As a trainer for over seventeen years, I’ve helped hundreds of people with their dogs. Each dog teaches me something new. Learning to adapt my methods for each dog helps to ensure that I address issues specific for that dog. Training methods vary, and I am always open to learning new techniques.
In April of 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a training workshop of my favorite dog expert, Cesar Millan. I was so excited to spend five days with the Dog Whisperer at the Dog Psychology Center, I couldn’t stop smiling. Think about it, who’s your idol? Who would you love to meet and better yet, spend several days with? I was beyond excited.
On the first day I traveled to the Dog Psychology Center with a couple of the other participants. We met the night before and hit it off so we decided to carpool to the center the next day. The DPC is located in the mountains of Santa Clarita, Ca. The land was dry, hot, and sandy with scrubby bushes. The only areas of green vegetation are around the DPC itself. As we parked, we saw Cesar hop on his ATV and drive down the long driveway to meet us trailed by his “right hand” dog, Junior. Approximately 16 of the other participants had their own dogs with them and we were soon joined by three of Cesar’s trainers and about ten other dogs. We would start that day like we did every day there, with a pack walk.
Not only were we walking a huge pack of dogs but we were joined by a llama named Lorenzo, and a horse. It proved to be distracting for some of the dogs but Cesar and his trainers quickly showed us how to get the whole pack walking in harmony. As we walked, Cesar would step up and help anyone struggling with their dog. Of course, he made is look easy. I was drawn to a beautiful German Shepherd named Prince who wanted to lunge at Lorenzo. Prince had a lot of energy and it was clear that he was not going to tire of trying to get at Lorenzo. (more about that later)
After the walk, we entered the classroom. Cesar spoke for several hours about dog psychology. He was very relaxed and personable and never hesitated to stop and answer a question. Actually, he didn’t really answer our questions, but had people describe their situation, asked them questions, and led them into finding the answer on their own, much like a good therapist does. There were many “aha” moments with several people breaking down and crying because they broke through years of emotional barriers. The time flew by, and soon it was lunchtime.
Lunch was a gourmet experience. No sandwiches and chips here. We had fresh grilled meats and delicious sides while we sat in the shade and socialized with the other participants and Cesar. It was a very family oriented experience. The other participants were from all over the globe; USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Mexico, Columbia, and Brazil. We all shared things in common, our love of dogs and our admiration of Cesar Millan. He spoke to us about how the DPC was his dream. He had made this oasis in the desert after many years of struggle, stardom, triumph, and turmoil. He’s a very funny guy and he told hilarious stories of his journey to the US, his family, and some kooky celebrity clients. He also spoke about his attempted suicide and his journey back to health. It was an amazing experience, sitting casually at a picnic table eating lunch with Cesar Millan and chatting about dogs.
After lunch we learned how to assess a dog’s body language and energy. During the hands on demos we got to see Cesar in action. It’s even more impressive than it is on television. He truly has a gift and can interact with a dog like no one else. The day was filled with lots of laughing, crying, and amazement. Each day began and ended with a pack walk. We applied what we had learned and each pack walk became more enjoyable. It was only the first day but I was so exhausted (in a good way), I knew I would sleep well that night.