Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan: Singapore is my house outside the US

Dog trainer Cesar Millan with a sign made by a fan at his show. -- PHOTO: UNUSUAL ENTERTAINMENT
Dog trainer Cesar Millan with a sign made by a fan at his show. -- PHOTO: UNUSUAL ENTERTAINMENT

Never underestimate the power of cute.

At least, not at the live show of Mexican-American celebrity dog trainer Cesar Millan at the Max Pavilion at Singapore Expo last Saturday.

Bring a puppy onstage and listen to the "awws" and "oohs" ripple through the audience.

But be careful not to nurture the wrong behaviour in your puppies - however adorable they are - because the first 180 days are the most essential in the life of a dog, says the 45-year-old.

He should know. He has been handling dogs since he was a young boy, working on his grandfather's farm.

Now an international dog behaviour expert, he starred in the hit reality TV series, Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan.

This is not his first live show in Singapore. Indeed, when he first came onstage, he said: "This is my house outside the United States. I've been here more often than any other country in the world."

But that did not stop some 3,000 dog lovers from coming to his show, which ran for about two hours. Tickets cost $88 to $228.

In between his impressions and jokes - he even picked up on the Singaporean "instinct" to queue for good food - Millan spoke about common problems that dog owners face.

Is your dog anxious? Bored? Chasing its own tail? Aggressive to other dogs? Millan to the rescue.

Dog owners, he said during the show, need to understand the concept of pack leadership and respect the instinctual world that animals live in.

So the key to handling dogs is to project a calm and assertive energy to them.

He said: "When you are in control, you have the ability to produce a change in the dog's behaviour."

To demonstrate, he brought some problem dogs belonging to Singapore owners onstage and - doggone it - he calmed every one of them.

A tap, a firm "sh" and an anxious, jumpy dog stops and parks its behind on the floor.

His popularity among fans here is evident. Some came armed with placards proclaiming their love. At the end of the show, Millan gamely signed autographs and took selfies with them.

Says content manager Mia Tan, 34, who has an eight-year-old miniature schnauzer: "The live demonstrations really prove that Cesar's calm-assertive energy can rehabilitate the behaviour of dogs.

"The moment he takes over the leash, the dogs just relax and sit - it's like a hypnotic effect. No camera tricks."

Adds British entrepreneur Tim Boxhall, 35, who owns two dogs: "The show felt like life coaching and marriage counselling combined. It was entertaining and insightful and I enjoyed seeing Cesar put his skills into action."

bang@sph.com.sg


What they say

“I always feel nervous when I’m walking my dog, which in turn triggers its nervous energy. I’m glad Cesar addressed this by saying that we must be calm, but assertive, and signal that we are the pack leader. He knows how to engage the audience and has a wicked sense of humour.” - PR consultant Leona Lo, 40, who has a one-year-old mixed-breed dog, Elmo, which she adopted from the non-profit shelter Animal Lovers League

“Having seen him on TV, where he magically changes the behaviour of an out-of-control dog, it’s refreshing to see it live, where there’s no such thing as clever editing or extra takes to get the right footage.” - Designer Royston Cheong, 33, who has an eight-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi, Stumpy

“The show lets me know the things we did wrong as dog owners. I liked how Cesar brought in different kinds of dogs and showed us how to correct their behaviour. I wish they had brought more of such problem dogs to the show.” - Administrative assistant Chan Si Ying, 27, who has a nine-year-old corgi, Gracy