psychologist Cesar Millan, the same principle applies to dog owners.
“Are you a projector?” Millan asked the crowd at the Interior Savings Centre Friday night. “Guess who knows and senses your energy? Your dog.”
In order to have a calm and confident dog — one who is loyal and in control — the owner must be calm and confident as well, he said.
That’s one of the many philosophies the controversial New York Times bestselling author and TV star provided the more than 2,000 fans that attended his Trust Your Instincts show.
Mixing a seminar with video clips, skits and practical training with dogs on stage, Millan offered entertaining insights into the minds of canines and their owners.
Millan brought dogs and dog owners on stage at various points throughout the two-hour show. In one case he showed how to feed a dog without encouraging disobedience.
The humans often appeared more nervous and excited than the animals, which Millan jokingly noted.
“I’m not interesting enough,” he said when one dog, Braxton, walked away from him.
He also took a few moments to promote his new TV series, Leader of the Pack, and his son Calvin’s upcoming show, The Puppy Whisperer.
Calvin, 13, joined his dad on stage for a skit highlighting the mistakes dog owners make with their puppies, mistakes that lead to problems with adult dogs.
With Millan acting as Calvin and Calvin taking on the role of Calvin’s grandmother, Millan showed how affection can lead to out-of-control behaviour.
Millan sprawled on a couch, surfed the web and read magazines while talking on an iPhone. Calvin provided food, turned the magazines’ pages and changed the channel on the TV.
“Every time I take Calvin home I have to rehabilitate him,” said Millan. “At grandma’s house there are no rules, no boundaries, no limitations. Just affection, affection, affection.”
He said dogs must know their place in the home and be given a purpose, even if that purpose is to rest calmly on a mat while the pack goes about its day.
“Discipline doesn’t mean punishment. It means keeping a dog out of trouble,” said Millan.
He said people also talk to and treat their dogs like babies. Doing so can lead to trouble, not because the dog is bad, but because we’re not providing proper guidance and boundaries.
“This is what happens to dogs in modern society. They become humans,” he said.