The Hamptons is in for a treat when the world’s most recognized dog behaviorist, Cesar Millan, presents his live show at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) on Sunday, July 24.
Best known from his popular television show Cesar 911 on Nat Geo WILD, and his previous show, Discovery’s The Dog Whisperer, Millan is a master of understanding dogs and using his insight and calm, assertive energy to tame even the most cantankerous canines. He incorporates this knowhow into an entertaining and inspirational stage show, which includes Millan’s philosophies, methods and training secrets—not to mention lots of laughs and, of course, dogs.
As an added bit of excitement, his onstage subjects will comprise a selection of local shelter dogs handpicked by Millan on the day of the show. While particular shelters have yet to be decided upon, each of the dogs will be available for adoption after the event.
Millan, who does about 50 live shows per year and loves lobster rolls during his visits to the Hamptons, took some time to chat about his upcoming WHBPAC appearance and his philosophy regarding dogs and man.
Tell me about the live show. What can people expect?
I like to have that one-on-one audience interaction. I want people to see the transformation live versus seeing it on TV. Once you see me working with a dog live, you really become a believer…I’m very disciplined about what I practice.
Is there a particular focus to the show?
We call them man’s best friend, so how did the dog become a menace to society? Who makes them that way? How do these dogs become unstable? That is my focus, and having the opportunity to do it live really makes more sense to people versus watching it on TV, reading the books, hearing the audio tapes. It just brings all the perspective into light and everybody leaves excited, enthusiastic, clear. I just make sure people know we don’t have problems with dogs—we have problems with humans not being properly educated.
You are very funny and engaging during live shows. Was this something you had to learn, or did it come naturally?
That is actually very natural to me. I grew up with a different type of comedy in Mexico. When you grow up poor you look a lot to comedy—that’s the only thing that can numb your sadness and your hunger. Growing up I watched comedy, and then performed it to my grandparents, because that’s what you do, you entertain the elders—at least that’s what we did. We danced, we make jokes, we act funny, and I think that was the preparation for what I do now. I’ve been doing it for a small audience, you know, my grandparents, and now it’s pretty much the same. It’s just making sure the jokes are relevant to the country that I am [in].
How will you choose which shelter dogs to include at WHBPAC?
There are three levels of intensity…low, medium, high. Obviously for live experiences we don’t bring high. Those we leave for the TV show because they require more time. I bring dogs that have this mild but obvious unwanted behavior, and then I change it just by the way I approach, by the energy that I share, so I don’t bring high intensity levels like I do on Cesar 911 because there I have more time. Think of it like you. Sometimes you are sad but not too sad, just mildly or very little. Bored but not too bored, very little. Every kind of discomfort has levels. When you’re angry, it’s low, medium, high, and if you’re in a high level of anger we won’t be able to have a proper conversation, but if you’re low we can have one. It’s the same thing with a dog.
Are you still learning and finding new revelations about dogs in your work?
I’m learning humans. A dog is a dog no matter where you go in the world. A dog is a dog. Same behavior in Russia is the same behavior in Mexico, the same behavior in the United States. A dog is a dog. But humans are not. A human changes from a cultural perspective, from whoever raised them and everything like that. Dogs develop the same issues—fear, aggression, insecurity, anxiety, hyperactivity, and they’re very obvious and they’re very honest. When a dog doesn’t like you, he doesn’t like you, and he doesn’t have a problem showing you.
Humans hide behind problems. They don’t want to talk about problems, so it’s hard to make a human surrender to the fact that human energy is not the ideal energy for a dog. It takes more time. That’s why I say I train people and rehabilitate dogs. If you take away the human, the owner, I can easily rehabilitate a dog, but the moment you bring the owner back, the dog changes the behavior. So why does the dog change the behavior? Because the energy of the human influences him to change the behavior in a different way.
Don’t you teach the dogs as well?
To me, a dog is not a student. I’m not here to teach a dog anything. I’m here to learn how a dog deals with things, how he reacts to things, what is his core value. Why do we call them man’s best friend? What is it we value about them so much?
It’s a very honest species, a very loyal species, a very respectful species. Honestly, integrity, loyalty. That’s besides unconditional love. How do I teach a human to get in touch with his core value? Only humans follow unstable pack leaders, as you can see with the political campaigns we have. We’re experiencing that, but in a dog’s world choosing that kind of leader would never be allowed. They will only choose a calm, confident leader. They will never choose someone who represents instability, who represents not knowing what to do. That kind of understanding I have with dogs, I needed to make sure humans have it. To me a dog is a teacher, not a student.
Cesar Millan will share more of his groundbreaking dog behavior philosophies and reveal the keys to happier, healthier relationships between humans and their dogs at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Sunday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m. To get tickets, including VIP package (limited to 100 patrons) with front section seating, meet and greet, and photo opportunity with Millan, visit WHBPAC.org.