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Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan: Family Edition

Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan: Family Edition

Spring 2017 Television
Ages: 13 - 16 yrs.
Rating: TV G

Cesar Millan has been in the dog-training business for more than 20 years. As a teen in Mexico he dreamed of becoming the best in the business, and he certainly is among the most famous today.

The author of more than six books, Millan runs a Dog Psychology Center, home to a pack of 30 to 40 abandoned dogs, in California's Santa Clarita Valley. It spans 43 acres and includes a sheep-herding area, swimming pool, obstacle course and hiking trails. He uses it to rehabilitate troubled, aggressive and condemned dogs.

On his show targeting families, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan: Family Edition, Millan shows in every episode that although a family may feel the situation is impossible to fix, it's not.

Misty, for example, was a cute little Lab mix puppy. Steven and Alyssa Dong adopted her and hoped she would be a loving pet for the family, especially their daughter Lauren. But at four months old, Misty became aggressive and started attacking the family. She began growling, angrily, with her teeth bared.

Millan determines that she is "insecure." He takes her to work with his pack and urges Alyssa to try to relax. Although viewers don't really learn why a seemingly cute puppy would turn so aggressive, Millan works his dog magic and helps the family learn to be calm and assertive.

"Calm, assertive leadership," is his mantra. Millan says, "The dog never changed. The human changed."

That seems to over-simply the process, because Millan does work with dogs to correct their behavior. And any family will have to do the same.

In another segment, Nani, a Staffordshire bull terrier, tugs while on a leash and freaks out at the sight of another dog. Again, Millan takes over from Sydney, the young woman who adopted Nani, and makes it all seem easy. "It's all about the owner's energy," he says. Sydney needs to provide "strong and consistent leadership."

In another family, a terrier named Toby is high-energy. He lives with a family that includes two kids - Tristan and Taylor. Tristan has Asperger's Syndrome and mom Karen thought the dog would be a good companion and help him with social skills. But instead, little Toby is attacking, biting and chasing the kids and their friends.

"Too many bad energies," says Millan. He takes Toby to work with him and determines that Toby needs a lot of exercise. "He wants to play." By the time Millan is done with him, "Everything is calmed down."

Millan's fixes don't happen overnight. But watching the show, and how he is able to change the dogs - and the humans - to make for a seemingly happy ending, is uplifting and moving.

If you own a dog, you'll be intrigued. Millan's methods may not be what works best for you, but you might learn a few tips about being calm and how it affects those around you. And that's a TV lesson well worth watching.

Ann Oldenburg   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and interim director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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